A/N: This story is for darling-pretty, because she inspires me all the time and her stuff is brilliant. When I read her snapshot "wind," I wanted more of it. So I wrote some more of it. Like a oneshot prequel! Hope you enjoy. Also, I recently moved to Florida and began training for my role at Walt Disney World, so my other stories are on a bit of a hiatus until my life settles down a bit. Believe me, I want to work on them but am having trouble finding time right now. Enjoy this fluffly tidbit until then!
"I have a confession," Bert says sincerely, his customary grin gone and a serious expression on his face.
"Do you now?" Mary asks lightheartedly, thinking that his tone is heavily veiled sarcasm.
"Yes. I do," Bert replies, still serious.
"Go on then," Mary prods, her smile turning into an anxious line. Her eyebrows knit together in confusion. Very rarely is Bert so serious around her.
"Every time you leave London I think about grabbing hold of you tight and never letting you go. I can't tell you how many times I've thought about stealing your umbrella so you couldn't run off. I can't stand to watch you leave anymore and I just wanted you to know that. Because..." Bert faltered. He'd managed to get this far in his speech, but no matter how he had prepared for this conversation, he couldn't get through this part.
Mary was touched, her eyes glistening, but he had left her hanging. "Because...?"
"Because I love you," Bert finished. He didn't dare to meet her eyes. He was too afraid of the reaction.
"Oh Bert," Mary sobbed. When Bert heard her choke out his name he looked up. She was crying, and he was afraid he had upset her with his bold comments.
"I-I'm sorry Mary," he stammered. "I didn't mean to upset ya or nothin' just forget I said anything-"
"No Bert," Mary smiled through her tears. "Oh my dear Bert, you haven't upset me at all."
Bert was confused, and unsure where he stood with Mary. Why was she crying? He had just put himself out there, and now she was in tears. As far as he knew, no one had made Mary Poppins cry.
"I have a confession as well," Mary said, wiping away at tears.
"Yes Mary?" Bert whispered, afraid that he had somehow caused a mess with his confession.
"I don't choose to leave London...to leave you. It's out of my hands. Even stealing my umbrella won't stop it," Mary chuckled, and Bert smiled as she braved her way through her tears. "The wind will take me no matter what. When it's time, it's time. I make it a point to go when the wind calls...if I try to stay..." Mary stopped, lost again to emotions Bert had never seen before from her.
Bert suddenly enveloped her in his arms, holding her tight. He heard her sniff, trying so hard to hold back more tears. He sighed, he had no idea that she didn't have a choice, and he had offended her in assuming so. He didn't realize that she wasn't in control of her own fate.
"I'm so sorry Mary," he whispered tenderly into her soft brunette hair. "I didn't think, I didn't realize..."
A muffled and soggy laugh came from Bert's chest. "Oh Bert, why are you apologizing? It's quite all right, honestly. You couldn't have known."
Mary looked up to see that Bert's eyes were worried, he looked hurt. "Don't be upset, please," she whispered, placing her hand on his cheek and looking up into his soft, warm eyes.
"I didn't know," he said softly.
"I know. And that's my fault. I'm sorry you thought I was abandoning you. Running off without a moment's notice and at the worst of times. How could you know that it wasn't my choice?"
"But I should have!" Bert exclaimed, now furious at himself for thinking she didn't care enough about him to stay. "You don't have a selfish bone in your body, I don't know why I thought-"
"Shhh, Bert," Mary smiled, though tears still managed to slowly run down her cheeks. "You know now."
"What I said was true though," Bert said, his eyes no longer sad but burning with something Mary couldn't place.
"I just want to grab hold of ya like I've got you now and never let go. Now more than ever. Now that I know you don't want to leave."
Mary stepped out of Bert's embrace and looked down at the pavement. "Bert don't...don't make this harder than it is. There's nothing you can do to change my calling."
"Nothing at all?" Bert wondered, his eyes burning fiercer than before.
"Bert, please," Mary pleaded.
"What happens if you don't listen to the wind? What if you just say no?" Bert asked, hoping that maybe there was a way...maybe wanting it enough would do the trick. Maybe...he was enough?
"Bert I told you. I have no choice..."
