I have no idea where this came from, but I hope you like it!

And, as always, I own nothing.


Bert quickly closes his mouth, trying to pretend that his jaw hadn't dropped.

"Yeah, yeah, I know. It's surprising. I don't even know why I did it, only that it feels right."

Bert nods. His best mate David, getting married. He can scarcely believe it. Of course, he's thrilled. It's not as if he'd begrudge his best friend since childhood this happiness.

Still, somewhere in a deep, dark place, buried under years of congeniality, Bert can't help but feel a bit jealous. Dave is a great guy, a wonderful friend. But from the time he could speak, he's proclaimed the likelihood of his marriage to be approximately the same as that of the dinosaurs roaming the earth again. It is Bert who has always extolled the virtues of the institution. And yet somehow, Lydia has managed to so enrapture the perennial bachelor that he's gone and proposed.

But, once he gets past that, Bert has to admit, Lydia is a good match for his friend. Small and dark where he's tall and blond, they complement each other. As the daughter of a wealthier merchant, she's intelligent and educated, valuing the hard work Bert knows Dave puts in. She's a match for him in temperament and personality too, loud enough to be heard over his incessant chatter and able to handle his teasing. And Bert is truly happy that his best friend has found someone to take the plunge with.

"So you'll do it?" Dave asks, interrupting his thoughts.

"Be your best man? Of course I will!"

Dave shakes his hand enthusiastically. "That's great, Bert. Really. A weight off my mind."

Bert frowns. "Did y' doubt I'd do it?"

"I just figured, what with things between you an' Mary being what they are…"

"What are you talkin' about? There's nothin' between Mary an' I. We're friends, Dave. Nothin' more, nothin' less."

"An' that's exactly what I mean! There's nothing going on, when any fool with eyes can see th' way y' look at 'er!"

"Dave, I'm 'appy for you, really. You're my best mate. But if ya don't lay off, in about three seconds I'll 'ave t' pop you in th' nose."

"Right, alright. Don't 'ave t' be so defensive, mate. You're right. You two are just friends an' nobody wants more an' of course you don't want t' see 'er wearing a wedding dress an' walking down th' aisle or wearing nothing at all in your bed!"

That's when Bert hauled off and punched his best friend in the face not ten minutes after agreeing to be his best man.

"Ow! What the 'ell, Bert?" Dave exclaims, hand flying to his face. "An' when th' devil did your right 'ook get so bloody strong?"

Bert glowers and doesn't answer.

"Alright, alright," Dave sighs. "I'm sorry. It was just a bit of good natured teasing. But I know Mary's a touchy subject for you. Sorry I brought 'er up."

"Leave 'er out of it, Dave."

"It's dropped. We friends again?"

Bert sighs. Dave's not a bad lot, just a bit crass. Sometimes he doesn't realize just how his words will land. Maybe having a wife will soften him. If anybody could keep him in line, it's Lydia. "Yeah, I guess so."

"An' I can still count on you for th' wedding?"

"Of course, mate. But if I ever 'ear you talking about Mary like that again, I'll do more'n give yeh a shiner. Got it?"

Dave nods. "Gotchya."

"I mean, y'don't 'ear me goin' on 'bout Lydia like that."

"Oh, but there's a difference there!" Dave point out. "You're supposed t' be th' nice one! You aren't suppose t' talk like that!"

"So you'd be alright if I just started goin' on about Lydia?"

"No, of course not! But again, another difference. Lydia is going t' be my wife in a few months! Mary isn't even your girl!"

As if Bert needed David to point that out. "Look, just… just leave 'er out of it."

Dave nods seriously. "Fine, fine. But, Bert, you've gotta know if you don't marry that woman, somebody else will."

0ooo0

Bert stands next to a very, very nervous Dave. He leans in with a grin and teases, "Might want t' stand with your legs apart, man. They can 'ear your knees knocking from th' back of th' church."

"Easy for you t' say," Dave replies shakily. "You're not the one giving up the rest of your life t' be with one person forever. Great as Lydia is."

