AN- I wanted to do something sweet and fluffy to make up for the last chapter. The other day I saw a man on campus drawing a bunch of different dogs and it reminded me of Bert.
Mary Poppins smiles seeing her favorite person in the world. "'Ello, Miss Mary" He smiles and then looks at the two children on either side of her.
"Children, this is Bert. He's a screever in the park…" The nanny begins but the boy soon interrupts her.
"He's not a screever. I seen him doing chimneys" The boy looks at the man skeptically.
Mary Poppins narrows her eyes just slightly at his grammar and his impertinence, but before she can correct him, Bert does so. "I'm a screever AND a chimney sweep. When it gets cold I'm selling matches in the fall and in the summers I'm selling kites, right in this park I do. I'm lucky that way to be able to have so many jobs that I love to do."
"Woah!" both children's eyes light up in curiosity as they look at him.
Mary Poppins smiles and looks at the two. "We're here on an outing, for these two thought it would be funny to play catch in the house and made such a dreadful mess. We wanted to give time to the maid so she could clean."
"Miss Lilly said for us to leave 'fore she sends us out to be skinned… Was she really gonna do that?"
"Of course not, no" Mary Poppins is quick to calm their fears. "She would not do anything of the sort, though it was very naughty of you both to be throwing things in the house."
Bert nods knowingly. "So this isn't a jolly 'oliday?" he says "Well that's okay. What's your name?"
"We're not allowed to talk to strangers… but since Mary Poppins knows you… I guess you're no stranger" The girl whispers, suddenly shy.
"It's alright, Katie…" Mary Poppins says carefully. "Bert is one of my best friends." He smiles at that and for the briefest of moments he squeezes her hand.
"How'd you meet him?" Thomas asks quickly as his nanny looks over the children's heads.
"I believe that's a story for another day…" She said quickly but Bert grins cheekily.
"Tigers!" Bert says loudly.
"Tigers?" The children look at him skeptically and Mary hides her smile behind her gloved hand.
"Tigers!" Bert asserts and the kids are giggling as he starts growling as he draws a tiger on the sidewalk.
"What about dragons?" Thomas asks curiously.
"I think he's right, Bert… they were dragons, not tigers." Mary Poppins laughs softly as he grins. The man laughs and begins drawing some dragons among the tigers.
"Whaddya think, litt'e lady?" Bert asks the girl giggling.
"Can you draw a puppy? Mama says we can't have a puppy 'til we're older…" Katie asks.
"I want one now!" Her twin adds.
Bert salutes them both and begins drawing a shaggy looking dog. "No!" They correct him quickly. "Our dog'll have spots!"
"Big spots?" Bert grins, "Or littler ones?"
Mary Poppins smiles as she watches him drawing. He's captivating and she loves how he can bring the pictures to life even without magic.
"He'll be waggily and happy!"
"As all dogs should, yeah" Bert agrees as the kids bend down to help.
"What's his name?" Mary Poppins smiles as the kids are laughing at the dog on the ground.
"Bailey!" "Max!" "Rufus!" "Jingo!" "Mallie!" "Cricket!" "Dog!" the twins start calling out names and Bert looks at them.
"Well, you don't gotta decide, right now" He says, figuring an argument is brewing between the siblings.
"Exactly, you'll be able to figure out a name later on" Mary Poppins adds.
"What about Tiger?" Thomas grinned and started growling and roaring, trying to scare his sister.
"Give him stripes!" Katie laughed, reaching for a piece of chalk. Mary folds her knees underneath her as her skirts flow around her as she sits nearby so she can watch them drawing.
"Spots and stripes?" Bert smiled "'e's certainly a fancy dog, ain't he?"
Mary Poppins laughs as the kids are adding to their dog and asking Bert to give him floppy ears. "That way you can see him being smiley happy" Katie adds. "My cousin's dog got little small sticky up ears and they're not soft…" she adds like that was the worst idea she could think of.
"So you want soft pettable ears?" Bert asks her and her face lights up as he makes the ears hang low.
The kids were so happy, they'd nearly forgotten that morning and how upset their parents were. Mary Poppins is the first to notice the sunlight fading and she knows from her years of watching Bert that he'll be heading off soon. "We should be getting back. Diner'll be ready soon" She says seeing her charges covered in the chalk.
"Do we have to?" "Can't we stay?"
"Nah. She's right, ya know. The sunsets are really pretty but they ain't good for screevers." Bert adds, catching her eye.
"But our dog?" The twins worry about him but the adults aren't too worried. Bert helps Mary Poppins up from the ground, like a true gentleman, and she gives him a grateful smile.
"Don't worry 'bout him. He's a good ol' dog" Bert promised and Mary Poppins smiles.
"I'm sure if we come back tomorrow the dog will be here waiting for you" She adds.
"How'd you get to be a screever?" Thomas asks looking at Bert.
He laughs "I like drawin'. It makes me happy. Drawin' makes the world a little bit prettier." He adds, pointing to some of the other screevers' works. "See? I drew this… a circus… and my friend drew this hillside… see the flowers?"
"Pretty flowers" Katie smiles and Thomas is more interested in the circus.
"Come along…" Mary Poppins adds as Bert takes her hand. "Say thank you to Bert for drawing your dog" She adds and the children look so happy as they hug him in gratitude.
"Ain't nothin' to it. It was fun, drawin' him." Bert smiles, already thinking of painting them their dog so they can have one sooner.
"Was there really a dragon, Mary Poppins?" Thomas asked as he takes her hand.
"Felt like that sometimes…" Bert whispers too low for them to hear. She offers him a sympathetic smile and her eyes apologize though his immediately reassure her it wasn't her fault.
"I'm sure Lily has dinner almost ready. I'm sure your mother would love to hear all about your dog" Mary Poppins says to the kids who are now thinking of dinner.
"Bert! Come to dinner?" They look up at the man who is quick to shake his head.
"I probably shouldn't…" he starts, knowing it certainly wasn't proper.
"What are you going to eat for dinner?" Katie asks, concerned.
"I'll find somethin'" He promises and winks at Mary Poppins. She's smiling, already counting down the days until the second Tuesday. She knows he's more than capable but she wants nothing more than to have this façade between them melt away again. He feels the same but for tonight this was enough.
"Bye Bert" She whispers and smiles. The look in her eyes practically begging him to walk them home even though they know this is where they must part tonight. Those two words hold far more meaning than what the children realize. The silent 'I love you' is followed by his.
"I'll see you lot tomorrow" Bert nods to the nanny and the kids.
A few weeks later, Mary Poppins leaves the family while they are out on an outing. She knows it'll be at least a few years before the parents will let them have a dog, if ever. But she leaves them with a small painting with of a happy dog wagging his tail with spots and stripes and the most expressive ears. She knows no matter whether that dog becomes a reality, they helped these kids and that was what is most important.