Look! I actually finished a story! And it's as long as I said it was going to be! This may be a first. Enjoy!
I own nothing.
"One, Mary Poppins is your maiden name, not your married one. And two, Rosie couldn't 'ave been more wrong when she said you're not 'er mother."
"I- I beg your pardon?" Mary stammers. "I don't… I most certainly do not-"
He grins easily. "Oh, come now, Mary, you can drop the act. Or did you erase your own memory too?"
"You… you remember?" she asks faintly. "But I-"
"What? You think you can just snap and erase the love of me life from me memory? You're good, Mary Poppins, I'll give you that, but you're not that good." He grins but then frowns when he sees her face. "'Ere, Mary, are you feeling alright?"
"You knew?" she asks faintly. "But you didn't say anything!"
"Mary, sit down," he instructs, worry lining his face as he leads her to the sofa.
She looks up at him. "Why didn't you tell me?"
He sits down next to her. "I knew you 'ad your reasons."
"But… But I- you should have let me know!"
"I thought it was easier for you this way, so you could come around on your own time. But then I overheard you talking with Rosie and…" he trails off and shrugs.
"Bert, I- I am so sorry. Can you ever forgive me?"
"I don't 'ave anything to forgive you for, Mar," he replies easily, her old nickname slipping back into his mouth as if it never left.
"But I let you raise our daughter alone for ten years! I left and I never came back. How can you possibly not hate me?"
"Easy," he says. "I still love you. Besides, I know you were doing what you thought best. 'Ere now, don't cry, Mary!"
"I'm sorry," she sniffs. "I don't usually, but I just…"
He gathers her into a hug. "'s all right, Mary. Really. You don't need to be upset. Me n' Rosie managed just fine."
"I've let you both down," she cries into his shoulder. "Bert, I just… I didn't want you to think that I had left. I knew I wouldn't come back and I thought it would be easier… Better, if I never existed at all."
She hates herself for going to pieces like this. But the only thing that has gotten her through the past ten years is the knowledge that he couldn't possibly miss her as much as she missed him and now she's found out that it's completely untrue.
"Mary," he says quietly, tilting her chin up with his hand. "You 'aven't let either of us down. And what's done is done. 'S all right. Don't cry."
"I am so sorry, Bert. How can I make it up to you?"
"If you don't mind, I think I'd like to kiss me wife."
She's shocked into laughing through her tears. And then she leans forward and kisses him. It feels like the only thing she was ever meant to do.
"Mary Poppins, I- oh! Sorry! Leaving now!" Rosemary exclaims, turning around as fast as she can manage.
Mary blushes as she and Bert spring away from each other. Their daughter pushes her way rather blindly out of the room as her parents look at each other. Mary covers her mouth to hide a giggle.
"So are we going to tell 'er?" Bert asks after a moment.
She sighs and stands. "I'll do it. I- well, I have to explain myself. But thank you for offering to help."
"Anything for you, Mary. You know that."
Mary rubs her temples. "She's going to think I didn't love her."
"You and I both know that's not true," he replies. "She might not know it on the surface at first, but deep down she'll know you love 'er more than anything in the world."
She turns in the doorway. "By the way, Bert, I love you too. I never stopped."
She finds Rosemary spinning on the old tire swing in the backyard. "Rosemary," she says, mostly just to announce her presence.
The girl looks up. "Sorry about that. I didn't know that you two were… you know?"
"I'd like to speak to you, if it's alright with you."
"Fine. But if it's a whole spiel about how you're not replacing my mother, you can save it. I know it. And I'm sorry I got mad earlier."
"Please come sit on the porch."
"Why?" Rosemary asks, narrowing her eyes at the nervous note in Mary's voice.
"We need to talk and I'd prefer you not be dizzy while we do so."
Rosemary heaves a sigh but gets up all the same. "I really don't need a lecture on how rude I was to you. I know it was mean. I feel badly. Can't we forget it?"
"Rosemary, what you said about your mother, it's… well, it's not exactly the truth."
"What do you mean? Of course it is."
Mary tries another approach. "You know I'm not exactly… usual."
"You mean the magic thing?" At this point Rosemary has accepted Mary's magic, though sometimes with a grain of salt.
"Right…" she sighs. This is far more difficult than she'd anticipated and she changes tactics again. "I'd like to tell you a story."
