Catherine Oh, please, just Catherine. Nathan and I never put much importance on the whole King and Queen thing. It’s just something we had to do, don’t enjoy much, but sometimes you have to do things you don’t like. Would you care for some tea?
Why, thank you! So why you don’t enjoy being Queen?
Catherine Well, I don’t like to complain, and there are certain privileges that it affords. But it is a lot of work. Nathan and I would have been perfectly happy just living with the others at the Keep and making a life for ourselves there. Still, Rowan needed us, so that’s what we did.
You seem to take it more seriously than Nathan does.
Catherine Oh, I wouldn’t say that. That’s just the way Nathan unloads the stress of the job. It’s like when you’re upset and you say “It doesn’t matter,” when you know perfectly well it does. If Nathan didn’t really take the job to heart, Rowan would not be in the good shape that it is today. He actually does work very hard at it. He complains loudly about it, but he does the job well.
What was life like before Nathan took the throne?
Catherine Well, first of all I had no idea that he was an attainted prince, and nobody ever bothered to enlighten me, least of all him! He just came in one evening, in a foul mood, and when I asked him what was wrong, he told me that our coronation would be scheduled within the week.
That must have come as quite a shock!
Catherine You might say that. Simon and I were raised in a small seaside village. Our father was a fisherman. I was absolutely unprepared for any role within a royal family, much less being the queen. It was hard enough just undergoing the binding with Nathan and coming to terms with life as a mage’s wife.
Nathan has said that he remembers nothing of the binding. What do you remember?
Catherine Almost nothing, as well. It was all very upsetting. You see, I had gone to visit Simon. I wasn’t supposed to – he had been shunned after he’d been maged and joined the Circle. I wasn’t supposed to have anything to do with him anymore. But he’s my twin – that’s like telling me that I’m never to use my left arm again, so I’m to ignore it and never admit that I even have a left arm. Ridiculous!
You must have missed him terribly.
Catherine I did. He kept a little hut deep in the woods near our home, and he would go there from time to time. I always knew when he was there and I’d sneak out after everyone was asleep and go to visit him. Only this one night, Nathan was there with him. Neither Simon nor I knew what would happen, and Nathan didn’t even know that Simon had a sister, much less a magicker twin. I remember bursting in, Simon and Nathan looked surprised, and then Nathan changed and came after me. I was frightened, I ran, I remember him catching me and, really, a moment of intense pain. Then nothing until I woke up with him at the Keep with Simon trying to battle the entire Circle trying to get to me.
Goodness, you must have been terrified!
Catherine I was, and utterly bewildered! Nathan was, too. We kept trying to get away from each other, but we couldn’t. The more we tried, the more it upset him, and he’d pounce on me all over again. After a few days, everything settled down and Cristov and the Council sat us down and explained what had happened and what we needed to do. Nathan and I weren’t very happy about it, and Simon was absolutely enraged about the whole thing. He kept attacking Nathan and trying to beat him up. Cristov kept having to flatten him because Nathan would just hold him off, but he wouldn’t fight back. Eventually Simon came to terms with it, but he never really forgave Nathan.
How long did you live at the Keep before Nathan took the throne?
Catherine Not very long, actually. Andrew, Nathan’s brother, died in his late forties – a thoroughly reprehensible man. Even his subjects hated him. So I guess I’d been with Nathan for about twelve or fifteen years at that point. I knew the King had died and left no heir, but I had no idea of Nathan’s connection with the family.
What were you doing for the fifteen years at the Keep?
Catherine I was helping Cullen at the apothecary, and Cristov gave me charge of an enormous greenhouse where Cullen and I collaborated on curatives. He has some very innovative ideas, and is truly a gifted life mage.
Life mage? I thought he was a healer.
Catherine He is – it’s part of being a life mage. But Cullen doesn’t just heal, he also generates.
Are you saying he creates life?
Catherine Not exactly. There has to be something there to build on. He doesn’t create life, he builds on it, nurtures, transforms it. He can take two different plants and marry them so that their progeny is an entirely new species. Brilliant, brilliant man!
Sounds like you have a lot of respect for Cullen. Are you close friends?
Catherine I don’t mean to imply anything inappropriate or inaccurate. We are friends and colleagues. We’ve worked closely together and celebrated many triumphs and suffered plenty of failures. And Cullen has listened to many bitter complaints and woes about Nathan, but no one else would ever know it. He said as far as he’s concerned, it could all just stay in the greenhouse and fertilize the plants.
That’s very nice of him.
Catherine Well, we don’t work as closely anymore. I do what I can, but realm responsibilities do keep me busy. I’m head of the Charitable Trust, and various other duties. I spend what time I can in the solarium here at Rowan Castle, and overseeing the herb fields. Cullen and I don’t get to work together more than perhaps once or twice a week.
Do you get to spend much time with Simon?
Catherine Simon has a suite of rooms here at the Castle. He is a part of the royal family, after all, whether Nathan likes it or not. But he likes to wander a lot, so he comes and goes.
He’s got quite a reputation as a party guy. He seems particularly fond of the Buck and Fowl.
Catherine Oh, that place! I wish they’d never started going there. I think he’s just bored, because he doesn’t have an actual vocation other than wandering in the woods, and he serves as the Circle Greeter. He’s also on the Council of Mages, but I suspect it was only so Nathan and Cristov could keep an eye on him. I’ve tried to get him involved in my charity work, but he’s shown no interest in it. Ah well. A sister can only do so much. I can’t make him over into what he’s not.
Have you ever been to the Buck and Fowl?
Catherine Goodness no! What would people say if it was discovered that the queen spent the wee hours of morning haunting a disreputable, run down pub at the wharf?
Well, I can see your point, but it doesn’t seem to bother Nathan.
Catherine Truly, Nathan doesn’t really like that place. He’ll go around just to spend time with the guys, because that’s where they always like to go. But he hates the food there, and drinking has never been one of his favorite recreational activities. I wish he didn’t because he comes home stinking of the place, but boys will be boys, so what can you do?
True enough. What do you do to have fun?
Catherine I have quite a lot to keep me busy, but I do enjoy...
Nathan Catherine! Are you coming? We’re late already!
Catherine Oh for pity’s sake, Nathan. We’re the guests of honor. They won’t start without us and we’re expected to be a little late. I’m busy! Go away.
Nathan A little late! At this rate it’ll be over before we get there, and you were the one who wanted to do it. I did not put on this straight jacket and ten pound hair ornament for nothing!
Catherine ***sigh*** Exercise a little patience, if you please. I won't be a moment.
Nathan If you don’t come now, I’m going without you. And I’m going to say hello to all your friends. And talk to them.
Catherine Nathan, don’t you dare!
Catherine Oh! My sincere apologies, but I must go. He’ll make a complete buffoon of himself if I let him off his leash. Well, more of a buffoon than usual, anyway.
It was a pleasure talking to you, Catherine.
Catherine And to you, my dear. Good luck with your interviews.