Hi all! So sorry for such a long hiatus, the past few months have been so hectic... First I was doing a play, then I lost my login details and then I started moving house - told ya, absolutely hectic! Anyway here is chapter 15 and I hope it will make up for such a long break! I will also be catching up on everyone else's stories - just might take me a bit of time as there's like 10 new ones! Please review as usual! Love Kelly xxx
Lucy sat in the cafe of the home, nursing a nice cup of tea. If she was honest, she hadn't really wanted the tea she just wanted to get away from the tension with her mother. Mary couldn't have had more than a couple of weeks left and Liz and Lucy still hadn't made amends. It was frustrating for Mary, if she had her usual strength she would've banged their heads together by now. They were both as stubborn as each other, if Bert were still alive he'd tease her and say with a coy smile: "I wonder where they get that from." Then she would scoff and scold him for being cheeky - all the while hiding a secret smile because she knew it was true.
Lucy continued to stir her teaspoon in the mug, the tea was ice cold by now. She really didn't want to return to her grandmother's room, it was awkwardly silent what with Mary spending most her time asleep. Rose had tried a few light jokes to diffuse the tension but gave up when no one would even crack a smile. Every now and then one of the residents would start groaning when the nurse tried to feed them. She looked around the room at the people who were almost like children now. People who had once had jobs, relationships, children, lives of their own. What had they been reduced to? What had her grandmother become? She had a few moments of clarity but mostly she was confused, frightened and in pain. It was an existence that no person deserved. Especially her truly wonderful nana.
Lucy lifted her head to see her cousin Sally walking away from her Nana's room, her two young children in tow. "Sally!" She called but the older woman didn't answer, she just tightened her grip on her children as they shouted: "Lucy! Mummy look it's Lucy!" She pulled them away and scolded them for being naughty. Lucy was confused, she and Sally had always been good friends but now she was pretending that she didn't exist. Lucy decided to put her mood to some good use and confront her cousin.
"Hey Sally! What's wrong?" Lucy asked as she caught up to Sally and the children rushed into her arms.
"Lucy... Nothing's wrong." Sally lied.
"You're a terrible liar, Sal... Why are you avoiding me?"
"Why did you ask Nana for Granddad's books when she passed away?"
Lucy's mouth fell open. That's what the hostility came down to: materialistic goods. She felt disgusted with her cousin, Nana wasn't even dead yet and people were already after her things. She felt sick to her very stomach.
"That's what this is all about, some old books?" Lucy spat.
"You don't have any children, you had no right asking for those books!" Sally argued.
"I didn't ask! Nana asked me what I wanted so I said that the only thing I could think of was the books because I never met Grandad and it would be nice to have a little piece of him... If I'd known it'd cause so much upset I wouldn't have said anything."
"Yes well I think it'll be best if the books stay in the family." Lucy scrunched up her face in confusion.
"What are you talking about? I am part of the family." Sally's face fell and Lucy realised that her cousin knew something she didn't.
"What aren't you telling me Sal?"
After her conversation with Sally, Lucy flew back to Mary's room in a blind rage. Hot tears slipped down her cheeks as she thought about how her family had lied to her all her life, the betrayal cut through her icy exterior that she had been giving her mother until there was nothing left but burning contempt. She stormed into the room and slammed the door behind, forgetting her grandmother was asleep in the bed.
"What is the matter with you? You're going to wake your nan up!" Liz hissed.
"When were you going to tell me that Grandad wasn't your real dad?"
"Matthew; Rose! It's time to go." Bert called up in Mrs Corry's shop where his children had been spending the day, where they had been spending most days since Mary had left. Two months had passed and she had still not returned to London. Of course, there was the odd letter asking after the children but not much else. With each passing day, Bert grew more nervous that his marriage was over.
"Any word this week?" Mrs Corry asked, pulling Bert out of his reverie.
"Hmmm… No, nothing yet but it's still only Thursday, there might be something tomorrow."
"I don't mean to pry Bert but I had a visit from Uncle Albert the other day and, well he's concerned that you may be holding out hope that she'll return -."
"She will come back Mrs Corry."
"But that doesn't mean that things will be better between you."
"I know… But I hope it will."
"That's what we're worried about my dear… We don't want you holding out for lost cause. You've both been through so much pain, it won't be the same."
"No it won't, but I have faith that we'll be stronger than ever… From the moment I met her, Mary Poppins was the love of my life. I will never give up on her."
