AN: What if Maria actually did learn to use the whistle and the Captain had his own signal. This idea came to mind after I wrote a quick 100 word drabble for the Proboards!
Disclaimer: I don't own TSOM or any of its characters, I'm just borrowing them for some fun.
Whistles and Bows
"Now, let's see how well you listened," the Captain took a second whistle out of his pocket and passed it to Maria.
"Oh… I…I…I won't need to whistle for them Reverend Captain, I mean erm, I'll use their names… they're such lovely names."
"Fraulein, this is a large house, the grounds are very extensive and I will not have anyone shouting," the Captain leaned in as if to emphasise the seriousness of his demands.
"You will take this please, learn to use it," he waggled the whistle in her direction. "The children will help you."
Maria begrudgingly took the whistle from his outstretched hand.
"Now… when I want you, this is what you will hear." The Captain put the whistle to his lips and blew, making what Maria could only describe as the most ridiculous, raucous sound she had ever heard.
"Oh no, Sir, I'm sorry Sir," she shouted over the top of the screeching whistle. "I could never answer to a whistle. Whistles are for dogs and cats and other animals but not for children and definitely not for me… it would be too humiliating."
"Fraulein… were you this much trouble at the Abbey?"
"Oh much more sir," Maria answered in all seriousness.
"Hmmm… well, those are the rules of my house and you will abide by them, Fraulein or you will find yourself breaking Fraulein Helga's record!"
Maria stood with her mouth agape.
"Should you wish to attract my attention when we are in the grounds, as I will not tolerate anyoneshouting, then you will do so like this." He put the whistle to his mouth once again and blew.
"Now, I will leave you to become acquainted with my children," he gave her one last derisive stare as he made his way back to his study.
Whilst the thought of calling the children using a Bosun's whistle went against everything she believed in, she had known that there was little point in trying to argue with him. Having only met him for a matter of minutes it had become clear that he was not a man to be trifled with and she had seriously doubted the Reverend's Mother's impossibly perfect description of him.
However, after his return from Vienna and in the following weeks, when they had been able to amiably agree on certain aspects of the children's upbringing, Maria actually found herself inexplicably drawn to having some fun with the whistle at the Captain's expense and she hoped perhaps that she might even teach him a lesson in the process.
On fine days, the Captain now spent more time in the garden with Maria and the children, much to the Baronesses annoyance. At least once a day, the Captain would find himself summoned by Maria only to find that she had accidentally called his signal by mistake. She would always be very apologetic and even embarrassed by her faux pas but never did it cross his mind that she was playing games with him, that is until he realised that the only time she ever used the whistle was for him. He never once heard her calling for his children in that way.
Maria found it highly amusing that every time she would whistle for him he would come running like a well-trained puppy. Because they were outside she imagined that he probably thought she had got herself into some predicament in the grounds. On occasions he would even be out of breath when he reached her. Why he would be so concerned for her welfare however, did puzzle her greatly.
Finally, the Captain had enough. They had been having a picnic by the lake and Maria had decided to go and pick some apples from the orchard for the children. As she reached up to grab the brightest, juiciest looking fruit from a high branch, the whistle that she carried in her pocket fell to the ground and hit a small stone, making a clinking noise.
Reaching down, a wicked grin crossed her lips as she brought the whistle up close to her chest. She knew that she shouldn't, that he was beginning to question the validity of her innocent pleas. However, even though he was getting tired of her games, she knew that he would still come every time she blew the whistle. She couldn't resist, it was as if her suppressed impropriety was winning out every time. In fact, she found that recently, where the Captain was concerned propriety was the last thing on her mind.
Putting the whistle to her lips she blew it forcefully… and waited.
Predictably, within a few minutes the Captain came charging through the dense undergrowth, he was breathing heavily and his usually immaculate hair was dishevelled making him look roguishly handsome.
"Fraulein…" he gasped. "Is everything alright?" he leaned forward and rested his hands on his knees desperately trying to catch his breath.
"Oh my… I seem to have done it again," Maria explained in her most innocent voice. "I meant to call for Friedrich to come and help me carry the apples…" she looked at him with apologetic eyes, " but I seem to have used your signal by mistake… silly me!"
The Captain, still struggling for breath, pushed himself up off his knees and placed his hands on his hips.
"Fine… fine, you've won. I realise how unfitting it is. You were right, my children are not animals… and neither am I!"
"I've won? I'm sure I have no idea what you mean, Captain," Maria crouched down to pick up the apples that she had dropped to the floor and as she did so the Captain joined her on his haunches.
He leaned in close to her and reached out for an apple at the same time as she did. His hand came to rest on top of hers and her eyes flew up to see him staring at her intently.
Without breaking eye contact she handed the apple to the Captain and he gently brought it up to her lips.
"Bite it," he urged as he pushed the apple forward again. "Tell me what it tastes like?"
Maria felt a warm, tingling sensation spread throughout her stomach and as she opened her mouth and took the tiniest of bites out of the apple she could see that the Captains eyes had dropped to her mouth.
