Disclaimer: I own nothing relating to The Sound of Music and write this purely for entertainment and not for any monetary gain.
A/N: The title of this piece was inspired by the song Feels Like Home, by Chantal Kreviazuk. This story is a companion to Please Don't Leave, and a line in that was inspired by the same song. The stories can be enjoyed separately or in sequence, it is up to you.
Georg steered the convertible expertly through the narrow streets of Salzburg, trying desperately to keep his eyes on the road and not be completely distracted by the lovely woman beside him. Even nature conspired against him, as the sunlight touched her hair, giving off an ethereal, golden glow.
He pulled the car up to the imposing iron gates of the great stone Nonnberg Abbey. He exited the vehicle, striding around it to open his fiancee's door. Georg offered his hand to Maria, and she took it as she, too, got out of the car. Closing the door with a soft click, he placed his arm around Maria's waist and accompanied her to the bell. They were exactly on time for their noon appointment to meet with the Reverend Mother.
"Are you ready, darling?" Georg whispered, as he placed a loving kiss upon her temple.
"I am." Her simple statement said more within it than the sum of its parts. She was ready to listen to her heart, to spend her love, to begin her new life, to follow the plan that God, finally, had deemed her ready to begin.
"May I help-oh, Maria, it's you!" Sister Margaretta hurried to open the gates and allow Maria and Georg to enter. "And you must be Captain von Trapp. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance."
"The pleasure is all mine, I assure you, Sister." He stood back as Maria greeted the older nun with a hug, then gently placed his hand on the small of her back when she returned to his side.
"Sister Margaretta, we're here to see the Reverend Mother. Is she ready for us?" Maria was eager to see her mentor, her spiritual advisor.
"My dear, she's spoken of little else this morning. I do believe she has a special place in her heart for you, Maria." The Sister looked at the couple standing before her, and noting the intimate stance between the two, as well as the happiness in their eyes, was sure she could guess what they were seeking from the Mother Abbess. She smiled broadly at them. "Come along, I'll take you to her."
Maria started to cross the courtyard, before realizing Sister Margaretta was leading them through the open corridor that wrapped along inside the building. Of course, the courtyard was within the cloister, and Georg would not be allowed in. Men, and non-novitiates, could access the library, chapel, a guest chamber, and the Reverend Mother's office, but no other part of the building. She quickly reoriented herself, smiling at her fiance with a blush of embarrassment. He returned her grin, and gently stroked the length of her arm, wanting desperately to take her hand but feeling it inappropriate in their current surroundings.
Sister Margaretta stopped in front of a large, simple wooden door, and rapped the knocker several times. From within, a gentle voice called, "Ave."
She opened the door, and stepped inside. "Reverend Mother, Maria and Captain von Trapp are here for their audience with you," she spoke with a smile on her face and in her voice.
"Please, do show them in, Sister," she responded. The Reverend Mother stood up from her seat behind her desk, and walked to the door, reaching it as Maria and the Captain stepped inside.
"Maria, my dear, it is so good to see you. You look well," she noted, as she embraced the young woman.
"I'm very well, Mother, thank you. And I'd like to introduce you to Captain von Trapp," Maria gazed up at him with so much love in her eyes that the Reverend Mother knew without a doubt why they'd asked to meet with her.
"It is a pleasure and an honor to finally meet you in person, Captain." Georg reached a hand out to her, and she took it in both of her own. "I trust that you have found Maria's work with your children satisfactory?" The twinkle in her eye gave Georg a new understanding of Maria's deep affection for the Mother, and he smiled at her.
"Much more than satisfactory, Reverend Mother. My children absolutely adore her." As do I, he thought, but didn't speak.
"Please, come in and sit down," she invited, gesturing to a small sofa across from a well-worn armchair. Georg stepped aside to allow Maria to take a seat, then he settled down beside her. He took great pains to keep a bit of space between them, he wanted there to be no air of impropriety to their relationship. "Now, to what do I owe the pleasure of your company today?"
