Both rose from the bed and moved towards the door. As Georg opened it, Maria gave the smallest giggle. The sound was beautiful to his ears. "What is it?"
She pointed to his bed. "May I have my pillow back?"
For the first time since they had known each other, Georg blushed a little, and that made her giggle again. Giving a dramatic sigh of resignation, he walked back to the bed and picked it up. "You've caught me, my dear." Coming back to her, he handed it to her with a small smile. "I can't deny how much I missed you."
"I understand the habit well," said Maria as they exited his room and headed towards hers. At Georg's inquiring look at her own red cheeks, Maria explained shyly: "You remember the first night after our engagement? It was cold, you wrapped your jacket around me, and it rained . . ."
"Ah, yes," said Georg, smiling fondly at those lovely memories. "I never did get that back."
She gave a sheepish smile. "I don't regret not giving it back before your trip to Vienna. I had something of yours to hold on to while you were gone."
He wrapped his arm around her shoulder and kissed her temple. They had reached her room now, and waited outside as she changed out of her nightgown and into a dress. When she came back out, she was wearing the blue dress he loved so much, with his blazer hanging over her arm. "Beautiful," he said. Maria smiled and blushed, remembering the first time he had said that to her. She offered him the blazer back and he put it on. It was no longer starched and ironed; there were a few creases in it from the times Maria had wrapped it around herself. But as he put it on, he knew he wouldn't have it any other way.
They still had some time before the sun rose, and Georg suddenly remembered something. He held out his hand and said, "Will you come to the study with me? There are some things there for you."
Curious, Maria nodded and placed her hand in his, allowing him to lead her to the study. Once there, Georg went right to his desk while Maria stood in the doorway. From a drawer, he pulled out . . . Maria gasped. It was the scrapbook that Dominik had made, had made for her, of his life. She noticed that it seemed more thick than it once had been. Wordlessly, Georg came over to Maria and held it out to her. Gingerly, she took it in her hands. Suddenly, she felt the need to feel more of his presence again. "Can we go down to the piano?"
Georg nodded, and they left the study and walked down the stairs in silence. Once inside the music room, both sat down at the piano bench. They kept the instrument closed; there would be time for music later.
Maria's hands trembled as she opened the thick cover. Georg placed a hand on her back, letting her know he was right here. She gasped when she saw what was right in front: many sheets of music, all of the notes and symbols hand-drawn and written carefully. The titles were all written in Dominik's hand, with his signature beneath it. He had transcribed each of his compositions down, so they would not die with him. They were all there. It was a beautiful sight to Maria's eyes. She gave a watery laugh as she fingered through the pages, shaking her head. "So this is how he kept himself occupied all these days, up in his room . . . I should have known he wasn't just sitting there idle."
Though he'd shown her the scrapbook pages all before, she felt like she was looking at them with new eyes. Georg, who had not yet seen it, observed just as fascinated. He saw many little writings, papers, and pictures, mostly of two people: one a boy with abundant curls and a gentle face, and the other a girl with a long golden mane and sparkling big eyes.
Near the end, in the final pages, they came across a picture of the girl, very nearly a woman, who looked to be about sixteen years of age. Her long hair was blowing freely in the wind, as was the skirt of her simple dress. Despite the dark bruises on her bare forearms – Georg noticed them with a cringe – the young lady had a genuine smile on her face. It was very strange for him to see this picture of Maria. Not just because she was younger, or that her hair was so different, but because her face was so much the same. That same simple joy and beauty was still there, despite the signs that she had no real reason to be happy. This was, he thought, the miracle of Maria.
Between the last pages, Maria found an envelope with her name on it in Dominik's writing. She didn't feel scared, really, but her heart seemed to both warm and shake at the same time in anticipation and anxiousness. It was the strangest sensation. With trembling fingers, she opened the envelope and pulled out a letter. It wasn't very long, and Maria read it through quickly. By the time she had finished, her eyes had teared up again, and her lips were trembling. Georg rubbed her back soothingly, ready to hold her if she were to cry again.
But she didn't. Instead, she looked at him. She had never looked at him like that before, as if she were trying to decide if he were . . . worthy or something like that. Georg suddenly felt nervous, not knowing what she was looking for in him and hoping she would find it. She seemed to, for the next moment, she was reading the letter again, this time aloud, in a voice full of emotion:
Just writing your name invokes images from each of the stages of my life. My earliest memory is of us as very little ones, barely walking straight. You were always faster than me, but always the first to trip over her own feet, too. That makes us even, then.
The next image is the schoolhouse. We always sat next to each other, and you would encourage me to answer questions when you knew I had the answers. From the start, you were always there to make sure I did not stay locked within myself. And outside, when the boys would tease me, you would chase them away yelling fiercely, "You leave him alone, he's better than all you lot!" My dear protector, you were very brave but you were quite a sight too. But I still thank you for that.
And then the dark years came, for the both of us. I alone saw your tears when your dear parents were taken. I alone saw the bruises and the blood that monster drew from you in his drunken rages. I alone helped you to bandage yourself up when he was rougher than usual. And you alone saw me tear out my hair in my frustration with the people I was forced to call family. You alone heard all of my insecurities and fears.
