SEVEN

It had been three and a half long years since Georg Von Trapp had woken up to find a woman by his side, and surprisingly, the realisation that he was not alone in bed was comforting – after all, he had spent almost twenty years waking up next to his dear wife, and finding himself alone every morning since her passing had been one of the most difficult things to accept. Smiling slightly, he instinctively moved himself nearer to his bedfellow, reaching out an arm and nudging her towards him. She rolled gently, her eyes still tightly shut and her breathing even, moving unconsciously closer to him until she was firmly nestled against his side. He sighed contentedly, pressing a soft kiss to her forehead before settling himself back against the pillows. It was the middle of the night and he was still half asleep and quite determined to return to the peaceful slumber he had almost woken from.

When he awoke for a second time, hours later, his sleepy, peaceful contentment had been replaced with an injection of absolute panic. For a second he squeezed his eyes tightly closed once more, praying that when he opened them again he would be alone, or that the mysterious woman sharing his bed would be anyone but the one he had been dreaming about….

He opened one eye and looked down almost comically to see that his prayers had not been answered – no, she was still there, and she was - in fact - most definitely not mysterious. Strawberry blonde hair, soft skin, a now rather creased blue dress – and lying beside him… no, make that cuddled in to him, his arm around her shoulders, hers trailing across his chest…!

Good God! His heart began to beat faster as he looked down at her.

How on earth had she ended up there? He couldn't remember a thing about it.

Why was she in his bed?

And if there was some good reason, then why in heaven's name was he lying there with her?..!

A sudden, very painful, thumping headache started up in his temple, reminding him just why he was so confused. Alcohol. The Devil's very own poison.

So that was it then, he had been drunk and had coerced the Fraulein back here….

He frowned.

No, he had dragged her back here, he could remember something of it now. But they hadn't... had they?

He looked down at her again as he gently moved to extricate himself from their embrace.

No, they hadn't. Of course they hadn't. That would be quite impossible for him to forget!

He breathed out a sigh of relief.

And thank God they were at least on top of the covers - not underneath them.

He rose to his feet and tiptoed his way out of the bedroom.

The slight swaying of his surroundings told him immediately that they had cast away from the shore once more. They were homeward bound now then, which must mean that it was….

The mantelpiece clock confirmed his suspicions.

Late.

It was very, very late.

Which meant that they would both be being missed.

He cursed under his breath, clapping a hand to his forehead as he looked around the living room.

Two teacups sat on the table in front of the sofa.

Yes, he could just about remember that. He had brought her down here… then she had told him many very important things – all of which he seemed able to remember, he realised to his relief. And then they had had a cup of tea and sat here…

… and talked well into the night….

He pressed a hand to his forehead, struggling to piece the hazy memories together. Yes… they had spoken of many things, and apparently his mind had seen fit to only remember what she had told him at the expense of anything he might have said in return.

He groaned.

What on earth had he told the poor Fraulein? What mad ramblings had he confessed to her?

He looked around wildly, wondering if he ought to wake her and demand to know exactly what had happened.

But, no, he couldn't have said anything too heinous, he reassured himself a minute later, after all she was still here and she had presumably not imbibed even the slightest sip of anything alcoholic herself.

Which meant that she would remember everything, he decided as he looked at himself in the mirror. An unkempt face stared back at him and he groaned again. With his hair in disarray, a day's worth of stubble lining his chin and upper lip, and a distinctly crumpled dress shirt, he would be rather unrecognisable to many of his aristocratic contemporaries.

She must have fallen asleep during their conversation, he decided as he picked up the tea cups from the table. And presumably he had then decided that instead of waking her it would be kinder to just let her sleep on the bed. And besides which, it would have been rather scandalous if she had been seen leaving his apartments in the middle of the night.

Though not nearly as scandalous as it would be now! The whole ship would be bustling with people, any number of whom could have noticed that both Captain Von Trapp and his children's governess were missing in action. And the children would have no idea where their Fraulein was… he was surprised that no one had come to find him to ask that very question….

