PLEASE READ THIS FIRST:
Although there is new material included, this is NOT a new story.
It is a re-writing of "The Twelfth Governess" and "The Baroness and the Pine Cone". Chapters were revised and expanded, a few new ones were included.
The plan is to organize all my stories, placing them in the right order and getting rid of most inconsistencies. This is where the fun begins If I ever finish it – and I hope I will – "The TSOM Chronicles" will have at least 6 parts and will cover most of the movie up to the Paris honeymoon, going a bit AU after that. "The Twelfth Governess" will only be the first one, and will have 41 chapters. They are all ready to be published, so you should expect a new one almost daily.
Reviews and/or positive criticism are appreciated. Enjoy!
I do not own "The Sound of Music", "Die Trapp Familie", "Die Trapp Familie in Amerika" or any of the works in which I based my stories. I write them for fun only, as an exercise in creative writing. This is a work of fiction, based upon the movie characters. Names and events related to the real story are used only to fill some blanks in the story, no offense is intended.
Several people helped me, and are still helping me with those stories, specially my friends from "The Sound of Music Fan Fiction Forum" which was sadly taken offline against our will.
Mellie D. betaed several chapters in Part I. Although she is not part of the fandom anymore, and although the story has changed since that time, some of her great ideas still remain. Max ("maxisback")´s help was also invaluable, particularly in some research that was needed in this first part of the story.
The usual final WARNING/REQUEST:
English is not my first language, so please be gentle. I´m really trying to do my best here. If you have any comments about my funny grammar or my spelling errors, please send me a private message.
Enough. I will try to be quiet for the next 40 chapters.
The Sound of Music Chronicles
The Twelfth Governess
"I sometimes hold it half a sin
To put in words the grief I feel;
For words, like Nature, half reveal
And half conceal the Soul within.
But, for the unquiet heart and brain,
A use in measured language lies;
The sad mechanic exercise,
Like dull narcotics, numbing pain.
In words, like weeds, I'll wrap me o'er,
Like coarsest clothes against the cold;
But that large grief which these enfold
Is given in outline and no more."
Alfred Lord Tennyson
"He rides in the row at ten o clock in the morning, goes to the Opera three times a week, changes his clothes at least five times a day, and dines out every night of the season. You don't call that leading an idle life, do you?"
Oscar Wilde, 1856-1900, An Ideal Husband (1895)
"Decorations were decorations, but the Knight´s Cross of the Military Order of Maria Theresa was something else altogether: the highest military honour that old Austria had to bestow. Like your Victoria Cross, it was an insignificant-looking thing. But unlike your Victoria Cross it was handed out in the tiniest numbers – no more than seventy or so in the entire World War, I believe. To become a Maria-Theresien Ritter was the ultimate, golden dream of every cadet at every military academy in the Danubian Monarchy, a distinction far more alluring than becoming a Field Marshall or Chief of the Naval Staff."
John Biggins, "A Sailor of Austria".
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." (1)
Jane Austen had been entirely wrong on all accounts.
Captain Georg Rittervon Trapp was a widower in possession of a sizeable fortune, but he was most definitely not in want of a wife. The fact that he might need a wife at this point in his life was utterly irrelevant – wanting and needing were different things entirely. Furthermore, he had a wife once, and now she was gone. Several years after her death, he still felt that no one could ever replace her both as a companion and as a lover. To him, it was useless even to try; he didn't want to go through all the heartache again. Half of him died with her, but he had a number of reasons why he was unwilling to sacrifice his other half. Seven reasons, as a matter of fact: the seven children she had given him.
Unlike most society matches, his first marriage had been, above all, a love match. It had been one of the few veritable cases of love at first sight recorded in the history of Austrian aristocracy. To make it more unique, their "happily ever after" lasted for nearly twenty years. It had been the quintessential perfect marriage, of the kind that every other soul that has the tiniest bit of romanticism in it wishes for, sometimes secretly.
