|As the Ice Will Go
Author: Nite-Lights PM
Mary and Bert are reunited 100 years after she was under the Banks employ, and for a small moment, the circumstances are perfect. But as the winter thins and the ice melts, spring carries with it a change more permanent than the winds could ever carry.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Chapters: 6 - Words: 12,939 - Reviews: 16 - Favs: 12 - Follows: 10 - Updated: 03-20-12 - Published: 10-12-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7460041
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Winds in the east, mist coming in… Like something is brewing, about to begin…
A man stood on the grimy rooftops of London, staring up at a sky filled to the brim with stars. Around him swirled a light breeze, one unseasonably warm for late November.
Can't put me finger on what lies in store…But I fear what's to happen, all happened before.
"Not much longer now." The man mumbled, turning his gaze from the heavens and back to the cold earth below him, where late night commuters made their trek home. Streetlights flashed at empty corners; yellow, red, then green. A few short miles away, an infant woke exhausted parents with its cries for attention.
Dew had turned to frost since night had fallen, and the temperature had dropped into the single digits. But the breeze, picking up now in strength, was warm, like a spring day or a summer night. The man, who was wrapped in multiple layers, turned from his current position and made his way to the very edge of the rooftops, opposite from the very noticeable main street, and instead looked out over a darkened alley, where nothing but a stray cat or two prowled the night, looking for a bite to eat. The man looked down at his hands, youthful and strong, and he frowned. They had recently begun to shake. It had been nothing but a slight tremor at first, hardly noticeable. But now, if he focused on them, he could see it was more than obvious. Behind him, a car whirred down the street, its motor roaring as its driver pumped the acceleration, likely showing off for the passengers. The man sighed and stuffed his hands in his coat pockets.
"See you soon then." He said, seemingly to no one. But the wind surged, as if in response. He smiled and stepped off of the roof.
As the years had passed, the need for chimney sweeps became less and less. With electricity and gas coming into play, furnaces took over for fireplaces and many people got rid of their fireplaces all together. During the winter months, those with fireplaces put them to use, for nostalgic purposes only; Christmas Eve with the family around the fire and what have you. Even then however, fires were lit few and far between, and there had been an invention that cleaned chimneys for you, of course. So gone were the days of the Chimney Sweep. Though he had spent many a year away from his first and favorite job, Bert still found himself spending his nights on the rooftops. In the recent years, he no longer had the company of his sweep mates, setting up a makeshift table and playing cards, having a drink or two as they waited for the sun to dawn on a new day; they had all long since left him. He could no longer welcome the afternoon and evening with Admiral Boom, or have tea with Uncle Albert, as they were gone too. Even the young Banks children; Jane and Michael, had long since left their grand and even great-grandchildren behind with a treasure trove of stories from their youth that they could pass on to their children, who are now grown themselves. Aside from Mary, wherever she happened to be, Bert was the only one left.
A restless night brought the morning, where Bert woke up to greet the dawn and to headed off to work another day at the architecture company with which he had found work after he was forced to leave his last one once the other employees wondered why it was that he had not aged in twenty-five years; he noticed a thick fog had fallen since the night before. His stomach lurched at the knowledge of what, or rather who, came with the winds and the mists. But this time, he found he was not as excited as he should be. Deep in the pit of his stomach, he knew that this time was different. With that knowledge, Bert was sad, his heart ached, and it had seemed a lump had become permanently lodged in his throat. He had decided that he would put it from his mind until he had finished work for the day. It would only clog his mind and make way for accidents.
By the time Bert had left work for the day, the sky was covered completely by a thick blanket of grey, fluffy clouds. The grounds were buried with a heavy layer of snow and each breath hung in the air, a puff of smoke before vanishing. Bert smiled. He loved the winter more than most seasons. Winter brought with it warm nights and thick blankets. Winter brought a sense of peace, and a calming silence that fell over everything. Nights that held the promise of new white worlds to greet the day. Heated arguments seemed quelled and petty grudges were all but forgotten. With winter came peace, but with winter, came the prospects of spring, and with spring came change. For now, Bert chose to focus on peace rather than change, and ignored his shaking hands by placing them into his pockets as he walked home.
Once everyone had gone, Bert found he could not stay as close to Cherry Tree Lane as he was, as he had his whole life. There was nothing for him and as years came and went, the location lost its allure. With Mary gone away to a new house, he had no reason to stay so he travelled. But with all the places he got stamped in his passport, he had found his way back to England all the same. For years he ran from its soft song that called him back home, he went to the farthest reaches of the earth, but finally, could not bear to be away, and home he went. He found a quaint town in the complete opposite direction of Cherry Tree Lane that seemed to escape the passage of time, at least in architectural aspects, and it was there he found a new home. One hundred and one years after he had watched Mary leave the Banks's, and seventy-six since he last saw her, and the winds had found him again, confirming that Mary Poppins had come home to London.