"Alright," Rosemary agrees, clearly humoring the woman. "About what?"
"Well… Me. You see, I was married. Well, am married. To a wonderful man whom I love."
Rosemary jumps up. "Woah, woah, woah, why are you telling me this? And does my father know about this? Oh my God, he doesn't, does he? He'd never-"
"Rosemary Kathleen, be quiet and let me finish speaking!" Mary nearly yells. They look at each other in shock; it's the closest Mary has ever been to actually losing her temper.
Rosemary sits back down quietly.
"Thank you," Mary swallows. "About fifteen years ago, my husband and I had a child. A little girl." Mary looks up at the sky rather than at her daughter. "She was… she is the light of my life. I've done a lot of wonderful things, but she's the best. Oh, my husband and I, we loved that little girl more than life itself… But I had made a rather foolish promise and shortly after her fifth birthday, I had to leave. I thought I would never see either of them again, so, again, rather foolishly, I made a decision to erase myself from their lives. I didn't want either of them to think that I didn't love them enough to stay. Do you understand?"
Rosemary shakes her head no. "Are you going back to them now?"
Mary bites her lip. "I can't do that. You see, I've already come back to them, only my daughter, she doesn't know it yet."
Rosemary's brow furrows as she starts to understand a little. "I don't… I don't get it."
"I was married in 1950," Mary says gently. "I took my husband's last name and became Mary Alfred."
"So you and my father were married?"
"And we have a daughter—a beautiful young woman now, named Rosemary Kathleen."
There's a sharp intake of breath. "But… but… no! No," Rosemary insists firmly, leaping out of her chair and running up to her room, slamming the door as she goes.
Mary sighs and follows her. Rosemary has flung herself across her bed, her jaw set obstinately. She glares as Mary closes the bedroom door quietly. "That was a horrible trick to play," she snaps.
"I don't play tricks," Mary replies calmly.
"Then you're just cruel."
Mary picks up a hand mirror and brings it over to Rosemary. "Look at your eyes. Then look at mine."
She heaves a sigh and looks. Then she looks again. And again. Finally, she gets up and goes to her mirror, motioning for Mary to follow. Finally she pronounces, "We have the same eyes."
"Yes," Mary nods. "Your father used to tease me that you looked more like him than me, but I always said at least I got your eyes."
"But it's not possible…"
"Give me your hand please."
Rosemary looks at her suspiciously.
"Rosie, I know I'm asking a lot of you today, but please, just trust me one more time."
Grudgingly, Rosemary gives over her hand. Mary allows the wall she had placed in her daughter's mind to crumble.
Both Mommy and Daddy sit up immediately in bed, worried. "What is it, Rosie? Is something the matter?"Mommy asks.
"I think there's a monster in my closet."
"Oh, there is, is there? Did you turn on the light and tell him to go away?"
"Yes, but he won't go!" she wails.
Right away, Mommy is at her side, tying her robe. Then she fetches one of the irons by the fireplace. "Let's go deal with him, shall we?"
Mommy carries her into her room and sets her down on the bed, holding a finger to her mouth so Rosie will be quiet. Then she walks into the closet and closes the door. Some scary bangs follow but then Mommy opens the door and she looks fine. "There, Rosie. No more monster."
"Is he… is he still in there?"
"No, he is not," Mommy says firmly. "He's all gone. Get some sleep, Rosie."
Mommy turns out the light and goes back to Daddy but the dark is scary without Mommy there. Rosie gets up and walks to Mommy and Daddy's room again.
"Mommy?" she asks as she opens the door. Mommy and Daddy sit up again.
"I'm scared. I think the monster had friends. My dreams are going to be scary." She just knows they will.
Mommy and Daddy look at each other. "D'you want to sleep in 'ere tonight, Rosie?" Daddy asks.
She nods, bringing her thumb to her mouth.
"Alright. Just for tonight," Mommy says, pulling back the covers and patting the bed.
Rosie tries to get up but the bed is very tall, so Mommy leans down and picks her up. Rosie snuggles happily into the space between her mommy and daddy. Mommy kisses her forehead. Daddy tickles her and she giggles.
"Not another sound out of the two of you or I shall have to summon a policeman. Is that clear?" Mommy asks, wrapping her arm around Rosie.
"Yes, Mommy," Rosie says and Daddy says it too. Then they look at each other and start giggling.
