This has actually been up on tumblr for awhile, but life got a bit crazy, what with moving down to school and all, so I kind of forgot to post it here. Sorry about that!
I own nothing.
"I-I beg your pardon?" Mary stammers. "Half sister?"
He nods slowly.
"You never mentioned a half sister!" she accuses him.
He looks around and notices a bench nearby. He nods and she follows him over. When he sits, he grabs her hand and pulls her down with him. "'s not somethin' y' talk about. Not when 'er mother an' your father 'ad 'er while 'e was still married t' your mum."
"M' father, 'e 'ad an affair. I don't know for 'ow long, but everyone knew an' there was nothin' m' mum could do about it. Betty was born when I was eight. M' dad, 'e flaunted it in m' mum's face, would go out in public with Betty an' 'er mum, buy 'em things we couldn't even afford. I 'ated them both for as long as I could. But Betty… she's just got this way of wormin' 'er way in t' your 'eart."
"I swore, Mary, swore up an' down that I'd never act like that, would never treat any woman so badly. Actually, I swore up an' down that I'd never get married unless I was absolutely sure she was th' one. An' when I met you… I knew. At least, I thought I knew."
Though she tries once again to speak up, he stops her again. He can't focus on anything but his hands, still clasping hers in his lap. Mary doesn't have the heart to pull away. "I loved you so much, Mary. An' you just disappeared. Did you…"
"Did I what?" Mary asks when he trails off.
A blush starts to creep up his neck and he lets go of her hand as he reaches up to rub the back of his neck. "Did y' even love me at all?"
She actually gasps at that, partially in shock that he'd ask such a personal question, but mostly in pain. She grabs his hand again and waits for him to look up at her. "I loved you," she whispers, her voice strangled. "I think I loved you more than either of us knew."
He smiles sadly. "Suppose it doesn't matter now. 's all in th' past."
"Right. In the past," she repeats faintly.
"An' maybe, we could be… friends? We were once, y'know. We could do it again."
"I'd like that," she agrees, squeezing his hand.
Mary smiles as she puts her umbrella under her arm and knocks on the door. Her smile widens into an all-out grin when Bert opens it nearly immediately. "Mary!" he exclaims happily.
She drops her carpetbag and her umbrella clatters to the floor when she opens her arms. Quickly as he can, he wraps his arms around her waist, picks her up, and twirls her around. She laughs, bending to kiss his face. As he sets her down, he doesn't relinquish his grip and keeps her pressed up against him so he can bury his face in the hollow at the base of her neck.
"And just what exactly are you doing?"she asks, tilting her head to allow him better access.
"I missed you," he mumbles. He takes a deep breath through his nose. "Yep. Y' smell like m' Mary."
She laughs. "And who else would I smell like?"
"No one!" he replies, straightening up. "At least I 'ope not. I like th' way y' smell!"
"Oh, Bert," Mary sighs, sliding her arms up and around his neck.
"I love you, Mary Poppins, an' I'm so glad you're 'ome."
"Bert," she says quietly. "You've forgotten something."
"What? What 'ave I forgotten?"
She leans in and kisses him softly.
He chuckles when he regains use of his lips for talking. "Oh no, Mary, I could never forget that. Now, let's get you in an' out of th' cold."
She reaches up and strokes his cheek. "You know, I'm actually quite warm."
"No, no, Mary," he chides, stooping to pick up her bag and umbrella. "Y' need t' warm up. Now come on in or I'll make you."
She raises an eyebrow, her eyes betraying just how interested she is in seeing this, though her voice stays calm and teasing. "Oh, now I'd like to see you try that."
"Alright then," he agrees with a nod. The door to his flat is still open, so he tosses her carpetbag and umbrella in, out of the way, before bending to grab her around the legs.
Mary's eyes fly open at his forwardness. "Bert!" she cries as he lifts her up and carefully throws her over his shoulder. "Put me down!"
He laughs when she starts to hit his back with her fists as he carries her inside and shuts the door with his foot.