At that moment, as though God Himself had been listening to his thoughts, there was a brisk knock at the door.

He froze in the middle of the room, a tea cup in each hand, and for a moment he was transported back to his much younger years as a cadet – mornings of either smuggling a woman out of his room, or smuggling himself out of hers.

In years to come he would look back at that particular moment and laugh, and indeed he must have made for a comical sight – the usually pristine aristocrat standing utterly dishevelled in the middle of the room, staring at two dainty tea cups with an expression of utter horror covering his face.

The knock sounded again and he sprang back into action, practically flinging the teacups into the first place where they would be out of sight – the drawer of the bureau – before walking towards the door. He peered through the peephole, fervently hoping that he would see only one of the ship's staff - some inconsequential maid perhaps - or even one of his children… anyone really, expect for the two people who were of course standing right outside.

Elsa knocked for a third time and this time he pulled the door open wide, smiling broadly as though she and Max were the very people he most desired to see.

"Georg!" she exclaimed immediately, "Thank goodness you're alright! We were getting rather worried – "

"You were getting worried my dear," Max interrupted dryly, "I however am perfectly aware of the effect alcohol can have on one's ability to rise punctually in the morning!"

He chuckled and Georg forced a laugh himself, stepping through the doorway a fraction in an effort to discourage them from coming inside the cabin themselves.

"How's your head?"

"Better than yours I would wager!"

Max shook his head, a smirk playing on his lips, "Oh I doubt that! I have never seen a man consume a bottle of whisky as quickly as you did last night!"

"Hmm…" Georg shifted in embarrassment, "Yes, well perhaps I am not as good with my liquor as I once was…" he allowed, "But as you can see I have paid for it nicely with my tardiness this morning… and a splitting headache as a matter of fact-"

"Oh, darling-"

Elsa reached one hand up to run down Georg's arm even as she slapped Max on the shoulder with the other to silence the impresario's laughter.

"If you would just excuse me whilst I-" Georg nodded his head back inside.

"Shall I have something sent up from the kitchens for you?" Max interrupted, "I think breakfast is long finished…"

He winked, his smirk still very much in place as Georg nodded his head.

"Please."

For a moment he was sure that Elsa intended to leave with the impresario, and was just about to breathe a sigh of relief before she turned to regard him again.

"You do look rather dishevelled, darling…"

She lowered her voice even though Max was now well out of earshot.

"Yes… well I think I must have fallen asleep before-"

The end of his explanation died unspoken as she took a step forwards.

"Elsa, darling, I really had better get into a change of clothes…"

She ignored him, instead taking another step forwards as he took one back.

Suddenly she was inside the room.

He risked a glance towards the bed chamber as she closed the door behind them, dismayed to see that its door was still ajar. Mercifully there was no sign that the Fraulein had woken up, and hopefully she would have the good sense to remain hidden even if she had done so, he thought to himself, running a hand rather desperately through his hair.

And at least Elsa did not seem the slightest bit suspicious, he added to himself – clearly the children had not asked her about their missing Fraulein.

"Yes, you do look quite frightful," Elsa turned back around, "But I must say my dear, I have always been rather partial to a rogue!"

"Ha!" he exclaimed, a little too forced as she walked towards him. He turned around at the last minute to face the bed chamber, stopping Elsa with her back to it just in case Maria was to appear.

She frowned slightly, but seemed to be reassured by his smile for a second later she reached forwards to kiss him on the cheek.

"The Hotel de Paris did not tempt you then, my dear…?"

For a moment he had no idea what she was talking about.

"Oh Georg, you really must have drunk more than you ought – you scoundrel!" she went on a second later, slapping his arm playfully, "And there was I, so intolerably bored waiting for you to come back to the party…"

"What…?" his brain was working very slowly that morning, he decided, no doubt a combination of his headache and trying to keep half an ear and eye focussed on the bed chamber, "Oh… yes… I… uh…" he sighed heavily as his thoughts caught up to him, "I'm very sorry my dear," he tore his gaze from the half-opened door and placed both of his hands on her arms, "I'm afraid that I was unforgivably intoxicated last night…"

Those words would hold very true for Maria as well if she did happen to be listening.

