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Fairy Lights

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“A chimney sweep again, Bert?”

While the kid by his side whirled around, Bert wasn’t too surprised to hear Mary’s voice; after all, tonight was her night off. “Well, it comes with a nice view, after all. But I think it’s time to change again.” He rose to his feet and turned to look at her, beautiful even in the dim evening light. “Jack, this lovely lady is Mary Poppins. I’ve told you about her, haven’t I?”

Jack nodded and took two shy steps towards Mary. “It’s nice to meet you, Mary Poppins. I’m Jack.”

Mary smiled at him. “It’s nice to meet you, too, Jack. Did Bert teach you your good manners?” She glanced up at Bert, just the tiniest hint of a mischievous twinkle in her eyes.

“No, he had those right from the start.” Grinning, he ruffled the kid’s hair. “I took him under my wing just a few days ago.”

Jack looked from one to the other. “Miss, I didn’t see any ladders. Did you fly up here?”

“No, that would be absurd. People can’t fly, we aren’t birds.”

“One thing to know about Mary Poppins: She never explains anything.” Bert walked over to Mary. He knew she wouldn’t allow him to kiss her lips, not with company, but a gentle kiss on the cheek shouldn’t go against proper decorum. He looked back at Jack. “We’re done for the night, if you want to go home. But if you don’t, feel free to stay up here—the leeries should come through here soon, and that’s always a sight to see.”

“Oh, I haven’t watched them in a while, either. About time I do so again, isn’t it?” Mary said as she intertwined her fingers with Bert’s.

Jack tilted his head to the side and thought about it for a moment before he nodded. “Then I want to see it, too!”

“All right then. Come right on over, this roof’s got the best view for it, you’ll see.” Bert went to sit on the roof’s edge, motioning for Jack to follow. Truth be told, he doubted that he’d be able to focus much on the leeries doing their work. It was a beautiful sight, of course, but it paled to the company he had right by his side.

Jack was a bit more hesitant, not yet feeling as secure on the rooftops as Bert did, but he soon enough sat down next to him.

And not a second too early. This was the leeries’ first street, which meant they usually did it together, accompanied by a little dance for good luck. Jack was immediately enchanted by the spectacle, just like Bert had been the first time he’d seen it.

Right now, though, he had something else to focus on. How soft Mary’s hands felt in his own calloused ones, for example, or how she’d left the little speck of soot on her cheek completely untouched. If he focused a little bit, he could even see the leeries’ lights reflected in her eyes; the way they danced reminded him of the old stories of fairies he’d heard as a child.

He’d love to pull her close and hold her tight, but he knew Mary wouldn’t let him do this, not right now. So he settled for holding her hand, cherishing that he at least had her by his side again.

“Bert, if you want to be something else than a chimney sweep, can you teach me how to be a leerie?” Jack asked, interrupting Bert’s thoughts.

“Well, I don’t see why not. All right then, we’ll be leeries starting tomorrow night!” Bert agreed, then looked at Mary again. “What do you think, will you be watching us dance, too?”

“Of course I will.” Mary smiled and gently squeezed Bert’s hand. “I’d never pass up the chance of seeing you dance, Bert. And watching you teach Jack promises to be an especially supercalifragilisticexpialidocious sight.”

“Then I guess we’ll have to make sure we don’t disappoint you, right, Jack?” Grinning, Bert looked at Jack. In this case, doing so meant he didn’t see when Mary leaned in a bit closer and gently pressed her lips against his cheeks; if he hadn’t been covered in soot, he’d probably be flushing bright red.

Mary just smiled. “Oh, you could never disappoint me, Bert.”

Down on the streets, the leeries were still dancing as Bert stood up, pulling Mary up as well. “Well, we could start the lessons by giving Jack a closer view, couldn’t we?” Grinning, he started with the first few steps, then looked expectantly at Mary.

She shook her head and stalled a few heartbeats before joining in, the two on the rooftops twirling around in harmony with the leeries down in the streets.