AN: This is the first in a series of one-shots about the lives of Mary Poppins and Bert, starting with their 'elopement' and running away. It sort of ties together with my other story "What's to Happen All Happened Before", but you don't need to read it to understand these. I don't own anything you recognize. Disney (and P.L. Travers) own the rights to Mary Poppins. I hope you like this. I've got some ideas for some of the different chapters but if you have any ideas please feel free to share them. :)
The young man looked at his traveling companion as the sun got higher in the sky. It was morning and the sun had just come up. Things unsaid hung in the air, so she spoke to break the silence, glancing over at the sunrise. "They'll be awake by now." The ghost of a smile danced on her lips as she spoke.
"You always woke up before them…" he trailed off, not really sure what to say even when there was so much that should be said by way of explanation. Last night they were his sisters, but now they were just a memory that'd he'd never get to see in person again.
"I was the nanny." She answered his unspoken question. She was Mary Poppins, former nanny to the two daughters of the King and Queen. They were her latest charges and the ones she'd just said goodbye to merely hours ago. Mary Poppins was always awake before the children; it was her job.
"You'll be the nanny to a new family won't you?" He asked, though he knew she would. Mary Poppins was always going to be a nanny to whatever family needed her.
"Her—Bert...Bert" She started and then stopped. He smiled at that. "Bert." She repeated his name and he loved how musical she could make his name sound. She was getting used to calling him Bert, after him being Prince Herbert up until now. He glanced at her, grinning like a fool. He'd changed a lot in the hours since their departure. He seemed freer, happier, more liberated, though he seemed anxious and afraid as well. She was also, though they knew it did no good to worry. They just disappeared in the middle of the night and nobody would search for them now. By letting them escape, neither the King nor his guards had to search for the 'missing' prince who would have be exiled if they hadn't left on their own. The King will come up for some excuse for the subjects, both Mary Poppins and Bert knew that much. Though maybe sneaking off in the middle of the night was best for everyone, Mary Poppins wished it hadn't been so sudden. "You made a spectacle at dinner last night…" She said. Her voice wasn't angry but it held a melancholy wistfulness.
"Then what would you have suggested I did instead? Get exiled quietly? You know my father was just waiting for a fight…" She didn't answer, knowing anything they did would have been the wrong thing in the King's eyes. But it was only a matter of time before Bert left. "I wonder they'll tell the subjects what happened to me."
"Explaining away a prince would be difficult." Mary Poppins noted. "Though this was a bit more 'private' than a full exile in front of the kingdom."
"Definitely disowned." He said, shrugging.
"At the very least." She said simply. Mary Poppins smiled, then, just trying to lighten the mood.
He grinned. " 'Least I'm not a traitor or anything…." He joked, before staring at the sky again. "Do you always walk when you leave a family?" He asked, sounding more like his nineteen years in that question.
That earned him a laugh. "No, but the winds don't really work with surprise departures." He laughed as well. "Normally, you're right, I do fly. The Winds take me."
"You think I could fly with the Winds, as well?" he asked.
"I don't have an answer to that." She admitted softly. "I should think so… considering your magic."
"It's different than yours." He stated simply.
"I've just had more practice." She answered in the voice he knew to be her 'nanny-voice' that meant that was just the way things were. He grinned at her before going quiet again.
"Do—do you think I'll be nineteen forever…. Or will I continue to age and eventually…. leave you alone?"
She sighed. "I don't know. With your magic, maybe you'll eventually stop aging… though I can't exactly say when."
"Or if I will." He answered, as he picked up a small stone and tossed it in his hand a few times.
"I'd guess that you will stop aging someday, perhaps." He smiled at that. She wasn't sure and could guess but a thousand possibilities came to her mind. "Magic does peculiar things to people who have it." She looked around to try to get their bearings. "Do you have any idea where we are going… Bert?" She repeated his name to cement it in her brain.
He laughed. "Anywhere but here. 'onestly I don't think anywhere will be far enough from those castle walls."
She rolled his eyes as she smiled. "So you've got your 'accent' again?" Over the past few months, when given the chance he would switch to a Cockney accent as a small form of rebellion over how perfect his father wanted him to be.
"O' Course I do. Can't be Bert with the dialect of a prince, can I?" He squeezed her hand and kissed her cheek. She blinked, but soon smiled. Last night was their first kiss and she could still taste how magical it felt on her lips.
