To warn you the story will soon be coming to a close. The end is near!

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Chapter Eighteen

I had been bedridden for most of the week, feeling too sick and tired to do much of anything. Hans insisted that I remain in bed and for once I agreed with him. I didn't want to get up, I wanted to just sleep and imagine that I never saw what had happened to Herman. I wanted to pretend that none of that had ever happened. However this fairytale would always end abruptly when Hans came into the room to wake me up because he was worried I was sleeping too soundly.

I had received many letters from the church, all wishing me well, but not even those were enough to make me want to leave our home. And then Hans mentioned that tonight was the night I had scheduled dress rehearsal. I could not leave all those students out in the cold, to make a fool of themselves out there on stage. So it was with a heavy sigh that I had managed to pull myself up from my stupor and dressed for the evening ahead of me.

"You look beautiful, Liebste." Hans said, forcing a kiss onto my lips.

I knew that Hans was worried about me; constantly he said these warm compliments…and would not stop until I smiled or acknowledged him with a kiss.

"I have a surprise for you tomorrow." He whispered into my ear. "And I know that you will just love me for it."

"You're confident aren't you?" I said a little dully.

"Oh," Hans chuckled. "I'm sorry, do I know you?"

"Hans, what are you trying to do?" I sighed, as he began kissing my neck.

"I believe the proper term is foreplay." He whispered, in a very seductive manner.

Lord, when the man wanted to be his voice could sound as smooth as freshly melted chocolate. I bit back a sigh of pleasure and tried to act as though I was not enjoying his warm lips on the side of my neck.

"I have to teach my class tonight," I breathed. "So sex is absolutely out of the question."

Hans released my neck and with what I considered to be an over exaggerated moan, went into the bathroom.

"Isn't it always out of the question?"

"Need I remind you that sex is what made me about as large as a seaport?"

"Don't be rude," he said, coming back into the bedroom. "I invested a lot of time into that beautiful body."

I could smell the cologne that Hans was wearing and his teeth glinted in front of me. It had been a while since me and Hans had really done "anything" together. I knew that as a woman I could probably hold out longer then he could, but as a man I wondered how long Hans would go before he set out after another woman.

"You would never…" I asked, sitting on the bed. "You would never become unfaithful to me…because we haven't been having sex?"

Hans's smile turned into a frown and he joined me on the bed.

"How could I become unfaithful to you," he said, warmly. "When I love no one but you?"

I smiled and rested my head on his shoulder. Truth be told I didn't want to go to this dress rehearsal. It was about three hours of getting people onto stage, off of stage, roll call, and God only knew what else. Now do not get me wrong, I loved my job…but even I could only take so much. Turning to a clock that was placed across from us I rose from the bed and began making my way downstairs to the piano room. I had a little over an hour and a half before we had to leave and I knew that it wouldn't hurt to brush up on some of the numbers I had trouble playing.

Hans followed close behind. As per our arrangement it was decided that when I went to work in the piano room he had to be in there as well. This rule was made even stricter by the fact that I had to be interrogated last week. It was getting better though, and I was slowly starting to cope with things. My dear fiancé had suggested that I go and see a therapist but I just refused to take it that far. I had been traumatized, not turned into a complete basket case.

"Sing for me." Hans whispered from behind me. "Please?"

I shook my head. Singing was just something I did not feel like doing lately. Now do not get me wrong, I did not mind singing I just didn't find myself enjoying it as much.

"What happened to my little song bird…" he asked softly. "Please, sing for me."

My fingers went up the piano and I hummed the first few bars of Stile Nacht. I did love singing, but I just wasn't in the mood to do so right now.

"We are going to have to go soon." I smiled. "You might want to bring something to do, since I trust you plan on staying."

Hans kissed my hand in response and I smiled.

"I'll bring a book to read." He said leaving my side.

Turning back to the piano I began to randomly play my scales. Father, I don't usually pray to you for help. But tonight…please…please let it go well. Haven't I suffered enough, what do you want from me?

Academy Auditorium

I had forty students standing in the back of the performance hall, silent as the grave. Good, then I wouldn't have to yell and shout over them. They were ready, and I was ready as well.

