Civilized nations have often long forgotten the ancient druidic traditions. These "civilized" people might have even intentionally done away with the tradition and its strange, oft-misunderstood, pagan rites. Those who later pursue this lost knowledge rely more upon crumbling written accounts rather than the wild's natural calling. Scholars of these ancient ways who show enough promise become embraced and "adopted" by trickster fey, learning the old ways anew. Capricious and cruel as only the fey can be, these new druids might eventually discover why the druids of old were put to the sword. The sidhe (pronounced "shee") scholar is an erudite hero who has lost touch with the more mundane tasks of a traditional druid (such as normal care of flora and fauna) in exchange for sylvan power that might prove itself best left to the immortals that refined it. The fey who usually take these druids under their wings are not your average "fairies." They are not dryads or nixies, grigs or brownies. Instead, the fey who train sidhe scholars are the refined, aristocratic faeries of the Seelie and Unseelie courts. As sleek and dangerous as hunting cats, these fey are incomprehensible beings to whom a human's life holds as much significance as a mayfly's. The faeries of the courts regard humans who wish to learn from and worship them with amusement, approving of their reverent attitudes as appropriate behavior from such inferior beings. As such, they do aid their supplicants readily, but expect much praise and appreciation for their pains.
The sidhe scholar is a more educated character than the archetypical druid. She actually has more in common with wizards than any other character class. A sidhe scholar is not a wizard, though. Despite erudite tendencies, the sidhe scholar is still a divine supplicant: she gains her magical powers through hard work and study, but she cannot cast her spells or perform her other magical abilities based upon her own inner arcane spark like a wizard or even a sorcerer. Instead, like other druids, she must draw upon the powers of nature and the wild lands. In settings with themes of urbanization and turning away from the natural world, the traditions of the original druidic ways are likely lost and must be rediscovered. Hence, the sidhe scholar calls not upon the deities of nature or the raw energy of the wilds themselves, but upon the only beings who remember the old ways well enough to instruct her - the fey.
Like the druid, the sidhe scholar values Wisdom as her most important ability score; bonus spells, spell DCs, and Will save are all extremely important to this magic-oriented variant. Intelligence and Charisma share secondary importance. Ranks in different Knowledge skills and Diplomacy serve her well. Pursuing the forgotten rites of the old druids might be viewed as foolish at best and dangerous at worst, making it important to assuage the fears and superstitions of concerned locals. Dealings with the fey themselves also tend to go much smoother with a high Charisma.
The sidhe scholar is a variant druid. Unless otherwise noted, a sidhe scholar advances in the same manner as a druid (same base attack bonus, saving throw bonuses, skill points, and so on). When a character elects to take a level of druid or sidhe scholar, she may not later take levels in the other class. This prevents the character from gaining the benefits of a 1st-level druid twice.
Because of her faerie training, a Sidhe Scholar gets some weird abilities compared to a standard druid. Whilst she retains the druid's Wild Shape and Timeless Body features, she also gains several others. Notably, her animal companion has a touch of fey blood in it, making it more powerful, but also more aloof - and more opposed to civilization. The fey magics they call upon influence their Wild Shape, causing their animal forms to always be cosmetically altered to suggest faerie heritage. Their focus on a more studied and academic approach to the druidic arts gives them a more wizardly outlook, manifesting in an increased aptitude for the more scholarly side of nature lore and the ability to craft magical staffs. Finally, the tutelage of the fey gives them access to increased magical aptitudes, from increased aptitude for magical lore and survival, to enhanced magical potency, to the ability to cast spells normally associated with the Cleric Domain of Evil.