As he walked home with his children, Bert tried to ignore the looks of pity and whispers in the street. 'What kind of woman would abandon her husband and children?' The neighbours would ask. They would call the mother of his children some horrendous names, so much so that he had confronted them once or twice and told them not to speak that way in front of his children. Yes, Mary had hurt him – more than once- but she was still his wife, she was still his soulmate and he wouldn't allow anyone to tarnish her name. Bert glared once at his neighbours as he put his key in the front door and they quickly pretended that they hadn't been staring as he let the children into the house.
"Mummy!" He heard the twins yell.
Bert whipped around and there she was, his darling girl, as if she had never left to begin with. Logically he wanted to march her back out the door, he wanted to tell her that she was no longer welcome in his life. Logically he wanted to hate her for everything she'd done. But Bert wasn't a logical man, he was a man who followed his heart and his heart was telling him to never let her go again. He watched his wife embrace their twins, kissing them both several times over.
"Oh my darlings!" She cried.
"Mummy, we missed you… Never leave us ever again!" Rose exclaimed.
"Never, ever again sweetheart… Oh I missed you both too!" She pulled them in for another cuddle, packing two months of hugs into one. Bert smiled fondly, her hair was short. It was a lot shorter than he'd ever seen it and she wore a floaty, floral dress that was just about level with her calf, with short sleeves and buttoned up to her collar bone. Bert's eyes widened with shock, Mary never wore clothing that revealed more than an ankle. He couldn't help but wonder if anything else had changed about her.
While she embraced her children, Mary's eyes met Bert's. "Darlings, why don't you go into the kitchen? I have presents for you both." Mary said as she pulled away from her twins, her gaze never leaving Bert. The children toddled off to find their gifts, leaving husband and wife alone. Mary slowly rose to her feet, she removed her hat and placed it on the gold coated hat stand she'd had for decades. Mary linked her hands in front of her body; Bert noticed that she was still wearing her wedding band just like he was. He took a few cautious steps towards her.
"Your hair's short." He stated.
"Yes, I needed a change… It's far too short though." Mary replied, her eyes cast down as the colour rose to her cheeks.
"No, it looks really nice, I like it." Bert ran his fingers through the now cropped locks, it was as soft as ever. Mary trembled under his touch, she raised her gaze to meet his once more before settling on his lips. "I like the dress too. It's different, very modern."
"Well France was very warm, I needed something practical."
"Ahh… Are you here to stay now?" Bert questioned, he was terrified of her answer but needed the truth before succumbing to her. Mary nodded slowly.
Bert's lips were on Mary's before she could speak in protest. It was a lot more urgent and desperate than she'd been expecting but she met his kiss with equal fervour. With his hands still roaming through his wife's hair, he pushed her against the wall and pressed his body against hers. Mary's hands reached out to steady herself and she knocked a few ornaments off the cabinet as she lost herself further and further into the kiss. He nipped at her already bruised lips as he reluctantly pulled away. Mary groaned as they separated, already missing the contact. She leaned into him, pressing her mouth and nose into the crook of his neck and inhaled deeply. His scent was intoxicating and she felt herself becoming more aroused.
"I missed you." He whispered as he kissed her forehead repeatedly.
"I missed you too and I promise I am never leaving again." Mary swore.
"Good, cos I am never letting you go again… This is where you belong, with me and our children… I'm sorry I let you walk out that door; I'm sorry I didn't fight harder for you." Mary let out a small laugh.
"It's ok… I think, if you recall, I wasn't doing much fighting either but I promise things will be better from now on… I love you and I love our children, nothing will ever make me lose sight of that again." Bert could hear the guilt and sincerity behind her sobs. He wiped her tears away with his thumbs and planted a soft kiss upon her lips.
"My darlin' girl… I love you."
After the children had been put to bed, Bert lit some candles and grabbed a bottle of wine to celebrate his wife's homecoming. They talked for hours and about everything: Mary's time in France, the children she cared for, Bert's new book and how the twins were doing in school. While on the outside, Mary seemed fine, Bert could not shake the feeling that something was wrong. She had been nursing one glass of wine all night, her fingers gracefully traced the rim of the glass and she hummed along quietly to the tunes played on the phonograph. Her breathing was shallow and her eyes were closed.
Bert leant into his wife and began to gently stroke her hair, Mary smiled sleepily and moved into his touch. She smiled up at him. "You do like my hair don't you." She said playfully. Bert nodded and placed a tender kiss on her lips. As he pulled away, she took a deep, shaky breath and ran her hand across his jaw, her eyes filled with unbridled hunger. Bert grabbed the back of her head and pulled her lips to his. Mary let out a little whimper of anticipation as Bert pushed her back on the sofa and climbed on top of her. He ran his lips down her neck, his tongue delicately tracing the dip of her throat. She let out a breathy moan before her senses came to and she pulled away. "Bert, wait." She moaned.
