Faeries are said to be a lusty bunch, and their habit of taking human lovers is well-documented in European folklore: Thomas the Rhymer and Tam Lin are two of the most famous stories featuring human-faery liaisons. Sadly, the majority of these unions turned out badly. The medieval Church frowned upon all things Fae, preaching that faeries had no souls and no hope of salvation, as they are not "children of Adam." A human who took a faery lover was seen as endangering his or her own soul, and many of these stories do double-duty as warnings to avoid the Fae and metaphors for the problems created by extra-marital sex.
Sexual encounters with faeries seem to fall into one of three categories:
Procreative: A faerie marries or abducts a human and has children with them, possibly because humans are said to be more fertile than the Fae. Sometimes the Fae seek a human mate. For example, the German legend of Dorothee, an English Queen who was seduced by a merman. Dorothee ruled with the merman in his underwater realm for seven years, and bore him seven sons. But one day she heard church bells and became homesick. Her merman husband allowed her to attend church, and when the service was over, Dorothee refused to return to the ocean, and her husband killed her.
Other times, humans initiate the relationship—faery lore is filled with stories of human men who trap selkies or merrows (mermaids) in two-legged form by stealing their seal-skins or their magical caps. Unable to return to the sea, the selkie or merrow settles down with the man and gives him children. But the marriage never lasts: sooner or later the faery finds the garment that allows her to return to the sea, and although she may see that her children are well-off before she departs, she inevitably resumes her faerie form and abandons her husband.
Passionate: A faerie and a human fall in love. Whether that love is genuine or the result of enchantment varies from one tale to the next, and sometimes it's difficult to tell where the human's love ends and the faery's spell picks up (in the legend of Thomas the Rhymer, for example).
One of the most famous stories in this category is the Irish legend of Connla and the Fairy Maiden. The first time Connla sees a beautiful Fae maiden, his attraction to her is outweighed by his love for his family and friends, and he refuses to join her in Faeryland. But the maiden gives Connla an apple, which he takes a bite from—and for an entire month, he can't abide human food or drink. He'll only eat the apple, which becomes whole again each time he bites into it. As the month goes on, Connla's longing for the maiden grows, and when she returns to him, he can't resist her beauty and her promise of eternal youth in Faeryland.
One of my favorite stories of this type of relationship is an East German legend about a nixie who falls in love with a human man. The man loves her back, and trysts with her until his conscience overcomes him, and he abandones the nixie to dedicate himself to the Virgin Mary. The nixie loved her mortal paramour so much that she adopted Christiantiy, joined a convent, and worked her way up to abbess. But when one of the nuns noticed that the hem of the nixie's habit was always wet, the lovestruck nixie was driven from the convent and forced to return to her watery home.
Parasitic: A succubus-like faerie, such as the Irish leannan-sidhe or the morgan from Brittany, whose insatiable sexual appetite drains her human partner's life force. In some traditions (mostly in Ireland), the leannan-sidhe also might serve as muse if her human was an artist or poet. Among the stories of vitality-draining faery lovers, one of the most haunting that survives is about a man named Lachlann, who was so tormented by his nighttime visitor that he moved across the Atlantic to escape her, settling in Nova Scotia. His letters to relatives back home lament that she followed him to the New World and continued to ravish him in his dreams.
There's a fourth situation where a faery takes a human lover, and that's the sacred marriage rite performed in Ireland, in which the Morrigan takes the current king to her bed, conveying her blessings to him and to his people (a la Inanna and Dumuzi). But since the Morrigan is sometimes seen as a faery and other times as a goddess associated with the Fae, depending on which version of the legend you're reading, this is a special case rather than a typical human-fae affair. Although I love the tales about the Fae, when I wrote Faery's Bargain, I couldn't resist the urge to depart from tradition and give Kane and Tara a happy ending.
What's your favorite faery love story (in traditional lore or modern fiction)?
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About Madeline Drake:
Madeleine Drake writes feisty, fast-paced paranormal romance and erotica that spans the space-time continuum. Raised by a pride of cats, a friendly mutt, and the Sonoma County library system, she loves to read about ancient history and mythology, anthropology, gender roles and sexual archetypes. Her current releases include Blood Hero (Excessica, 7/9/10) and Faery's Bargain (Cobblestone Press, 10/8/10) and her short story First Date will appear in the All Romance Ebooks Just One Bite, Vol. 3 anthology scheduled to release in November 2010. Her homeworld is located out past the constellation Orion, but she currently resides in Texas. You can find her online at www.madeleinedrake.com.
About Faery's Bargain:
A witch gets more than she bargains for when she lends her magic to a sexy Fae warrior- Tara's witchcraft has failed to save her naga-bitten nephew: the only cure is a rare Faery herb, impossible for a human to obtain. Kane, a warrior of the Morrigan tribe, is bound to a baigh-duil. He needs a witch to help him send the soul-devouring monster back to its own realm, and he's willing to bargain.
It seems like a fair trade -- the herb for help with a single spell. But what will Tara do when she realizes Kane can only perform sex and death magic?
First time in a thousand years the oracle's been wrong, and it's my question she blows. Kane glowered at the occult shop across the street -- a refurbished Victorian painted lemon-drop yellow and trimmed in white, with all the hand-carved flourishes picked out in gilt. Its windows swarmed with faceted crystals that sparkled like drunken pixies in the San Francisco sunlight.