For a long time, we were all each other had in the world. It was us against the world. But that had to change – we both knew it couldn't go on like that forever, my sisters. Our paths are separate, but a greater love holds us. I thought of you constantly when we were apart, and I was guilty too, but it was something we both needed to do.
And now I know I can finally accept my fate and join our Father who loves us and who watched over us in our darkest times. I know now that on Earth too you are surrounded by people you not only love, but who love you in return. You have so much now: seven children who call you mother – and rightly so – and a fine, brave man who would do anything to make you happy because he loves you more than even you can see. I know this because he looks at you the same way I looked at Fiona: as if the whole world and all of its beauty existed in one person.
Now, I know that I can look at her again when I leave this world for hers. And I know you will be just fine with those who love you. But always remember me, Maria. I'll never truly leave you, and I'll watch over you until I see you again. We will see each other again, believe that. I know I do.
I love you dearly, my sister. Your parents knew what they were doing when they named you after the blessed mother. We will always be with you, and you will always be in my heart.
Your brother, Dominik
Maria folded the letter back again and held it to her heart, suddenly quiet as if in prayer. Georg sat, awe-struck and warm to the heart, stroking her hair gently.
Suddenly, the distant sound of a flock of geese calling to each other came in from the open window. Maria's head perked up quickly, her eyes wide. A split second later, she was running out of the room, out of the back door, down the terrace, and to the lake. Looking above her at the many-colored sky, she saw a flock of geese in a migratory V flying against the wind and towards the rising sun.
Maria relished in the breeze blowing straight in her face, throwing out her arms in a similar V. For a moment, she could swear she could feel the ghost-locks of her long mane whipping against her face again, as if she were a girl again. She thought of Dominik, could see his face clearly in her mind, and knew she always would. No, her brother would never be truly gone from her heart and memories.
As Maria watched the geese disappear over the mountains and into the rising sun, she said good-bye. To Dominik, the geese, her past, and also the girl she had once been. Now she was a woman, and her path in life had been found. Turning around, she saw exactly what it was. There was Georg, standing feet away from her, looking at her just the same way he had that first morning after that magical night. So much had happened since then, but between them, nothing had changed – only strengthened.
She smiled mischeviously and walked up to him, taking his hands in hers. She became serious then. "Georg, you said in your letter that you would do anything to help me heal. Can I hold you to that?"
"You know you can," he replied.
"Then know that I do not want to postpone the wedding. I am healing already, and if I take it one day at a time, with you and the children by my side and Dominik watching over me, I will be more than all right. If life teaches us anything, it is that it does not last forever. We must make the most of whatever time we have. Look at Dominik: he only had twenty years, but he made the most of it. We must do that too.
"Besides," said Maria, her cheeks suddenly turning a charming shade of pink. Her eyes never wavered, however. "If you must thank me for the song, I must thank you for your letter. Mere words cannot express my gratitude either. I want the day to come soon when there are no walls, no doors, no barriers between us, when we will become one in every way before God. I love you, Georg. From the first day I met you to the end of time, I will love you."
Georg, who had tears in his eyes again, brought her hands up to rest against his beating heart, which was hers. "You brought me back to life Maria when I wanted nothing more than not to have one anymore. You opened my eyes, my heart and my soul to the beauty of this world, the most beautiful of all being you. I promise you, I will spend the rest of my life to try and be worthy of this gift from God that is you. I love you, my Maria, like your brother says: more than you can ever know."
Maria smiled, and her face was radiant. The rising suns glow on her hair and face greatly helped. She suddenly got the mischevious smile back on her face. "Now then, Captain, I believe it has been about . . . forty-eight hours since you last kissed me. Do you think you could be so kind as t-"
But she never finished her sentence, for before she could, Georg had pulled her to him in a kiss that soon made her loose all sense of reality and time. She laughed into his mouth and kissed him back with equal passion, throwing her arms around his neck. His arms wrapped around her waist, and lifted her feet off the ground.
And so the captain and the governess renewed their promise of love in the light of a brilliant and rising sun, a perfect symbol for the start of their new and glorious life together.
How wonderful if that's what God could see . . .
A/N: All done, and I still can't believe it! This story has taken many changes and edits since the inspiration first came to me, but each has been for the better. All I knew from the start was I wanted to write a story that could easily fit into the movie without changing it. What always struck me in the movie was Maria's tranformation from girl to woman, and on her wedding day you can really see that in her, and for the rest of the movie as well. She is a mature wife and mother, and the change seems natural and beautiful.
Plus, the character of Dominik came from my own love for my best friend, and I thought this would make a good story.
To all who have read, I am so grateful. This is my first fanfic, and I definitely plan to write more, now I know I can do it. I especially want to thank the consistent reviewers, in particular "elphabastwin" – I always felt I couldn't yet start a new chapter until you'd sent your review.
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!
P.S. If you'd like to know what I plan to write next, I only can give you three words: Younger Than Springtime. :D
Until my next story, so long, farewell, auf weiderseinn and goodbye! The sun has gone to bed and so must I . . .