Mary: A Romance
- Okay, I'm not quite sure where this came from, but here we are.
Comments of any shape are appreciated.
General fanfic disclaimer: These aren't mine, and I'm certainly not
making money off this. I only wish :-).
Thanks to Carmen Williams for the beta :-).
Blinky the Tree Frog
Mary: A Romance
It was a sunny day when she first met him. Fitting really, for a
soul like his. He was working as a farm hand in a place just out of
London; one of a thousand different jobs he'd breezed through in his
life. The children had finished their chores and she was taking them
for a walk to town, when she happened upon him in the yard.
The children abandoned the discipline she'd spent the morning
instilling them with immediately and all three crowded around in
delight, asking him for a magic trick, calling to her to watch. She
clicked her tongue in resignation, not really irate, of course, but
needing to keep up appearances. When he turned to her, however, with
eyes that shone with an adult's wisdom and a child's mischief, she
couldn't help but smile back, a little. Who could help but smile
And so he joined her and the children on their daily trips, smiling
with wonder and glee, regaling them with tales of his many
adventures, treating her like the perfect lady, as if he were a
gentlemen and not a restless jack-of all-trades.
She didn't tell him that she was leaving the farm that first time.
She told herself that it didn't matter; that she wasn't important to
him, and he certainly wasn't important to her. After all, her heart
was always, would always, be with her work. Romance was a silly
thing, and she was always, always, sensible.
She met him next in York, busking through the streets with a weather-
beaten banjo and a voice that sounded like a battered angel. She
stupidly expected there might be some rage, some resentment, from her
abrupt exit, but then, she hadn't known him as well then.
He smiled at her with genuine warmth and played a silly song for the
children. She pretended to be irritated at his frivolity, but when
the day ended, they'd arranged to meet up again. In the weeks that
followed they met for picnics and for tea with the youngsters, and he
made her smile. When she left this time, she made sure she passed
the place where he played, and she made sure she waved. He waved
back, and something in his eyes sparkled with an understanding that
made her terribly, terribly grateful.
London next time, and he sang to her as they walked through the
greenery, danced with her on the rooftops, smiled with her all the
while. For once, for the first time, she met him without the
children, on her day off. They walked through another park and they
talked about the weather, and the world, and everything except that
which was important. Finally, at the end of the day, she cursed
herself and broke her perfect facade, just for the moment. She would
be leaving again soon, she said. She would always be leaving, must
always be leaving. He was a wonderful man, but this was what must
be. She opened her mouth to say more, but he silenced her with a
finger to her mouth. He smiled at her, gentle this time, and took
her face in his hands, and said that he knew. He saw the magic in
her, knew who she was, knew the limits of what she could give. But
it was enough, and it didn't matter. And when she asked him why, he
said she was beautiful.
So it was. The years went by and they drifted through each other's
life. She continued her work, and he continued to wander, and if
their paths crossed more than mere luck would account for, neither of
them owned up to it. This was all that would ever be. It was
But then he was sick.
It had started as a cold, caused by a day standing in the rain
selling trinkets. Not all things that start small stay that way,
however, and pneumonia took hold quickly. Far too quickly. Far too
late she heard. Far too late she came to him.
Far too late to do more than watch the end. Almost too late for that.
He was being cared for in a church poorhouse, a simple place where he
lay in a simple bed at the back. He was shivering with fever, but
when she came into the room he opened his eyes and smiled.
"Well, look who we have here," he whispered, and then he coughed and
doubled up. She hurried to his side, rubbed his back, chastised him
for talking while he was so ill. The smile didn't leave his face.
She talked to him for hours, told him all the things that had
happened to her since the last time she'd seen him. Told him more
than she'd ever told him before. Watched him with eyes tinged by a
desperate sadness. For all her wisdom, she had never really
understood illness. Had never experienced illness; never got sick.
The end came far too soon. His breath grew shorter, his pale face
grew greyer. But he still smiled; always smiled when she was
around. She held his hand tighter, told him of beautiful things.
And when at last the end came, she took his face in her hands, just
like he had done that day, so many years ago.
"Bert." She said. "You are the finest man I have ever had the
pleasure of knowing. Always remember that. Always know it."
He looked up at her face, the light fading from his eyes. Awed,
marvelling, he told her, "You are beautiful." And then... then he
Mary Poppins traced a finger over his face, bent her head.
And for the first time, she cried.