Disclaimer: Between four Sound of Music stories this chapter will be my 81st chapter…and I still don't own a thing…

Author's Note: Oh my goodness! So sorry this hasn't been up sooner!!!! So I won't say anything else and let you all get on with the next chapter…

-Chapter Twenty-Five: Giving Time

It is no secret that happiness comes with a price. Whether it be small or large, bad or good, humorous or hurtful, it is always there. It is how we deal with these results that make us who we are and define our character. But that doesn't stop the question that is always present: Why must it be that way?

The sun was setting in the sky, creating a magical glow over the lake. A cool breeze blew through the air, pushing flowers along the way. Birds sang and the water shone contently, little ripples forming on the surface.

Maria took a deep breath in, enjoying the scent of the spring dusk. Cool and refreshing. Everything was right. There was no confusion, no loss, no sorrow, everything was just perfect. The feeling of a warm embrace engulfed her as she felt two arms circle around her. She didn't need to look to know it was him. Smiling, she leaned back into the embrace, tilting her head up to look at her love's face.

Georg smiled back at her, his eyes filled with love. No words were needed. Just that simple exchange. Another cool breeze blew through the air, making Maria shiver. Georg immediately responded, hugging her tighter, letting his warmth be her comfort. He slowly bent down, placing a delicate kiss on her cheek, "I love you," he whispered into her ear, before placing another kiss on her forehead.

She didn't respond verbally, she merely relaxed into his embrace, pulling his arms even tighter to hers, giving him all the answer he needed.

Maria couldn't remember a time she had felt more at ease or comfortable. It was relaxing. She watched as a humming bird flew about their heads, its buzzing wings a soft melody. It flew around and around before going straight up and out of sight. Sighing contently, Maria relaxed more into Georg's embrace, feeling his warmth engulf her in a feeling of security.

Next to them a small rose bush sprouted from the ground, growing and rising as if months were passing in a few seconds. Finally it stopped, its beautiful red flowers open, a symbol of true beauty. The scent that emanated from the bush was stronger than any Maria had encountered before. It seemed to fill the entire world with its sweet scent.

Without a word Georg crouched, leveling himself with the bush. As delicately as he could he picked one of the beautiful blossoms, twirling it in his fingers slightly. Instead of rising again, he sat and held his hand out to Maria. With another smile she took it, allowing herself to be pulled to the ground.

A lazy sort of goofy feeling of loved engulfed her as Georg lovingly placed the rose behind her ear before pulling her closer to him. Maria sighed and leaned into Georg's body, resting her head on his chest, the steady rhythm of his heart a lullaby. A content smile spread across her features as she easily welcomed the black of sleep…

Maria sluggishly rolled onto her back and stretched as she woke. The sun was peeking through the curtains, signaling the new day, its bright, warm rays hitting her face. She kept her eyes closed, basking in the light but not daring to open her eyes to it. In the near distance she could hear faint giggling. A smile appearing on her face, Maria rolled onto her left side and propped herself up on her elbow.

Petra sat in her crib, running her duck doll back and forth across its bars. Maria smiled and got out of bed moving over to the crib. "Good morning my love," Maria said, standing at the crib side, her daughter completely oblivious to the new presence. "I see you've inherited your father's abnormal sense of humor," she said, laughing lightly picking the girl up as Petra looked at her with a peculiar look before throwing the duck into her crib and clapping her hands in delight. Petra turned back to her mother and grabbed some of Maria's golden locks in her small hand, as she always did when in her mother's arms. Her grip today, though, was a little tighter than usual.

"Is that the good morning greeting I get?" Maria asked, wincing slightly from the baby's grip and sitting on the bed. "How about a 'Good morning, mommy?'" she joked, though no one was around to laugh. Petra had yet to speak her first word, and though it was a bit early for her to do so the time was drawing near when she would and Maria was beginning to get anxious.

Petra let go of her mother's hair and looked at her face, wrinkling her nose at the idea, as if in disgust. Maria laughed. "Well, I suppose I'll wait then."

Petra's reply was to place both of her small hands on Maria's cheeks and squeeze them together, giggling in delight at her own handiwork.

Maria laughed through her squished lips, pulling her face away from her daughter's hands. "I suppose that will do quite nicely for now," she said, before placing a small kiss atop the girls head.

