Nicole St John

A/N: Based on the character Peregrine Hazard from Wise Children by Angela Carter, Perry reflects on his feelings for Nora and Dora and how he came to be where he is 'now'.

Why is blood thicker than water? Why does the truth always hide a lie? And why does he show up 'round every damn corner?

I will tell you why if you've a moment to spare. Life is, as the saying goes, 'full of surprises'.

I am one half, the better half, if I do say so myself, of those two iridescent Hazard lads, born the right side of the sheets I'll have you know; I the Red Herring and he the Brooding Blackbird. There is an irony, I can now whimsically reflect upon, to every little chime of our sorry little air. His lovely chits, my delight, and my contribution his pride and joy. Ever entwined and bound together by the strands of a demented mistress, we are children of another time, caught fast in fate's fist.

The beginning is, I suppose, the conventional place to start a journey, but I never could hold with convention, and so mine shall start at the end.

As I held out the latest Hazards 'of disputed paternity', I couldn't help but loose myself in the moment, I was a magician again, stunning my audience, rabbits, scarves, a card or two… I longed for a cape to swish dramatically aside to reveal my bundles, to hear the crowd 'ooh' and 'ah'… but this was a moment for sobriety… well… as sober as I could manage… the wine was very good…

Nora, my little buttercup had her babies as I had mine, her euphoric "Oh Perry!" reminded me of why I'd made it this far, how I'd managed a centenary. 100 tracks 'round the old 'red eye' and here I am still, prattling on, telling my tale. It is safe to say that they were the sun and moon in my day and night, I think Nor' was the sun and Dor' the moon, Nora chattered and demanded my attention, never satisfied with less; Dora listened and straight out told me to get on with it, I was a devil, am a devil for prolonging the anticipation for a good story, she was the sedate smile or the wicked gleam in my eye.

I caught something in Dora's eye as she watched Nor' and the little ones, satisfaction I would have said if I had to name it, but then it was something else too, I caught the whiff of another of those little secrets they had, something none but the two of them would ever share in and for a second, a tiny moment, I suppose it might have been the nostalgia a parent gets when he watches his child grow up, I was reminded of the instant I took the two of them to meet their 'father'. His disdain and unfeeling cruelty left a scar on my heart as I am sure it must have theirs. I don't claim the injured party, I got the Lion's share of their affections and I am selfishly glad of it, but none the less, it was at that moment I think that whatever bridge of kinship there was between us, was irrevocably dissolved. Their sweet tears would forever cast a shadow over any dealings we had there after.

I love them both of course, in different ways, neither more than the other, but never the same. Nora was a waif looking for a basket to lay in, a pat on the head… someone to dust her down after she'd tripped, Dora didn't trip, she always thought first, then made her move… well, almost always. She and I are the complete opposite… they do say though, that poles attract, an irresistible pull which will inevitably bring them together.

And together we did come… "And all my soul is a delight, a swoon of shame…" I whispered in her ear, as we lay together, that shame though wasn't that we had succumb to that most forbidden fruit, but that it had not been sooner… that I had not realised myself what came to me then before that night. 'We were forever entwined, she and I, like juxtaposing semantics, lost at the gate to that most ordered sonnet, to realise past our time, that discordance was the most blissful form of perfection.' I believe is how she put it once, in one of her funny moods, my Dor'.

As for Nora? I wish she had been mine, my own little bud. I was proud as punch that I'd had a hand, indirect and irregular as it was, in the forming of that gal', she was as gentle and as coarse as a heavenly imp, she was me over again, not caring for biology, for blood or for opinion, but loving those little cherubs, as she calls them, the same as if they were her own. If they, those precious little eggs, are half as good flyers as that hen, they will soar to the stars. She's as big a heart as any I know, and by God, I've known a few, she'll do us proud, I'd Hazard a guess.

I suppose even in the morning of our passionate affair, the girls were never identical to me. They were forever as different from each other, as Melchior and I were. Perhaps it is the cast that we twins fill, that everyone but ourselves thinks us the same in all things, visible and invisible, perhaps that is why I could always tell them apart, always knew which was which, even dressed up to the nines, not a hair to strike a note.

I find it hard now, to recollect, what transpired from one day to the next, there a decades which have dimmed and disappeared in mist, but there are moments, minutes, an hour trapped in time, immortalised and locked in crystal, as clear now as if I were living them still. One moment I remember, the shadow over all I know of her, is a memory of dear Dor' stood sedate and mournful on Brighton pier, a little green bow, perched in her mousy locks. Oh don't get me wrong, I can see your thoughts now, "only thirteen!" you cry, "For shame!" I'd never stoop to that. I recall her face, her turn of countenance because it struck me then, the woman she would become, the tall, firm, brazen adult, who'd stand sturdy against all winds. I felt like a prophet, foretelling a doom, the witches to Macbeth, predicting the woes of adulthood from the glowing orb of childhood.

I wondered at the last, if that was it? I thought at the time it must be, that she and I had danced our dance and now it was time for the curtain call… I know different now of course, as I flick to the sight of the darling in slumber, she keeps me warm on those nights we can both spare, not frequent enough for it to need definition, but often enough so that there are no doubts left. I don't regret a thing, I might have done it differently, sailed on another ship stayed on land more often, but I've no regrets…

I repent the bitterness and jealousy now, that the Blackbird seemed to have it all at the time, but in the end when the play was put to bed, my glass was brimming, his was barren and filled with tears… no… I've no regrets… I may have been the decoy, but I was never the fool.