"Well where should we go? Or are we just wandering about and dawdling?"
"Don't matter to me. As long as I'm with you, I know I'll be okay. My home is wherever you are." He told her with a certain sparkle in his eyes.
She shifted her bag as she spoke again. "I love you." She said softly.
"Should hope so. You did run away with me." He reminded her with a smile as she rolled her eyes.
"Do be sensible, please." She replied.
"You really think that's possible?" a new voice spoke much to the annoyance of Mary Poppins, and startling Bert. She frowned at the umbrella handle which was in the shape of a parrot's head.
"That thing talks?!" Bert eyed it suspiciously.
"That THING?! Outrageous! Unbelievably impertinent…." The parrot squawked angrily.
She put her fingers over his beak quickly. "Hush!" she scolded it. "You are being even more rude." Turning to Bert she smiled. "I apologize for him. He's not used to company. Being completely honest, I'm not either. I'm used to being alone."
"Well now you'll never 'ave to be alone again." Bert squeezed her hand. She smiled.
"I would have expected him to talk before now…But he doesn't normally talk in front of my charges—"
"Which I'm not." Bert said, she nodded.
"No, I suppose not. Just the same, he usually doesn't talk when I'm on assignment. But like I told you when I took you flying, the umbrella helps."
"Because it's a bird?" He wanted to understand.
"Not because of the parrot…. It just stores my magic." She explained. "My umbrella was a present from my uncle on my Twenty-First Birthday." She smiled as she thought of her beloved uncle. "You'll love him. Uncle Albert is incredible." Bert loved seeing her so happy. He supposed he'd have a lifetime of learning more about her tricks and her wonder. He wondered if he'd ever fully know everything she had up her sleeve.
Listening to her talk about her family got him thinking about his…. At least about his sisters. "They're gonna miss you."
"They'll get on without me. They always do." She said more to herself than to him.
"That can't be true…. They loved you. Cordelia and Guinevere would always tell me how perfect you were."
"I'm not perfect. Nobody can claim to be perfect. I used to think I was close but…. After all this I just don't know anymore."
"All this?" He was worried she regretted leaving with him, but his fears were quickly laid to rest by the look she gave him.
"I should have left to work for another family years ago…. But I wasn't ready to go…"
"I'm glad you stayed." Bert whispered softly. She smiled at him.
"I am too. I just wish I hadn't messed things up for your sisters... For you" He was nineteen and had just lost his title, his family, and his life for her. He'd given up so much for her and all she did was make it difficult for him.
"You were their favorite person." Bert said confidently. He spoke the truth because it was obvious those two girls adored their nanny.
"I was just the nanny. You were their brother…."
"They've got another one still. But there's only one Mary Poppins." Bert told her as though he'd just stated the weather or the fact that his sisters' names were Cordelia and Guinevere. His older brother was the one would eventually become King and it was the role he was born for and enjoyed being a Prince. Bert on the other hand hated nearly everything that came with being a prince.
She kissed his cheek before smiling and continuing to argue. "They loved you. Cori would often tell me about your latest 'mishap' and how I should have been there to see it." He blushed, sheepishly.
"The only real trouble I got into with it was pulling the penguins from my picture book into the room on my seventh birthday." He promised, in much of the same way one of her charges would have persuaded her they were well-behaved. She only laughed. He looked over toward the sun; they were coming up to a small town. That was when he turned to her and took her hand. He stopped walking and knelt on one knee. "Do you want to get married in the first town we come too?" He looked at her in such a way that let her know she was everything he could have ever wanted.
She stopped and looked at him. As he looked into her eyes, he could tell they were glassy. "I—I can't. I'm sorry, love. But I'm not going to get married. I can't. I love you, Bert. You know I do love you with all of my heart….it's just….."
"You're a nanny." His shoulders fell as he finished her thoughts. She nodded silently. She was frustrated with her position and knew it wasn't fair to him, but they couldn't do anything to change it. She was the nanny, she knew he would never ask her to give it up but she wanted better for him then to be stuck loving from a distance. She wanted to love him but if she was working for a family, she couldn't love him as she wanted to.
"Nannies don't marry." She said as though it was the simplest thing in the world. "Girls who are unmarriageable become nannies. Girls like I was." She said. He frowned and started to protest, so she repeated "Women who are unsuitable for marriage become nannies and governesses."