He then brought the apple to his own mouth and took a large bite, all the while staring at her startled eyes.
"Hmmm… delicious," he growled.
A solitary bead of apple juice pooled at the side of her mouth and as he brought his thumb up to wipe it away, the palm of his hand cupped the side of her face, which felt scorched by his touch.
The heat that was rising from her neck up to her cheeks was almost unbearable and she found that he had rendered her completely speechless by his actions.
Finally, looking away from her, he gathered up the remaining apples and reached out his free hand to help her up from the ground. As if nothing unusual had passed between them, he brushed down his trousers and then turned to look at Maria.
"Well, we should get these back to the children, don't you think," he gave Maria a roguish grin and she knew that he had turned the tables on her in the most deliciously inappropriate way.
For the next few days Maria watched, bemused as the Captain made it his goal to follow her and corner her in the most unsuitable of places. He would make some excuse about how he had been looking for the children or the Baroness. Each time, his actions had made her flustered, not only because of his overly familiar behaviour but also because she found herself hoping that he would go just that step further, which he never did.
The boys had pestered their father for days to take them fishing so finally he had relented and agreed that they could all fish off the small jetty beside the boat house. It was a beautiful warm day and the girls had decided to join them by swimming nearby. Friedrich and Kurt were most annoyed and blamed the girls exuberant splashing for the reason that the fish were in short supply.
Everyone was busy and the Captain appeared to have the situation under control so Maria decided that she might take a walk on the boundary of the Captains land. It was very close to the mountains and she knew there were some beautiful flowers there, she wanted to feel the fresh clean air on her skin once again.
Quietly she tip-toed up behind the Captain who was holding the fishing rod loosely as he sat with his legs stretched out in front of him.
"Captain, would you mind if I took a walk in the gardens?" Maria whispered, so as not to frighten the fish.
"No, not at all, Fraulein, take your time, you deserve some peace and quiet," he smiled warmly before turning to look at some suspicious ripples that had formed on the surface of the lake.
Not waiting for him to change his mind, Maria ventured out to the furthest edge of the grounds. Wandering slowly through the tall wild grass, the scenery was breath-taking. Delicate clouds floated majestically over the magnificent snow-capped mountains.
It was a mystery to Maria why the Captain ran away to Vienna so often when he lived in the most perfect place that she could ever imagine. The pull of the mountains was so strong that Maria longed to reach them. She began trying to find a way through the old wooden fence that divided the Captains land from the wild, natural wilderness beyond it.
Thankfully, just as she was about to hurl herself over the fence, she noticed an old rickety stile just a little way further up the path. Giving it a push to see how sturdy it was, Maria hitched up her skirt and jumped up onto the old broken step. Much to her surprise it turned out to be stronger than it looked and Maria easily hopped over the stile, but as she stepped down on the other side she found that she was stuck. No matter how hard she tugged, there was no way that she was moving. As her skirt had followed her over the wooden stile, the bow at the back of her dress became attached to a rusty old nail sticking out dangerously from the fence. The more she struggled the more she became attached to the nail. To make matters worse, the lower step of the stile on the far side gave way as she frantically tried to free herself, leaving her dangling precariously on the fence.
All he had wanted was a little time alone, had it really been too much to ask? Her head started to spin as the absurdity of her predicament began to dawn on her.
Shouting would do no good, nobody would hear her. Her surroundings may well have been beautiful but they were also extremely remote. Maria tried once more to loosen the bow on her dress but instead the nail went further through to her slip and she felt its sharp edge against her leg.
She delved into her dress pocket, hoping that the whistle was still in there. It was her only hope and she knew that if the Captain heard it he would come running to her rescue like a Knight in shining armour. With a sigh of relief, she pulled it gratefully out of her pocket.
As she had always done, she blew the whistle and then waited. This time though, there was no Captain, only the sound of something large rummaging around in the undergrowth. She knew that there was nothing there that could harm her but never the less she began to panic.
Beside the lake, Friedrich and Kurt were arguing about who had caught the biggest fish as their father looked on in amusement. The girls had just finished swimming and were sunning themselves on the grass to dry off.
Suddenly, Liesl heard the familiar sound of her father's whistle shatter the tranquillity of the afternoon and she sat bolt upright.
"Father, wasn't that your signal?" she asked curiously, knowing that Fraulein Maria didn't use the whistle any longer.
"What… what?" Georg turned to face her as they heard the shrill sound once again. "Oh that… I doubt it," he replied, trying to ignore the fact that he knew full well that it was indeed the bosun's whistle, and he continued to concentrate on his fishing rod.
If she thought for one minute that he would fall for her childish games again, then there was a lot she had to learn about him. It was obvious that she was trying to get back at him for making her feel uncomfortable when he had pursued her around the house. He laughed to himself as he recalled how much she had squirmed and blushed when he had found her searching in the tiniest linen closet in the house and then proceeded to make her squeeze past him to secure her escape.
The afternoon had become extremely hot and humid so he shrugged off his jacket and placed it carefully down beside him before unbuttoning his cuffs and rolling his sleeves up to his elbows. His tie was discarded next as beads of perspiration had started to form on his forehead. He undid the first two buttons of his shirt and then relaxed back into his chair.
