One thing he could never get his head around was how a person quite so prim and proper and clean could spend her nights with a chimney sweep-a man who was perpetually covered in soot, and chalk dust and the grime of London-but even despite this, she never once drew away from him. She never once looked down in disgust, or turned her nose up at his outstretched hand. She scolded him, of course. And there were moments when it frustrated her no end to have him never quite free of these smudges. But there were equally as many times when she would, with sparkling eyes, smudge her own cheeks with dust-or better yet, let him do it for her. And there were nights-oh there were nights! Nights when it didn't matter how filthy he was-she was absolutely determined to be just as filthy with him! He thought those nights might just be his favourite.

It was a rare honour to see her so carefree-and, when the morning came, those marks would practically glow against the paleness of her skin. Some would wash off. But not all. They would have to fade slowly, giving him some sense of permanence in her life. That was another thing that he was surprised she allowed-the bruising of such perfection to him seemed criminal at times when he really took the time to think about it-but she actively encouraged it. He supposed she must like the reminders, even if that did seem a little sentimental for her. But then that was her all over-one rule for one thing, another rule for another. Not that he was complaining-he had a feeling that he had long ago earned the status of "an exception to the rule" in her mind, and he was glad for it. If he were an exception, he hoped he stayed that way forever-or for at least as long as she would allow it. He never could tell with her sometimes-and sometimes that was exciting, but mostly was just terrifying. Especially now he knew exactly how her spine curved against him at night, or which side of the bed she preferred. That knowledge would haunt him forever were she to change her mind about him.

He briefly wondered once if there were other exceptions to her rules, but he had had to stop thinking about that quickly. It wasn't any of his business, really-besides, he didn't think he wanted to know, not when their time together was so glorious. But he liked to think that he was the only one, and sometimes she would look at him in a way that made him feel very guilty of even suspecting such a thing of her. It was in those moments when he thought perhaps he wasn't an exception at all, but a conscious decision on her part to be his, as he was hers. And he was hers, there was never any question about that.

He did think to ask her once, how she could stand it-but it felt like a disservice to her. After all, she was never once ashamed of him when they were out, even if he was treading soot through a place, or getting funny stares as he tried to frantically search his pockets for coins that she knew weren't there-that they both knew weren't there. And if she sensed his discomfort she would either pull him closer or they both would leave. It felt foolish to question things then, because how could he when he was all too aware of how lucky he was?! And he was lucky. He thanked which ever god would listen profusely for his luck at every chance he got. She had caught him once, doing such a thing, and she had frowned and looked at him with such a questioning sadness that it damn near broke his heart as she had wandered off muttering something to herself about the situation. He had wondered about her melancholy for a long while before he had worked up the courage to ask her about it, and to his surprise she had answered him quite sensibly. She was upset that he had thought he had needed good luck-that she had led him to believe that it was anything but himself that had led her to him, that he had anything to be thankful for. She was the one that ought to be thanking the stars for him. He suspected-despite her vanity-she wasn't entirely cognisant of her own worth. It was then that he realised that her strength might have been a very clever cover for a deeper fragility. She would stare wistfully into the mirror sometimes, and sigh, telling him that she wouldn't be young and beautiful forever-that cracks were sure to appear sooner or later. He didn't believe her though. How could she ever be anything but young and beautiful?

He was right of course-one of the rare occasions when she was involved-the cracks never did appear. There were changes, yes, but not one made her less beautiful-and her youthful spirit shone through at every moment he could persuade her out of her practicality-something he made sure to do often, for when she was smiling, it seemed like the whole world smiled with her-and that could never be a bad thing. He made sure to tease her too-he loved her pout and it done her good to be knocked down a few pegs from time to time-even if it was only briefly-he couldn't bear to see her down for long. She deserved to be up there, floating above them mere mortals-in body and in spirit. It was one of the reason he had never asked her the really important question. Oh he carried the ring around with him endlessly, but whenever he worked up the courage to ask her, the metal always felt too heavy in his hand, like it would weigh her down, and he didn't want that. Best things stay as they were than him risk loosing her for good. He was more than content with how things were-waking up beside her on those occasions that he could was more than he ever dared hope for-never mind the rest.

Still, she might get away with being coy, but apparently it didn't look quite so good on him. And what could he do but give her the explanations she asked for when she found him dashing after that little gold circle one day when it fell clattering to the ground? After all, no one he knew had ever dared to tell her no, and he can't imagine that people got very far with her when they tried. She had thought-bless the poor, foolish girl-that he had meant it for another. After all, it had been so long. She would never stop surprising him it seemed.

He would ask her why she picked him one day, maybe-but not today. It would only make her sad, and she would once again tell him off for thinking he was not good enough. She would tell him, as she always did that he was everything too her, stroke his cheek and roll over so she could pout in secret about how she wasn't doing her job well enough. It seemed the practically perfect nanny thought she was rather less practically perfect as a wife and mother. But nothing could be further from the truth. Rather, he thought that this was the best job she had ever managed to pull off, and he was constantly in awe of her for it. So he wouldn't ask her today, how someone so prim and proper and clean could love a chimney sweep-not when the sun was peeking through the old curtains of their room, shining onto the mess of curls he currently had his lips buried in. Besides deep down her knew the answer, he thought, chuckling as he caught sight of the kicked off bedsheets and tangle of clothes on the floor-it was because Mary Poppins wasn't so prim and proper after all, and that suited him quite nicely.

AN: thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed my attempt at writing. I really ought to leave it to the professionals but I couldn't help myself! Please do come say hello, I promise I don't bite!