He had just been offered the command of the SMU-6, the submarine recently acquired by the Austrian Imperial Navy. On a sunny day, nearly twenty years earlier, the boat was being christened, at the naval base in Fiume. It was no small occasion, since among the guests there was none other than John Whitehead, the son of the late Robert Whitehead, whose shipyard had manufactured the submarine. The Whitehead family name had become a legend in the Navy, ever since Robert had developed the first self-propelled torpedo in 1866. The honor of christening the boat would be given to John's twenty year old daughter, Miss Agathe Whitehead.
When the petite English heiress broke a bottle of champagne, christening his first submarine, Georg von Trapp lost his very first battle in life. The arrogant young who liked to boast that the woman who made him behave like a lovesick fool had yet to be born, found himself madly, irrevocably in love for the first time in his life. Fortunately for him, the other possible rivals to Miss Whitehead´s affections knew too well that he could be the most formidable opponent and stepped aside as soon as they realized that he was serious about courting her. Victory was easier than he expected at first, but it was also sweet, if nothing else because the instant, mad attraction had also been mutual. Agathe too had been pierced by Cupid´s arrow.
Georg von Trapp was known in those days as the heir to a distinguished family of seafaring men, with a brilliant career ahead of him as a naval officer (2). His father had been knighted by Emperor Franz Joseph after he succeeded in bringing the ship he commanded, one of the most prized possessions of the Austrian Navy, safely back to land after a ferocious storm. The title was hereditary, and passed down to his children, who earned the right to add coveted the "von" to their names.
However, Georg was destined to go farther than his father could ever dream possible. He was only 14 when he was faced with the most important decision of his life so far: to join the Naval Academy at Fiume of the prestigious University of Music in Vienna. It was not a difficult choice: as much as he loved music, the boy had sea water in his veins and opted for the Navy. His father and several generations of von Trapps sighed in relief. His ascension in the Navy was swift, he was the youngest of his graduating class to achieve the rank of captain. He went from commanding cruisers to battleships, then torpedo and destroyer flotillas, and, finally, submarines. And in the meantime, he found the time to get his license as an aviator. To those who knew him, there was no limit to what the man could do.
But Georg von Trapp had more than simply a prestigious family name behind and a bright future ahead in his favor. He had everything else a man could possibly need to succeed. Tall and dangerously handsome, he was also blessed with a devilishly cunning mind, his intelligence well above the average of his peers. The combination was explosive. Perhaps because of it, he excelled in everything he attempted to do, a reason why many of those who disliked him thought him to be an insufferable snob. Apart from that certain natural arrogance that came with his upper class upbringing and the successes in his career, he was never the kind of man who liked or needed to boast about his feats, all he had to do was simply say the truth. It was impressive enough.
A daredevil at sea, a rake in dry land…
As one would expect, women were attracted to him like moths to a flame, and in his youth he took full advantage of the fact. Yet, he was never as promiscuous as one would have expected, he selected the women he bedded with the same care with he chose the wine he drank in his moments of leisure, never allowing his dalliances to damage his reputation or his career in the Navy. But that did not keep him from viewing women as most young wealthy men of his generation did: there were women who were meant to become wives and there were women who were meant to become lovers. Love and lust could never walk together, and the same could be said about love and marriage.
Unwilling to commit himself to marriage at least until he reached his thirtieth year, and enjoying the life of a bachelor too much, Georg stayed clear of the marriageable ones, and threw himself eagerly in the arms of the others. While enjoying the life of a sensualist whenever his work allowed him, he took pride in his self-discipline because his heart remained unscathed. He firmly believed that he would ever be romantically affected by any of his lovers, that no woman on earth would ever distract him from his true love: the sea. Romantic love was something that belonged to the pages of a novel, it was unthinkable outside of it. It was nothing but a beautiful, poetic idea, but in real life it was both unrealistic and unpractical, a distraction that he could not afford. The silly notions his paternal grandmother had once tried, in vain, to talk him into – about marrying for love and not for the sake of convenience - became nothing but a memory soon after he had his first sexual experiences.
At least until the day Miss Agathe Whitehead crashed a bottle of champagne in his SMU-6…
The walls he had built around himself, shielding him from the distraction of romantic love crumbled, as if hit with scorching precision by one of her grandfather´s torpedoes.
