'Bert...' Mary sighed lovingly as she stroked the paintbrush slowly down the wall once again and her husband made his way up behind her in order to slip his strong arms gently around her slight waist, his warm lips pressing softly to the creamy skin of her shoulder as he hummed in reply. 'If I recall, it was you who wanted to have the cottage ready for this little one when it makes its arrival,' She allowed her free hand to cover her husband's upon the slight swell of her belly through her dress, entwining her fingers warmly with his own before he rubbed slow circles into it with his free palm, 'And yet it is you who is so set on distracting me every two minutes. Now take that brush and start on that wall.' The giggle that escaped her reassured Bert that she was teasing him, a loving smile forming upon his lips as he leaned around to plant a slow and tender kiss upon her soft lips.
It had taken a while for the two of them to find a cottage that would be suitable for them to move into - almost four months in fact - and Mary had found out that she was going to be a mother two months before Cora had come home with the news that a three-bedroomed cottage had become available, but they had managed to furnish the sitting room and their bedroom in just two weeks, meaning that they were now able to live in their cottage whilst continuing to furnish it at the same time. Mary's father was still against her for walking out on him and her mother and for marrying Bert - Mary knowing this because she had seen the way he wouldn't meet her gaze whenever she saw him in town,but her mother, Alice, who had always been much warmer and caring towards her than her father, had recently visited she and Bert at their cottage and the two of them had slowly started to make amends. Surprisingly, to both Mary and to Bert, her mother had asked to help her through the labour when the time came. Mary had agreed without hesitation.
'I always thought I'd have my father to give me away at my wedding, you know.' Mary sighed softly a short time later, breaking the comfortable silence that had fallen between she and her husband. 'I always thought I'd be able to watch my father hold his grandchild when I gave him his first one, but they were just stupid little girl thoughts. I probably should have realised that my father wasn't going to be one of those storybook ones, where they have this strong bond with their daughters and where they spend every waking minute trying to make them happy. He never sat me in his lap and read to me when I was a little girl, and the only time he ever tucked me into bed was when my mother went to stay with Uncle Albert because he was unwell and Aunt Cora was struggling to care for him.' Bert sighed deeply with sympathy for her as he made his way up behind her and wound his arms back around her waist from behind, Mary making no effort to shrug him off as she leaned back into him and allowed him to kiss her temple tenderly. 'I'm sorry.'
'You 'ave nothing to apologise for.' He murmured gently into her ear as she continued to carefully paint the wall and he nuzzled his nose slowly against her soft brown hair. 'You 'ad one of the 'ardest child'oods that I've ever 'eard of, my darling, and I 'ate 'ow much you suffered at the 'ands of those doctors. I can't deny that I'm 'appy that you and your mother made up when she came over last week, because I am, but just because you made up doesn't mean that the years of you 'aving countless injections never 'appened.' A slow nod came from her as she understood exactly what her husband was saying to her, a deep sigh escaping her lips as she allowed him to take the paintbrush and bucket out of her hands before he turned her around to face him. 'You are the most beautiful woman that I 'ave ever lay my eyes on, Mary, that's one thing that I am sure about.' A gentle smile formed upon her lips as she gazed into his eyes. 'You were beautiful on our wedding day and you will never be anything other than perfect in my eyes, but right now, with your belly growing along with our child, you look so much more beautiful than I could 'ave ever imagined.' A solitary tear trickled down her cheek as she placed her warm hands upon his torso through the thin material of his shirt. 'I promise you that I am going to spend my 'ole life showing our child just 'ow much I love it, Mary; 'ow much I treasure it.'
'I know you are.' She sniffed tearfully, running her hands tenderly along the outside of his arms as he leaned forward to press a kiss to her forehead. 'I know that if we have the little girl that we were talking about last month, you would never tell her that she can't come back home if she walked out during an argument. I know that if she intended to go and get married to a man you weren't fond of, you wouldn't be so harsh towards her as my father was to me. I can't ever imagine you seeing our daughter as though she's sick if she ends up inheriting my powers, Bert, and I love you so much for that. I know you're going to love our baby and I just wish I had a father like you when I was a young girl.'
'You know that if I could change everything about your child'ood so that you could look back and feel 'appy about it then I would, Mary,' He sighed quietly as he slowly tucked a lock of warm brown hair back behind her ear, smiling softly down at her as she nodded up at him, 'But I can't, which means I'm just going to have to make your future perfect.'
