A/N: Written for the February writing prompt on the TSOM Proboards. Thanks once again go to lemacd who kindly cast her eye over this for me. Please read with a very open mind! There is so much in this story that was probably not even plausible and it doesn't follow the original story so it is slightly AU.
Disclaimer: I own absolutely nothing but my ideas!
Between the Lines
Books! Books! How many books could one girl read at any one time. Brigitta, it seemed, needed to have at least two books on the go and then a dozen more in reserve should she finish the first two before her father could get back into Salzburg to replenish her groaning shelves.
And so, Captain Von Trapp found himself once again browsing the book shelves of the little book shop in Salzburg that he had grown to love. He rarely spent time with his children these days, something which he was not proud of. But he couldn't bring himself to be in their company for more than just the odd meal. Even though it had been several years, the pain of losing his beloved wife Agathe was still far too fresh and the look of utter despair on the faces of his children was too much to bear.
In the only way he knew how, he sought to provide the things that he thought they needed; education and discipline. They rarely wanted for anything as long as it fitted in with the regimental lifestyle that he had created for them. He thought it helped them, kept their minds and bodies occupied, when truth be told, all they really wanted was the love of their father.
Brigitta, whilst still young, had a reading age way beyond her years. She had devoured the classics by Rudyard Kipling and Jonathan Swift. She'd become engrossed in the fantasy of Daniel Defoe and Robert Louis Stevenson, yet lately Georg had noticed that her tastes had changed and she was drawn to romantic novels. He had in his possession a list of half a dozen that she had tasked him with finding. There were works by the Bronte sisters and Jane Austen but there was one in particular she had dared to tell him that he must not return without.
As Georg ran his finger along the dusty shelves attempting to locate at least one of the books on his list, he heard the shop door creak open. He looked up over the row of books momentarily but when he could see very little but the back of a girl's head, he returned to his search.
Maria took one final look over her shoulder as she pushed the stiff, ill-fitting wooden door of the shop open. It groaned in protest as it scraped along the stone tiles. Swiftly, she shut it behind her and let out a deep breath as she had once again managed to get to the shop without anyone seeing her. Once inside she was greeted warmly by Herr Winkler who smiled and then took the small bag from her that she had been clutching. Bowing quickly, he gestured with a sweep of his hand towards the bookshelves.
Having given all of her worldly possessions to the poor, Maria didn't have even as much as a schilling to her name, therefore she found the arrangement she had with the elderly shopkeeper to be mutually beneficial. Every once in a while she would call into the shop, he would give her a bag full of various clothing items which required darning and in return he allowed her to borrow his books. If the Reverend Mother knew of this arrangement she would have been furious but Maria was quite good at keeping secrets and she only ever read in the dead of night by candlelight.
As she began browsing the shelves she became aware of another customer in the shop. She creeped around one of the huge rickety shelves and saw further down the aisle a rather smart looking man in a grey Trachten jacket engrossed in a book from the romance section. She continued past hoping not to disturb him. The fewer people she bumped into on her surreptitious trip the better.
Most of the books in the shop were second hand and had seen better days but that just made them all the more appealing to Maria. She often found herself curious about a books past owners. Her mind wandered to the rather smart gentleman in the previous aisle and she wondered just what sorts of books he might like to read. She wouldn't have taken him for a lover of romance but then who was she to judge, she was after all a postulant who was desperate to look along the very aisle that he occupied.
After finding several of the books on his list, Georg was feeling rather pleased with himself. Just one more book to locate and then maybe he might even find the time to visit the tailor. He needed to order a new suit before his forthcoming trip to Vienna to see Baroness Elsa Schraeder. He wasn't exactly looking forward to the trip for whilst he enjoyed the socialites company, he did not enjoy the numerous Balls and Dinner parties that he was forced to attend. It was however a distraction from the depression that he often found himself languishing in.
He ran his finger along the spine of the books until he suddenly stopped and read the title of a rather finely embroidered book, "John Dale" by Ejnar Mikkelsen. Finally, he had found the one book on Brigitta's list that he dared not return without. As he reached forward to pull the book from the shelf he became aware of someone standing next to him. The young woman reached out at exactly the same time as Georg and as Maria grasped the book she felt the strong grip of a man's hand covering hers. Maria had been so engrossed in her search that she hadn't realised that she had found herself standing next to the rather smart gentleman that she had spotted earlier.
In shock she pulled her hand away, let out a small shriek and dropped the book, it fell to the ground with a thud.
"Oh! I'm… I'm sorry, I didn't realise that you were there," she said as her cheeks began to flush.
"Please, there's really no need to apologise. I fear that I am the one in the wrong here," Georg smiled as he looked for the first time at the young woman's face and he could see that she obviously felt very awkward.
"It would seem that we are both here to purchase the same book," he laughed and as he bent down to retrieve it from the floor, so too did Maria and they once again found themselves in very close proximity to one another almost bumping heads in the process.
