Maria reluctantly agreed to dance with Johannes. She was very distracted as she danced with him, and Johannes mistakenly thought that she was still embarrassed about spilling her drink on Captain von Trapp. Little did he know that it was the Captain who held her thoughts as she danced.
"You don't have to feel bad," Johannes insisted. "I just hope he doesn't give me a bad shift to punish me," he said with a nervous grin.
"You know him?"
"Of course, everyone does!" he exclaimed. "He's legendary; also, I'm under his command," he said proudly. "We just returned today."
Maria was instantly intrigued. "How is it?"
"Fighting or being under Captain von Trapp's charge?"
"Being in a submarine for weeks at a time does get difficult. Don't get me wrong: I love it, but it is very cramped there. You don't even get your own bunk, and there is always a chance that we can get detected or torpedoed, and that's the end of it. But I am glad I am in the unit I'm in.
"The Captain is very tough on us, but he keeps us alive, so I can't complain. He's very smart and experienced, and doesn't tolerate nonsense. He's very strict with his rules but I've learned a lot from him," Johannes said. His face was full of admiration as he spoke about the Captain.
They continued to dance, and it occurred to Maria that she had not danced since that summer night in Salzburg. Although Johannes was handsome and pleasant, she could not stop thinking about the dark-haired captain.
"Did you know that he has seven children?" Johannes suddenly asked. " And his wife died a few years ago." Maria did know, but she did not say anything. "Seven…could you imagine, and all alone?"
Maria could imagine and more, particularly how losing a beloved wife can change a man so.
"Did he ever remarry?" she gently asked.
"I'm not sure, but I don't think so. The Captain never speaks of his family and never receives any letters like everyone else does. But then again, he doesn't say much to anyone about anything that is not related to work. He is a very private person."
Maria was surprised by what Johannes told her. She was so sure that the Captain had remarried; after all it seemed that the engagement of Captain von Trapp and Baroness Schrader was all but officially finalized.
Maria could not understand why her stomach flipped when she heard that possibly the marriage did not go through.
A few feet away, Georg von Trapp pulled on his white gloves. It bothered him that the young soldiers did not wear gloves while they danced. It was part of their uniform, and he thought they should be used for dancing. Perhaps he was too much of an aristocratic snob, but manners were manners.
He observed the dancing couple that seemed deep in conversation. He could not hear what Maria and Johannes were discussing as the music and chatter in the room blocked him from hearing what they said. Georg took a deep, calming breath; he was surprised at the butterflies that where flapping in his stomach at the possibility of speaking to Maria, holding her, and dancing her.
With one more deep breath he quietly approached them, trying as best as could to appear calm.
"Uh, do allow me," he said with a small grin. Much like Kurt did back on his terrace, Johannes simple conceded to Georg and relinquished his dance partner to him. Maria seemed bewildered for a moment but quickly regained her composure as Georg took her hand.
The music was slow as Georg held Maria's hand and placed the other on her waist. He held her very gently, barely touching her, but he could still feel how tense her body was. She did not look at him as she concentrated on placing her trembling hand on his shoulder properly. He had, after all, asked her to dance.
Her face was red; Georg thought of commenting on it but he did not want to embarrass her.
Maria felt his eyes on her, and the intensity of his gaze made her uncomfortable. So many thoughts were fluttering through her mind, why was he here? Where were the children? Did he, or did he not, marry the Baroness?
She stared at the medals on his jacket but did not look into his eyes. She was scared, too.
He chuckled softly. Hearing the low rumble of his voice was enough to take her out her trance and chance a look at him. He was as handsome as she remembered. His blue eyes were calm, not as intense as they were the first and last time they danced. Although she was entranced, she could not find herself able to took into his blue spheres for too long, as her eyes began wandering elsewhere. His dark hair was very short and cropped very neatly as if he just cut it. He smelled nice with a hint of cologne, his dark gray uniform felt very clean and freshly pressed against her skin, and his body seemed trimmer and slimmer than she remembered. His clean-shaven face was also thinner, and she could not help but notice that he looked rather pale and very tired.
They silently danced. With ease he led her across the floor. Her body seemed to move on its own in perfect sync with his. The chemistry between them seemed electric.
"So, what brings you here?" Georg asked, finally breaking the silence between them.
"I'm a nurse," she replied.
"Whatever happened to being a nun?"