'I already know my future is going to be perfect, Bert,' She reassured him as she stepped closer to him, snaking her arms loosely around his waist, 'Because you are my future.'
'And you're mine, my perfect girl.' He chuckled as he took her face in his hands, lowering his lips to her own before catching her in a long and deep kiss. 'You always 'ave been.'
Mary couldn't hold back the gentle giggle that escaped her as she and Bert continued to walk slowly through the park later that same afternoon, her small hand resting neatly in the crook of his elbow as his own hands were in his trouser-pockets and she settled her head down upon his upper arm. 'I always 'ave loved to 'ear you laugh, you know, Mary.'
'I hate my laugh.' She admitted through another soft giggle as she gazed up at him. 'I've never told you this before, but when I was around six years old I tended to snort when I laughed too hard.' The two of them chuckled as the gentle breeze brushed through their hair and he kissed the crown of her head lingeringly. 'What on earth...' Mary stopped.
The two of them watched as a deep green kite blew passed them, followed by two young children racing after it. 'Catch it, Michael!' The little girl, who appeared to be just a few years older than the boy before her called as she followed close behind. 'We can't lose another one!' Bert chuckled softly as he stroked his wife's hand, Mary scoffing with a nod.
'Wait 'ere.' He kissed her cheek affectionately before heading off after the children in the direction that their kite was blowing in the breeze. It only took a few minutes until Bert was able to take hold of the hand-made toy, the two children breathing heavily as they finally reached him. 'I believe this belongs to you two.' He chuckled as he gazed down at them, the children nodding eagerly before he passed it carefully to the little girl and she accepted it with a kind smile of gratitude. 'The name's Bert.' He told them. 'Bert Alfred.'
'I'm Jane.' The girl replied, her deep blue eyes sparkling gently.
'And I'm Michael.' The boy replied, reaching out to shake Bert's hand. 'Michael Banks.'
'Now I know how I recognised the two of you!' Jane and Michael turned at the sound of Mary's voice from behind them, Bert smiling lovingly at his wife as she came to stand by his side, her hand slipping slowly into his own. 'Your previous kite got caught in my father's apple tree a few months ago and I got it down for you, didn't I?' The children smiled softly.
'Mary Poppins!' Jane giggled.
'I'm Mary Alfred now, Jane, but yes.' Mary giggled as she extended her hand out towards Jane, revealing the gold band upon her finger.
'It's so beautiful!' Jane gasped as she fingered the cool metal carefully.
'I think we need to go home now, Jane, Katie Nanna isn't going to be happy with us for running away again.' Michael swallowed nervously.
'We didn't run away, Michael, our kite ran away.' Jane reminded him with a smirk.
'I don't think Father will see it that way.' He admitted, Jane's face falling slightly as she realised that he had a point.
'But we got the bus here, Michael, we can't walk all that way by ourselves.' She pointed out.
'Bert and I could walk the two of you home if you would like, Jane.' Mary smiled warmly. 'We haven't got any plans, have we, darling?' Bert shook his head gently, a small smile tugging on his lips as he laced his fingers slowly with her own. 'Besides, I've seen how unpleasant Katie Nanna can be, so I think you're going to need us to serve as witnesses.'
'Thank you, Mary Alfred!' Michael smiled.
'Yes, thank you, Mary! And Bert!' Jane echoed, Bert raising his hat as he winked at her.
The three of them then set off for 17 Cherry Tree Lane.
The home of George and Winifred Banks.
It took the four of them quite a while to reach the steps of 17 Cherry Tree Lane, but as soon as they did Jane ran up them in order to ring the bell. She then stepped back, Mary and Bert standing close to them as they waited for the door to open. Thankfully, it wasn't Katie Nanna that opened the door, but Ellen, one of the maids. 'There you both are!' A slightly nervous look appeared upon the children's faces. 'I wouldn't like to be you two, if I'm honest. Your Father's 'ome and he's rung for the constable.' Michael and Jane cast their gazes back to Bert and Mary, who looked at one another before Mary sighed gently and swept her thumb across her husband's knuckles before smiling across at Ellen.
'May we come in and speak to their father?' She asked gently. 'We saw what happened and it might help matters if he knew that they weren't just misbehaving.'
Ellen nodded with a slight side-smile before stepping aside and letting the four of them step inside, Bert squeezing Mary's hand tenderly before Ellen requested that they waited with the children whilst she went to inform their father that they were back. 'Now, when your father comes in just let me and Mary do all the talkin', a'ight?' Bert smiled warmly as he got down to the children's level, Jane and Michael nodding obediently before they turned sharply at the sound of a door slamming closed.
