A/N: This story is a combination of my own ideas, the elements I most love from the 1965 movie, and borrows from 'real' events heavily, as they were written in Maria's book and shown in the original movie Die Trapp Family. I own nothing, and write for no commercial gain. I hope you enjoy it.
After the close of morning prayer, the sisters left the chapel of Nonnberg Abbey, making their egress in two even, straight lines, peeling off in pairs as they moved silently through the stone corridors. Upon reaching the work room, seven of the remaining group made their way to their stations while the eighth went straight to the window, opening the panels wide and breathing deeply of the fresh, mountain air.
"Oh! It is such a lovely day! I can almost hear the mountains calling to me," Maria muttered, mostly to herself. She turned from the open window to her own desk, whistling as she did.
"Maria." The sharp tone of voice made the young postulant stop and turn.
"We mustn't whistle." Sister Berthe's stern expression left no room for argument, and Maria knew well the rules against both whistling and singing while inside the abbey.
"Yes, Sister," Maria replied, as she dropped down on her knees to kiss the floor. She sighed as she got back up on her feet, and began sorting through the piles of papers and books, gathering the items needed to teach Sister Rupert's class, as the elderly woman recovered from illness. She didn't notice that the room emptied quickly, the other nuns on their way to start the workday.
Before she was finished, the sound of bells rang throughout the halls. "Late again!" she thought, grabbing both stacks into her arms before rushing out the door. She'd been late to class every day for the past two weeks. Maria looked both ways down the corridor, and seeing no one, popped onto the banister and slid her way down from the convent proper to the school on the floor below. Her feet hit the floor awkwardly, and she pitched forward, books and papers spilling out of her grasp and onto the floor.
"Uh, Sister, may I help you with that?"
The deep baritone voice startled her, and she looked up from her task gathering her belongings, wide eyed and open mouthed. It wasn't that men were completely unknown in the halls of the school, but was quite rare. Especially one so handsome and distinguished looking. His hair a rich, dark brown peppered with a bit of gray near his temples, strong jaw, tall and broad-shouldered. But it was his eyes, cornflower blue, that pulled her in and made her, well, stare.
"Sister?" he inquired, as he knelt down and began gathering the loose papers and composition booklets, now in a disorderly heap on the slate floor. He did so blindly, unable to break eye contact, her cerulean eyes drawing him in with her innocence.
At a loss for words, Maria closed and opened her mouth several times before words came, looking like nothing so much as a codfish.
"I'm...I'm terribly sorry, sir. No, I can manage. I don't wish to trouble you." She quickly gathered the rest of her things, dashing across the hall into her classroom and closing the door just before another nun appeared.
"Good morning, Captain von Trapp?" The elegant and stately headmistress greeted the man as he rose, still gazing after the young nun who had nearly knocked him down.
"Oh, yes, Sister Hilda. I'm sorry," he said, holding out his hand in greeting. "I was….distracted for a moment, one of your Sisters …"
"Not to worry, Captain. How is dear Marta feeling these days?" The headmistress of the Abbey school was quite fond of the von Trapp children, especially since their mother had passed away.
His look turned somber. "She's had another relapse, Sister, and won't be strong enough to attend class for the rest of the term. I was, ah, hoping we could arrange for a tutor, perhaps? I'm quite concerned about her falling behind."
The kindly nun smiled at him. "Of course, Captain. I will speak to the Reverend Mother later today, and I'm sure we'll find a suitable candidate."
Upon hearing her invitation to enter the Mother Abbess' office, Maria quietly closed the door behind her, crossed the room, and knelt before the elderly nun. As Maria kissed the ring on her hand, the Mother invited her to sit down.
"Oh, I'm terribly sorry, Mother. I know I was late to class again today, and then late to vespers. It was just...the day was so beautiful, and I couldn't help but take a walk outside, and then the mountains seemed to call to me, leading me higher and higher, until-" The words rushed out of her mouth as quickly as water over the stones in a brook.
"Maria, that's not why I've called you here today." As soon as Sister Hilda had mentioned Captain von Trapp's request for a tutor, the Reverend Mother had known exactly the right candidate for the job. Maria had come to the abbey with a heart for God but a mind and spirit that seemed not to fit with the cloistered life at Nonnberg Abbey. Despite Maria's best intentions, the elder sisters had all agreed after much prayer that she wasn't a candidate for sisterhood. For weeks they'd been looking for a way to send her into the world, to help her discover that for herself.
"It seems that it is the will of God that you leave us."
The young woman's heart seized up into her throat. "Leave here? Oh, no, Reverend Mother, please, I…"
The elderly abbess held up her hand, a signal to the young woman to stop speaking. "Only for a time, Maria. I know that you weren't fully prepared for the life we lead here, what we expect, and I believe that once you complete this assignment, you will know if you can expect it of yourself."
The postulant sat as the Reverend Mother outlined her new task: she was to become tutor for a little girl, one of a family of seven-SEVEN!-children of Captain von Trapp. While her five older siblings attended the abbey school, the poor dear had suffered yet another relapse from the scarlet fever that had claimed their mother's life several years before, and she wasn't strong enough to endure the rigorous school day. One younger sibling wasn't yet old enough to attend school. Maria tried to summon a recollection of the family, but having been serving in the orphanage tending to infants, wasn't familiar with any of them.
Her mind was racing as she stood, took the paper with the address of the family's home, and followed the Reverend Mother to the door.
"My dear, at the end of this assignment, you will know the will of God, and find the life you were born to live."
After being given the only dress left in the poor closet, packing her meager possessions in an old carpet bag, and gathering up her beloved guitar, Maria left the stone wall of Nonnberg Abbey. She said a quick prayer for wisdom and understanding, and as she walked to the center of Salzburg where she would board the bus for the trip to Aigen she couldn't help but sing to herself. It was a song she remembered from her own childhood, something her mother sang when she needed a boost of confidence for a difficult task. Over and over the words played in her mind, and then began streaming from her mouth, her voice getting louder as she got closer to the von Trapp home. Skipping down the lane past a horse farm, she noticed several buildings and a rather imposing wall with black iron gates. She noticed the address sign. 53 Aigen, and recognized it from the paper the Reverend Mother had given her.
Looking through the gate in the middle of the imposing concrete surround, she caught sight of the house. Not a house, really, to Maria's eyes it seemed almost a palace, two stories high with many windows, and a fountain in the middle of the drive.
"Oh, help!" she whispered to herself and ran toward the door.
Yep, this also found some inspiration from the February prompt at the TSOM Proboards group. To be continued….I hope you enjoyed this set-up, please leave a review!