I've added two more related stories to Tam Lin balladry:Kemp Owyne
- a young woman is turned into a dragon by her stepmother, and sent to live under a tree by the ocean, until such time as Kemp Owyne comes to kiss her. Kemp Owyne does come, but seeing as she's a deadly dragon, he's a bit reluctant. She offers him a magical item for each kiss, providing him with invulnerability. At the third kiss, she transforms back into a young woman.The Laily Worm and the Machrel of the Sea
- a similar tale, with a wicked stepmother who transforms one of her children into a dragon, exiled to live under a tree, but this time it's a boy, and his sister is transformed into a fish. Although the siblings can interact once a week, the rest of the time they mostly kill people. Then their father comes to find them, and the dragon-boy tells his tale of woe. He goes to his wife and demands that she transforms the children back. The boy turns into a grown man, but the sister refuses, saying one act of magic was enough. The father then burns the stepmother for her crimes.
These are Child's ballads 34 and 36, so fairly close in Child's organization to Tam Lin. I'm particularly taken with the sister-mackerel in the latter story. When the stepmother is captured, fish sister respond to the offer to be turned back with:
But the proud machrel of the sea:
‘Ye shapeit me ance an unseemly shape,
An ye’s never mare shape me.’
Or, basically, "Screw you, I'd rather stay a fish than be under your power".
Since the ballad is told from the point of view of the brother, we don't really get an idea of what life was like for the sister- we know that once a week, the enchantment is suspended, and she and her brother meet, and she combs out his hair. We know that during his periods of enchantment, he's killed at least seven knights who came to challenge him. We do not know what she did as a fish.
I hope- and I'd love a retelling that explains or explores it- that she had her own powers as a fish, and her refusal to be changed back, although understandable simply as a desire to never again be under the power of an abuser, might also have some beneficial reasons. I hope there was something awesome about being a magical fish, and that she got to have some kind of awesome adventures of her own.