It was a beautiful summer night. Bert and his friends were making their rounds. After a day of sweeping chimneys and almost an hour on his feet making sure the streetlights were properly lit, he was weary... in more ways than one. He found an empty bench and sank onto it. With a deep sigh, he ran his long, soot-covered fingers through his thick, dirty, jet black hair. He closed his brown eyes and laid his head back, enjoying the peace and quiet.
"'ey... Bert? You OK, mate?"
His friends' quiet, concerned voice brought him out of his reverie as he settled on the bench next to him.
"Yeah, yeah... I'm fine, just a bit tuckered is all," he said, opening his eyes and turning his head to look at the man he thought of as a brother.
"Bill and I can handle the rest-a this... You go an' get some proper rest," Henry encouraged.
Henry nodded and smiled, putting his hand on his shoulder. A beat. "Ya miss Mary, don't ya?" It was Bert's turn to nod, but he did not smile. He could not find any words. "Don't you worry... One o' these days, she'll float down from the sky again..." he said, casting a glance upward into the starry sky.
"... like an angel..." Bert murmured, under his breath, almost to himself. He dared to let his eyes drift up as well as if willing her to be there.
A beat. "Night, then. I'll see ya tomorrow so's we can do it all again," Henry chuckled. He stood and went along his way.
Bert sighed deeply and bowed his head. He had no idea how much time had passed. It could have been mere seconds or a whole day. All he knew was that he wasn't alone anymore. He swallowed hard as he opened his eyes and focused on the shadow that was at his feet. The shape of the hat, the slender waistline, the flow of the petticoat...
He snapped his head up and his eyes immediately met hers. They smiled at the same time. He slowly got to his feet, never breaking eye contact.
"Now, Bert... There will be no more talk of angels floating from the sky. Understood?" she said gently.
"Yes, ma'm," he said breathlessly.
Silence came over them as they simply gazed into each other's eyes.
She was no angel. She was a proper and true lady made of flesh and blood, too good for the likes of him. But here she was beside him.
He was the rebellious side of her. He proved to her that class did not matter. Only feelings mattered.
Their hearts were racing just as they always did when they reunited. The only thing they wanted to do was embrace.
So they did.
They held each other a long time.
As they pulled apart a few minutes later. She reached out and took both his hands in hers.
"What brings you 'ere, Mary Poppins?" he asked.
"This is my week off before I start with a new family. I want to spend it in London with you," she said matter-of-factly.
He couldn't help but swell with pride. "Well then we'd best get on with it. One week is not a lot of time," he said, trying not to sound as disappointed as he felt. He was honored she'd chosen to come to him. He offered her his arm. She proudly laced her arm through it. "What should we do?"
"Why don't we go have some supper?" she suggested, flashing her eyes up to his.
"Good idea. I'm famished," he declared.
Then he stopped as if he remembered something he'd long forgotten. "I... We... can't..." he said, sadly looking down at his filthy trousers and brushing some soot off his sleeve. She saw his insecurity and hesitation.
Mary tilted her head. "I need to settle in my room at the inn. You can meet me there when you're ready," she said with a reassuring smile.
"You always make the best 'o the situation, dont'cha?" he smirked.
"I at least try to," she said with a nod. Then her demeanor changed. "Now go and get changed," she demanded playfully. "Spit spot!"
Bert laughed and tipped his hat with a ground bow. With that, he turned and hurried away. She laughed at his endearing boyish ways and at herself for feeling like a school girl.
Later, after they'd eaten a nice meal in the inn restaurant and enjoyed a glass of rum punch, they decided to stroll in the park since it was such a lovely evening. They ended up in front of the inn.
"It'll be hard to top that," Bert said, as he opened the door for her.
"We'll have to try, won't we?" she smirked. To his joy, she leaned up and gently placed a kiss to his left cheek. "Good night, Bert."
"Good night, Mary," he said, his voice full of affection. He smiled a broad, amused smile as she offered her cheek. He pressed his lips to her soft left cheek.
He watched her nod to the concierge and gracefully glide up the stairs.
Slipping his hands into his pockets, he spun on his heels and began to whistle and hum under his breath.
From her window, Mary was serenely glowing as she undid her hair, watching him bell-kick and disappear around the corner.