Surprisingly, he welcomed the experience. The intense feeling took him by storm, he never tried to resist it. Agathe Whitehead had been a welcome change in his life, a breath of fresh air he badly needed. No woman had ever challenged him like that before, and without even trying. Yet, the petite British heiress barged into his life to challenge everything he was brought up to believe in. Finally his grandmother´s advice began to make sense, and in a way he would never have thought possible.
However, Agathe was unlike the women he had courted before. She was a young lady with an impeccable upbringing, coming from a family with a spotless reputation – precisely the kind he had avoided like the plague during all his adult life. She was, as her mother and father loved to boast, simply born to be the wife of a wealthy aristocrat, having been prepared for the cradle precisely for that role. He decided that he would be that man.
Courting her was a challenge, not only because he had to resort to tactics he had never used before. She bravely resisted at first, although it was obvious to him that she was clearly attracted to him as well. How could a young naval captain, who had just been assigned to command his first submarine say or do to make an impression to a girl whose grandfather had invented the torpedo? A girl who came from a naval family as illustrious as his, who had been brought up surrounded by men who were not so different from him? Her parents were equally unimpressed at first, particularly her mother, who always dreamed of her only daughter marrying a nobleman, not the son of a mere knight.
But Georg von Trapp was too proud, too stubborn to back down from a challenge. He would step aside gracefully if Agathe showed no interest in him at all, but one dance with her had convinced him that it wasn´t the case. He immediately realized what the obstacles would be and designed the perfect course of action. The cunning strategist that he was had never failed before, and he would not fail now. Challenged, he began the hard task to prove all of them wrong, that he could be a husband worthy of her family name. Each and every one of the initial reservations of the Whitehead family were, one by one, dismissed and taken care of, and very quickly. Not only that, he managed to convince them all that their union would be not only convenient to both families involved, it would be an ideal one. The heir to Austria´s most notorious naval clan marrying the heiress to a British famous for the same reason… It was the perfect match. Cleverly, he chose never to stress the fact that he loved his bride – if not to him, to them it would be completely irrelevant.
In the words of Julius Caesar: "Veni, vidi, vinci." Georg von Trapp came, saw and conquered. Agathe Whitehead was his, and he was hers. The rake had been forever reformed, or so it seemed. Overnight, the dashing young naval officer had become a respectable family man, entirely devoted to his wife. And he was looking forward to every moment of it!
Theirs was a perfect, fairy tale wedding at the Stephansdom in Vienna, with the cream of high society in attendance. The honeymoon, unfortunately, had to be postponed: duty called him and, two days later he left for a mission at sea. This would set a pattern for the near future: in the first five or six years, he did not spend more than a total of sixty days with his wife. Notably, his marriage did not suffer – quite the contrary, the love bond between him and Agathe seemed to grow stronger precisely because of that. Whenever he returned, it was like meeting her for the first time again, their passion was renewed.
There were too obvious consequences to Georg´s dedication to his country and his wife…
The first one happened when, risking his life and the life of his crew, his submarine made a spectacular underwater launch at a French Battleship that was considered the crown jewel of the enemy´s fleet. The ship sunk to the bottom of the Adriatic, and the feat earned him the Imperial Navy´s most coveted decoration, the Maria Theresien Cross, with the rights and privileges of the title of "Baron".
The second one was a rather obvious result. His long absences also did not keep them from producing a very impressive offspring.
When he returned after a few months after his first mission after the wedding, Agathe was already pregnant with their first child. The honeymoon had to be further delayed until months after Elizabeth – or Liesl, as she would always be affectionately called - was born. Six more children would follow, and in nine years, he fathered seven children.
It never occurred to Georg or his wife to do anything to prevent any of the pregnancies. Although he never had any strong religious convictions, Agathe was a devout Catholic. Avoiding children was, to her, something utterly unthinkable, under any circumstances. Georg did not quite share her beliefs, but he soon learned that if there was something he loved more than Agathe was to be a father. The children made not only Agathe happy and kept her company during his long absences at sea, they made him happy as well. For the first time in his life he felt he had a closely knit family, because his own family, as illustrious as it had been, could be called anything but loving.