"This is unseemly!" she exclaims. He gently puts her down on the sofa and kisses her. His kiss very quickly pushes any complaints she might have out of her head and she reaches up to put one hand on the back of his neck.
"Thank you, Mary," he whispers.
"For what?"she laughs.
"For comin' back."
She pulls away to look at him. "Of course I came back!" she says, her brow furrowing. She speaks her next sentence with perfect certainty. "I will always come back."
She kisses him again before he can respond.
Mary blushes a little at the memory and reminds herself that their once easy and playful relationship is in the past. She twists the rings on her finger nervously.
"Y' look good, Mary," he says quietly. "Really good."
"You do too," she replies. "Different. But good."
"So this man, your… your 'usband. 'e treats you right?" To his credit, Bert only stumbles a little bit when he says the word husband.
Mary smiles, but it doesn't reach her eyes. "He's wonderful. You'd like him."
He nods, but his face very clearly shows his doubt.
"Enough about me," Mary changes the subject. "What have you been doing since I last saw you?"
"Oh, bit of this, bit of that, really. Nothin' special."
"You mentioned you were out of the country earlier. Where did you go?"
"'s not really important."
"Bert, yes it is."
"'s really not."
"It is to me."
"Well, after you… left, I started 'anging around with Betty an' 'er two boys an' sometimes I'd draw 'em pictures. Started tellin' 'em stories t' go along with it. Next thing I know, I've got enough of a story an' enough pictures that Betty bound 'em up without tellin' me and sent 'em t' a publisher in New York. I went over there t' talk t' them about another one. That's where I was when… when that invitation of yours came out."
"You wrote a book?" Though Bert looks wary, as if he might have said the wrong thing and overstepped some new, unwritten boundary by mentioning her wedding, but Mary is focused on his achievements and can't hide her amazement.
He starts twisting his hat in his hands again. "'s really not anything. Just a kid's book. 's more fun than anythin'."
"Bert, that's fantastic! I am so proud of you. Congratulations!"
He grins. "Thanks, Mary. Y'know, it seems more real now that I've told you."
She threads her arm through his and leans her head on his shoulder momentarily. "I've missed you," she admits quietly.
He turns his head and brushes his lips against her hair; it's not quite a kiss, but it's no accident. "I've missed you too, Mary. More 'n you know."
"I'm sorry, Bert, for all the pain I've caused you. I wish I could say it was entirely unintentional, but some of those things I said, I said them to hurt you. But you should know that if I could take everything back, I would."
"Everything?" he asks. She looks at him quizzically, so he continues quietly. "Even that you loved me?"
"No!" Mary exclaims. "Not that. Never that."
"Good," he says with a smile. "That's good."
Both Bert and Mary jump at Alistair's voice and quickly put a bit of distance between their bodies. While it's perfectly natural for them to be near each other, both are well aware that it would look horribly suspicious now that she's married.
"Yes, darling?" she calls, standing up. Bert makes a face at the pet name.
"Darling?" he teases her in a whisper. "You call 'im darling?"
She turns around and glares at him. "Oh, and I suppose you could come up with better."
"I'm not goin' t' 'elp you come up with pet names for your 'usband!" he laughs. "I love you, Mary, but not that much."
"As a friend, of course," he quickly adds. She smiles in relief.
"I should probably see what he wants," she says. "Would you like to stay for dinner?"
He shakes his head. "No, you two should spend some time together now that I've stolen you away for th' entire afternoon. Can't imagine 'e's terribly thrilled about it."
"No, no, love. Go spend time with your 'usband," he instructs. "But 'ow about you let me take you to a real, proper tea. Say Tuesday?"
She grins. "I'd like that. Shall I walk you out?"
"I can find my way," he responds. Quick as a flash, he presses a kiss to her cheek. "It's good t' see you, Mary. I'll see you on Tuesday."
She grants him a small smile and he leaves, whistling a familiar tune that she can't quite place. When he's out of sight, she exhales shakily. She brings a hand up to her cheek; though there is absolutely nothing there, she can still feel the imprint of his lips burning on her skin.