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A Touch of Fever (Mary Poppins Returns, M)


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So I recently saw Mary Poppins Returns, and it's an adorable and wholesome film. Also, Ben Whishaw is a cutie and is super sweet with his on-stage kids in it. I've taken the liberty of writing out his mustache because it's very unnecessary. It's funny how the adults don't notice Mary's magic, so I though up this little story where Michael puts it down to being sicker than he thought as she uses it to take care of him. 



The door of number 17 Cherry Tree Lane burst open in a bluster of wind to let in a splatter of rain and a sopping wet Michael Banks. Shouldering it closed, he sagged against the heavy wooden frame with a sigh, rubbing absently at his nose. He’d given up sniffling after spending half the day no doubt driving his poor coworkers mad for lack of a handkerchief. After rifling through all his pockets for the forth time in the wake of a particularly impressive sneeze, he’d resorted to ducking under his desk throughout the shift to (hopefully) discretely wipe his nose of the sleeve of his jumper. For the first time, he had felt immensely grateful to Jane for her insistence on shaving his mustache. Of course, that had been weeks ago, long before he’d started dripping like some sort of broken faucet, but the advantage was undeniable nonetheless. Her reasoning had been that it was “terribly out of fashion”.

“If this has to do with dating, I don’t want to hear another word.” He’d exasperatedly informed the bathroom mirror halfway through the shave. “I can’t imagine anyone besides Kate in the house…or with the children. She…well, I’m managing. They’re perfectly well mothered as it is. I’m here to take care of them.” From the doorway behind him, she’d offered half a smile.

“But Michael, who will take care of you?”


“Mary Poppins!” he exclaimed out of surprise more than anything else, startled to turn round and find himself face to face with his former nanny. “Oh, I didn’t hear you come in. I…I thought I’d be the only one awake at this time of nigh…ni-nehh-tChehh!! Ugh..” Glancing up from the sodden sleeve of his already soaked coat, Michael gave an apologetic sounding sniff and cleared his throat. “Pardon.” He mumbled sheepishly.

“Bless you Michael.” She raised a comely eyebrow. “Wet shoes off, please. I’d rather those puddles stay by the door.”

“Oh yes, yes of coarse.” He shuffled to ply one shoe off with the other as she slipped behind him and shrugged off his wet coat in one graceful movement. He couldn’t help but shiver, glancing wistfully at the dark fireplace. If only he he’d been able to get home earlier. It would have been put out around nine, and he couldn’t quite tell if there was a chill in the house or just in him.

“Really, Michael,” Mary tutted, “You ought to be wearing a scarf. You’ll catch your death.”

“Don’t worry. I’m quit alright.” He assured her before snapping forward with an ill-timed “He’tChuh!

“That cold belongs in a handkerchief, not on your sleeve. I’d have thought I taught you better.” Her tone was curt, but she placed her hand on his shoulder and gave it a gentle pat.

“Oh dear, I wish I had one.” He rubbed guiltily at the back of his neck. “I think it’s just the London weather, though. This storm is dreadful. I can’t be ill…I can’t-I don’t have a cold. I simply don’t have the time.”  

“But you do have one.” She pulled a crisp white handkerchief from the pocket of the waterlogged coat as she hung it on the hook. Michael simply blinked, unsure if she was referring to an illness or to the miraculously dry handkerchief. He really wasn’t in a position to argue against either, though he’d all but turned those very pockets inside out that afternoon and though he hadn’t felt nearly so tired that morning. Despite these extremely valid points, he felt another bout of sneezing coming on. The case that would make would be louder and more concise than his, literally and figuratively on the nose. Best to take the admittedly much needed handkerchief and get on with the mountain of paperwork he’d brought home.

“Thank you, Mary.” He nuzzled into the folds of the handkerchief with an involuntary sigh of relief, giving his nose as much of a blow as could still be considered polite in such close proximity to another person. The itch that had niggling the back of his sinuses receded a bit, leaving him caught between feeling comforted by the brief respite and frustrated that he’d somehow managed to go the whole of the day sniveling into his sleeve like a child with such a wonderfully soft handkerchief in his pocket all along. “Excuse me.” He fidgeted a bit under Mary’s assessing gaze. To her, he would always be the Banks boy, and it surely didn’t help that he couldn’t seem to keep his own nose clean at the present. “Are the children-”

“Tucked snuggly into bed and sleeping soundly, just as you should be.”

“That’s probably true,” he sighed, scrubbing a bit at the underside of his pinkening nose with the handkerchief, “but I’ve quite a bit of work to finish before tomorrow morning. I- snff, I…oh dear, pardon m- meh-” his breath caught on the hasty sniffle, “Heh-etCHuuhh! HexChUu!!” He buried the sneeze in the handkerchief, doubling over at the waist from the force of it.

“God bless you!” Mary Poppins offered sincerely, draping a thick towel around his shoulders. Still snuffling behind the damp clothe, and a bit dazed in the aftermath of the violent dunking of his aching head, Michael could not for the life of him image where it had come from. “That sneezing won’t get any better so long as you keeping standing there with your hair dripping and your socks soaked through. Dry off now, spit-spot.”

