Disclaimer: Characters not mine, this little story mine. Got it? Good.

The warm water lapped gently against the edge of the bathtub, its smooth surface broken only by the tears which fell steadily from the eyes of the petite woman sitting within its depths.

She had climbed into the water a short time before, desperate for the calming effect that it normally had on her, but instead her pain had seemed to intensify, her isolation and its soothing warmth serving only as a catalyst for her tears. Her heart yearned for the heat of his arms, rather than the lifeless water that was gradually warming and easing the aches of her tired limbs.

Her eyes, filled with unshed tears, gazed at her hands, focusing sadly on a single finger on her right hand that would forever remain bare. Still staring at her hands, her tears began sliding down her pale cheeks, and she shifted, pulling her legs towards her chest, and letting her head fall gently onto her knees, her eyes closing as though to block out the world, yet her tears still continued falling.

Her sobs were silent but her mind was screaming in agony, her heart wrenched apart by the innocent words spoken by Brigitta,

"The most important thing is that father's going to be married."

She had come home...; she shook her head miserably at the thought, swiftly correcting herself; she had come back to the Villa that day with such high hopes, her heart full of happiness at the thought of seeing the children again, at seeing him again, but her joy was not to last.

She had been truly miserable during her time back within the walls of the Nonnberg Abbey, her mind and her heart unable to forget the faces of the children and of the Captain. Her memories of teaching the children to sing and playing with them on the mountains and of the Captain, as they flawlessly performed the Ländler together on the same night that she had fled the house, had tormented her as she desperately tried to pray for guidance and stability.

Eventually the Reverend Mother, seeing her pain and her attempts to isolate herself from everyone, something which was extremely unusual for Maria to try and do, had asked to see her. She had gently yet firmly pulled down Maria's walls and then realising what was needed to return the happiness that had been taken from Maria's heart, she had sent her back, encouraging her to find her path and follow her heart.

Another rush of tears fell as that memory passed across her mind.

Her heart was instead broken, shattered by the news that he was to marry another, its attempts to heal itself failing as the realisation continued to torture her at every opportunity.

The words had taken her by surprise at the time and yet a part of her now tormented her with the thought that she should have known that she, a poor farm girl, would never measure up to the stunning Baroness.

She had tried to hide her suffering from the children but a glance at Friedrich was all that was needed to show her that she had failed in her attempts. His sharp mind had instantly noticed the misery in her tone, especially in contrast to the joy that had been present in it previously. His gaze had been locked upon her face, as though hoping that the reason for her pain could be seen thereby allowing him to help in some way. Her surprise and pain had been so great that she had been unable to even flash him a reassuring glance and his eyes did not leave her until the Captain had suddenly appeared.

Her tears were falling faster now, her sobs no longer silent as she pulled her legs tighter to herself in a useless attempt to comfort herself and shut out the pain. The water, its heat now beginning to ebb, rustled past her, reacting to her gentle movements and lifting her head, she gazed at the tiny waves and ripples that she had caused.

Her attempts to distract herself with the ripples forming on the surface of the water were in vain though, as her mind cruelly dragged her back to that moment on the steps.

His voice had been soft as he questioned her about her sudden departure and his apparent concern about her had almost caused her to break down in front of him. Instead a sense pride and strength that she had not realised she had within her, had allowed her to ask him confidently not to question her and claim that the reason no longer mattered.

Indeed no sooner had she said this than the reason for her claim had appeared behind him and swallowing her hurt, she had congratulated the pair, swearing to herself that he would never know of her love for him and that she would remain strong before the pair, never allowing them to see how fragile she had actually become.

Her resolve had been tested almost immediately as he inquired as to whether she would be remaining, and she had hesitated briefly before telling him that her stay would only be temporary, after which she finally allowed herself to walk quickly away.

She had begun to run almost as soon as she entered the hallway and fled upstairs to her room, pausing only to reassure the children that she simply needed time to remove the dust and grime acquired during her journey from Salzburg.

The warmth of the water had almost completely gone by the time Maria's tears had stopped falling and she felt exhaustion permeating her entire being. Dragging herself out the bathtub and wrapping a soft towel around herself, she walked over to the mirror and stared morosely at her reflection. Her blue eyes stared backed her, hollow and devoid of her usual sparkle, her golden hair lying lifelessly against her forehead and her skin pale and wan. She tilted her head slightly but realising that she did not have the energy at that moment to try and bring life back to her features, she simply turned and walked back into her bedroom.

Curling up on her bed, she fought against the tears which were once against threatening to fall, and trying once again to block out her pain, she buried her head within the softness of her pillow.

She did not know how long she slept but the soft stroking of her hair away from her forehead, gently brought her out of her slumber. Blinking her eyes, she saw Frau Schmidt standing next to her bed.

"Oh, forgive me, I guess I didn't realise how tired I was." Maria said, her voice raspy after all the tears that had fallen from her now swollen eyes.

Frau Schmidt smiled tenderly, her own heart aching at the obvious pain in the young girl's eyes that was as clear as the evidence of her crying that could still be seen on her pale cheeks.

"Do not worry my dear, you are only a little late, the children were just beginning to worry about you. I believe that Friedrich was preparing to storm your bedroom in search of you, thankfully the Captain asked me to come and see if you were ready." Frau Schmidt explained, quickly helping Maria out of the bed and taking a dress out for her to change into. Maria smiled tiredly at the older woman, her tender heart warming at the kindness being shown towards her.

"Thank you." She whispered as Frau Schmidt turned to leave, her words causing her to pause and return to Maria.

Placing a finger underneath Maria's chin, she lifted her face to meet hers.

"Have faith, Maria and trust in your love, it will not lead you astray." And after a gentle hug, the older woman walked away, leaving Maria with a sense of strength and a feeling of hope which had deserted her even since she had heard of her love's marriage to another.

"When the Lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window." She muttered to herself and with that she turned and began to dress herself, determined to face this new challenge that now lay before her.

So this is my first SOM story but I was watching the film and I was inspired. Apparently in Austria, Catholics do actually wear wedding rings on their right hands not their left which I didn't know, learn something new everyday don't you? Anyway I hope you all liked this story, sorry about the vast amount of angst but at least we know everything turns out alright in the end. Review, though no flames please. Byes A xxxxxx