Petra once again ignored her mother's comment and began to play with the collar of the dress Maria was wearing. Confusion swept through Maria. Dress? She looked down to see herself clad in, not her pajamas, but the dress she had changed into last night before taking Georg home. Maria's eyes swept the room. In the corner, hanging over the chair, was Georg's jacket, still slightly damp. Lying carelessly across the seat of the chair was her yellow dress that she had forgotten to soak in the bath tub the previous night, in order to get the stain out.

"One moment, my darling," Maria said, placing Petra in her crib and walking over to the chair with the clothes. Maria picked up her dress, which was almost dry, walked into the bathroom, filled the tub and put the dress in it to soak. Hopefully it wasn't too late for the stain to come out. She proceeded back into the bedroom, picked up Georg's jacket and took it to her closet, and finding a hanger, she hung the jacket up.

"Well, my little darling, shall we go see what Grandma has cooked for breakfast?" Maria asked her daughter as she once again picked her up from the crib. Petra's ears perked at the word Grandma and Maria could have sworn a smile appeared on the small girl's lips at the mention of food.

When Maria reached the bottom floor of the house she found it unusually silent for the usually hectic Sunday mornings. There was no groggy Etta complaining it was too early to be up and that she didn't want to go, there was no Della bustling around the kitchen trying to do five million things at once, and there was no Rupert sitting quietly in the background laughing at it all.

Maria went into the kitchen and set Petra in her high chair before turning to make sure the room was definitely empty. When her eyes fell on the clock, Maria was glad she had already set Petra down or she was certain she would have dropped her out of pure shock. It was eleven forty-five. Maria never, ever slept in and she was quite surprised that Della hadn't woken her for church or that they hadn't taken Petra with them like they usually did if they ever left for somewhere without Maria.

"Well, my darling," Maria said turning back to her daughter, "It looks like it's just us. Would you like breakfast or lunch?"

Petra stared at her mother and then babbled something incoherent. Maria smiled, "Brunch it is then. How do mashed bananas sound?" Petra squealed at the sound of her favorite meal. "And a bagel for myself, I think. That should tide us over for a while, right?" Petra hit her hands against the top of her high chair, busying herself for a moment.

Maria smiled and turned to prepare their small meal. It was times like these, alone with her daughter, that she enjoyed most. She could hold a whole conversation with her little girl despite the fact that the girl had yet to speak her first word, and she felt truly content. She sometimes wondered if she was crazy for talking to a child who couldn't respond, but it hardly seemed to matter.

At around twelve o'clock Maria heard the front door open followed by the sound of feet and knew her family was home. Not even a minute later the kitchen door opened and Della came in, "Ah, I see you've finally decided to wake up," she said cheekily before Maria could even open her mouth in greeting.

Maria smiled. "Why didn't you wake me?"

Della's cheeky smile widened. "I figured you had a late night and would want to sleep in."

Maria blushed a deep red. "How thoughtful," she said, trying to ignore her embarrassment.

"Speaking of last night," Rupert said, as he also entered the room. "How was your date?"

Maria blushed a deeper red as Della sat on one side of her and Rupert on the other, making her feel like she was being given the third degree. She looked between the two before turning back to Petra and feeding her another spoonful of bananas, trying to avoid the question. She wasn't sure she was exactly comfortable talking about her date night with her in-laws.

Della laughed at Maria's reaction and took the spoon out of Maria's hand and continued the task feeding her granddaughter. "Well?"

Maria sighed and took in a deep breath, knowing she should have expected this. Quickly she went through the events of the night, only leaving out the more intimate and personal parts. By the end of the story she had bother Rupert and Della in fits of laughter. Maria huffed. "Well, no one said it was going to be flawless," she said, more than embarrassed for telling them.

Rupert chuckled. "I'm sorry, Maria, but you have to admit, it is pretty funny." Maria huffed again.

"All right, we'll stop laughing," Della said, trying to calm herself. After Rupert and Della's chuckles subsided, Della spoke again. "Did you at least have a good time?"

Maria smiled whimsically in spite of herself. "I did. We're going to go out again sometime soon."

"Are they still coming over for dinner tonight?" Rupert asked.

Maria nodded. "Yes, they'll still be here."

