Interview with the Changeling’s Wife

Interview with Helen Ransome.  19th September 2035. By Sangita Ifors

SI “Mrs Ransome, thank you for agreeing to this interview.”

HR “You’re welcome. Would you like tea and cake? John and Anthony had a midnight baking competition last night and came over earlier claiming that the Silverwood freezers were full. We have lemon drizzle, double chocolate, and a rather gorgeous Victoria sponge with Whitby Farm raspberry jam.”

SI “Tea would be lovely, thank you. And a small slice of the sponge, if you insist ….”

HR “Oh, I do. Did you see the children outside? Rudi and Richie, who aren’t my grandsons, strictly speaking, but they’re irresistible when they call me Oma. Hang on, I’ll get Andy to do the honours.”

Later.

HR “I heard that Andy was impossible in his interview. Did you get anything usable?”

SI “Very little, but I do have a meeting set up with his latest protégés.”

HR “The Pluto girls? If I was ten years younger I’d have managed them myself, it’d be good for their souls to have a female manager.”

SI “You still work?”

HR “I work with Bailey Drummond, still, we’ve been partners for about twelve years now, and he won’t let me retire. We have trust in each other, which is very important in our business.”

SI “You were a scientist …”

HR “I was a band manager, and a scientist. And a band wife, too. Also, a mum and a grandma. Somehow, I managed to do all of them. I still dabble, in cell biology, my friend Diana has an excellent private laboratory and she lets me play, when I want to.”

SI “Few people understand your friendship with Diana …”

HR “Few people understand Diana, and I myself have never been easily understood. We don’t need people to understand why we are friends, why should we?”

SI “Your husband had a secret affair with her for many years …”

HR “My husband was secretly a werewolf for many years. He had another family, which I didn’t know about. It was, of course, a huge blow, when I found out, but I have never been a jealous woman, and once I understood the need for the secrecy, I learned to cope with the betrayal. As time went on, I came to see it as a blessing. Andy was a better father to my daughters because of his experience with his other children, the shapeshifter traits gave him the strength and resilience to be more successful, both in the band, and in business. I’ve never really had close female friends, perhaps because Andy and I are so close, and always have been, but Diana and I have so much in common, we were fated to be rivals. And with a rival, you bring them close, or you fight. We had too many common interests to fight, so we became friends.

SI “That’s a cold blooded assessment.”

HR “I know, it was actually put forward to me by Diana, and I thought the same thing as you, I was quite shocked, until I realised that I agreed with her, completely.”

SI “How did you cope with Mark’s divorce from Katie, I understand that the two of you were close.”

HR. “We were married to men who are very close to each other. There’s a difference. Katie and I … rubbed along … I suppose. We keep in touch, at Christmas, you know? As I said, I don’t easily make female friends.”

SI “You occupy an unusual position, you are very closely linked to the Silverwood Pack, as they are known, but you are not part of it. What are your thoughts on that?”

HR “Everyone has a similar experience, I’m sure. We’re all on the margins of something or other.”

SI “Do you feel envious, or angry?”

HR “There is nothing in this world that I could desire, that wouldn’t be mine if I asked for it. There is no need for envy, because I don’t want what they have.”

SI “May I ask why?”

HR “I’m happy as I am. Simply that.”

SI “Diana’s work on the W chromosome is widely known, did you contribute to that?”

HR “I wish! No, she did all that long before we met. We’ve worked together on a project looking at how the W chromosome acts as an extra immune system, and I got several papers out of that. Meeting Diana was rather a treat, to be honest, I think I would have given up science completely and concentrated on returning to the music industry, as it’s not that easy to just dabble in genetics and cell biology. Her lab, and her research, has been wonderful for me.”

SI “And did you give her tips on being a band wife?”

HR “She never needed tips, because she’s never really been a band wife. She stayed in the shadows, and didn’t get involved at all, apart from a few parties in the early days with John, which he pretty much talked her into.”

SI “If she had been, what advice would you have given her?”