He walked, lazily, but with clear direction, to the park he used to frequent. He knew she would be there, and there really was no point in delaying a reunion, not that he had much desire to anyway. Stopping at the gates to the park, where he used to pander his chalk drawings, he smiled and let the heavy feeling of nostalgia steep in, wrapping around him like a warm blanket. The gates had long since been replaced; the tall towering gothic doors and thick brick walls of the past with a small stone and wire contraption, that couldn't keep a large dog out. The large grassy field to the right had been tarred over to make room for a massive parking lot, and the carousel that once brought joy to many children and adults alike had been destroyed, its spot given over to benches and small grills for picnicking families. The rest of the park; the small fountains, and the winding walkways, had long since been removed, and new shiny swing sets and obstacle courses had taken up residence in their spot.
With the winter setting in overnight, the grills were not in use, and there were no picnickers. The swings only moved when a breeze pushed them, and the obstacle courses were silent and untouched. However, high on the hilltop ahead of him, where Bert fondly remembered flying kites with Mary and her wards, children surged up and down on sleds, or over in the wings, throwing snowballs and making angels and snow people. It was atop the hill where he spotted her, chiding three children who refused to wear their scarves and hats while sledding. With each wag of her finger, Bert could imagine precisely what she was saying to them. Things like assuring them that by the end of the day they would be ill in bed, and how important hats were in retaining heat in the winter months. Or the proper function of a scarf. Bert could not help but laugh, surprised at how very easy it was to remember those things about her, even though he had not seen nor heard from her in almost eighty years.
He wound his way to the back of the hill and trekked up it, making sure that he was not in her hindsight. It was a rare occasion that he could ever sneak up on her, but he would be damned if he didn't at least give it a go after so long apart. Softly stepping so not to crunch his boots in the snow, he stopped a few feet short of her left side and stood silent, watching as she called out to one of the children.
"Now, now! Jason, do hold on to the reins, we do not want your sister flying off into a snow bank." She commanded, frowning and clicking her tongue as the boy laughed at the idea of his sister soaring through the air and plunging into a mountain of snow. Each time the surrounding noises surged, he took a step closer, using the hysterical children's laughter as a cover for his footsteps.
"Eric! We do not use our sleeves as a tissue." She ordered another child, sighing in an annoyed fashion.
"And you!" she called, not pointing to anyone in particular.
"You most of all. We do not sneak up on friends that we have not seen in decades." She said, quietly, but with no less emotion as she whirled around to face Bert, a stern expression on her face. Her arms crossed over her chest as she looked him up and down.
Bert smiled and laughed, deep and bellowing. He took his hat off of his head and slapped it against his knee.
"Oh, you know I can't 'elp but to try there, Miss Mary!" He said mirthfully. Mary sighed and nodded.
"Well, you were always one for shenanigans. Oh, my dear Bert. You haven't aged a day!" She remarked, stepping closer to him and laying a gloved hand on his face briefly, before clasping her hands together in front of her. Bert shook his head and chuckled.
"Nor you, my sweet! Nor 'ave you. But does it really need pointin' out then?" He smiled moving to stand next to her.
"No. Quite right, I suppose it doesn't." She confirmed, turning around to watch the sledding children.
"So you've got three this time, eh? Not givin' you much trouble then, 'ave they?" He asked, watching as Mary shook her head slightly.
"Oh Bert, three is child's play. You would have loved, I think, the couple I worked for in America. They had seven children, and another daughter living at home with two children of her own. Now that, old friend, was a handful." Mary remarked factually. Bert shook his head and rocked back and forth on his heels.
"Bet you 'andled it with ease though, didn't you?" He grinned, cupping his hands in front of his mouth and blowing hot air on them. Mary glanced at him sideways before turning to face him, a concerned expression on her face.
"Dear Bert. My old friend…" she began, "In the excitement of our reunion, I regret to tell you I've forgotten how long it's been since we last met. Would you kindly refresh my memory?" She asked, her eyes focusing on his hands. He watched her eyebrows furrow briefly before regaining composure and mentally kicked himself for allowing her to see his hands.
"Why, that'll be seventy-six years as of June, I do believe. My, it 'as been a while, 'asnt it?" He commented lightly.
"Seventy-six. Yes, too long for friends to go without contact, I would say. Tell me then, Bert, how long has it been since I left the Banks residence? Or are you like myself, and cannot remember the date?" She pressed, giving him her undivided attention once he had stuffed his hands into his pockets. Bert smiled and swallowed the lump in his throat.
"One 'undred and one as of August." He responded definitively. Mary's expression sunk and she sighed as if she were disappointed.
"It appears then, that I am a bit late in my homecoming." She said after a pregnant pause.
"I apologize, old friend. I did not expect to be away so long." She sighed, turning and looping her arm through his.
"Now then, wots this all about? Mary Poppins, you 'ave told me time and again that Practically Perfect people do not let sentiment muddle their thinkin'. Don't tell me you've abandoned your ways. I am fine, fit as a fiddle! Don't you go worryin' about ol' Bert." He smiled, never giving her the opportunity to confirm that he was worried far more than she was.
Saying nothing, Mary squeezed his arm in response and took in a cleansing breath.
"It is good to see you again." She said finally before whistling for the children.
Oh look! A new story! So this is probably going to be a short little thing, only a few chapters, as I came up with the idea quite on the fly. But I hope you enjoy none the less, and review to let me know what you think! :)