A Change of Plans

By Raspberry Dreams

Disclaimer: I own no part of High School Musical except for some very worn copies of the DVD's. This story is written for my own amusement not for profit in any way. anything within the story that you recognise does not belong to me.

Chapter One

November 15

Gabriella and Troy were watching movies in Gabriella's lounge room on Friday night, but the movie though one of their favourites wasn't holding Troy's attention the way it normally would. He was sitting with his arm around Gabriella who was wearing what Troy thought of as his all time favourite dress. It was a lightweight floral material and while no more revealing than many of Gabriella's other clothes, the way it floated seemed to tease him, hinting at revealing more without doing so. He kept glancing at her enjoying the sight of her watching the movie more than the movie itself.

Troy and Gabriella had taken their relationship extremely slowly, Gabriella had never been kissed before and though Troy had been hit on by most of the cheerleaders, he'd never been interested in kissing any girl before he met Gabriella. She had changed his life opening his eyes to a whole world outside of Basketball and showed him how limited and empty his previous life had been. He wasn't going to do anything to risk his wonderful new life with Gabriella ever again.

Gabriella knew Troy better than anyone did, at first because he was a teenage boy she had expected him to want to move their physical relationship along as quickly as she would agree to, and she was grateful for his restraint, but he had made it clear to her that her comfort was extremely important to him. They had reached the stage where they could talk about almost anything and they had shared thoughts and feelings almost before admitting them to themselves. While there was very little physical intimacy between them as yet, the emotional intimacy of their relationship had increased rapidly since they got back together over the summer. They each realised that what they felt was no normal high school crush and they had begun talking of spending their lives together.

Gabriella eventually noticed Troy's abstraction, "Bored Wildcat?" she laughed, knowing the real cause of his difficulties with paying attention to the movie. Normally they kept their making out to a minimum, Gabriella's shyness and upbringing making her hesitant to go too far. Troy's declaration of love a few weeks before had given her more confidence, although she wasn't ready to share kisses in public, or when they might be interrupted (as happened far too frequently with a friend like Chad – you'd swear he had some sort of sixth sense of when to appear to be able to cause the maximum frustration and embarrassment that he did). However at the moment they were alone in the house, her mother not due home for hours and locked doors and closed curtains preventing Chad from embarrassing her. She turned off her phone then reached into Troy's pocket and grabbed his to turn off as well. Troy looked at her in surprise then smiled when he saw her blushing shyly. He wrapped his arms around her pulling her to him and kissing her softly, slowly deepening the kiss as she responded eagerly. She had just turned to straddle his lap when she heard a quiet gasp and the sound of objects falling in the hallway.

Maria Montez was tired and looking forward to a hot bath and an evening with a good book. Her last appointment had cancelled thank heavens so she was home at a reasonable time help Gabriella cook dinner for a change. She stood in the doorway looking into the lounge stunned. She had not believed Troy and Gabriella had that sort of relationship and it made her feel guilty for not telling them that their relationship had no possible future from the start.

Gabriella turned crimson and leapt of Troy's lap, smoothing her clothes and stuttering embarrassed apologies. Troy wasn't sure who she was apologising to or what exactly she was apologising for. Surely her mother wouldn't be that shocked to see them making out, they had been together eight months after all, and they were both still fully dressed.

Troy stood and tried to take Gabriella into his arms and offer comfort. She stood rigidly for a minute then hid her face in Troy's shoulder as he felt her body slowly relax. "Hi Mrs Montez" he greeted calmly.

Maria truly liked Troy he was a nice boy and she respected his actions in trying to diffuse her daughter's embarrassment. Under different circumstances she wouldn't have been upset to see this development in their relationship.

However the circumstances couldn't be changed and she now had to stop this relationship before it went any further. She intensely regretted the hurt this conversation was going to cause the two young people. She took a deep breath and reminded herself that this was necessary, she'd been putting it off too long already. Delaying it further was only going to increase the pain she had to cause all three of them.

