Chapter 11: A Delightful Future

The lights were out at Number 17, and Jane quietly turned the key Mary had given her to open the large door. Mary pulled Bert by the hand into the parlor after Jane. She hadn't let go of him once since they left The Merchant's place. Naturally, Bert didn't mind.

"Do you want tea? I'm far too excited to go to sleep just now," Jane whispered as Mary and Bert took a seat in the parlor.

"That would be excellent Jane thank you," Mary smiled. Jane disappeared into the dark house and Mary suddenly realized how exhausted she was. Still holding Bert's hand, she leaned on his shoulder and sighed.

"To think, just yesterday you wouldn't let me stand too close to you public. You'd even get skittish on occasion when I took your hand in a chalk painting," Bert chuckled. He was amazed at how close she was to him, and the affection she was suddenly showing him. It was strange and exciting.

"I'm sorry Bert," Mary whispered. "I'm sorry I wasted so much time, but you see, for me it wasn't wasting time. You understand don't you? I had to keep you at a distance."

"No you didn't Mary," Bert replied, kissing her softly on top of her head. "I know what you thought but no matter what I still would have loved you. Until my last dying breath, even if you were no longer by my side-"

"Bert I wouldn't have-"

"Shhh, let's not argue. Anyway it doesn't matter anymore, does it?" He smiled, his teeth gleaming in the low light of the parlor. Jane returned with a tray of tea and she poured out for the two of them.

"Who knew it merely took a ticking watch to have the two of you snuggled up in my parlor?" Jane smirked. Both Mary and Bert had the good sense to blush, and Mary sat up, untangling herself from Bert. "You do know I'm teasing. I can't tell you how happy I am about this."

"Thank you Jane," Mary said. She knew Jane had been wise from a very young age about her relationship with Bert. Children noticed everything, but often adults didn't listen. Mary knew however that Jane was an observant girl. Now she thought of Jane like a sister, and it pleased her to know that her standing with Bert made her just as happy.

"Don't thank me. Thank you for letting me in to your life Mary. You're family, always have been and always will be. You too Bert. I love you both and to see you both happy is just, well, it's what I've wanted for a while now."

"You're a one of a kind Jane," Bert smiled.

"Not like this one though," Jane smiled, jerking her head towards Mary. "Take care of her, she's just like the rest of us now. At least, in one way." Jane winked, and she set down her tea. "I'm off to bed now, but you two take your time. And congratulations."

"Goodnight Jane," Mary and Bert replied in unison. After Jane disappeared up the stairs, Mary yawned.

"Time for bed," Bert laughed.

"I don't want you to leave," Mary very nearly whined. She was tired though, it'd been a long and exciting day.

"Never love, just until tomorrow. I'll be by your side every day. Don't you worry."

"Do you promise?"

"Cross my heart."

Mary kissed Bert sweetly on the lips, and then said goodnight as he made his way out of the Banks home. She closed the door quietly, and once it was shut, leaned against it. A tear escaped from her eye, but she knew she wasn't upset. No, looking at the Banks home in the darkness, Mary couldn't help but feel overwhelming happiness. This was her home. More than any place in London. These people, Bert included, were her family, and she knew that now.

She sighed quietly, content. Thought before this night the future had stretched before her, unending and wavering, it seemed so empty. Now she saw the future stretching before her with limitless possibilities, and even though she knew that one day her jolly holidays would come to an end, she couldn't be more thrilled. The pocket watch ticked loudly in her handbag, and she smiled. Mary Poppins had everything she ever wanted, and she couldn't be happier that she had returned to Number 17 Cherry Tree Lane. Perhaps this time, she'd never leave.