"You think you'd be unsuitable for marriage because of your magic?" He asked incredulously. "You know that's not true…"
"Enough." She said, refusing to look at him. He tried to take her hand again but she pulled away. "It isn't that I don't want to marry but… I want to keep my job…I have to for the children…. We can't marry. I wish we could, but we just can't. Parents would never hire a married nanny. They'd believe if I had a husband I'd be distracted and couldn't properly care for their children…. Not if I had my own family at home…" Her eyes stung and her voice was breaking. She shook her head in frustration.
"Mary—That's not… come here." He put his arms around her. "I'm sorry…" He kissed her forehead. "Then we don't have to marry…'sides, marriage really doesn't matter, right? Not for us, anyway. We can love each other just as we do now, no more no less. We don't need to be married" She never expected him to be understanding especially since she'd just rejected his proposal but he'd surprised her again.
She kissed him. "I'm sorry. I just—" her gaze traveled to the ground.
"I know." He admitted, looking at her. "Don't need a wedding to prove how much I love you."
She smiled lightly. "And I you. You are more than anything I've ever deserved, Bert Alfred."
"Nope." He grinned, taking her hand and all of the sudden began running. She laughed and ran with him, her hair trailing behind her. "That's you, Mary Poppins. The most perfect person in all of the world."
She studied him when they stopped running. "Why were we running? Besides you know I'm not perfect."
"Only 'practically perfect', correct?" He teased, laughing.
"Shush." She scolded him halfheartedly. "But yes. Only practically perfect. Nobody can claim to be completely perfect."
"No matter how close they are to perfection." He repeated. She frowned but slipped her hand is his. His hand felt nice and secure. Like where hers belonged.
"Will you stop badgering me?!" she asked, slightly annoyed with his persistence that she was absolutely perfect. "Back to my original question: why did you just decide to run for no reason?" She was being no-nonsense and he loved seeing her relax. So that was reason enough, not that he'd tell her that.
He broke into a large grin, one of the goofiest that she'd ever seen. "'Cuz we can." He explained as though that was good enough. "Do you even need a reason, Mary Poppins? I'd think you never need a reason to do the things you do, so why do you need one from me?" He laughed and held her close. She scowled ever so slightly at his round-about answer. "Don't be like that, love, you don't give straight answers neither." He reminded her, in his 'accent'.
"Only to my charges. Many of the questions they ask are ones they'd rather not know the answer to, so I give them answer enough without lying…."
"Because it isn't right to lie." He finished for her, knowing what she was going to say. His expression was very cheeky and she only smiled, knowingly. She squeezed his hand lovingly as they continued walking.
After a few moments of the two of them reveling in the silence, she spoke again, breaking the peaceful silence. "I do have a favor to ask of you… when I'm with my next family."
"You don't even hafta ask, Miss Mary Poppins. Anythin' ya want it's yers." He exaggerated his accent and stressed the Miss just a bit too long.
"You can draw," she said, ignoring his other remarks. It wasn't a question because she knew he was an excellent artist. She'd seen what he can do and how talented he really was. "Would you be willing to draw some children for me? I can describe them for you and you can draw them. Some you'll meet so you can draw them from memory, if you'd like. Just in charcoal, if you don't mind." He smiled as she continued describing what she wanted drawn.
"'ow many children is 'some'?" He asked, though he knew he'd do it from the first three words. He was curious to learn more about her charges and how long she'd nannied for.
"Just pictures of all my children over the years… I just want something with their faces and their names to remember them." She answered calmly. He kissed her and nodded.
"I'll help you remember 'em. We're a team now, you and I. If ever you need my help with the kids, I'll be wherever you need." He said with such finality that she just smiled and kissed him back.
"You truly are more than I deserve." She whispered and he just chuckled. "The first children I'd watched by myself were my cousins when I was fourteen. It was….just after my father died. Everyone came for his funeral and I watched their children while the adults helped my Mother. I sang and played games with the children. Read a lot of stories out loud to them. It wasn't really nannying, but I had to do something. Playing with them was a good distraction of the real reason they were there. I loved my cousins but I wished they hadn't needed to come…." She continued talking about how she would do similar things with the children of her Mother's friends growing up before talking about how she started nannying and once she started she knew it was what she was meant to do.