"What's the matter love?" Bert asked as he climbed off his wife and tried to catch his breath. Mary sat up and glanced down at her hands in her lap. Bert took Mary's hands in his, his thumbs caressed her knuckles. "Mary?" She raised her gaze to meet his.
"Bert, I'm pregnant." She whispered.
Bert dropped Mary's hands in surprise, his mind flooded with questions, the most prominent being if the child was his – he didn't dare say it out loud. "Wow! Pregnant!" Bert exhaled as he flopped back against the couch, he wasn't really speaking to Mary as much as he was to himself. "Yes… I'm about two months… The doctor couldn't give me a specific date." Mary replied. Bert shut his eyes tight, he knew what that meant. There was just as much chance that the baby was Jimmy's as it was his. Mary's eyes filled with tears and she tore her gaze from Bert's again. "I don't have to be though."
Bert snapped his head up and tried to meet her eye. "What are you talking about?" Bert asked, his eyes widened in horror. Mary couldn't look at him, she felt too ashamed.
"I don't have to be pregnant… There are ways – "
"No! I don't wanna hear that… Jesus Christ, Mary! It's illegal, not only that it's dangerous to you… Why the hell would you say that?" Bert was now on his feet pacing around the living room.
"Bert… You and I both know there is a good chance that this baby is not yours."
There it was, if the child did turn out to be the illegitimate child of his wife and best friend, they would have to live with a constant reminder of Mary's betrayal every day for the rest of their lives. However, if Mary was to terminate the pregnancy, they could live without judgemental looks and gossip. "What if this baby is his?" Mary asked quietly.
"She's mine!" Bert snapped.
"You don't know that, Bert. Can you really raise another man's child?"
"Biology don't matter… She's your baby and that makes her my baby too and I will love her just as much as Matthew, Rose and Tom." Mary winced at the name of her dead son. Neither she nor Bert had mentioned his name in months.
Mary brushed a few stray tears from her cheeks, she stood up and wrapped her arms around his neck. "You seem so sure we're going to have a girl." Mary sniffed.
"Call it fatherly intuition." Bert grinned as he gave his wife a gentle kiss. "What about you? Are you ready for another baby?"
"I'm terrified after what happened to Tom and…." Mary's voice broke off into a sob as she once again relived the day her son slipped away. "No child will ever replace him… But we always said we wanted a big family… Yes, I do want this baby."
"Then why the hell are we arguing about this if we both want her?" Mary let out a soft giggle as she moved into kiss her husband.
"So, we're having a baby then?"
"We're having a baby." Bert kissed the love of his life with everything he had, pushing her against the living room door and lifting her into his arms. Mary wrapped her legs around his waist as Bert nipped at her neck and ran his hands up the back of her thighs.
"Take me to bed." She whispered in his ear. Bert didn't need telling twice, he took her upstairs to their bedroom and revelled in the fact that his wife was back in his arms where she belonged and that was all that mattered.
The tears flowed freely down Lucy's face as continued to glare at her mother. "Darling, I am so sorry. Sally had no right speaking to you that way." Aunt Rose apologised.
"No, clearly she did me a favour since everyone in this family has lied to me since I was born." Lucy sobbed.
"We didn't lie." Liz said quietly.
"Bullshit! You omitted the truth, that's just as bad as a lie itself… How could you not tell me that Grandad might not have been your dad?"
"He was my father! Regardless of whether or not we shared the same blood."
"Why didn't you do a blood test?" Liz paused for a moment.
"We did, when I was a teenager."
"Then how can you still not know?"
"Because I didn't want to know! As far as I was concerned, Bert Alfred was the man who raised me. He taught me to read, tucked me in bed at night and held me when I cried… He was my dad and a piece of paper was not going to tell me any different… So, we ripped it up and threw it in the fire."
Lucy let out a strangled laugh as she wiped the tears away. "You know, I always had this feeling in my gut, that I didn't fit in with this family… Like somehow never really belonged… And now I know why." She sniffled.
"Lucy, we never found out the truth because it didn't matter… You and your mother are still part of the family." Rose whispered as she took her niece's hands in her own. Lucy snatched her hands back.
"Family? As far as I'm concerned, the only family I have will be dead soon." And with that Lucy left the room, letting the door slam behind her. Liz ran her fingers through her hair and let out an exasperated sigh. She cast her weary eyes to her older sister. "How do I fix this one?" She asked.
"You don't… You just give her time and hope she comes around." Unbeknown to them, their mother had been listening and she knew exactly what to do to fix everything.