A/N: A short, kind of fluffy, story set after Maria and Georg get engaged. I hope you enjoy! Hopefully updates will come quicker for both this story and my other on-going one this week! I'm also planning on continuing with While My Guitar Gently Weeps soon, if there is still interest?
Never A Moment Alone
The evening was cool and clear, a gentle breeze was brushing across the vast lake which provided a tranquil environment, and one which eased the riot in her heart. Maria sighed heavily and lifted her head up to the sky, an act she had taken to ever since she had been a child. The sky was not yet pitch black, but it was a delicious midnight blue – the very colour which she had trouble getting out of her mind on numerous occasions. There were also an array of stars across the vast space, all shining and twinkling, boasting of their glory. Maria had always loved the stars, she had loved when the skies had been full of them.
Maria loved drawing patterns with the stars. The stars were often the storytellers; the comfort brought to aching souls that have lost all they had once loved. The brightest star in the sky which Maria could see was her mother. The associations she built in the stars was her way of making connections, a relation between thoughts, feelings and remembering. It was her way of remembering her mother as best she could, since the rest of the world seemed to be slowly forgetting.
Maria longed to have her mother here with her now. Her heart ached, but raced too whenever in his presence. She was confused, and needed the guidance only her mother could potentially have brought.
She sat down on the bench outside the gazebo, her hands folded and her eyes looking up at the stars.
"Please," she pleaded in almost a whisper. "I need you now. I don't know what to do."
When he had sung for the children, his fingers strumming on her guitar, she had been captivated. She had stood against the wall, feeling as though she were the only person in the room with the Captain. His voice had been deep, rich and surprisingly touching. Maria would never have suspected him to have sang that way, and she never would have suspected the effect it would have on her body. She had felt her knees weaken slightly, especially when he had looked across at her, and her heart never failed to flutter throughout.
A voice pulled her from her reverie.
"Hello," came a male voice, and Maria knew unmistakeably that it was him.
Her head shot back down, her eyes finding a connection with his. "Good evening, Captain," she said softly, keeping secret her raging mind and heart.
"It's a lovely evening, don't you think?"
He seemed nervous. His hand went to the back of his head, and then down to his neck, moving it as though he was restless. His eyes would often dart from left to right, and then would fall on her.
"Mhm," Maria agreed as she ceased in holding her hands together, instead letting them drop to her side on the stone bench.
"I remember when I was in the navy," the Captain continued, and took a seat next to Maria on the bench once she had gestured that the movement was all right. He sat on the opposite side to Maria. "The sight of the night sky was one of the few that could calm me."
"It's very calming," Maria agreed, going against her racing heart. She was aware of how close the Captain was sitting to her. She could feel his warmth, and when he shot her a small smile she was set ablaze. She took a deep breath, hoping to keep her stature convincing. "It would help me when I was a child."
The Captain looked at her inquisitively, but decided not to press the matter further as he saw a degree of darkness cross her eyes. It was one of the few times he had seen her with anything less than bright, glowing eyes. The depth of her blue eyes would shine more often than not. But that would work against her sometimes, they would deceive her when she had something to hide. It was impossible for her to keep anything from him.
The silence which proceeded after her comment left Maria feeling uncomfortable. Although her blue dress was thin and allowed the night air to cool her, she still felt stuffy, like she was steadily getting warmer and warmer. She felt it was through embarrassment, or through the intensity of his gaze that she could feel, and see through the corner of her eye.
"You sang beautifully tonight, Captain," complimented Maria, who had now taken to folding her hands once more, intertwining her fingers together. It had always been an act that would ease her nerves, ever since she had been a child.
He accepted her compliment with a small chuckle. "As did you, Fraulein," he commented back. "I knew you had a wonderful voice, but yodelling? Even that surpassed my expectations."
Maria laughed a little, beginning to feel at ease with him once again. "We practiced for days on end, the children definitely enjoyed it though."
Georg murmured in agreement, subconsciously scooting closer to her on the bench. Maria did not notice until, out of the corner of her eye, she saw the fabric of his suit jacket. Her breath caught in her throat.
"I want to thank you, Fraulein. For everything. I owe you so much."
His gratitude was sincere, and Maria, although she told herself not to because of their close proximity, turned and faced him. Their faces were inches apart, and Maria could feel his breath almost tickling her skin. She shivered involuntarily, her breathing becoming uneven.
"You owe me nothing, Captain," she murmured, scolding herself for showing her growing weakness. Her tone was faltering, and both knew it.
It was in that moment that the Captain suddenly realised how close he was to Maria. He lowered his head, turning away from her. When he heard her breath out in relief, he turned his head to face her and gave a small smile. When she smiled back, he was relieved. They remained talking together, about the children and anything else that crossed their mind, until it became late and cold, and then they headed inside.