"Men and liquor… now there is a troublesome combination if ever there was one…" Elsa turned away from him and his breath caught slightly as she spun her gaze across the room, "My dear Rufus swore off it you know…"

She began to walk over to the window and he wondered for a second whether he might be able to close the door to the bed chamber without her noticing.

"… but I was rather sorry when he did, you know," she went on, "I think a man can be rather more interesting under the influence of a whisky, don't you?"

"Um hmm…" he nodded cautiously and made to follow her towards the window before another sight caused him to freeze in his tracks.

A pair of shoes was resting in front of the armchair. Light blue, distinctly feminine shoes.

He swallowed hard.

The tea cups he could have explained.

Just.

But not shoes. No one would leave without taking their shoes.

And if Elsa turned around she would see them… and she would know….

He would only have needed a second to kick them away under the sofa, but it seemed that God would not grant him even that. He watched, horrified, as Elsa turned, agonisingly slowly, her eyes scanning their way back towards him, a smile still playing on her face – a smile which was sure to fade in just a few seconds…

Before he knew it he was kissing her. It was the only thing that he could think of to distract her and indeed, it worked tremendously.

She was kissing him back a second later, her arms looping round his neck. He was sure that he must taste of whisky, rum, and heaven only knew what else, but it seemed that she did not mind at all.

He pivoted her around carefully, distractedly returning the kiss as he turned her away from the shoes again.

"I suppose you could make it up to me this morning…" her words sounded deafeningly loud - surely the Fraulein would be awake by now? He was certain she would appear at any moment….

Another knock sounded at the door.

"Aha! That must be breakfast!"

Elsa Schrader had barely time for an expression of confusion to form across her face before the man who had been kissing her – passionately and enthusiastically, she had believed – was suddenly propelling her towards the door, pulling it open quickly to reveal a rather startled maid standing on the other side.

"I… ah… your breakfast from the kitchen, Captain… sir…"

"Excellent!" he clapped his hands together, taking the tray from the girl's arms, "Well I best be getting on then my dear," he continued hurriedly before the maid had time to take more than a few steps away, "How about a drink on the upper deck in an hour?"

Elsa blinked several times before nodding, all too aware of the maid's presence, and how improprietous it would be if she were to refuse to leave. Georg smiled encouragingly again before kissing her cheek and stepping back into the room.

He closed the door firmly and let out a long breath.

He would have much explaining to do later, he was sure, though not as much as he would have if Elsa had even the slightest inkling that he had spent the night with another woman. And heaven help him if she ever found out that the woman in question was his children's governess….

When had life become so complicated, he asked himself as he set the tray down on the table and moved the offending shoes quickly out of sight underneath the armchair.

"Captain?"

He winced. There would no doubt be even more explaining to do now.

"Ah, Fraulein…" he turned around, "You're awake then…"

He trailed off, wanting to ask her just how long she had been awake for, but not quite daring to get the words out.

They stared at each other awkwardly for a moment before they both suddenly began speaking at once.

"How did I-"

"Would you like some breakfast?"

Breakfast? He repeated the word to himself furiously. Why on earth was he offering her breakfast as if it were the most natural thing in the world to have woken up at her side?

"I um… yes, okay…" she regarded him warily, walking over to the table and looking down at the tray. She seemed to study it intently and he wondered whether she was using it as a distraction to avoid looking at him.

"Uh… have whatever you want Fraulein…" he went on rather desperately, not the slightest bit hungry himself. She picked up a croissant before lifting her gaze back to his.

As his eyes met hers he fleetingly wished that he was still lying in bed with her, or at the very least that he had taken more time to enjoy it that morning, however unfortunate the situation.

Another thick silence fell, and this time it was he who turned back to the tray, a sudden smile breaking over his face. He had known such awkward moments a couple of times before in his life, always in the morning, and always after a half-remembered and usually rather drunken night.