“Oh yes, right…” he muttered around the handkerchief, staggering from foot to foot to nudge off the socks before groggily reaching up to run the towel over his dark curls. “Of coarse, yes…sorry, I’m a bit muddled at the moment.”

“Not to worry,” she strode over to her brocade bag, reeling out a thick plush tartan blanket so vast he wouldn’t have though it could have fit in her purse without stuffing it to look like a particularly eclectic couch cushion. Had the towel come from there as well? Perhaps he ought to ask Marry how she went about folding things when he was less fatigued. Whisking away the dampened towel and tucking it into the bend of her arm, she doubled the blanket over and draped it around his shoulders.

“Oh, thank you, that’s lovely.” He sighed, sagging a bit under the weight of his new cocoon.

“I should hope so!” She bundled him gently toward the sitting room. “Now finish drying off by the fire while I fetch some hot tea.”

“But the fire isn’t lit.” he protested around a yawn.

“Nonsense!” She huffed, dropping him into his armchair, which sat directly in front of a roaring fire, and tucking in the loose edges of the dragging blanket under his legs.

“But-but it was-”

“Oh dear.” She pressed the back of her hand to his forehead. “Whatever are you on about?”

“I haven’t got a fever!” he protested.

“No, of course not.” She nodded sensibly, drawing a glass thermometer from her apron pocket and flicking the mercury to the end. “Here we are.” She handed it over expectantly.

“Mary, I appreciate your concern, but there really is nothing to make such a fuss about. I suspect I’m just a bit chilled from the walk in the rain, and at the very worst I may be coming down a tad under the weather with simple cold.”

“Yes, quite.” She agreed, making her way to the kitchen. “Will you take honey and lemon in you tea?”

“I-I suppose...” His throat was sore. He tried to clear it and ended up coughing. “Oh dear…” he muttered to himself. He really ought to get his briefcase and start slogging through the paperwork, but now that he’d sunk into the armchair he was becoming more and more aware of how unpleasant standing was. Even sitting forward seemed too much to ask. His body felt heavy and his head felt muzzy and both had a sort of dull, deep ache. Perhaps Mary could bring it over with the tea. “Oh n-not again…” he groaned as the need to sneeze prickled up again. The sneezing had been relentless and utterly embarrassing the past two days. “hehh…” he shuffled the handkerchief into position “tchx!! Axcheiww! Heh.. h’tChUuhh!!” His head spun. Perhaps he was worse off that he’d thought. Still, even if he were running a bit hot, a fever high enough to- Michael’s eyes widened at the sight of his slippers, which were walking on their own accord. As they trod step by step to the fireplace to shimmy onto his icy feet, he grabbed the abandoned thermometer from the arm of his chair and popped it under his tongue. A moment later, Mary swept in balancing the tea tray in one hand and a vile of amber tonic in the other.

“Well done.” She smiled at the thermometer, tugging at the blanket to cover Michael’s chest after setting down everything on the coffee table. “Now then, let’s see what sort of shape you’re in.” She plucked the thermometer from his mouth, pressing a fresh handkerchief in to his hand. “Let’s trade.” Mary Poppins frowned as she examined her trade against the light of the fire. “Just as I suspected, I’m afraid. After tea and a spot of medicine it’s straight to bed. I shall call the bank first thing tomorrow morning to inform them you’ve developed a case of the flu.”

“I have?” Michael moaned miserably.

“Yes indeed. You really ought to look after yourself better.”

“But I’ve already brought my work home…” he mumbled worriedly, running a hand through his disarrayed curls. “I-I meant to…Oh Marry, I can’t loose this job! The children-”

“Will be perfectly fine.” She shushed him, smoothing down the blanket and easing him back into the cushions. “Michael, you finished filling out those papers an hour ago.”

“Huh?” Sure enough, beside the tea tray sat a neat stack of bank papers. “I’ll bring them over to the bank in the morning.” She said evenly, letting her hands rest on his shoulders. “Now try to settle down. You’re already in quite a state.”

“Oh dear, I’m sorry. I don’t know how I forgot…” he trailed off, scrubbing his nose with the handkerchief before tensing with a weak “T’chu!” and blowing wetly in defeat.

“It’s quite alright. Some things in this world can’t be helped. A touch of fever-”

h’Atchuhh! HeTCHUew!!

“and sneezes are among them.” 

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😍  Seriously, this fic was a dream come true!  I saw Mary Poppins Returns twice in the theatre and have been playing the soundtrack ever since.  



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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 3 years later...

Oh my. Firstly, the story you've written is amazing. Secondly, I would have loved to see Ben Whishaw sneezing. He's my favorite actor and thirdly, gosh I adore the harmony with Mary Poppins. She really is my childhood hero. Such a perfect Woman. But I have to admit, the mustache was a bit much on Ben Whishaw. Nonetheless, as I said: amazing story! 😊

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