HR (laughs) “Don’t be! Seriously, I think that’s one of the strengths of the Hearts, Andy and Xan had me, and I grew up with them. Katie wasn’t impressed by Mark’s music stuff one bit, she loved him for other reasons. And Di … I think the music tickled her, but it was always about the werewolves with her. So, the Hearts could get on with it on their own terms, knowing that their partners had lives of their own.”

SI “Going back to the Hearts, I’ve asked Andy how he felt when he first met Mark and John. Do you remember the first time you saw them?”

HR “Vividly! It was the same time that Andy and Xan saw them. Enrolment day at sixth form, I was chatting to the lads, when we saw a couple of heavy metal kids, as we called ourselves back then, walking together in the opposite direction. I’d never seen anyone as self possessed as those two, they had this field around them, that said ‘couple’ to anyone with the sense to look. That piqued Xan’s interest.”

SI “And what piqued yours?”

HR “Hmm, then? Nothing really, I noticed that my boys were fascinated by them, but I didn’t pay much attention until I got to know Mark a little more. He’s always been an interesting guy.”

SI “Really?”

HR “Now, you know how happily married I am. You can find a guy interesting and attractive without having to bed him, you know? Anyway, I like Mark a lot. Now John, I love to bits, because there’s not a lot else you can do about John. He’s kinda irresistible. If you print that, I’ll say you made it up, because he shouldn’t be encouraged. And I don’t mean he’s gorgeous, because he’s just too obvious for my taste, I mean he has charisma.”

SI “John Preston is too obviously attractive, but you married Andy Ransome?”

HR (laughs) “Oh lord. I know. It’s embarrassing. He looks like he fell from heaven. Well, he did when we were kids, anyway. I have learned to look past the incredible good looks and see the … oh dear, there’s no way I can finish that sentence without risking his ego exploding. Let’s just say he’s lovely, eh?”

SI “And Xan?”

HR “I still miss him, every day, every night.”

SI “He was your lover, just as much as Andy was, is that right?”

HR “Yes.”

SI “How did you feel when you found out that he had a daughter?”

HR “Utterly shocked. I was prepared, with Andy and Di’s kids. I pretty much knew about them, or at least about the girls. I found a photo, years before Andy came clean about them. I kept it, and waited for him to admit to them. They were his girls, it was obvious. But you know, I managed to keep that in a back room in my mind. I had to live with knowing that there was a big lie, but even then, I trusted Andy. I knew that I could trust him, and that he would tell me when he could.”

SI “And Miranda?”

HR “Yeah, she was a shock, but after the first reaction, I just wanted to meet her. She is so like him, so like Xan, physically. She’s a bit fey too, like he was. She’s always been very kind to me.”

SI “That’s an odd way of putting it.”

HR “It’s how she is. She’s very reserved, she doesn’t give her affection easily. It hurt, to see so much of Xan in a girl who saw me as a stranger, and she had the intelligence to spot that, to see my pain, and to give me her time and understanding, at such a young age.”

SI “Were you angry, that Diana had Xan Kendrick’s child?”

HR “Grateful, that someone did, and it was someone who had the intelligence and love to raise her as Di did Miranda. It can’t have been easy, not with all those other kids.”

SI “And your own daughters?”

HR “Oh lord, my daughters are a law unto themselves, Naomi will settle on something, some day. Until then she seems happy enough. As for Eva, she was such a quiet little girl, but now she can’t seem to find a rule without looking for an interesting reason to break it. She’s a dad, you know, officially. She delights in it.”

SI “Cal and Eva are the only shifters so far who have experimented with gender roles to such a degree …”

HR “Gender roles! They changed sex! Both of them, for long enough for Cal to conceive, carry, birth and nurse his twins and for Eva to father them. She makes a handsome man, I will say, I always wanted a son, and she jokes that when she changes sex, she’s being an especially dutiful daughter.”

SI “Do you find it odd?”

HR “Yes, frankly, I do. But who wouldn’t? Apart from Andy. They call him The Changeling, you know?”

SI “Do you have any worries about the future?”

HR “Most of the people I love are part of a very public, very controversial, minority. Of course I worry.”

SI “And your hopes for the future?”

HR “That there is one.”

SI “Thank you Mrs Ransome.”

 

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