"Shall I call for that policeman?"
"Sorry, Mommy." Rosie feels badly for upsetting Mommy. But then Mommy starts tickling her too! She climbs out of her parents' reach and pouts. "We are sleeping," she tells them.
Mommy and Daddy look at each other and start laughing but Rosie doesn't know why.
Rosemary looks at Mary in shock, tears rolling down her cheeks. Her other memories aren't as clear, but they have one thing in common: Mary's constant, loving presence until it suddenly just isn't there.
"But why did you… why couldn't you…" she fumbles for words, gulping for air as she cries. "Why did you have to leave? Didn't you… didn't you love me?"
Tears spring to Mary's eyes and she hugs her daughter fiercely. "Of course I loved you!"
"Then why did you leave?"
Mary swallows. "My job is… unique. I don't just watch children, I… I put families back together. Because of that, my life isn't entirely my own. Your father and I didn't exactly wait for permission to get married and I was supposed to go to my next assignment when we found out about you. So I promised to be thoroughly obedient, if only I could have a little time with you. But leaving you was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. And I was selfish; knowing you wouldn't remember me made it a little less painful to leave. I thought I was doing you a favor, but… I was wrong. And I'm sorry."
Rosemary looks up at her and squeezes. "I forgive you."
Mary smiles but it hides distress. She suddenly knows it's time for her to go; her family is as fixed as it can be.
"Wait, does Daddy know?"
Mary sighs. "He does. My spell didn't work on him, for whatever reason."
"So he knew? He knew you weren't dead?"
"He lied to me?"
"I did," Bert says as he comes into the room. "An' I'm sorry. But I thought it would be easier on you. I knew you wouldn't remember your mom an' it was easier than explaining to a five year old where her mom was. I'm sorry, Rosie."
Rosemary frowns. "Don't," she says, shoving away from both of her parents.
"Rosemary, please don't be like this," Mary begs, noting the change in the wind.
"You both lied to me for ten years! How am I supposed to be?"
"No! Neither of you can call me that. We're not family if you can do something like this!" She storms out of her room.
"Rosemary, I have to leave!" Mary calls after her. "Please don't make me leave like this."
The only response is a slammed door.
"Well, that went well," Mary comments sarcastically, hastily wiping tears off her cheeks.
"You 'ave to go?" Bert asks.
"The wind has changed," she sighs and goes to her room to pack.
He follows her. "No memory stuff this time, alright? We'll be 'ere waiting. I'm sure Rosie'll come around eventually."
She nods stiffly, holding back even more tears as he kisses her. "I love you, Bert."
"I know," he says. "I love you too."
"If Rosie ever starts speaking to you again, do tell her that I love her."
"She knows, Mar, you know she does."
"I can't imagine why."
She gathers up her carpetbag and umbrella and walks out of the house. "I'll miss you."
"We'll see each other again soon," he replies easily. He sounds so confident.
"Right." She opens her umbrella and closes her eyes.
"Wait!" Rosemary calls, running out of the house. "Mary- Mom- whatever, don't go!"
The swell of the wind stops momentarily and Mary's feet touch the ground again. She's almost knocked off of them when Rosemary barrels into her and hugs her tightly.
"No, it's alright. I just… I didn't want you to think I didn't love you."
"Rosemary, you are a wonderful young woman." She tilts her daughter's face up to look at it. "I am so proud of you."
"It's Rosie, Mommy," she says quietly and lets her go.
Mary nods and closes her eyes again…
Nothing happens. The wind dies down. Mary looks around and realizes this all.
A slight breeze plays with the hair that's escaped her bun.
"Yes, of course."
Rosemary and Bert look at each other and shrug.
Mary turns to them, a grin threatening to overtake her face. "I'm to stay here. My family needs me."
Bert picks her up and swings her around, kissing her thoroughly. Rosie turns away for that, but then hugs her mother.
Always one to think things through, Rosie stops. "Wait. What about everybody else? They think you're dead."
Bert takes Mary's hand. "'ow would you feel about a new stepmother, Rosie? Because I'm not letting this one out of me sight again!"
Later, whenever anyone meets the Alfred family with the newly appointed Mrs. Alfred, the first thing they comment on is the uncannily similar coloring of both stepmother and daughter's eyes.
I hope you liked it! Thanks for reading!