Chapter 7: The Mirror
Their last morning in Paris, they woke early. They did not make love. In fact, they did not even speak. She lay quietly in his arms, and together, they watched the day's first light fill the room, and heard the muffled sounds from the street below gradually grow louder.
She thought back on the last magical month, trying to fix every moment in her memory, every place they had visited, every work of art they had seen, every block they had walked, every note of music they had heard. She stopped to linger on her memories of their first night together. They would be married for the rest of their lives, but she knew that they would never have another time together quite like this.
At last, he sighed deeply, kissed the top of her head, and disappeared into the dressing room. She rose then, too, and wandered around the bedroom, into the sitting room and back again, trying to absorb the sights, sounds and smells of these rooms where so much had happened between them. The wedding may have been in the Cathedral, and the honeymoon may have taken us to every corner of Paris, she reflected, but the marriage - we made the marriage here. We will tell our family and friends about everything we saw and did during our time away, but they will never know about the memories we cherish most of all.
He emerged from the dressing room, in a jaunty sport coat that belied the grave look on his face. The news from home should not have been a surprise, but it had left them both in shock, and anxious to return to their family.
"I'm going downstairs now. I'll settle the bill, have them change our train tickets, and I'll try to call home again, though I doubt I'll get through. The train is not for three hours, so you can take your time getting ready, and we'll have some breakfast. I'll send the man up for our bags."
He kissed her cheek, gently, and then he was gone.
She bathed and dressed quickly, packing a last few items into her trunk. Nothing left to do but wait, Maria thought, wandering over to the window, hoping to enjoy the view of the square below one more time.
She was momentarily startled when, from the corner of her eye, she thought she glimpsed someone moving across the room. But then, laughing at herself, she realized it was simply her reflection in the large mirror over the dresser, the unfamiliar image of a woman somehow different from the girl who had scampered into this suite just one month before.
The woman in the mirror was beautifully dressed, in a tailored suit the color of autumn leaves that fit her perfectly. He had insisted on buying it for her, barking orders to the tailor in rapid, perfect French until it met his exacting standards. Her hair was growing longer – to honor a request she had wormed out of him one night. She moved more deliberately, more confidently, a woman who had learned what her body was capable of, of the pleasure it could give to her and the man she loved.
The woman in the mirror spoke in a lower voice, more thoughtfully, and less impulsively than the girl who came before. She could speak a bit of French and a few words of English. She had sampled patisserie, escargot, jazz and champagne. She had seen and heard many of the world's masterpieces.
She had fallen more deeply in love, if it were possible, with a man she had never heard of six months ago, whom she had bitterly detested five months ago, who had broken her heart three months ago. Now, she was as certain of her place in his heart as she was of the sun, moon and stars in the sky.
She still prayed every night, but now she was a wife and mother with many more blessings to thank God for, and no she longer fought her doubts about the best way to serve Him.
There were changes on the inside, too, she knew, changes the mirror could not see. She felt as though she had grown a new, tougher layer around her heart, to protect the things that really mattered, and to keep out the old hurts and losses.
And – the woman in the mirror blushed, that much had not changed - she had learned that while all babies come from the same place, there are dozens of ways to enjoy the act of making one. . . . or not.
A knock came at the door. "Madame? Votre mari m'a envoyé pour porter vos bagages."
"Entrez," she called. As the bellman busied himself with their trunks, she turned back to the mirror. For just a moment, she thought she glimpsed an awkward, fresh-faced girl in an ill-fitting gray dress and an ugly hat, grinning widely at her.
Maria lifted her hand in a half-salute. "Au revoir, Fraulein," she whispered. She turned and left the room, closing the door behind her.
A/N: Thanks so much for reading this story! I really loved writing it and thinking about Maria's gradual transformation. The reviews kind of dropped off there at the end, which I hope is just a sign that you are enjoying some summer fun! But please, do leave a review if you have a minute – it will inspire me during the tough early stages of planning out my next story, most of which will take place before the party. A thousand hugs to my friends on the Proboards forum and our FB page. And . . . . I love The Sound of Music, but I don't own it!