'Where on earth have you two been?' George barked as he entered the Hall. 'Don't you know that Katie Nanna spent the best part of half an hour looking for the pair of you!?' A slight nervousness crossed even Mary's face at the tone that the children's father's voice held, Bert stroking her hand softly until she relaxed a little. 'I'm waiting for an answer!'
'Excuse me, Sir, but my wife and I saw what 'appened in the park.' Bert admitted a few moments later.
'Yes?' George raised his brow, the expression on his face remaining cold.
'Their kite got carried in the wind and they followed it in order to get it back. I don't believe they intended to get so far away from their Nanny, did you?' Jane and Michael shook their heads sharply.
'That may be true enough, but it hasn't stopped them from misbehaving for her before, has it children?' Jane and Michael remained still.
'We're sorry, Father.' Jane spoke softly.
'We honestly didn't mean to.' Michael added. 'We know that it was wrong to run away from her like that.'
'It was indeed.' He growled. 'Now, I want the two of you to go up to the nursery and stay up there until Ellen comes to get you for dinner.' The children obeyed immediately. 'I would like to thank the two of you for making sure my children got home safely, it was a very hospitable thing that you did.' He admitted once the children had gone upstairs. 'I am sure if you went into the kitchen then Cook would be able to make you both a cup of tea.' Bert smiled kindly as he placed his hand gently upon his wife's lower back.
'Thank you, Sir, but my wife and I must be 'eading 'ome now.' He admitted. 'I 'ope that you and your wife enjoy your evening.' George nodded with a slight smile.
Bert noticed, as he and Mary were walking back down the street a few moments later, that his wife had suddenly fallen silent. 'What is it, my darling?' He questioned gently.
'Nothing.' She replied, smiling as she gazed up at him. 'I'm just...tired, that's all.'
Now why didn't that sound convincing?
'Mary?' Her husband's voice was what snapped her out of her trance-like state as she was sat on the edge of their bed later that same evening, a gentle gasp escaping her lips.
'Yes, darling?' She turned to him with a small smile as she tucked a lock of dark hair back behind her ear.
Bert sighed, knowing that something was troubling his wife as he climbed onto the bed beside her. 'I want you to tell me what's upset you.' He sighed as he took her hand.
'I don't know what you-'
'Yes, you do.' He cut her off before stroking her cheek slowly. 'Ever since we left the Banks' 'ome this afternoon you've been quiet and I want to know why, my love.'
'It's silly.' She shook her head, the soft tears visible in her beautiful blue eyes as he gazed into them. 'A waste of your time.'
'Anything that makes my wife cry,' He spoke gently as he swept the solitary tear from her cheek with the pad of his thumb. 'Cannot be silly or a waste of my time, my darling.'
'Hearing Mr. Banks speak to Jane and Michael so sharply today...' She whimpered. 'Seeing how he looked at them with such disappointment in his eyes.' Bert nodded, his brow slightly creased in confusion. 'That was all I ever saw whenever I looked into my father's when I was young.' She gazed down at the slight swell of her belly through the fabric of her nightgown, running her hand slowly across the proof of her child. 'I never saw anything other than disappointment in his eyes, and he hardly ever spoke to me in a kind way. He always spoke to me like Mr. Banks spoke to Jane and Michael today, even when I hadn't done anything terribly wrong, and today just brought all of it back again.' Bert felt his heart break when his wife let out a gentle sob, a deep sigh escaping him as he wrapped his arms around her slight frame and brought her close, kissing her hair warmly.
'You are not a disappointment, Mary Alfred, do you understand me?' He growled softly as he held her close and she cried gently into his chest, her hand resting on his soft skin. 'You are the most beautiful, smart, compassionate and talented women I 'ave ever met and I love everything about you.' She gazed up at him, her tears still falling slowly.
'Really?' She sniffed.
'Really.' He brushed her tears tenderly off of her cheeks. 'And my opinion of you is the only thing that should matter, because you are mine.' She nodded with a perfect giggle.
'I love you.' She yawned as she snuggled further into his chest and he held her protectively in his embrace, nuzzling warmly into her beautifully soft hair. 'So, so much.'
'I love you too, Mary Alfred.' He reassured her as he laced his fingers with her own. 'And our beautiful little one.' He cupped her belly warmly.
Author's Note: Please Review!