"Bert!" Mary shouted suddenly. Angry and full of tears once more, her sad and furious glare made Bert's blood run cold. Her fists were clenched and her eyes shone with a fire he'd never seen. When Mary's heart had stopped pounding she quietly addressed a very stunned Bert. "How dare you."
Bert unfroze. "Mary I-"
"How dare you suggest that it's simply a matter of deciding whether I want to stay or go or not."
"I didn't mean it, I just meant, Mary I'm sorry-"
Mary cut Bert off by stepping closer to him, standing before him at her full height, her eyes shining, their blue gaze looking directly into his. "The third time I saw you, the third time we ever spent time together you took me for a picnic in one of your chalk paintings." Mary stared at him pointedly. Bert nodded mutely, he knew the day well. "After that outing we parted ways, and later that afternoon, the wind changed. I wasn't ready to leave. I wanted to see you again. I had such a good time and couldn't stop thinking about how wonderful that felt. I learned something that day Bert."
"Yes?" Bert breathed, his eyes never leaving hers, his heart racing.
"I learned what happens when I fight my own fate. It was just a little at first. I came down with a headache. Then my fingers and toes started to tingle like pins and needles, and after that pain began to radiate in my chest. It spread and spread until the world had me reeling. It got so bad I was curled up on my bed in an empty nursery, clutching myself, crying. I tried so hard Bert. I wanted more than anything to have just one more day, but I had to go. I felt like every part of me was being torn apart."
"Mary-" Bert whispered, his cheeks wet with tears.
"Let me finish. It felt like every part of me was being torn apart. And every time I leave with the wind my heart gets torn apart, but that I can stand. I can stand that because eventually I come back and I can piece it back together again. But that's it. There's no other option for me Bert. I've tried, and I've failed, and I've been trying to live my life as best as I can regardless."
Mary sighed, her anger had subsided. She felt empty, now that she'd gotten this weight off her chest, and she wasn't sure of herself. She just felt...lost. Bert still stood before her, awestruck. A large tear ran down his cheek.
"Please don't cry," Mary whispered sadly. "It's no use."
"I'm not sure how to apologize in a way that can begin ta make it up to ya for what I've done today," Bert said. He scratched the back of his neck and sniffed, looking down in shame. "I'm really not sure what to say right now."
"Don't say anything at all. It's quite all right Bert. I understand where you're coming from. It's hard to understand, and it's infuriating, and I'm sorry I got upset at you. You didn't know any better," Mary said, a small smile forming on her lips. The worst was over.
"I just feel terrible, about everything," Bert sighed.
"Everything?" Mary asked, her eyebrow going up in question. Bert was confused. This was a sign that she knew something you didn't, which happened quite often, but now of all times was strange.
"Yes, everything. I'm sorry Mary. Plain and simple."
Mary hesitated, and Bert noticed a red blush creeping into her cheeks. "Are you...sorry about saying you loved me?"
Bert blushed in return. Neither one made eye contact. "Right, that. Er, Mary, I know I've said a lot of stupid things today..."
"Yes?" Mary breathed, she bit her lip anxiously and looked up into Bert's eyes.
"Well that wasn't one of 'em," Bert said, his mouth curling into a cheeky grin.
"Oh Bert," Mary smiled.
"I mean it. And I know I've been an absolute arse today but Mary...I'd do anything for ya. I know now I can't just steal yer umbrella and keep you forever, but I'll wait. I always do."
Mary felt tears threaten yet again, but this time they were happy ones. "Bert, do you promise?"
"I'll do you one better, I swear it."
"I swear to you Mary," Bert said, his eyes burning anew. He stepped forward and wrapped his lanky arms around her as tight as he could. She put her cheek on his broad chest and smiled. "I swear to you that when you're here I'll hold you and keep you safe, and when it's time for you to go-"
"You'll still hold me and keep me safe?" Mary asked.
"Until it's too much for ya love," Bert grinned.
The pair was quiet, holding each other tightly and relishing in the silent embrace that each one had longed for for so very long. After a while, Mary broke the silence.
"I wish there were another way," she whispered sadly.
"Don't be upset love. I know now it's not your fault, and I'll treasure the time we get. I'll always be here when you leave and when you return."
"I like the sound of that," Mary said, lifting her head up from Bert's chest and giving him a peck on the lips.
"If it means more of those? Then me too."