"Mother, I asked that we be allowed to meet with you today for two reasons. The first, to inform you in person that I won't be returning to the abbey to take my vows." Maria's hands were on her lap, and she was nervously wringing them, and worrying a crease into her skirt. Georg instinctively reached out and placed his hand over both of hers. They immediately stilled, and Maria's whole posture visibly relaxed.
The Reverend Mother watched their interaction silently, a smile creeping to her face. "And what was it that led you to that decision, my dear?"
"Well, I...I've found the path that God has meant for me, the life He wishes me to lead."
"What life is that, Maria?" The elderly nun knew fully well what that was, but needed to hear Maria say the words, as much as she knew Maria needed to speak them aloud.
"To have a home, and a family. To love and be loved for who I am, and not try to be someone I'm not. To be a mother, and a wife." Maria's voice had grown softer, and she looked at Georg, smiling, and as she spoke the last words her cheeks began to blush pink.
The Reverend Mother could barely suppress her grin. "And is that why Captain von Trapp accompanied you today?"
Now Georg spoke. "Yes. Since Maria's parents have passed on, and you and the other sisters here are the closest thing she's had to family until now, I'd like to ask you if I may have her hand in marriage."
She looked at the pair of them; side by side on the sofa, she could see the love between them as surely as she could see that the blue of their eyes was nearly identical.
"Of course you may, my son. I can't think of a better life for Maria than the one she will have with you, and your children." She turned to Maria. "Sometimes when God closes a door-"
"He opens a window. Mother, I will always remember that advice," Maria stated. "If it can be arranged, we'd like to be married here, at the Abbey."
"We'll have to check to see when the Archbishop will be here, to perform the ceremony. And of course, you will need at least 3 weeks, so that the Banns may be published as required." The Reverend Mother went back to her desk, and picked up a bound calendar and flipped through several pages. "It seems he will be here in six weeks' time, or not for another 4 months after that, so nearly 6 months from now."
"Georg, do you think we could plan things in time for the sooner date? Six months seems so far away, and it would be the dead of winter." Maria looked at him expectantly.
"I'm sure that we can, darling." In the back of his mind he worried there would be talk if they married so soon, but since he was ready to marry her today, right here in the office of the Abbess, six weeks seemed like an eternity.
"I shall make the arrangements with the diocese, then. After that, Sister Gertrude can help you with anything you may need that involves this location or the ceremony." She placed the calendar on the table, and took both of Maria's hands in her own. "Maria, I am so very happy you have finally found the way God wants you to spend your love. Captain, I know you will do all you can to support Maria's new position as Baroness, as a mother, and as your wife." She leaned over to kiss Maria's cheek. "We will speak again soon, my daughter. You have my blessing."
"Good-bye, Mother, and thank you so much." Maria moved toward the door, as Georg and the Reverend Mother shared a comment and a smile. She waited until they were in the car before asking what the Abbess had said to him.
Georg smiled. "She thanked me, and told me she'd never seen you happier." He kissed Maria fully on the mouth, and then turned the car toward home.
Georg left the car at the front door to the villa, and the two of them entered the house through the front door. The doors to the terrace were open, and the children could be heard outside, so they headed right out to see them. Brigitta saw them first, and came running.
"Fraulein Maria! Father! What took so long?" She wrapped her arms around Maria's waist as Maria kissed the top of her dark hair, and her father tugged playfully on one of her braids.
"Oh, Brigitta, we couldn't have been gone for even two hours! And it certainly appears that you've all been having a good time without us," Maria smiled at her.
The rest of the children joined them on the terrace, all talking and asking questions at once. Maria and Georg shared a glance over the top of their heads, and Georg quieted them down.
"Children, you have to speak one at time, or we won't be able to answer any of your questions. Gretl, you first," he said, as he picked up his youngest daughter.
"Did the Reverend Mother scold you for not wanting to be a nun anymore?" Maria could barely suppress her grin at the serious look on the little girl's face.
"No, darling, she didn't scold me. In fact, she knew I'd be much happier here being your new mother. Is that all right with you?"
"YES!" Gretl shouted, as she reached to hug Maria while still in Georg's arms.
"Marta? Do you have a question?"
"Yes, Father. Will we be able to come to the wedding? My friend Inga says weddings are only for grownups," she asked plaintively.