"Good evening," I yelled, as my voice reverberated throughout the room. "I am glad you all came, now…we are going to go through the program twice…if we have time…but that depends entirely on you! We will leave this school one of two ways, either ready to perform tomorrow night, or ready to be humiliated."

They still said nothing, and I assumed that this was my answer.

"Now, we are going to start."

Taking my stance on a chair, with Hans's help standing up on it. I whistled to let them now that they were supposed to pay attention to me. The piano sounded, giving them the few bars they needed and we began the program with O Come All Ye Faithful. It went well and I got them onstage just in time. It was decided that we would have to find another way for me to conduct, because getting up and down from that chair was just too difficult. So we got through that and the next one was Hark the Herald Angel Sings.

I was amazed at how little difficulty I had to keep their attention, but when Hans moved closer to the front the girls continuously missed their cues and I was starting to get frustrated.

"Stop, stop!" I snapped. "Start again; we will not leave until this number is absolutely perfect."

After three tries, on a song that was fairly easy, they managed to get it…but I wasn't feeling accomplished. I actually just felt tired and sick. God, I hated being pregnant. I looked to Hans who was watching me earnestly. We had gone through the program once, and I could see that they were all tired as well.

Sighing I stepped down from my podium and said, "You are all dismissed…the concert is tomorrow night at eight, you are to report in the gymnasium an hour beforehand."

They all filed out of the room accept for one or two of my female students that stopped to ask about the baby. I smiled in a tired sort of way and allowed them to feel my stomach. I was so used to it now, I think the Headmaster had done so at least twenty times in one month. He loved kids, which explained why he was a teacher.

"When are you and Colonel Landa getting married?" one of my girls squealed.

I looked to Hans who was smiling smugly and I just rolled my eyes and turned back to them.

"We haven't set a date yet," I said warmly. "Now girls, you need to go. I don't want you tired tomorrow night. Get some sleep, and I will see you at the concert."

As soon as the auditorium had closed I sat down next to Hans and rested my head on his shoulder. God, I don't know how Mr. Marks had been able to handle this. I just did not know. Of course tomorrow would be better. I always knew that when we had a bad dress rehearsal we defied fate and did beautifully on stage. Hopefully the same would happen tonight.

"Liebste," he whispered, as my eyes closed. "You are amazing…I don't think anyone would have the patience to do something like that."

I chuckled and said, "Mr. Marks did…he put up with far worse then what I had to…he had a class of four hundred students…I only have forty."

Hans placed a warm hand to the back of my head and I could feel him pulling his fingers through my hair. It felt nice and if I wasn't sitting in an uncomfortable auditorium chair I could have probably fallen asleep right there.

"Did I tell you about the surprise I have for you?"

"Yes," I yawned. "But I assume you have no intention of telling me what it is do you?"

Hans didn't say anything and I assumed that was my answer.

"You will just have to wait until tomorrow." He whispered. "But I promise you won't be disappointed, Liebste."

I tried to stand, but my heavy belly prevented me from doing so. Hans chuckled and stood in front of me.

"Let me help you, darling." He said gently.

I reached out and grabbed Hans's hands. God this must have been quite a sight. How many people does it take to get a pregnant woman out of a chair? But after a couple minutes of struggling and Hans laughing at my misfortune, we were able to get out of the chair and out to the car.

The ride home was hard for me…I really hated being in cars now. Hans had gotten a new one, new model, new make, everything. And although nice, and unbelievably expensive, I still could not get past the fact that in our old car Herman had been maimed.

"D-Did…has Herman's body been released…to his family?" I stuttered.

Hans turned the corner and I could sense his hesitance in having this discussion with me. He knew the pain it had caused me…and the never ending nightmares were slowly getting to him. I would wake up in the middle of the night screaming, and Hans would wake up and try and comfort me.

"Liebste-

-I…I think I should talk to their family."

"Gabrielle," he said appalled. "No, no, I will not let you do that!"

"It was my fault Hans," I whimpered. "And I was the last one to see him…I want to do it."

