Once upon a time... a fairytale about the sidhe fairy folk.
Outcast sidhe queen
I was still a little girl, about seven years old I think, as the strange man came in our village. Our people gathered to look at him and at his odd horse. I held my little brother by the hand to protect him.
“Is there a young lady with fair hair and black dress among you? Did any of you see her?”
Nobody answered at first. They were all mesmerized by him. He repeated his words three times. “Did any of you see her?” I remember his scream going down my spine; it woke me up with a shudder.
“No, we didn’t see the lady, strange man”, my grandpa answered, “but it’s late and dark and you must be tired and hungry. You are welcome in my house and I’m eager to hear more about her over a hot meal.”
“Are you sure, grandpa? He looks rather terrifying”, I whispered to him.
“Terrifying? No, I don’t think so. It’s just that he isn’t one of us. And he likes you a lot.”
He kept looking at me in a certain way indeed as we sat near the fire in our home.
“Your niece, she is beautiful!”
“I hope I didn’t do the wrong thing when I welcomed you in my house, young man. My niece is just a little girl.”
“My heart is as shining as my face, old man. She reminds me of my beloved sister, the lady with fair hair and black dress, that’s all. I like the little boy too. What’s your name?”
“Angus”, my brother answered.
“Did their parents die?”
“They don’t have parents. I bought them”.
“You bought them?”
“Yes, I bought them from a lady”.
“What lady? And why did she sell them?”
“She lived inside a hill, miles away from here. I was passing by one day; she sprang up in front of me with the babies and told me she had run out of food and couldn’t keep them any longer. She asked for a coin and gave me the babies. Then she vanished from sight.”
“Oh, I see…”
“Why don’t you tell us more about your lady in black dress?”
“The lady with fair hair was the sidhe queen and her husband was the sidhe king. She loved him more than she loved herself. She promised the king a precious gift; she promised she would give birth to a boy and a girl, with golden hair and skin like the rose petals. And she said their son would command the sun and the moon.
The king’s best friend was in love with the queen and had been many times rejected by her. The sidhe women loved him because he was brave and beautiful. When the queen gave birth to her babies, he stole them and replaced them with two hideous cats. He put them in a basket and gave it to the king. <Here you are, my king, your wife’s gift, the wondrous babies! As you see, these cats were all that came out of her>.
The king went mad and threw the basket and it rolled on the floor with the cats inside. He called for his wife and they started to argue. She had tears in her eyes. <How can you believe such a horrible thing, my king? He stole my babies. I couldn’t have given birth to a pair of cats.>
<But you did! Go away! Leave and never come back!>
<My king, listen to me! This man whom you call your friend, he loves me and he is envious of our happiness…>
<No more! I will hear you no more! Go away!>
This is how she left and went out into the world and I haven’t heard from her since then.”
“The lady with fair hair and black dress… does she have a name?” grandpa asked.
“Our names are not from this world and can’t be uttered here”.
We finished eating and he said: “Come with me, the three of you! I’ll take you to the woman inside the hill”.
“How long is the journey?”
“Shorter than you expect”. He put us on his horse and we rode off. After only a short while we stopped near a dark mound.
“Come out! I said come out!” The mound opened and a lady with very long hair stepped out with a candle in her hand.
“It’s late. Who are you? What do you want?”
“Are you alone?” the stranger asked.
“I’m with my husband”.
“Can I see him?”
“He is sleeping, my lord”.
He quickly took her in his arms and put her aside and then rushed into her house, dragging me and my little brother with him. There was a frail and delicate lady sleeping in one of the two beds, with dark flowers in her fair hair, covered in black silk.
“Wake up! he said. Wake up!” She opened her eyes and stared at me with an unearthly look.
“My little girl! Where have you been?” She put her arms around me and I knew she was my mother. Then she looked at Angus: “My little Angus…” He startled.
“You know my name!”
“This isn’t your true name. When you go back and rule and when the sun obeys your command, it will be by your true name. You are my golden-haired children, my gift to the king.”
“Come back with me and with your children, dear little sister! The king knows the truth and he cast out your enemy”, the stranger said.
“Dear brother, I’m afraid you must go back without me and tell him I can’t forgive him for his mistrust. I wandered alone for such a long time before I reached this house! Three men raped me in the woods and one of them was our enemy himself. I don’t deserve being a queen any more. And how could I sleep with him again? I stayed here because this woman promised to give me my babies back if I remained here as a servant. I washed and cooked and swept for so long but she didn’t keep her promise. She is the mistress of the sidhe who loved me and she is jealous of me.”
“Mummy, have you ever worn the white dress?” I asked her.
“I’ll put it on again for you”. She changed her dress and the stranger fit the veil on her face.
“Come back!” he asked one more time.
“No, I won’t. Take Angus with you, he’ll be a king one day. Take the old man too. Me and my daughter, we’ll go and live with our brothers and sisters in the woods”.
The stranger then turned to the lady of the hill:
“Mistress of the outcast…”
“Don’t! Don’t say anything!” She put her finger on his lips. “Take me with you!”