It was too damned cheerful for a woman reputed to have faced down a naga in its own lair.
He stomped down his frustration, focusing on the cool air against his face and the scents of the ocean and car exhaust. The witch inside that candy house might not be the one he sought, but Kane had to admit she was skilled for a human. He could feel the thick, electric buzz of her wards even from across the street. She'd layered the shielding into the walls and powered it with the ley line that ran right beneath the building. Clever, but also dangerous. Tapping straight into the line for spell-work was like drinking from a fire hose. It required excruciating precision to siphon off just the amount you needed without drowning and heroic strength of will to resist the temptation to drink too deep. Kane had seen a mage lose control of a ley line in mid-spell once. The mage had suffered an agonizing death, and the damage wreaked by the botched spell had taken weeks to clean up.
Pain seared through him. The amulet tucked under his shirt flared hot against his skin, its fiery glow visible through the fabric. He hissed out a cantrip, repeating the chant until the pain dulled and the amulet cooled. I won't be able to maintain the binding much longer.
If the witch in the lemon-drop house couldn't help him, he was dead.
* * * * *
Time-yellowed pages slithered against each other as Tara folded the grimoire closed, letting her fingers explore the arcane symbols embossed on the cracked leather cover. Another ancient tome, another chunk out of her rapidly dwindling savings, another dead end. Meanwhile, Jimi continued to weaken under the care of his confused doctors. She didn't blame them, of course. Even if she could make them believe her, what could they do? My nephew was bitten by a half-man, half-snake monster straight out of Hindu mythology. What do you mean you don't have the right anti-venin?
Even more frustrating, she'd found a cure for the naga's poison -- crith-siol, a plant rumored to be cultivated by the Tribes of the Fae -- but it had proven impossible to get. For the last three months, she'd scoured book after book, hoping to find a substitute for the faery herb. As she searched, Jimi grew weaker. Tara had snatched the boy out of the naga's coils before the monster could eat him, but she hadn't saved him. She'd merely postponed the inevitable, and now she could do nothing but watch her nephew deteriorate, his body shutting down one system at a time. The last doctor had given Jimi a couple of months more, at best.
I wish Gran was alive. Gran would have found a cure by now. Or she'd have found a way to get the crith-siol, no matter what it cost.
Gran wouldn't have let Jimi get caught by the naga in the first place.
The brassy jangle of bells signaled the arrival of a customer. The jangle was cut short by a loud thump and a metallic crash -- the front door slamming shut. An impatient customer. Tara sighed, caught between irritation at the interruption and guilty relief for the distraction. She stepped into the front room of her shop.
The man in the black leather duster frowned at a rack of hand-crafted candles as if he found the colorful cylinders of beeswax offensive. He was tall, dark, and too beautiful to be called handsome. His long black hair was pulled back into a sleek braid, the severity of the hairstyle contrasting with the sensual planes of his face -- sloping cheekbones, amber-brown eyes under upswept brows, and a wide, full-lipped mouth over a strong chin. He was the sexiest man she'd met in ages, and if the humming in her head was any indication, a powerful mage. That delicious hum reverberated down her spine, lighting up her nerves as it went.
He looked up, and his frown evaporated in the flash-fire of another emotion -- something so intense it made Tara want to squirm.
Can I help you? she meant to ask. But when she opened her mouth, what came out was, "Mine."
Horrified, she barely managed to stop herself from clapping her hand over her mouth. Mine? Where did that come from? It had been a long time since she'd dated, but was she so lonely that the mere presence of an attractive man was enough to scramble her brains?
The corner of his mouth twitched as if he were fighting the urge to laugh.
Tara flushed. "I mean, I make them. The candles."
He licked his lips, a deliberate, sensual motion, and Tara found herself mirroring the action before she could stop herself. What's wrong with me?
"Um." She cleared her throat and tried again. "Can I help you?"
The stranger smiled. "I believe you can, Bandraoi."
* * * * *
The oracle had been right after all. The witch's aura had responded to him at once, flaring in intoxicating reds and purples the moment she'd emerged from the back room. Her eyes widened with surprise, and the power he sensed sleeping within her stirred, brushing against his aura like a curious cat. He fisted his hands against the near-overwhelming urge to reach out and pet her. She had a touch of the Tribes in her. His body's reaction to it was sharper than a knife to the heart and hotter than a Beltane bonfire. It was like his first fight and his first orgasm squeezed into one frenzied moment.
His witch was short and curvy, and she'd wrapped her luscious figure in a clingy black dress that emphasized her hourglass shape. When she pursed her lips, his cock expanded as his imagination burst open, spilling one wicked fantasy after another into his brain. He pictured her moss-green eyes half-shut with delight, sweat gleaming on her skin, while her wavy gold hair clung to her bare shoulders. He imagined all that power crackling through him as she trembled in the throes of it, her silken voice raw with ardor.
She'd sensed the rousing of her Fae nature; he could tell by the slight quiver of her shoulders, the heat that bled over her cheeks, the pink tip of her tongue wetting her bottom lip. She was perfect -- except for the wariness that glimmered across her face when he'd addressed her by her proper title. Surely she knew Bandraoi was a term of respect among the Tribes? Or hadn't she recognized him for what he was yet?
* * * * *
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