At least this time everything had been perfectly innocent.

Somehow though, it didn't really feel as though it had been, he decided, as a traitorous memory of his dream the night before flashed vividly through his mind.

"Did you uh… sleep well, Fraulein?"

"I think so," she answered, "I'm so sorry Captain, I suppose I fell asleep here last night…"

She gestured towards the sofa as he blinked in surprise. She was apologising to him…?

"Hmm… yes, it would seem so…" she looked suddenly confused, "And so I ah… well I didn't think it would do to wake you up since I had been the cause of… well of you being here…" he rambled on, keen that she did not realise quite how little of the previous evening he remembered, "… but I didn't like to leave you on the sofa so I uh…"

"What time is it?" she asked.

"A little later than I would usually rise," he admitted as she turned towards the clock. He could not help but chuckle at the expression which crossed her face as she saw how late it actually was.

"Oh Captain! The children!" she clapped a hand to her head.

"I'm sure Liesl will have seen to them," he explained as she turned towards him again, still looking rather horrified, "Perhaps you took an early morning stroll on the deck, Fraulein…" he went on significantly, "And somehow lost track of the time…"

She frowned and then abruptly blushed as she realised what he meant.

"I just don't think that…" he began uncomfortably, "Well that it would be a good idea for anyone to… I mean not that it matters at all, but…" he trailed off awkwardly, wondering when he had lost the power to string together coherent sentences.

Perhaps the same time he had lost the ability to think clearly when around this particular woman, he answered himself.

"Oh I quite understand, Captain and I really am sorry," she went on, "I should have left hours earlier- you did tell me to, but I-"

"I think I'm the one who should be apologising, Fraulein," he interrupted, still rather disbelieving that she could possibly think she owed him any sort of apology, "I was rather intoxicated yesterday and I fear I may have told you rather a lot of nonsense…"

She waved a hand, "Oh not at all Captain," she answered, "You're always very interesting to talk to…."

For a moment he was torn, half annoyed that she did not seem at all keen to enlighten him on just what it was that they had spoken about, and half extremely flattered by the compliment.

"… I think we must have both just got a little carried away with the conversation…"

He bit back the sarcastic retort which immediately came to mind.

"… and I'm terribly sorry that you had to spend the night on the sofa, Captain…" she went on, taking a bite of her croissant as he spluttered through the mouthful of coffee he had just taken.

"… it was very kind of you, but you really should have just woken me..."

"Ah… well… yes," he managed the reply, coughing slightly, "I mean no…! No problem at all Fraulein…"

He swallowed, gritting his teeth slightly and refusing to look her in the eye.

No, if she assumed that he had spent the night on the couch, well then he would certainly not tell her that he had in fact done nothing so honourable, and that for some God-forsaken reason he had decided to share the bed with her.

Thank God he had woken first.

"Are you alright, Captain?"

"Yes, yes," he answered irritably, "Just fine, thank you Fraulein…. Or at least I will be when I have made myself look more presentable!"

She took the comment as he had intended and immediately rose to her feet.

"Thank you for breakfast, Captain."

He nodded curtly, inwardly marvelling that she did not seem nearly as bothered by their predicament as he was. But then, he concluded, if he really had offered her his bed and slept on the couch as an act of chivalry… and if he was as adorably naïve as the Fraulein sometimes seemed to be… well then maybe he would be just as unfazed as she appeared to be.

"Have you seen my-?"

He pulled her shoes out from under the couch and handed them to her rather roughly.

"Thank you."

He met her gaze again and watched as a blush rose in her cheeks. She really was quite beautiful.

"See you later, Fraulein."

A/N: Once again thank you so much for reading and reviewing – it really means a lot to me! Like Georg and Maria I too am off on a summer holiday next week, so unfortunately there will not be another update to this story for another couple of weeks. Please do stick with it though – there are just a couple of chapters left, and I have a nice ending planned too Thanks again for reading!