Most people who knew of the 'Thing' between them -Jane, Michael, the sweeps, Andrew, among others- often wondered how they could stand it.
Thing, they called it. Because there wasn't a word for it, and simply was not useful for the case. No one would have dared to hang a label on it because it simply wasn't akin to any of the usual labels. It just was, and since it didn't seem to have or need a name, it was the 'Thing'. A highly complicated one too.
Firstly, out of the two, Bert definitely was the most romantic one, always showering her with praises and admiring words. That the jack-of-all-trades was head-over-heels for her was pretty much obvious, as for Mary Poppins, she praised him too, but in a much more urban and composed way, and using phrases that often made it sound as though she were trying to make him feel guilty rather than good. Unnecessary words were absent from their 'Thing'. She had an ambiguous, somehow playful and sarcastic, yet never unkind way of saying the things she truly meant to say and he was sweet-worded and straightforward, sometimes so much he sounded like he was being unkind. Those who happened to be present during their outings would marvel at how these opposing characteristics could interact in such good terms. He would often joke about her kissing him, or how she made his heart a-flutter and she would softly scorn him and comment on how beautiful the scenery was. They never spoke of that 'Thing' hovering between them and frankly, it didn't seem necessary, not when his drawings, rhymes and songs flourished whenever she was in town. Not when she couldn't stop smiling whenever he was beside her.
There were no hugs, or even caresses or anything of the sort in this 'Thing' of theirs, just the subtlest, friendliest of touches: Their intertwined arms when they walked together, side-to-side, him, radiant with an ear-to-ear smile, her, always the voice of reason, but radiant all the same; his hands holding her waist and slender fingers, her free hand resting on his shoulder as they spun, dancing on the rooftops, among chimneys, or in dream-like, colorful sceneries. Her hands were always covered in gloves, so even on those times where she somehow reluctantly allowed him to kiss her hand all he touched was impeccably white fabric. Mary Poppins pretended not to realize. Bert simply didn't complain, because as small as it was, it was still sacred for him. He truly didn't need more and she could't permit more, so it was ideal, as bittersweet as it also was.
Those who knew wondered how exactly that 'Thing' had been born in the first place and why exactly it hadn't died yet. Why they were still ideally, naturally and gleefully bonded. None of them had dared to ask how they had first met, or why she knew his real name was Herbert Albert when he hadn't gone for anything but 'Bert' for as long as anyone could remember, or why he always knew when and how she was about to use those unusual powers of hers, or how each other's antics never seemed to surprise either of them. Above all this, they wondered how it could be possible that they were so deeply connected and yet so distant and how they could stand it; him, never thinking of pressing his very obvious advantage; her, never permitting even her most powerful sentiment to muddle her thinking.
Mary Poppins and Bert didn't dawdle about all this, the why's or how's or if's were not important. They were comfortable with things the way they were, neither of them would have dared or wanted to ask for more, for their own reasons. It was just the way they were, and none of them would have had it any other way. Nameless, silent, bittersweet and complicated as it was, it was their 'Thing', and one they greatly cherished too.
So they kept it that way, nameless, silent, bittersweet and complicated, and most importantly, theirs and no one else's. There was no need for others to understand, and it was quite alright if they didn't. As long as this 'Thing' existed between them, they would enjoy their moments together, short-lived as they were.
OK, C.C (aka, the author) here. First of all, this is the first time I've written a Mary Poppins fanfiction, purely because I'd never thought about writting one before, so excuse me if it isn't something grand or striking, I'd rather leave that for a moment when I dominate writting the characters.
This was mostly inspired in the Musical, and it's pretty much my take on their relationship-that's-not-quite-one. Sorry if it doesn't have actual kissing or anything of the sort, I just can't seem to come up with a convincing way to develop them into that...yet. Reviews are very welcome, thank you.
Characters belong to P.L. Travers and Disney.