Before very long the tell-tale sound of the whistle drifted across the lake, followed only a few seconds later by an even louder more frantic variation of the signal.
"Father, you do know that is your signal, why aren't you going to find Fraulein Maria?" Liesl looked at her father disdainfully.
"Because, Liesl, she is playing games with me and I will not be made a fool of."
Liesl laughed at the absurdity of her father's suggestion, "I don't for one minute believe that Fraulein Maria is capable of such a thing. She's going to be a nun!"
"Hmmm… its always the most unlikely ones that turn out to be the most trouble… remember that, Liesl." He shook his finger at her as a warning.
"But father, I really do think you should go and see if Fraulein Maria is alright… please father."
As they heard the whistle once more and the look on Liesl's face turned to concern he decided that he should at least investigate, but he was damned if he was going to nearly kill himself by running in the direction of the signal and arriving a breathless wreck.
"Look after your brothers and sisters for me, I'm sure I'll be back very soon," he rolled his eyes towards Liesl who giggled as she skipped back over to her younger sisters.
She felt like crying but in actual fact she was too exhausted to even do that. Her leg had begun to sting and she realised that the nail had broken the skin when she could feel the warm sticky blood oozing down her thigh. Trying to pull herself up was pointless because she wasn't able to hold herself upright for long enough before she flopped forward once again.
The rustling sound that had alarmed her earlier was back but this time she knew that it wasn't just a small creature rummaging around, it must at least be a deer by the noise it was making. She tried to look behind her to see if she could make out the whereabouts of the creature but all she saw from the corner of her eye was a white streak which disappeared out of her line of vision.
"Well, well, well… what do we have here," the Captain smirked as he stumbled upon Maria in the most unladylike of positions.
When he got no reply from Maria, he stepped forward so that he was as close to the fence as he could possibly be. "What on earth were you trying to do?"
"What does it look like I was trying to do… hmmm," Maria snapped back, frustrated by how amusing the Captain seemed to be finding the whole situation.
"You do know how ridiculous you look, don't you?" he grinned, as he leaned forward over the fence so that she could see the huge smirk that had formed on his lips.
"Are you going to stand there gawping all day or are you going to help me?" Maria spat, furious that he wasn't taking her predicament more seriously.
Georg edged forward and ran his fingers along the fence until he came across the reason for her ensnarement.
He tugged at her dress firmly, "I'm afraid I'm going to have to rip your dress to get you off there."
"Just do it," she sighed as she realised that it was going to get far more embarrassing for her before it actually got any better.
Finally freed from the fence, Maria turned and looked in humiliation as the Captain held out his hand to help her back across the stile.
Reluctantly she took it but as she lifted her leg over the wooden strut she stumbled and fell into his outstretched arms. Their faces were only inches apart and their bodies were pressed against each other. Maria could feel his ragged breath against her cheek and the firmness of his chest through his thin cotton shirt. She felt the butterflies fluttering in her stomach. She noticed that the Captain's eyes seemed darker than their normal soft sea blue. As he gently dropped her down so that her feet touched the floor once more, a searing pain shot up her leg. She reached down in agony, rubbing her thigh gently.
"Didn't you hear the whistle? I blew it about a dozen times," she hissed in pain, as she brushed down her skirt and unceremoniously pulled off the bow that was now dangling from her dress.
The Captain stood and observed the exasperated Governess who was getting redder by the minute but he wasn't sure if that was through embarrassment, fury or something else.
"Are you familiar with Aesop's Fables, Fraulein. I'm sure you are because I've heard you reading them to the children, in which case you should know better than to have cried wolf on all those previous occasions?"
"I did not cry wolf!" she exclaimed, in indignation. "I simply blew the wrong signal. It was an easy mistake to make. It was preposterous expecting me to call for your children using a whistle."
"Yes, yes, I know, Fraulein," the Captain replied distracted by the streak of bright red blood that he could now see on her dress.
"No wonder your children were frightened of you for all those years if that's how you…"
"Be quiet… you're hurt… let me see," he said as he tried to lift her skirt so that he could find where the blood was coming from.
"No… really…NO… thank you. I'm sure I will be perfectly alright. I just need to get back to the house and then I'll clean it up." As Maria ripped the skirt from his fingers and began to hobble towards the path which would lead them back to the lake.
"Wait," he shouted as he spotted something glistening in the sun on the other side of the fence where she had been trapped.
As he reached down and threaded his fingers through the long grass he realised that it was the whistle. Getting a firm grip on it he pulled it out of the undergrowth and threw it up in the air before catching in his hand cheerfully.
Walking to meet Maria who was waiting for him by the path, he held the whistle out to her.
"Here, Fraulein. I feel sure you will find yourself in need of this in the not too distant future."
Georg grinned, hoping that she would indeed find an opportunity to use the whistle again, he held Maria by the waist and carefully guided her back to the lake.
Just a really quick bit of fun. I hope you enjoy it and as always, reviews are gratefully received!