"Gabi, Troy, please sit down we need to have a serious discussion and I doubt you're going to like what I have to say but I can only apologize for not telling you earlier before you both reached this stage."

Gabriella looked at her mother in confusion, her mother's words were apologizing, but the tone of her voice and her body language seemed more angry than apologetic. Gabriella hung her head and sat silently, not realizing that Maria was angry at herself not her daughter or her daughter's boyfriend.

Troy also recognizing the unusual tension in the air, sat down next to Gabriella and took her hand in his. Looking at Gabriella's mother and waiting with trepidation for whatever she was going to say.

"Gabi, Mija... I don't know how to tell you this but you're father..."

"What about Papa" Gabriella interrupted angrily "I haven't seen or heard from him in years. Why's he contacting us now? If he thinks he can just waltz back into..."

"Stop Gabi please listen to me. Your father has arranged a marriage for you. You will be getting married at Christmastime." This was one of the hardest things she'd ever had to tell anyone.

"No No No You can't" Gabriella stuttered in distress beginning to hyperventilate.

Troy sat there stunned, his mind telling him to yell and protest, to help Gabriella, to run away from this horrible thing, to deny that it could be true. He couldn't move couldn't speak couldn't even cry as terrible pains threatened to tear his heart in two."

Gabriella collapsed onto his feet, bringing Troy back to full consciousness. He joined Gabriella on the floor pushing Maria away and took her into his arms rocking her gently. "Breathe Baby please. You can do it" he whispered to her "Breathe baby come on don't stop just keep breathing, please baby I love you" Gabriella took a deep breath and started to sob. She cried and cried for what felt like hours as Troy gently rubbed her back and held her tight. Eventually she fell asleep but Troy barely noticed. Tears ran down his face at the sight of her distress and he knew at that moment that he would do anything in his power to keep from ever seeing her this upset again. He wasn't aware of Maria watching them also with tears in her eyes, or when she left leaving the two heartbroken teenagers alone in their grief.

Maria couldn't bear to watch the two of them. The way they had automatically turned to each other and the way that even in their grieving they were still aware of the other and able to attempt to offer and receive comfort from them. Realizing the depth of their caring for each other hurt her deeply because she knew she was about to destroy their relationship and it would hurt them both more than she could have imagined. She fled the room but remained within hearing distance waiting for Gabriella to calm down enough to talk.

Eventually the sound of crying stopped and Maria looked back into the room seeing her daughter sleeping in Troy's embrace. She went upstairs and fetched some blankets to make up a bed for Gabriella on the couch, before asking Troy to put her down. "No he said I won't let her go, she needs me. I'll stay 'til she wakes up."

"Troy" Maria began hesitantly, she's not yours, you have to let her go. This marriage contract is legally binding I can't stop it. You can't change it. Gabriella is getting married in 5 weeks. Continuing to spend time with you now is only going to make it harder for her to accept."

Troy turned to Maria with a look of rage. "You are telling me to stay away? I can't... I won't abandon Gabriella... Please we have to sort this out. She can't marry him. She loves me. I love her."

Maria also began to get angry, "Troy, she is seventeen, she doesn't know what true love is. She is my daughter and I want what is best for her. I believe that ending your relationship now so she has time to get over it before the wedding will be best for Gabriella in the long run. Then she can learn to love her husband and have a chance to be happy. If you don't break up until the last minute she may never give Eduardo a fair chance, and it will all be much more difficult for her." Maria said trying to reason with the devastated and angry young man.

"You really believe she'll stop loving me that quickly?" Troy asked tears filling his eyes again. "I can't believe that..." Troy broke of unable to continue.

"At this age Troy feelings seem very intense but they will fade quickly without encouragement. I have faith that Gabriella will see that trying to forget her feelings for you is the sensible thing to do" Maria said with determination. "Now put her down and go home Troy before I ring your father to collect you."

