"Just remember-after this, you are all mine. For the next six weeks." Georg whispered to his wife, as they stood on the entry landing, ready to enter their wedding reception which was already in full swing without them. She shivered with anticipation at the feel of his breath on her neck.
"Oh, you won't be rid of me in six weeks. You're stuck with me. Forever," Maria replied, her eyes dancing.
"I like the sound of that," he replied, as he leaned over to kiss her, properly; not the innocent kiss in front of those in the sanctuary at their marriage ceremony, but the passionate connection of two souls who, by a miracle, had found each other.
"Ahem. I hate to interrupt, but interrupt I must. You two have all night ahead of you, you need to come and greet the guests now," the voice of Georg's sister broke them from their embrace. Hede was acting as hostess, freeing Georg and Maria to enjoy themselves as much as they could.
Georg moved forward to take his sister's hands, and kiss both her cheeks. "Hede, I can't begin to thank you…"
"No, thank you. Thank you for realizing that this lovely young woman was meant to be part of this family." She turned to Maria. "And I thank you, dear Maria, for agreeing to deal with this hard-headed sailor for the rest of your life," she smiled, and hugged her new sister-in-law,
"Come on, now, let's get you inside. I know you're anxious to move on to other things," she added as she winked at them. "Paris will just have to wait." Hede turned on her heel and swirled back into the ballroom to get Max to make a toast, and to gather the children together.
As the small ensemble began playing a waltz, Georg led Maria to the floor. "You know, dancing is really not my thing," he confessed. "I usually have to be dragged onto the dance floor."
Maria giggled softly. "You didn't seem to have any trouble the first time you danced with me," she said.
"Well, that was for educational purposes. The children needed to see what a proper Laendler looked like, didn't they?"
"I suppose you have a point," she teased. "And now?"
"And now, I can hardly say I won't waltz with the most beautiful bride in Salzburg, can I?"
The blush on her cheeks was answer enough.
Georg turned serious. "I love you, Maria. I promise you, I will do my best to give you the life that you deserve."
Maria leaned her head on his shoulder, and closed her eyes, breathing deeply of his essence. "I have you, and the children, and that is all I will ever need."
Max rose, and the conductor silenced the musicians. All faces in attendance turned toward the best man, who was now beckoning the bride and groom to join him.
"On behalf of Georg and Maria, I'd like to thank you all for joining them, and their family, for this happy day. I realized there was something special about Maria the first time I met her. She is one of the only people ever to speak her mind to Georg and live to tell the tale. She loves his children, and has turned this house back into a home."
He turned to look at the couple he was honoring, and smiled warmly in their direction. "Anyone who sees them together can have no doubt that this was a match made in heaven. May your life together from this day on be blessed." A hearty burst of "to the bride and groom!" mixed with applause resounded throughout the room, and it seemed that no one in attendance harbored doubts about Georg and Maria's union being based on anything but love.
True to his word, Georg never left Maria's side as they greeted the dozens of guests throughout the afternoon. The only moments they were separated was when the need to answer nature's call led Maria up the stairs to her rooms. On her way back down, she passed by two women who looked vaguely familiar, who appeared quite tipsy and as a result were speaking rather loudly. They stood in the upper hall, looking down over the railing at the festivities.
"Oh, it is a lovely party. I knew we'd be attending a wedding celebration here, I just thought it would be Elsa as the bride!" The first cackled, amusing herself. Maria felt her stomach clench, but kept walking.
"Yes, I'm sure she thought so too," and the second joined in the laughter. "She was wrong about this bride being with child. Make you wonder what their wedding night will be like," she added in a loud voice that was meant to be a whisper. "She wore white in church. I'm sure that little nun has no idea what's in store for her."
At that, the knot in Maria's stomach loosened, and she smiled to herself. She indeed had some idea what was in store later that evening, and she trusted Georg completely. As she walked down the staircase, she looked up at the two ladies, who had enough courtesy to look embarrassed as the new Baroness von Trapp smiled at them.