Bert laughs. "Dave, you're not givin' up your life. You're startin' a new one, one with a beautiful woman by your side. Think about it. You're not losin' anythin', but you're getting th' chance t' wake up next t' th' woman y' love for the rest of yer life. Some people would kill for that chance."

Dave sighs. "I keep telling you, Bert, I don't think you need t' kill for that chance with Mary."

The chapel doors open so Bert doesn't have to answer. Dave's eyes widen as Lydia enters. Bert watches as she walks down the aisle and all the worries seem to melt off Dave's face.

Lydia looks resplendent in a satin gown with a lace overlay; she's practically glowing. Bert is struck by how the fabric looks against her skin. His friend is a very lucky man.

Looking out over the church, he searches until he finds a very familiar face, standing in the back, observing. She must have slipped in right after Lydia, since she had been helping the bride prepare and Bert hadn't seen her before the ceremony. Her blue eyes catch his and Bert thinks he must look just as stricken as his friend right now.

Mary Poppins stands in the back of the chapel, her hair twisted up into some fancy style that Bert can't name. She wears a beautiful sky blue gown that he's never seen before. Tearing his eyes away from her, he turns his attention back to the wedding.

Lydia really does look beautiful in her wedding gown. The satin suits her—like the fabric, she's beautiful and fine. Almost rare in her beauty. Stunning, really. Dave is a lucky man. In his wife, he's found a woman that would make almost any man shake with envy. He'll have his hands full with that one, but she's good for him and she obviously loves him with everything she's got.

Bert's mind drifts slightly. Mary would, of course, look beautiful in satin. She'd look beautiful in anything. But satin wouldn't suit her, not in the same way as it does Lydia. Mary has a different sort of beauty. Certainly she's attractive, but not in a way that immediately catches people's eyes. It's quiet. Sensible. That's the word for Mary Poppins: sensible. She'd never be caught in a satin gown because she'd never have occasion to wear it again.

No, Mary Poppins isn't satin. She's not flashy in that way. Mary Poppins is cotton. She's wool. She's all the fabrics she tends to favor for her wardrobe. Brightly colored, well-crafted, sensible. Soft cotton, warm wool, and flawless linen.

And he loves her. He wants nothing more than to have her in his arms, to have that cotton, wool, linen under his hands. To have her soft hair brushing against his cheek as she rests her head on his shoulder.

But cotton, wool, and linen, while beautiful, do not add up to romance. Not in the way satin and lace do. It's the trouble with falling in love with a woman of sensible heels and fabrics.

He's shaken out of his reverie by the end of the ceremony. His best friend is now married. Bert smiles and congratulates the happy couple, but they don't see anyone but each other.

"It really was a lovely ceremony."

He turns around and there she is, his woman of cotton. No, not his. The woman of cotton. Her eyes shine brightly, their color only intensified by the color of her dress.

"It was, wasn't it?" he asks, coughing as he finds his voice.

"Bert, are you alright? You seem… off somehow."

He smiles brightly. "Nothin' t' worry about, Mary Poppins. Just a big day, that's all. Per'aps I might take yeh t' tea a bit later? Once Lydia and Dave are off?"

She gives him a small, gracious smile. "I'd like that very much."

"It's a date then," he grins before realizing what he's just said and scrambling to correct his error. "I mean, not a date so much as a friendly gathering between friends."

She laughs at his stammers. "It's a date and a friendly gathering between friends. Now I really must go congratulate the bride."

She floats off before he has a chance to respond.

And later that night, as he walks her home, he finds a small hand in a cotton glove entwined with his without comment.

Several weeks later, the linen cloth of her skirt brushes lightly against his legs as her lips brush lightly against his.

And a year later, wool scratches against his fingers as he works the buttons on a gorgeous blue jacket with silver buttons that she had made instead of a wedding gown. The linen of the skirt she'd worn to the magistrate's office falls silently to the floor alongside her blouse. And the next morning, he wakes in his unremarkable cotton sheets and presses a kiss to the bare shoulder of his truly remarkable new wife.