The three fell into a comfortable silence. That was broken a minute later by a snort from Della who immediately began to laugh again. "I'm sorry Maria," she said between laughter. "It's just…it's a good thing you don't believe in signs, or you should be running in the opposite direction right now."

Maria huffed again, but smiled none the less, knowing that it was true.

Maria skipped down the stairs that night at the sound of a knock on the door, knowing who was waiting on the other side. She tripped slightly on the bottom step and almost fell on the floor, but steadied herself by grabbing hold of he door, making a loud thud. Quickly composing herself she threw open the door.

"Hello!" she said brightly, a large smile covering her features at the sight of the family she loved, stepping aside to allow them inside.

Maria received a mumbled 'Hello' as Georg and the children came inside. Georg gave her a warm smile as she closed the door, giving him a concerned look at the less than enthusiastic reply from the children. She turned to them, looking at them all in return and feeling her stomach drop.

All of the children were looking anywhere but at Maria. Liesl found her hands very amusing, Friedrich was picking at his jacket sleeve, Louisa was staring at her feet, Kurt was tapping his thumbs on his thighs, Brigitta was looking at Marta, who was looking at Gretl, who was staring intently at the stairs.

"Why, er, don't we all go sit down?" she asked after a moment of silence. The children shrugged and nodded and walked towards the sitting room. Maria turned to Georg. He smiled and placed a light kiss on her cheek. "Hello darling," he said, addressing her now that the children were gone.

Maria merely nodded in response. "Are they alright?" she asked as they made their way to the sitting room, Georg's hand placed on the small of her back.

"They will be."

Maria looked at Georg quizzically but refrained from responding as they had reached the room. The small talk that had filled the room stopped the minute Maria and Georg made their appearance. Della and Rupert smiled knowingly, Etta waved enthusiastically and the von Trapp siblings shifted uncomfortably.

Sensing something was off Della quickly resumed the talk in the room as Maria and Georg sat down on the sofa.

Maria could hear nothing but a dull buzzing in her ear. Though everyone was talking and getting along like they always did there was a strong tension in the air that seemed to make everyone uncomfortable. Everyone in the room seemed to sense it and though conversation was easygoing, it was slowly becoming forced.

Maria shifted uncomfortably. She couldn't understand it. She looked to Liesl, finding the younger woman staring at her. When Liesl saw that she was caught she quickly averted her eyes, a small blush coloring her cheeks. Suddenly a realization bigger than one Maria had ever felt before washed over her like a wave hitting stony rocks. The color drained from her face and she felt sick.

"I--I'm going to go check on dinner," she said quickly, dashing from the room before anyone could respond.

Maria stood hunched over the kitchen sink. How could she have been so stupid? How could she have not for seen this? How could she not have known? Had she been so selfish that she hadn't realized what the effects of a relationship with Georg would be, beyond those directly related to her?

Not once in the past few days had she thought about how the children would respond if she were to get into a relationship with their father. It would be awkward enough, she supposed, for them to get used to the idea that their father was dating someone, but the fact that she was their ex-governess…she could only begin to imagine how they must be feeling.

Suddenly there was a hand on her back and a warm feeling swept through her body and she knew who had joined her before they spoke. "Are you alright?" Georg asked, his voice laced with concern.

Maria shook her head. "I never even thought about it."

"What?" Georg asked, rubbing small circles on Maria's back.

"What it would be like for the children," she said quietly.

"Ah, yes." Georg turned Maria in his arms, placing his hands on her shoulders and massaging them gently. "They'll get used to the idea, it will just take some time. They don't hate you, you know."

Maria sighed. "I--" she paused, not quite sure she believed Georg's words. "I know…but what if they don't get used to it? What if they never do?"

"They will. Since when are you one to be a pessimist?" He nudged her slightly, trying to raise her spirit.

Maria smiled slightly before it quickly turned into a frown. "I don't want them to be unhappy, Georg," she said, her voice small, not sure if she should continue with what she was going to say. She hated that she even thought it and she wouldn't know how Georg would take it, but it was the truth. She hoped it wouldn't hurt him to hear it as much as it hurt her to say it. "And if that means…." Her voice trailed away, her unsaid words hanging in the air.

Georg nodded and pulled Maria into a hug. "I know darling," he whispered into her ear. "I've thought the same thing." Maria felt some tension leave her body, guilt lifting at the thought that they were at least on the same page. "But we have to give it time. We can't jump to conclusions just yet. We just need to wait and see."