All too soon, it was time for the bride and groom to change clothes and leave for their honeymoon. Maria had Hede to help her out of her gown, Georg's sister having put her foot down and insisted that all five girls wait for their parents downstairs, along with their brothers.
In her governess' quarters for what would be the last time, Maria freshened up in the bathroom as Hede took control of Maria's wedding attire for cleaning and storage. When the new bride emerged wearing her new ivory silk suit, she was greeted with a grin.
"He will love you in that," she offered.
"I hope he'll love me in anything I wear," Maria deflected the compliment.
"You know he does," Hede replied, then looked up again. "You have absolutely nothing to worry about there."
"I know." The expression of contentment on Maria's face was obvious.
As Hede tossed the petticoat onto the chair, a flash of gold caught her eye. She found the clasp on the brooch, and removed the pin from the fabric, the loop of blue ribbon holding fast to it.
"Oh, dear, that was my 'something borrowed' from Liesl. And I think the ribbon belongs to Gretl. Would you please return them for me?"
Hede fingered the dangling heart. "I remember when Liesl got this." She smiled wistfully, and looked at Maria. "They all love you very, very much. Maria, you are the answer to many prayers."
"They are the answer to mine."
A soft knock at the door interrupted them. Hede went to answer, certain it was one of the girls.
"I told you, you need to wait downstairs…" she said, as she opened the door. "Oh, Georg, it's you. Aren't you supposed to meet us downstairs as well?"
"I decided I couldn't wait," he said, stepping into the room. Maria faced him, and saw the dimple she so loved appear on his cheek, as he gave the smile that caused her to get weak in the knees. "The car is waiting to take us to the Bristol, darling. Are you ready?"
Neither of them noticed as Hede left the room, quietly closing the door behind her. Georg went to Maria, and took both of her hands in his. "Hello, Baroness."
"Hello, Baron." She laughed softly. "That doesn't suit you. Captain seems much more...you."
"I thought you didn't think I seemed very much like a sea captain," he replied, and ended the conversation by touching his lips to hers. Sweetly sensual, the kiss was long and lingering; a promise of things yet to come. Slowly separating, the two gazed into each other's eyes. And without a word, he took her hand, led her to the door, and down the stairs to the waiting car.
When they reached the landing, Georg bid the guests goodbye on behalf of himself, and Maria. Exiting the villa through the front entrance, she was surprised to see the children waiting there, with Max and Hede. Tearful goodbyes from the little ones, promises of presents for them all, and the newlyweds were packed into the waiting car.
"Do you have any bags, sir?" Maria turned at the sound of the familiar voice, to see Heinrich sitting in the driver's seat.
"No, thank you, Heinrich, they were sent on ahead," Georg replied. He sat back in his seat, and pulled his wife close to his side. "I thought you'd be more comfortable without Franz driving us, darling," he said, leaning over to kiss her cheek.
"I am. You just think of everything, don't you?" her voice filled with admiration. How was it that this wonderful man had chosen her?
"Just what will make you happy, my love," he whispered directly onto her mouth, before covering her soft, pink lips with his own.
It seemed like just a few minutes had passed before Heinrich had pulled the car up to the entrance to the Hotel Bristol. After bidding their driver goodbye, Maria waited quietly alongside her husband as he checked them in to the honeymoon suite. The bellman led them to the elevator, assured them their bags had been delivered, and the elevator operator brought them to the top floor, where they would stay until they departed for Paris.
"Georg, this is amazing!" She slowly twirled in place, taking in the room from every angle. Soft blues, golds, and ivory covered every soft surface, from carpet to drapes to bedding. Walls were papered with gold medallions on an ivory ground. Wood furniture was all dark-mahogany? cherry? Maria couldn't tell the difference yet, but thought it the perfect counterpoint to the lighter colors throughout. On the table nearest the fireplace sat a silver bucket with a champagne bottle, two crystal flutes waiting to be filled with the bubbly liquid.
