Disclaimer: I do not own the Sound of Music or any of its characters.

Author's Notes: This story is set just before the ball. Originally I wrote the prologue as a stand-alone piece, but decided that it was probably too short to publish on its own! Any reviews/constructive criticism are very welcome and are very much appreciated!


The abbey gate slammed closed with the same decisive finality as it had the last time Maria had left – now nearly a month ago. In many ways her time at the Von Trapp villa seemed to have flown by, though when she considered all that had happened that summer, it felt rather like a lifetime had passed since she had last stood outside those walls.

It had been the Captain who had suggested that perhaps she might like to go into town during her day off, and with the children in the capable care of their Uncle Max, the idea of visiting the abbey had suddenly become a very appealing one.

It had been a most enjoyable day in the end - she had taken morning mass with the sisters, been granted a short council with the Reverend Mother herself, and had delighted in catching up with friends who she had left behind earlier that summer.

One of those friends was still with her now - Josephine, the scullery maid. About Maria's age, and having come to Nonnberg Abbey at around the same time, the two women got along famously, despite being quite different. Josephine did not have any desire to become a postulant, and in fact found the very idea most repugnant. She wanted to see the world, she had decided, as soon as she could get away from Salzburg that was. Such an attitude had created some bad-feeling between the young scullery maid and many of the more traditionally-minded sisters, but Josephine did not seem to mind in the slightest. On the contrary, she often found great amusement in their disapproval, and had decided that Maria, with her rather wayward and sometimes lax attitude towards some of the abbey's rules, was a willing ally.

Maria, for her part, found the scullery maid rather brash at times, but she was refreshing company and provided an interesting outlook on life.

It seemed that Josephine was eager to share some of her outlook that evening as she accompanied Maria to the bus stop.

"There are really only two choices I think..." she said when they had walked far enough away from the abbey to be out of earshot of even the most determined sisters, "Either I stay here and work until I am fifty - and then only have enough money to get as far as Vienna - or I must marry a Count!"

"A Count?" Maria laughed, knowing that her friend was not entirely serious.

"Mm-hmm... a Count with enough money for me to travel the world!"

Maria shook her head.

"Or a normal man," she suggested, "Who you would be much happier with..."

Josephine sighed theatrically before shaking her head, "No..." she concluded, "That just won't do... he must be rich... and fine-looking and-"

"Don't let the sisters hear you saying that!"

They were still laughing about the idea when they reached St Peter's church. A jazz band had set up in the middle of the square outside - a saxophonist, trumpet-player, and a violinist. A crowd had gathered and the two women practically had to force their way through before they reached the bus stop.

Maria sighed, wiping her brow as they finally reached the place.

"They're very good-" she started, looking back towards the musicians who she could now appreciate better.

"Maria, who is that?"

Josephine, not the slightest bit interested in music, was staring the other way. Maria followed her gaze to see a man leaning casually against a black automobile parked at the side of the square, watching them with a rather amused smirk on his face.

"Oh!" she exclaimed in recognition, "Well that's... the Captain..."

She frowned in confusion - what on earth was he doing there?

"That's Captain Von Trapp?" Josephine echoed, "You didn't tell me he was so... handsome!"

Maria considered him. Leaning against the body of the car, wearing a bottle-green jacket and dark trousers, his legs stretched out in front of him and his hands in his pockets, he looked as though he did not have a care in the world. Effortlessly handsome, she thought before quickly chastising herself.

He saw them looking and raised his hand in a wave before beginning to walk towards them.

"May I suggest an alternative form of transportation, Fraulein?" he greeted her with a smile, gesturing his hand towards the car.

Josephine's eyes widened notably.

"I... well I..." she did not know quite what to say - his arrival was completely unexpected. He smirked at her again before flicking his eyes towards Josephine.

"Oh, this is my friend Josephine, Captain..." she introduced them hurriedly.

"The scullery maid..." Josephine supplied quickly. No chance of him believing her to be a postulant then.

"Pleased to meet you," he nodded politely and Maria rolled her eyes as her friend practically swooned under his gaze.

"You work at the abbey?" he asked her.

She nodded and he smiled fractionally.

"Now then, Fraulein..." his attention was back to her a second later.

"Yes, of course, Captain!" she collected herself, "That's very kind of you..."

He motioned her towards the car and she turned to say her goodbyes to Josephine.

"Um... if you're heading back that way now..." the Captain interrupted, "I can easily drive you..."

He pulled open both the front passenger and one of the rear passenger doors.

Josephine made a quiet noise of agreement before fastening Maria with a very significant look.

"Just a second..." the Captain nodded to them as they climbed into the car, before turning to walk back towards the musicians, his wallet in hand.

Josephine giggled the moment his back was turned.

"'May I suggest an alternative form of transportation, Fraulein?'" she mimicked his deep baritone, "Good heavens, Maria, does he always talk like that?"

Maria stifled her laugh as the Captain swung himself back into the car.

"Nonnberg abbey then... uh, Fraulein Josephine?"

"That's very kind of you sir."

She exchanged another glance with Maria which Maria was positive the Captain had seen too. A shadow of a smile was playing on his face all the way up the hill to the abbey.

Both women stepped out when the car reached the gates. They embraced quickly.

"Write to me!" Josephine made it a command rather than a request, her eyes flicking once again in the direction of the Captain as he turned the car around.

"I will..." Maria replied before a shout from Sister Berthe startled both of them.

"Josephine Fischer!" the exclamation was enough to startle several birds from their roost on the abbey roof, "Just what are you doing out there?"

"I think she will still talk to me like that when I'm her age," Josephine replied rolling her eyes. She nevertheless hastened her way across the road as Maria climbed into the car once more.

As Sister Berthe flung open the gate to admit the scullery maid her eyes inevitably fell on the Captain's car. Maria took great delight in the expression of utter horror which crossed the Mistress of Novices' face as he sent them speeding away.

She laughed as she watched the sister's face receding in the rear-view mirror.

"Something amusing, Fraulein?"

"Oh I would imagine that will generate quite a scene in the abbey, Captain..." she smiled.

He frowned.

"It's not every day that Captains in expensive cars come to visit Nonnberg..." she half-explained.

He made a vague noise of agreement.

"It's very kind of you to...um... pick me up Captain..." she began questioningly a minute later.

"Oh it's no trouble, Fraulein," he reassured her, "I was in town anyway and I suspected that you would probably be catching the last bus back."

He shrugged.

"Thank you."

She was incredibly touched that he had waited for her.

He shrugged again, and then, seeming a little embarrassed by her sincerity, changed the subject once more.

"So, what news from the abbey, then?"

Maria laughed.

"Well, not much that would interest you, I don't think, Captain."

"Try me."

"Well, the Reverend Mother and the Mistress of Novices were..."

She started her story and he smiled to himself. Almost subconsciously he found himself turning the car onto the longer route back home.