Maria nodded, knowing he was right. But suddenly the events of last night did seem like a bad omen. Shaking the thought from her head, Maria clung tighter to Georg. No one said this was going to be easy.

"Georg, wait," Maria said as the von Trapps were leaving that night. Without waiting for a response Maria bounded up the stairs to her room and grabbed in coat that he had left the night before. When she returned Georg was the only one waiting by the door; the children could be seen waiting by the car.

"You left this last night," Maria replied, slightly out of breath, handing him his jacket.

Georg chuckled. "Of course, I forgot about it," he said, taking the garment.

"Ah ha," came a quiet reply from Della who had somehow entered the room without Maria noticing.

Maria blushed a dark scarlet at the look of suggestive understanding her mother-in-law was giving her. "Cheeky," she replied.

"Do behave yourselves tonight; children are present," Della replied humorously as she left the room laughing.

Maria's blush darkened and Georg chuckled. "I think it's time we leave."

Maria nodded. "Drive carefully."

Georg nodded. "I will, I'll call you tomorrow about dinner." Maria smiled and felt her heart do a flip about the prospect of another night with Georg. "Good night darling," Georg finished, placing a small kiss on Maria's lips.

"Goodnight, Georg."

"Well that was awkward," Louisa said later that night as she and her six siblings sat in front of the fire at their home.

"You don't think she noticed do you?" Kurt asked, his head hanging unceremoniously off the couch.

"Of course she didn't notice, oh and I have five heads," Louisa bit back sarcastically.

"Don't you two dare start," Liesl warned.


Friedrich spoke after a while. "Look, this is just something we're all going to have to get used to."

No one responded.

"May I join you?" a voice said, making all seven occupants of the room jump.

"Father!" Marta gasped, "You scared us."

Georg laughed. "I'm sorry," he said walking into the room. "But there is something I wanted to talk about with all of you."

"What is it Father?" Gretl asked, sitting up a little straighter.

"It's about Maria," Georg said, sitting down. When none of his children responded he continue". "You all should know that she wants you to be happy and at ease. If you aren't pleased with the situation she would rather end it than make you all unhappy."

Liesl looked to her father. "How do you know that?"

Georg smiled. "She told me, and I agree with her."

Another silence filled the room.

"This is new to everyone, and it involves all of us. All of your happiness is most important to me and especially Maria." Still no response; Georg sighed. "Do we have an understanding?"

Slowly his children nodded. Feeling somewhat more relieved Georg stood and smiled slightly, knowing they had made a little but of progress. "Good. Now, I'm going to bed, and I suggest all of you do the same, you have school tomorrow." He placed a kiss on Gretl's head, and ruffled Marta's hair with his hand. "Goodnight."

"Goodnight Father," they ceremoniously replied.

Once their father left the room Gretl turned to her siblings. "I do love Maria, but it's just weird," she said, her tone hinting that she felt guilty.

"It's weird for all of us Gretl," Liesl said, standing and placing her arm around her youngest sister. "But at least we know they want our happiness as well."

"If Father is going to be in a relationship, I'm glad it's with Fraulein Maria," Brigitta finally spoke.

"Me too," Marta added on.

Friedrich smiled. "I think you speak for all of us on that one, Brigitta."

"Come on, Father's right. We should all be getting to bed, we need to get up early tomorrow," Liesl said.

Routinely, everyone stood and left the room leaving Liesl and Friedrich alone. "You go ahead," Liesl said, "I'll take care of everything in hear.

Friedrich nodded. "Goodnight."

"Goodnight, Friedrich."

Once the room was empty, Liesl turned to put out the already dying fire. She knew that this new situation would take some getting used to, but she couldn't help the feeling that their lives would some how be better off because of it.

Author's Note: Well there you have it!! I hope you liked it…

Um I don't know when I'll be updating soon…as you may or may not I started college last week…that's right everyone..I'm finally a college student! Craziness!!! Anywho…and I've been really busy, yeah for joining the Forensics team…so yeah, I don't know when I'll update…but I will get it up as soon as I can…whever that is

Thank you all for your constant support and reviews…they mean the world to me.

Until next time,
Your humble author,
The Lonely Goatherd