Merriam-Webster defines "key" as the following:

A usually metal instrument by which the bolt of a lock is turned (ie – to unlock a lock)

An instrumental or deciding factor

Something that gives and explanation or identification or provides a solution

A map legend

A system of tones and harmonies generated from a hierarchical scale of seven tones based on a tonic

The tone or pitch of a voice; a characteristic style

The set of instructions governing the decipherment of messages.

Chapter 1

"Oh yes you are, Captain!" Captain von Trapp's deep voice bounced off the Alps. "Fraulein" He quickly corrected himself as he silently cursed himself for the slip. No woman had ever had the power to anger him like this young postulant. Cognizant of her stubbornness and defiance after that disastrous first night, he had been determined to dominate all further conversations; however, his rage and defensiveness had reduced him to a deckhand with her at the helm.

"Now you will pack you things and return to the abbey."

Though she heard his words, Maria refused to break her glare aimed straight at the man in front of her even though her eyes shone with tears, her throat burned with bile, and her hands shook in rage and heartbreak. How dare he disappear for almost three weeks and then order me to leave my…my family! The thought startled Maria as she realized the truth in it—over the past three weeks she and the children had grown so close there were times Maria felt she could almost read their young conniving minds. How dull the abbey would be after this excitement. And to face the Reverend Mother as a failure yet again…Sister Berthe would make her life positively unbearable, especially if she had been made aware of the reason why Maria had left the abbey to begin with. She would be polishing silverware and weeding the gardens for years.

Maria bit her lip, as the faint notes of her favourite song; The Sound of Music, floated in the afternoon air. She could feel the tension growing out on the patio as the Captain too heard the faint notes, his face hardening. Wait for it…wait for it she chided herself, just wait

A seven-part harmony of an old folk song that he himself had sung with the children when they were young, a song that had not been uttered in five years since scarlet fever had taken his Agathe away from him, was suddenly brought to the attention of the decorated sea Captain.

"What's that?" Georg asked himself absentmindedly, momentarily forgetting the rage that had consumed him only moments ago..

"It's singing" came the point-of-fact response, jerking him back to the present. Hundreds of memories were right there, ready to play before his eyes, to consume his mind. To anchor himself, he chose anger over pain and set his piercing eyes on fraulein Maria, not giving her a moment's pause. He could see the hurt with a flavor of fear that he was causing, and felt badly. Though he was strict, he was normally not cruel. This fraulein seemed to have a strange affect on his psyche, making him act very out of his cool collected character.

"Yes, I realize it is singing." The Captain's exasperation hid the nausea in the pit of his stomach, as he blurted out the first response that came to mind. "But who is singing?"

Internally the Captain chastised himself. Really, the options were very limited. Neither himself nor this sopping wet headstrong fraulein were in a position to be singing in the midst of what could possibly be called his greatest battle, Elsa sounded like a cat with a large bone stuck in its throat when she attempted to even hum along to the Strausses at the Viennese waltzes and Max was sure to be too busy stuffing his mouth full of pastries to utter anything other than a moan of delight. She must think I am completely out of my senses.

"The the children. I taught them a song to sing for the Baroness." Maria answered truthfully, realizing she had already been fired and he held no more power over her. As for the children…well she would have to make sure that that this situation was dealt with properly before she left for the abbey—she could never allow him to punish the children for her ideas.

Maria and the Captain stared at each other directly in the eye, neither faltering, and a faint warmth came to both their cheeks at the intensiveness of the moment. Then, without warning, the Captain spun on his heels and marched into the house, though Maria would later swear she heard him mumble to himself "the children…"

Fraulein Maria stood on the terrace shocked at the change she had just witnessed in the Captain, and uncertain what to do with herself. Moments ago they had been at the brink of physical violence with each other—she had never wanted to strike a man as much—yet one line of one stanza from a classic folksong had changed the Captain to an absentminded, heartbroken man. He had tried to hide it, cowering behind regimentation and order, but Maria knew of heartbreak. The eyes are always the key. Unlike the mouth, the gestures, the facial expressions, the eyes do not lie.

"The eye is the lamp of the body" she murmured the words of Matthew 6:22 to herself.

She leaned on the balcony's railing and stared out at the lake, relishing the last of the day's sunlight while contemplating her future. I suppose I'll return to the abbey, continue my postulant training, and live the rest of my life behind closed walls. Maria sighed at the thought of being stuck behind walls every day for the rest of her life. She'd never be allowed to run in the hills again…Heavens knows she wouldn't be welcomed back into the choir…

How will I manage? She couldn't help but wonder. And no children! None of their cheerful voices in the mornings, their hugs at night, their liveliness…the abbey seemed pale and dull in comparison. As a child she dreamed of becoming a teacher, wishing to spend her life teaching and influencing young minds. After having a taste of this, going back would be a difficult reality to face.

But how can I go back? After everything that's happened…the sisters will never look at me the same. Not after everything that they lost because of me…The Reverend Mother is all merciful…she will allow me to return. But after everything my mistakes and my weaknesses cost them, should she? Thoughts were racing through her mind as she begrudgingly made her way back towards the house.

A deep baritone interrupted Maria's worries, as the original seven singing voices quickly quieted. Maria paused for a moment inside the doors as realization hit her, a greater shock to her senses than she had ever previously experience. The Captain…

Despite knowing the affairs of the household were no longer her business, Maria quietly tiptoed towards the drawing room, careful to avoid slipping in her drenched shoes. She just had to see for herself what her ears heard but her mind refused to accept.

Peaking through the doorway she saw the children gazing at their father with expressions she had prayed to God they would all someday wear, though she had doubted the feasibility of such a dream—each child gazing at the Captain no longer as a feared leader but with all the love and joy a child can have for a parent. Despite the cool air on her wet skin Maria felt warm and tears flooded her eyes.

As the song ended, Maria's gaze finally roamed the long awaited guests, Baroness Shraeder and "Uncle Max". In the corner of the doorframe, which she was looking through, she could make out the Baroness- an elegant-looking lady, with blond-almost –white hair, and dark eyes. Her clothes were impeccable, crisp, white, and utterly outrageous for a common summer day. Though first impressions are often wildly incorrect, Maria's insides instantly tightened at the sight of the prim and proper socialite seated on the sofa, with clothing that dissuaded a child from sitting on her lap for fear of wrinkles, hair precisely styled deterring from outdoor activities, and shoes with heels that could never be worn to run and play. Despite knowing of their imminent meeting this day, the Baroness had clearly not dressed for any child-contact.

She again strained her eyes to try to make out the other guest. The children had been raving about the man for the past three weeks. How he could convince their father to give them an afternoon free from their marching, how he would sneak them all sweets from town…the love the children had for their uncle was evident.

Much to her chagrin, the mysterious Max was hidden from her view, and too curious for her own good, Maria took a step into the doorway.

"Fraulein!" Gretle's small voice rang through the house as she ran into her governess's arms, staining her clean dress with water. Maria did not hear the young girl's exclamation.

Next to the Baroness sat a man with dark hair, a ridiculous moustache, and a gaze Maria could visualize on will simply by closing her eyes.

"Maxim?" Maria gasped softly, crossing the threshold into the room, her eyes wide with astonishment.

At the sight of the young blonde woman creating puddles of lake water on the floor, the well-known music aficionado and producer audibly inhaled, rose to his feet as he breathed "Maria?"