Troy might be stubborn, but he knew when he was beaten. If Maria got his father involved then Troy wouldn't get to spend any time with Gabriella even in school. He awkwardly climbed to his feet still holding Gabriella and adjusting his hold, walked out of the room towards the stairs. "She will sleep better in her own bed" he said carrying her up to her room, unfortunately forgetting Gabriella's cell phone on the coffee table.

Maria followed behind and turned down the bed for Troy to place Gabriella in. She then walked over to the French doors and locked them, removing the key. Thank you for bringing her to bed now please go home, you can speak to Gabi at school on Monday. Troy made a noise of protest and left the room. There was no way he was going to leave Gabriella alone for that long. Maria may have believed she had locked Troy out of the house but she didn't know that Gabriella had had a second key to her balcony doors cut and had given it to Troy last year when he was having trouble with his Dad and needed to know there was somewhere he would always be welcome to come and just be himself without all the pressure of being 'the basketball guy'.

Troy collected his phone and ignoring his truck began walking home realizing that he was much too upset to drive. All he could think of was Gabriella. His heart bled at seeing her in such distress, but that was nothing compared to the pain of losing her.

It took him over an hour to walk home blinded by tears and distracted by his thoughts he missed the corner he was supposed to turn at and walked almost another mile before he realised. Backtracking towards the Montez house, he wished that he had the key to the balcony door with him so he could return to Gabriella. He considered going anyway just to look through the window and see that she was okay, but reluctantly made his way home.

It was just after curfew when he arrived home but thankfully for Troy his father saw the expression on his face and decided to let it slide. He threw himself on his bed fully dressed and for the first time since he was a young child cried himself into a fitful sleep.

Troy and Gabriella weren't the only ones to cry themselves to sleep that night. Maria's heart ached for the pain she had caused her daughter. Pain which she felt was partly her fault. She should have told Gabriella about the possibility of the marriage contract when she first started dating Troy. Then Gabriella would have known to keep their friendship platonic and not to get too seriously involved. She cursed the decision she had made not to tell her daughter last year, but at the time she had thought it worthwhile to let Gabriella have some normal high school experiences, dating and school dances and a high school romance. She had thought that she had been keeping a close enough eye on Gabriella's relationship with Troy and that in spite of calling themselves boyfriend and girlfriend their feelings were more those of a close friendship and slight attraction than a serious romantic relationship. Seeing them together tonight had been a very unwelcome surprise. Not just the making out, but also the way that they had turned to each other for support and comfort and had been able to provide that support to each other even though they both were clearly devastated.

Maria hated the marriage contract her husband had signed. It had been the disagreement over this that had caused the breakdown of her own marriage and she had taken Gabriella and gone in to hiding once the legal separation had come through. She had hoped that by moving so often, sometimes without leaving a forwarding address, even sometimes spending months homeschooling Gabriella so that her school records wouldn't be forwarded each time they moved that Alejandro might not be able to find them.

When she received the notification scheduling the wedding from Alejandro's lawyers two months ago she had known that the only way to hide from him this time would be to obtain a false identity and even then she suspected that he might have men watching her to ensure he would know if she tried to run. She had considered it when she first left, but had decided that the costs were too high. Without her identity and university qualifications she would have to accept minimum wage jobs and work much longer hours to just break even. Now the consequences of that decision would have to be payed not only by herself but also Gabriella. Gabriella needed to remain at school under her own identity to be offered a place at college, and she needed a good college education to have the future she deserved. Maria had prayed every night since she got the notification that she could find some way out of that cursed contract, but though she had searched she had not yet found an acceptable alternative. That was the real reason for her hesitation in telling Gabriella, she had wanted to be able to give her daughter a way out of the contract.

Now with less than six weeks remaining Maria had lost hope and reluctantly told her daughter about the wedding. She had to give Gabriella some time to get used to the idea before she was introduced to her future husband Eduardo. If there was no way out of this marriage then she had to do her best to help Gabriella to come to terms with it. It was important for her future happiness that she made a good impression on Eduardo it would not do for the two of them to start their marriage disliking one another.