Maria blushed deeply. "It didn't work out."
"I'm sorry; I know you had your heart set on becoming one. You missed it so much." Georg tried to keep the bitterness and sarcasm out of his voice, but he was unsuccessful as she grimaced in his arms.
Seeing her obvious discomfort, Georg regretted his tone of voice and choice of words. "Forgive me," he apologized. "I'm just surprised to see you here."
"I'm surprised to see you here too," she hotly replied. Now it was his turn to blush.
There was an uncomfortable silence between them as they danced. And as the tension between continued to mount, so did their chemistry. Georg was in tune to it, and he wondered if Maria noticed it too.
Her temper was the same, which Georg was glad about, but she seemed different, older, more sophisticated than the mountain-bred girl he met two summers ago. Her hair was longer and styled in a fashionable way. She wore a modest dress that looked beautiful on her. She did not wear makeup, but there was something so attractive about her. She possessed a simple beauty and an inner beauty, which drew him to her just like before. He desperately wanted to know everything there was to know about her.
The continued to silently dance. The music became slower as both of their hearts beat faster and faster. The two were so entranced and so in sync with each other that Georg forgot where he was, and felt as if he was dancing with her on his terrace on that fateful summer night. They were oblivious to the smoke-filled hall and the color of men in gray uniforms and women dressed in shades of red, green, and black. They were oblivious to anything and anyone around them.
When the music finally stopped the spell was broken, and an unsettling silence permeated between them. The questions they both had laid unanswered and seemed to form a wall between them.
It was Georg who finally broke the silence by asking Maria to go on a walk with him. She agreed and he reluctantly let go of her hand as he led her the coatroom. He helped her put on her coat. It was woolen with a fur trim. Not flashy or particularly fashionable, but a sensible coat for the cold winter.
As they left the stuffy hall, they were greeted with a rush of cold air. Maria shivered slightly, not only from the cold but also from her nerves. They walked in silence at a comfortable pace. They had no purpose or destination to their walk, which took them down from the main road to the piers where the ships docked. The cool air and their stroll managed to calm both their nerves slightly, and they were able to actually hold a conversation with each other.
"That's mine," Georg said, pointing to a very impressive submarine bopping in the dark waters.
"It's larger than I thought," Maria exclaimed. "How is it?" she asked, curiosity getting the better of her.
"Cramped," he replied with a chuckle. "After weeks of time, it becomes quite claustrophobic. I'm glad I'm back on land."
"When did you come back?"
"Oh, you must be tired."
"To be honest, I am. They haven't given me much of a break," he said with a forced smile.
Maria could not explain it, but she suddenly felt sorry from him.
"Why are you here?" she gently asked.
"I had no choice," he said bitterly as he led Maria away from his submarine. She followed him, so intrigued by him, so curious about his story.
"They would have killed me and my children if I refused the commission they offered me. What choice did I have? As soon as the Anschuluss happened, I received a telegram with the order to report to Bremerhaven the next day. I quickly gathered the children and we packed out a few essential and treasured belonging. I gave them money, jewelry, gold, and some pictures of their mother and sent them away."
His eyes were glassy and his jaw tightened. Maria acutely felt his pain. She missed the children so much, but she made the decision to leave them. He was their father and he sent his own children away.
"Where are they, Captain?"
"Georg," he said, shaking his head. His voice was thick with emotion, as it dawned upon him that, after months of feeling so alone, he finally was able to talk to someone he could trust. "Call me Georg," he said, turning to look at her. His eyes were so blue in the moonlight, so filled with anguish that something deep inside her stirred. She had the intense desire to will his pain away.
"They are in England, with Agathe's parents," he continued with a sigh. "I pray that the war won't reach them, but I do not see it ending quickly; wars never do."
"Do you get to speak to them often?" Maria innocently asked.
"I have not seen, spoken, or communicated with them since they boarded the train in Vienna over a year ago," he said in a sad, heavy voice. "I received a telegram that they arrived and I haven't heard from them since. England and Germany aren't on the best terms, and it is too risky for me to try to communicate with my in-laws.
"I was an outspoken opponent to the Anshuluss in the past, so my everyday communications and actions are monitored closely. One communication to England-even to my children- will give them an excuse to execute me," he said, shaking his head. His anger and frustration were palpable.
"But enough about me," he suddenly said. "How did you end up here? What is your story?"