"I forbid it!" he said pulling in front of the house. "You will do no such thing!"

"Hans…it was my fault!"

"It was NOT your fault!" he roared over me. "It was a cruel twist of fate, Gabrielle, do not talk so foolishly!"

"You are the one talking foolishly," I sobbed. "I'm the one that is being rational…it was my doing…I told Herman to wait in the car….I told him to stay there! And Herman was such a good man, even if those bastards would have threatened him…he wouldn't have told them where I was…"

I felt myself breaking down in front of Hans and I quickly covered my face with my hands.

"Hans...I hate myself…I absolutely detest what I have become!"

I felt Hans place his arms around me and pull me close. He pressed my head onto his shoulder and I could hear him urging me to cry.

"You must heal," he whispered. "I want you to cry until you feel like we will both drown."

"W-Why…why me…Why…Herman?"

"I don't know Liebste," Hans whispered. "I do not know."

And we sat there for what felt like hours, while I cried and sobbed until I felt like my eyes would leak right out of my head. I felt for a brief moment that I could not feel Hans's arms around me…and then all of sudden the warmth from his body encased me.

"I love you," I gasped, kissing him. "I love you so much."

Hans kissed me back but I could tell he was trying to hold back. He didn't want to hurt me or the baby.

"Kiss me," I pleaded. "Kiss me like you mean it."

"L-Liebste," he said pulling back. "What are you trying to do?"

"I…believe the proper term is foreplay."

Concert Time

The entire auditorium was full, there were absolutely no empty seats and I found this extremely pleasing. And after last night I had to admit that I was in an all around good mood. I looked at each and every one of my students and was very pleased to see them all in their choral uniform. I remember last year I had seven students that forgot their bowties, ten girls that had lost their skirts, and five boys that had forgotten to wear their black shoes! She felt like she was going to plow a gasket when they came up to her and told her this.

But this year it was all different, taking a microphone I stood in front of them all and said, "You all look lovely, and I am very proud of this turn out."

I pulled the microphone a bit so that the cord would follow me.

"I will be leaving for the next couple of minutes and Ada," I said gesturing to one of the students. "Will let you all know when it is time to come out. But before I go let's pray."

This was a tradition that I have carried on since Mr. Marks was my chorus teacher…God I missed him terribly.

"Father, we are so fortunate to be able to meet here and sing as one…may our songs glorify your beautiful name as you see all we can do. In your name we pray, amen."

They all mimicked me, and looked up as I left them to go and greet the audience. The hall was dark but it was light enough for me to see the amount of spectators. I got up to my podium but just as I was about to make my announcement Hans stood up next to me and took the microphone.

"Ladies and gentleman," he said from the speaker system. "This beautiful lady before me has done a wonderful job instructing these students and all I ask is five or ten minutes to present her with a Christmas present that will show her how much I and the students of this school appreciate her."

Hans turned to me and I felt my cheeks redden taking my hand he brought me down from my stance to the audience.

"Your students and I have heard that you became a chorus teacher because a man had inspired you to do so," I felt my lips curve into the smile as I thought of Mr. Marks and his lovely wife. "It took some time and a lot of phone calls…but I along with the other students were able to find a man that is very proud of you."

My heart beat skipped a beat and I felt my eyes fill with tears. Hans couldn't have…there was just no way that he could have gotten into contact with Mr. Marks.

"So without further ado, Mr. Marks…would you please come up and say hello to your daughter?"

I watched as he emerged from the third or fourth row, I couldn't tell because I was crying so much. He still looked the same as I remembered him. He was a rather short man whose hair had long since grayed, with warm eyes that I always admired. He came up to me and with a small sob I wrapped my arms around him.

"Gabby," he said in French. "I am so proud of you dear…I knew you would achieve greatness."

Tears rolled down my cheeks and I smiled. Taking the microphone I released Mr. Marks and turned to my fiancé.

"You…you can all imagine how surprised I am…thank you…thank you so much."

I kissed Mr. Marks on the cheek as he went back to sit in his chair and I wrapped my arms tightly around Ha ns.

"I love you," I said in English. "You were right…I was anything but disappointed."


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