Maria answered gently, "I think maybe she meant that only grownups can get married, sweetheart. Of course you children will be there. We wouldn't have it any other way." She touched Marta's cheek, and was pleased to see the little girl smile.
"Brigitta? Your turn," Georg announced.
"Do you know when the wedding will be, Father?"
"Yes, sweetheart, in six weeks." Suddenly, all the girls were buzzing with excitement.
"Kurt, do you have anything to ask us?"
"Will there be cake?" Liesl groaned and Louisa rolled her eyes. "Do you ever think of anything other than food, Kurt?" Louisa grouched at him.
The boy looked pensive for a moment, and then simply replied, "No," which caused the rest of the family to burst into laughter.
"What about the rest of you? Any questions?"
Louisa shrugged her shoulders, Friedrich looked thoughtful, but came up with nothing.
Liesl spoke next, "Fraulein Maria, I'll be glad to help you with anything you need, and I'm sure the others will too. Even if the only thing you need me to do is keep the little ones busy so you can plan, or spend time with Father, or, or, ooooh! I'm just so excited!" She went to Maria and hugged her tightly, whispering into her ear, "Now you'll be my mother and my best friend."
Maria embraced her equally as tight, and whispered back, "I'm truly honored, Liesl. And I have no doubt you'll be extremely helpful."
"All right, all of you, go on and continue what you were doing. Your Fraulein and I have some things to attend to," Georg said as he put Gretl back down on the ground. "Run along, sweetheart, you'll get plenty of time with us later."
"Okay, Father!" the five year old shouted as she ran after her siblings. "Wait for me!"
Georg took Maria by the hand, and whispered, "Come with me", as he led her to his study. He closed the door behind them, then pulled her into his embrace, kissing her passionately. Maria responded eagerly, bringing her hands up and running them through his chestnut locks. Still kissing her, he walked backward toward the settee, pulling her along with him. He sat, and pulled her onto his lap.
"Darling, are we allowed to be alone? And like this?" Maria asked, as Georg moved his lips from her mouth down to the hollow between her neck and shoulder.
"No, but I won't tell if you won't," he answered between kisses.
She laughed. "Never, my lips are sealed."
"Well then, that's just something else I'll have to fix," he told her, before capturing her mouth with his own once more, slipping his tongue between her soft lips.
A knock on the door made them pause, and Maria stood up, straightening her dress, as Georg told whomever was on the other side to come in.
It was Frau Schmidt. "Oh, sir, miss, I'm terribly sorry to disturb you. I've made early tea for the two of you, sir, would you like me to serve it here?"
"No, no, thank you. On the terrace, please, Frau Schmidt. Did you manage to confirm the plans I'd made for this evening?"Georg inquired of the housekeeper, as he was trying to tame the wayward lock of hair left from Maria's caress.
"Yes, sir. Everything is arranged. Franz was unavailable to drive, as this is his evening off. I managed to secure another. The car will be ready at 6:15 to drive you to town. Everything else is as you requested." She tried to mask the grin that appeared on her face, to no avail.
"Thank you. I have another, hopefully enjoyable task for you, if you'd be so kind?"
"And what would that be, sir?" The housekeeper had an inkling of what her employer was about to ask.
"I'd like you to assist Maria in planning our wedding. I know you have much experience with the various vendors in town, and she'll need more help than I can offer in that particular task." He smiled at her, and could see by the twinkle in her eyes what her answer was before she spoke the words.
"Of course, sir. I've planned many events, and it would be a great honor to do this." She turned to Maria. "Fraulein, perhaps we can begin in the morning, while the children are busy with their studies?"
"That would be lovely, Frau Schmidt. I look forward to your guidance. I've only planned Marta's birthday celebration when I first arrived, I haven't the slightest idea what to do for our wedding."
"I'm sure by the time we're done you'll know all there is to know." Frau Schmidt looked once more at the Captain. "Will there be anything else, sir?"
"No, thank you."
"I'll have your tea brought to the terrace straightaway, then." She quietly left the room, leaving the door slightly ajar.
Georg noticed, and commented to Maria, "I guess we've got one more chaperone than I thought." They shared a smile, and went back out toward the terrace.