"No, darling. You are amazing. Come here," he said, walking to the doors of their own, private balcony. He opened the doors and stepped out, turning to watch Maria's expression as she realized their room overlooked the Mirabell Gardens. Suddenly she was overcome with emotion. Tears filled her eyes as she threw her arms around her husband.
"Oh, Georg, I simply can't believe it! You are far too kind and generous to me." He wrapped his own arms around her slender form, breathing deeply of her fragrance. Gently he let his fingers sift through her hair, and he felt her tremble at his touch.
"That's where you're wrong, my love. I cannot be too kind or too generous to the woman who has given me the very things I thought I had lost forever." He lifted her chin, allowing him to look deeply into her eyes. "And considering all you gave up to be with me, I can't give you enough."
Once again, he kissed her, and she returned his kiss with equal fervor. Delicious, hungry kisses that both fed their desires and incited the need for more. Georg led Maria back into their room, and he closed the French doors behind them. An admiring glance of her figure in the elegant ivory suit prompted him to speak.
"As lovely as that suit is, would you like to get more comfortable? I don't think we'll be going out again tonight." His voice was thick with passion. Walking toward the sitting area, he reached for the champagne, lifting the bottle to open it.
Maria moved to retrieve her overnight bag from in front of the wardrobe.
"Yes, darling. I'll just freshen up and change, and be right out. Or, would you like to go first? I'll probably take much longer than you will."
Georg took her up on the offer, thinking she needed a few moment to compose herself. Maria took a few deep breaths to calm herself, and entered the bath chamber when Georg was finished.
When she emerged, he had stoked the fire, poured the champagne, and changed into his own dark blue silk pajamas. He looked up when he heard the door open, and he smiled with both amusement and attraction.
Maria was wearing a blush pink peignoir; and his amusement came from the resemblance it bore to the nightgown he'd seen her wearing her first night at the villa. It covered her from neck to floor, and had long, full sleeves. There the resemblance ended, however. This was made of a sheer organza, with lace on the top and around the sleeves. Beneath it he could see she was wearing a gown, and he could hardly wait to remove the robe to see more of her.
"You said pink was my color?" She stood before him, blue eyes radiant, smiling before biting her bottom lip, suddenly feeling vulnerable at what she perceived to be Georg's non-reaction. She couldn't see his heart racing, hear his breath hitch, or know the blood was rushing from his brain to other, unseen places.
It took him another moment to come to his senses. "I'm sorry, I-yes, pink is lovely." He moved closer to his bride. "And so are you." Starting at her shoulders, he slowly ran his hands down her arms, taking her hands in his, twining their fingers together. Georg brought his face to hers, moving his lips across her cheek with feathery kisses, teasing and tantalizing until she moved her hands to his face, her mouth to his, tongues dancing and curling in the first steps of their lovemaking dance.
Sensing her nervousness, he gently led her to the bed, where they spent the next hours rejoicing in the consummation of their union.
Sunlight streamed into the room, filtered through the lace curtains hanging over the windows. Maria awakened, the warmth of the man sleeping beside her more comforting than she'd ever imagined. Snuggling closer to him, he began to stir, and wrapped his arms around her without opening his eyes.
"Good morning, darling," she whispered.
"Mmmm, morning," was his response, followed by a kiss to her temple.
She ran her fingers through the curls on his chest as he continued to move in and out of sleep, slowly waking for the day.
"That's nice," he commented. "Don't stop." He began trailing his hand down her silken skin, feeling her squirm slightly as he passed a ticklish spot.
"How do you feel this morning? I mean, after...last night…." his voice trailed off as he remembered their wedding night.
"In your arms, I feel like I'm home."
A/N: Thank you, all who have gone on this journey with our dear couple. For mature readers, set your filters to M and you will find a more, ahem, descriptive account of their wedding night. If that's not your thing, that's okay. We will leave them now, but there will be more stories to come. Oh, and reviews are most welcome. Auf wiedersehen.