But there should have been more than seven von Trapp children. He should have been an Admiral by now, instead of a mere Captain. Austria should still have a coastline, he should still have his Navy and his warships to command… and Agathe should still be alive.
The fairy tale ended cruelly and abruptly. Five years – it was all it took for everything to crumble. Everything – his personal life, his naval career. He was helpless against it all, utterly unable to do anything to avoid the succession of tragedies that followed…
The most brilliant military strategist could not win a war alone. Wealth and nobility meant nothing, a mere mortal was powerless against the inevitability of death.
Austria succumbed to the same war that earned him the title of Baron along with the most coveted decoration of the Empire, the Maria-Theresien cross. A couple of years later, Agathe von Trapp lost her short but violent battle to scarlet fever, only days before her thirty-third birthday. Only by miracle, three of his children had survived the same epidemic. The eighth von Trapp child, the one she was expecting when she became ill, died in her womb. The loss of his career had devastated him, the loss of his love nearly killed him.
Nothing could have prepared him for the pain that followed. He had lost his mother when he was still an infant, his father was so distant that, when he died, grief had been fleeting. When his grandmother passed away, he was at sea and had not seen her for several years. Agathe was the closest human being he had ever lost to death – his wife, lover and friend, the mother of his children.
It was unbearable. So many feelings overcame him. Anger and guilt because he suddenly felt that it had all been for nothing. He had spent most of their married life away from her, fighting worthless battles. The country he loved and vowed to defend to death had crumbled. If he could only turn back time, if he only had stayed with Agathe instead of defending his country in a lost war, perhaps he would be able to do more for her and his children, she would not be so tired of caring for them all, she would be stronger and would not have succumbed to easily to that awful illness. He had known, from the start, that she was fragile. How could he abandon her for months at a time like that? It was bound to affect her health, and it finally did.
There was only one way to cope with that pain. In order to shield himself from it, in the months that followed his loss, he fiercely dedicated himself at shutting everythingand everyone out. If trying to forget was useless, he simply did not want to remember her. It hurt too much. All the sounds, sights, and smells of her were banished. He cleaned his surroundings of every single memory, locking her belongings in the attic, her photographs in his desk drawer. It all had proven to be useless, because she was still there, a little trace of her in every single one of his seven children. Her eyes were Friedrich's, her voice - Brigitta, her laughter – Louisa. Liesl, Kurt, Marta, and Gretl – her grace, mischievous sense of humor, shyness, and her child-like curiosity. He never knew when it would hit him, when he would look at a child and see her. He couldn't bear to see his dead wife in his children, so he shut them out, he shut them all out. He hid his wife in the attic; he hid behind his various trips around the world, leaving behind his children and memories of her.
The months passed, then one year. He went on living like that. It was only the shadow of a life, since most of the time he felt like a phantom, a walking corpse. He did everything he believed would stop the pain. He tried to drown his sorrows in too much wine when things became too hard to bear.
And, of course, there were the women.
It had taken about one year after his loss to acknowledge the need of a woman in the physical sense. His self loathing only increased, the feeling of guilt exploded. After the true beauty of the love between a man and a woman he and Agathe shared, how could he even consider going back from a time in his life that he was no longer proud of, at least in that aspect? But in the crazy aftermath of his tragedies, it seemed that even his body had a will of his own and decided to rebel against his grief.
Was it the curse of having a passionate nature? – he wondered. Before his marriage, he never had any need to repress it. While his marriage lasted, it had been happy in all aspects, in the bedroom and outside of it. And now…
He began seeking women again, almost casually. In his sorry state, he did not even believe that he would be able to… function properly. Then one day he impulsively accepted a blatant invitation from a well known courtesan and a minor epiphany followed. After all, it was not so different from drinking. Physical release, then oblivion – that was precisely what he craved. A few moments of pleasure, during which he would simply… not remember. As for everything else – the guilt, the self-loathing – he could not possibly be feeling any worse, so why not seek atonement from time to time? So he tried to go back to a time in his past, when the Whitehead was hardly more than a name in a book about naval history, when he did not know that Agathe even existed. The result had been a series of very discreet affairs which he ended as soon as he realized that they would not provide the comforts he needed. Fortunately, experience had taught him to conduct such liaisons had been conducted with equally sophisticated and intelligent women, well aware of the rules of the game, and who would not demands more from him than what he was willing to give them.
