AUTHOR'S NOTES: I know, I one-shot when I have three other ongoing stories! I'm terrible! But, as the description says, this is part one of what will only be a two-part story, and they're nice and light-hearted, so nothing to rip my hair out over.

I did intend for this to be a drabble, but it came out at around 1,200 words...oh well!

Anyway, I really hope you enjoy it!

Chapter one - The Ascot

An Ascot. Bert had never been too fond of that particular neckwear himself, he always saw it as a rather unnecessary piece of fabric that was only worn by those who had more money than sense and viewed the little scrap of silk as a way to portray this to the rest of the world. In Bert's mind, the item seemed to fulfil little purpose, so whenever he saw someone wearing one, he always assumed it was simply because they could, because they had that money to spare and it mattered not to them where it got spent. Of course, his thoughts were never malicious or judgemental – oh no – Bert would never judge a person solely on outward appearances, it just so happened that expensive and seemingly unfulfilling neckwear just wasn't his cup of tea. A scarf in the winter or a tie with a smart suit, now those he could understand, but the noble ascot really wasn't for him.
Of course, Bert didn't walk around with overly strong opinions on the neckwear in question, in fact, he hardly ever gave it any thought; but the fleeting emotions that he did have are vital to this tale.

You see, as a screever, Bert always found himself in need of a rag of some kind; he often needed to smooth out the edges of his latest masterpiece and could always be found with colourful smudges gracing his knees or forehead – something that Mary Poppins would always (light heartedly) scold him for. Mary Poppins…that's where this story truly begins.
They were in love, you see, heavily so, and when she was between jobs or he was free on one of her days off, they would take strolls through the park, hand-in-hand and would lose themselves in their affections. When out of sight, Bert would always lean down to peck her cheek and she would blush ferociously (but never did anything to reprimand him for his public acts). Eventually, though, as the relationship grew older and their inhibitions slowly washed away like chalk on a wet pavement, their ways of showing affection became bolder.

On one rainy day in London, they had retreated to his flat in order to escape the ravenous downpour, and whilst they had gone there for the sole intention of warming up and drinking tea, they found themselves wrapped in a solid embrace – limbs tangled – and lips pressed together firmly in fiery, languid kisses. Now, nothing went further than it should have, mind you, but, it's fair to say that the pair certainly got carried away, for the next morning, Bert met with the chimney sweeps, only to find them snickering only ten minutes after his arrival. He'd asked them several times what was so funny, but it wasn't until the end of the day – when the secrecy of the teasing had grown dull – that one of the sweeps asked Bert if he'd had a nice time with Mary Poppins the day before. The man had barely spluttered out the sentence before retreating behind the nearest chimney stack to release his laughter.
The incident had eaten away at Bert for his entire journey home, but when he arrived at his flat, he took several sharp paces towards the mirror and discovered (almost with horror) the root of the mockery: on his neck lay a small purple bruise, the telltale mark of his evening of passion with the great Mary Poppins.

His initial reaction was to groan with frustration and he instantly felt his cheeks set ablaze with embarrassment; naturally the sweeps knew about his relationship with Mary, the man adored her, for goodness sake, and he'd barely been able to stop himself from bellowing it from the rooftops when the whole thing became official. But the fact that their passion had been so obvious – worn almost like a symbol of narcissism on his neck, like the mane of a lion – and that the sweeps were probably envisioning the whole thing…well, it hit something rather personal. Still, after some time, Bert couldn't help but laugh at it all, he had always been good at seeing the lighter side of things and as much as Mary Poppins would probably disagree, he had to admit that the whole thing was rather comical – ridiculous even!
Still, he knew that he had to do something about it, whilst the sweeps were his closest friends, he didn't want to constantly remind them of his private life (although, such chivalry was more for Mary's sake than his own) and the woman in question would be mortified if she were to meet with him again and see the mark on his neck…even though she was the one who'd left it there. With a quick burst of inspiration, he took his dusty screever bandana from his pocket and tied it around his neck…in the way that one would tie an ascot. He had to chuckle at the strange turn of events, but after admiring the new accessory in the mirror, Bert had to admit that it seemed to do more than just cover up his gifted love bites, it actually looked quite good on him. Still, it would only be there for a couple of days, until his neck was clean and then he'd have to worry no longer.

But if only life were that simple. The sweeps knew instantly why Bert had invested in some new neckwear, so the teasing didn't cease immediately – though they all knew it was all good fun. He'd seen Mary that day too – along with her charges – and she had turned positively crimson when he'd explained the motives behind his latest fashion choice (in private, of course). But, once she'd gotten over the shock of it all, she gave him a fake and playful apology – accompanied by a sly look that told him the ascot may have to stick around for longer than he'd anticipated. And he was right, for only a week or so later, a new mark appeared on his neck and the ascot returned.
The sweeps – naturally – hadn't been able to control their laughter at the reappearance of the mucky fabric (although Bert could hardly blame them) and as for Mary, well, as prim, proper and priggish as she appeared on the outside, on the inside she was an absolute spitfire and she secretly loved to torture him with her ministrations…and Bert never really minded.

The whole thing became quite a regular occurrence, the ascot would disappear and reappear almost like clockwork and the sweeps could always tell when Bert had had some alone time with the woman he was courting. Eventually, Bert gave up on the novelty of it all and just decided to let the ascot accompany all of his outfits, after all, it came in rather handy for removing unwanted chalk or soot stains, and besides, it looked quite good on him. No, the ascot can stay, he had thought to himself. And so it was.

However, there was one occasion when one of the sweeps and turned to Bert and asked if he'd ever gotten his own back on Mary and left a few marks of his own on her; and, with a devilish grin, Bert turned to the young man and made it quite clear that the high collars on Mary Poppins' dresses covered more than just her porcelain skin.

AUTHOR'S NOTES: Well, there you go! I really enjoyed writing that so I hope you enjoyed reading it too! Hopefully I'll be able to post the other part very soon!

Fun fact: This chapter was actually inspired by a friend of mine who always comes to uni lectures and keeps his scarf on in order to hide his love bites! :'D

See you soon! xxx