"Oh- oh dear," she squirmed as she stood quickly, abandoning the book and bringing her hands up to her face to cover her crimson cheeks.
Georg picked up the book and held it out towards the young woman who just stood there fixed to the spot. He pushed it towards her once again. "Please… here, you are obviously interested in this book."
"Erm, well… it isn't for me… no… it's for… it's for my sister," Maria cursed herself for her lies and wasn't quite sure why she felt the need to deceive this man who wouldn't care either way if it was for her or not. "In any case, it is obviously a book that you must want to read and you were her first." She pushed the book back in his direction.
Georg laughed as he looked down at the book and turned it over. "Noooo, it's not for me. My daughter has sent me on an errand to find this particular book. Why it interests her so, is somewhat of a mystery to me. I believe it is a Romantic novel?" Georg looked up to find Maria staring at him closely.
"So I believe… err- I mean, that is what my sister told me too," Maria cleared her throat nervously and glanced down towards the floor.
Georg turned to look once again at the empty spot where he had found the novel, "Perhaps there is another copy on the shelves, then we will both be happy."
Maria stared at him once again. He had a very handsome and distinguished profile. He was certainly a few years older than her and although he seemed friendly enough there was something rather melancholy about his demeanour that she couldn't quite put her finger on. She was confused about why she was so curious. She couldn't recall another occasion when a man had aroused her interest so and it made her feel quite uncomfortable.
"He's an explorer you know." Georg spoke as he continued to scan the bowing shelves.
"Hmmm, sorry, what did you say," Maria was still distracted by her thoughts, wondering about his background.
"Ejnar Mikkelsen - he's an explorer. I've read a few articles about him and mentioned him to my daughter. It seems that she has discovered that he is also a novelist."
"Oh really, I didn't know that." Maria had been told by one of the other new postulants that it was an interesting book and that it told quite a romantic tale about John Dale marrying a native Inuit woman.
Maria wasn't really sure why she was attracted to the book. She had never had a proper romance herself and of course now that she was on the verge of taking her vows to become a nun, it was not something that she would ever experience either. Still, she found the story an intriguing one.
"No… it seems that this is the only copy," Georg patted the book lightly and turned to look at Maria and he found her lost in her thoughts.
She was younger than he had at first thought, perhaps not even twenty. Her clothes were very plain and he wondered where she might have come from. She had a pretty face and a strikingly unique haircut. She was a breath of fresh air and much to his surprise he found himself hoping that he might bump into her again one day.
"Excuse me, Fraulein." Maria suddenly became aware that he was talking to her. "There is only one copy, please, I insist that you take it." He passed it to Maria who this time accepted the book.
"And what about your daughter. Won't she be disappointed?"
"She will and I will probably never hear the end of it but I am visiting Vienna soon, I'm sure I will be able to find one there," Georg shrugged and smiled. The two strangers found themselves holding their gaze a little longer than was necessary.
Maria considered his offer but after only a few moments she held the book out to him.
"That's very kind of you but I'm sure that there are plenty of other books that I can… erm, I mean that my sister can read." Feeling flustered, Maria decided that it was time that she beat a hasty retreat.
"I hope your daughter enjoys the book and that you have a pleasant trip to Vienna. It was very nice to meet you, now if you'll excuse me." She plucked a random book from the shelf and after talking briefly with the shopkeeper she pulled open the door and left hurriedly.
Georg stared after her but from the corner of his eye he could see a small white object on the floor beneath him. The young woman must have dropped it. He bent down and picked up a folded white square of material. As he did so a few edelweiss flowers dropped to the floor. The delicate handkerchief was skilfully embroidered with the letter "M" in cornflower blue thread. Her name perhaps, he mused.
He looked up and could see her standing outside the shop door waiting to cross the street. Quickly, Georg placed the books that he held in his arm on the shop counter and ran to the door. It jammed as he tugged it open and he cursed under his breath as he saw the young woman cross to the other side.
Finally opening the door, he rushed outside, "Fraulein, FRAULEIN! Your handkerchief."
She looked back momentarily and saw him across the street, waving her handkerchief in the air. Maria had heard him call her name but the interest she felt towards him scared her and something inside her head told her to carry on.
He felt a tinge of sadness as he saw her look over her shoulder but without even a smile or wave of acknowledgment she chose to walk on. Georg stood there for a moment, confused by the sadness that he felt because he might never meet this young woman again. With a sigh he went back inside the shop to pay for his books.
There was one thing for sure however, Brigitta would soon want more books and maybe, just maybe, if he was lucky, a certain young woman's sister might also be in need of new reading material.
If you've got this far then thank you for reading, if you would like to leave a review I would be extremely grateful. I have a notion that I might continue this story so please let me know if you would like to see this story develop further.