Georg knew where she would be. As soon as he had seen her head in this direction, he knew she would have come to the gazebo to clear her mind. He left the back doors of the villa and headed down the path towards the lake, the path he had witnessed her walk no more than a few minutes ago. His heart leapt in anticipation, especially after what had just happened between Elsa and himself.
Reaching the gates that led to the lake, he rested against them for a few moments. Georg looked out at the lake, his eyes locking on the ripples the water formed from any disturbance, even the slight wind that had appeared. The water proceeded in calming him enough to turn to his right, and he could faintly see her silhouette sitting on the bench.
He smiled, but also noticed her head bent, as if in deep thought.
But Georg did not let that deter him. With newfound confidence he walked swiftly towards her. When he approached her, he slowed his pace and savoured the moment. She was wearing his favourite dress, incidentally the one she had worn the night he had sang to the children, the night Maria had been on his mind almost constantly. He noticed the delightful curve of her neck as her head was bent, and felt gracious that her hair was so short, that he could see the outline and all of its perfections.
"I thought I just might find you here."
Her head shot up directly, and when their eyes met his heart leapt.
Now was the time to act, and there was no turning back now.
Georg had his arm wrapped around Maria as he led her back towards the villa. The smiles across their faces could only be the result of their professing of love. Maria let her head hang low on her new fiancé's shoulder, revelling in the warmth his body brought to her own. They entered the villa at a moderate pace, and Georg was about to pull them both in the direction of his study when Maria stopped him.
"I need to go to my room for a moment," she murmured, unwillingly pulling out of his grasp.
Georg gave her a mocking look of disapproval, before finally letting her go, but not before pressing his lips briefly to hers. They may have kissed twice before, but Maria blushed bright red at his intimate, and affectionate, touch. Her teeth came out to bite her lower lip nervously, and Georg found the sight truly endearing.
"Go, before I change my mind," he announced dramatically, with an equally dramatic wave of his hand.
Her smile widened even further, and she turned and hurried up the stairs to her bedroom. Once the door had closed, Maria fell back onto it and squealed in delight. Tears of joy slipped down her cheek, and she brought her hands to her chest as her eyes closed as she attempted to collect all of the happiness she currently felt.
After saying a quick prayer and freshening up, Maria left her room. She was about to go down the stairs and join Georg in his study, before she stopped and climbed the other staircase towards the children's rooms. Something told her that they may still be awake, and even if they were not she wanted to see them. She was to be a real part of their family.
As she approached the youngest children's room, she was about to open the door when the sound of voices stopped her.
"I don't want her to be our new mother, especially now that Fraulein Maria is back."
Maria recognised the voice to be that of Louisa.
"I just don't want a new mother."
That was Kurt.
"Neither do I."
"Father doesn't understand, he didn't even ask us first."
Brigitta spoke now, and Maria could tell she had been fighting tears.
"We have to be happy for him."
Liesl was attempting to reassure her siblings.
"Why can't Fraulein Maria just be our governess forever?"
Marta asked softly.
"Because she wants to be a nun, Marta. Father told us we had to respect her wishes."
Brigitta reasoned, and Liesl murmured, agreeing.
Maria felt a tear fall down her cheek, and she hastily wiped it away, backing away from the door and proceeding to go back downstairs. She failed to hear the rest of the children's conversation, and had she listened, she would have felt better than she currently did.
She arrived at the study door. It was open, so she walked in.
Her new fiancé gave her a stern glance as she addressed him in the wrong manner.
"Georg," she began, a small smile playing across her lips, but nowhere near as large as before. Something was clearly troubling her. She took a deep breath. "What if the children don't want a new mother?"
"Maria, what are you talking about?"
He approached her, his right hand moving to her left arm, rubbing it up and down soothingly.
"They see me as their governess, not as their mother."
"They love you, Maria."
"And I love them, but it doesn't mean they would necessarily want this."
Georg's eyes burned into hers.
"What's going on, Maria?"
Maria took a deep breath, steadying herself. "I only just came back. I will never forgive myself for leaving them, for leaving you. Maybe if we wait a couple of days before telling them, I'll regain their trust. I just–"
"Ssh," he soothed, pulling her into his embrace before she could break down before him. "We'll do it how you feel comfortable with, darling." He then pulled back from her, looking into her eyes. "So, any plans for tomorrow?"
"How does a trip to the mountain sound?" Maria asked playfully, glad that her fiancé's reassurance had brought back some of her confidence.
"As long as I can keep my hands off you," he winked.
Maria swatted him playfully. "Maybe we can steal a few moments for ourselves."
Georg smiled, revelling in the new confidence and enthusiasm in his soon-to-be wife.
"So, that's decided?" Louisa asked her siblings, ensuring they all knew what to do.
They all nodded, smirking at their carefully devised plan.
Operation don't–let–Fraulein–Maria–out–of–their–sight was to begin tomorrow.