However, this brief return to the old rakish lifestyle of his youth, was bound to leave him bitterly empty and unsatisfied emotionally. One just could not turn back time. Thanks to Agathe, he was no longer the same reckless libertine. If all he wanted was not to remember, even for a few moments, the supreme irony was that memory of Agathe was never stronger as it was just after he found physical release in the arms of those forgettable lovers.
No, he had no wish for another wife. No woman on earth could possibly be more than what Agathe had been to him. He already had every proof of that. It was something he knew while she still lived, but that his wife had been blissfully unaware of. Just hours before she died, she had tried to make him promise her that he would remarry. A promise he had refused to give her, simply because if such a woman existed, he would not risk it again – he would not survive the pain afterwards. If she existed, he would make no effort to find her. If she came to him instead, he would use all the strength that he possessed to shut her out, because, ultimately, he knew how it would end and what it would do to him.
However, there came the day when he was forced to acknowledge that, he needed to think of the seven children Agathe had left behind, for there was at least one thing in which his wife needed a replacement – as a mother. It took him too long to realize that very simple fact, and it had cost him too much already. No, he did not want another wife, although, because of his children, he was now beginning to acknowledge the fact that he needed one. And quite badly.
As a father, he was feeling completely lost, and utterly incompetent. If he was no longer able to love his children the way they deserved to be loved, he vowed that, at least, they would be properly educated. If this was the only compensation he could give them, so be it. Little Gretl had just turned five, but at sixteen Liesl was about to make her entrance in society. His eldest son, Friedrich, would soon be following her and at fifteen had already manifested his desire for a medical career, the prestigious University of Vienna being the most natural choice. At thirteen, Louisa was a little mischievous tomboy who needed the proper female guidance in a critical moment in any girl´s life. Brigitta – probably the cleverest of them all – constantly lost herself in her books, and needed to be nudged back to reality from time to time. The youngest – Kurt, Marta and Gretl – hardly had any strong memories of what a mother was, and he feared that such absences would have damaging effects in their adult life.
To no avail, he tried to tell himself that he was doing his best. When Agathe was alive, he was at sea so often that the task of disciplining the children had been almost entirely hers. Whenever he returned, all he wanted to do was to make up for the time he spent away. The warmth and love of his family was wonderfully chaotic, a startling contrast with the military discipline aboard his ships. It was all very loud and full of music, laughter could be heard from every corner of the house. Agathe shared his love and his talent for music, and they joked about the fact that they would have their own chamber orchestra when the children grew up.
He could bear the thought of it anymore.
The children, of course, resented him. As children often do, they rebelled. He loved them all dearly, but he had no clue about how to control them. However, his only source knowledge of discipline had been the Navy. It was all he had, because the alternative was unthinkable: the last thing he wanted was to apply the same antiquated rules that his parents had used on him. And so, with same military discipline he applied in his warships, he began to run his household. At first, it worked beautifully, perhaps because the children were too stunned to do anything else but to obey him. It was either that or because they were so eager to win back his affection that they would do anything that pleased him. As with everything else, it was a possibility that was too painful to be considered. But the military discipline kept his sons and daughters from talking, from laughing, from being his wife's children. And it kept him from remembering.
Does time heal all wounds? He did not know the answer to that yet, Probably not. Wine, women and song certainly did not, he already knew that for a fact.
He vowed that he would fix things, before it was too late; it was all he could to. He knew he had to make things right, before the lives of his children were hopelessly ruined because of his grief, because of his inability to guide them and love them the way they deserved to be loved.
But finding a wife… The task was harder than he could ever dream possible.
A/N: (1) Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice. (2) Georg´s biography is a cross between fiction and reality. I took some events from the real Georg von Trapp´s life, but a lot of what you will read here results from my own imagination, giving life to a fictional movie character.