She went through all her children as they walked. Talking about why they needed her and how long she stayed, what adventures she took them on, if any. How long she stayed and their favorite stories. Though he didn't have anything with him to draw and anyone would have started forgetting details as time wore on, but not Mary Poppins. As she continued, he could clearly see these kids in his mind. Some of them he knew he'd draw with a mischievous smirk or a curious look on their eyes. He enjoyed listening to her as the hours passed.
Later on, Bert would eventually draw all the children in an enchanted sketchbook that always had more pages than it looked like it held. He would make each family its own page along with the names of the children and their family name. But for the moment he was getting ideas on how to draw the children to best represent them.
As Mary Poppins finished by describing the three children she'd watched just before Cori and Guinevere Alfred, they passed through another town. He hung back but watched her smile at everyone. Though it was a town she'd never been to, Mary Poppins acted as though she knew everyone and they all mattered to her. He followed her example and smiled at everyone who watched the couple. Nobody in this town would recognize either of them and nobody would know that merely hours ago he was a prince and she was just 'a servant'. All the people saw was two people who were deliriously happy and in love. Bert stifled a yawn and his stomach growled. "You look exhausted; maybe we should get something to eat?" Mary Poppins asked with a little laugh, reminding him that the last thing he ate was only a few bites of dinner the night before.
They stopped in to get some food before continuing their journey. The waiter brought out their food and as they ate Mary Poppins and Bert talked more about what they expected her future charges to be like and how they would interact when they were together.
Towards the end of their meal Bert changed the subject to a question he knew he had as well as his sisters. "Why whenever Cori and Guinevere would ask, you never told them when you were leaving?"
Mary Poppins looked at the plate in front of her before finally replying. "I didn't know when I would be leaving. I stayed longer than I should have but I didn't want to say when I would be leaving because I knew the Winds allowed me more time than I should have had."
"What do you mean?" He asked, studying her.
"I go where I'm needed." Mary Poppins said coyly. "I stay until I'm not needed anymore."
"They needed you for seven years. You made them feel important. Mother and Father were too busy to pay them the attention they needed."
"I don't always come for the children." She said. "There's been families where the parents need my help, not their children... Where I 'save' someone else instead of the children I'm there to nanny for."
He nodded. "You didn't come just for my sisters then." It wasn't a question, but she shook her head anyway. "The Winds control when you leave?"
"I stay until the Winds change. When my current family is practically perfect I leave—" She patiently explained.
"'Cept for this one." He said. "Though I'm sure the girls were close to practically perfect…"
"Your family was a different situation. I couldn't fix your family because I was the reason it was broken in the first place."
"Wasn't your fault, Miss Mary. Was the stubborn boy who refused to listen when everyone told him to give up on loving the very best woman." He grinned and she smiled a brief moment.
"If you're finished I would like to get a move on." She said and he stood up. Taking her hand as all gentlemen do when escorting a beautiful lady, they left after paying for their meal.
"What Winds do you fly with?" He remembered her mentioning how the Wind carried her by umbrella a few weeks before.
She sighed a moment before replying. "Winds in the East. I never disobeyed before. I've never left a family before the Winds took me away."
"So the Winds told you never to fall in love?" She blinked in surprise by his question. It definitely caught her off guard, so it took her a moment to collect her thoughts.
"I've never known anyone like you before." She replied, kissing him. He just grinned. "But to answer your question: I haven't been told whether or not I must do my job alone or with someone else. I mean I've had my Umbrella, though he is disagreeable and difficult at times, but I've never had another person. Practically perfect people don't rely on others when there is work to be done."
"They do when the person they rely on will always be there for them and will love them no matter what." He said squeezing her hand. She laid her head on his shoulder. "Besides changing children for the better seems like it needs teamwork over working alone."
"It will be difficult at times. I don't even know if you can go with me…"
"Then I better practice my drawing and my magic so I can go to where you are." She laughed.
"You have an idea for everything don't you?" She was half-joking.
"When I'm in love with Mary Poppins I gotta have a plan." He teased her back. "Besides it won't be like you're gone forever. I'm sure most of the places you can go I'll find some way to be around, too. Maybe I can find work nearby."
"Very well." She said, demurely. She took his hand again and never looked back.