So sorry I was dreadfully late getting this absolute fluff piece posted. Original projections on finishing went into the tank when I shredded 80% of it and did a rewrite. I am still not certain it was worth the time I took to get it posted… As usual I lost control of the 'reality/in-character/they probably went too far' train and just did what I wanted.
These 'T' rated things are impossible to write...from now on change your filters darlings if you want to find my things!
Also, apologies in advance for the huge swath of dialogue I shamelessly borrowed (stole) from a relatively famous scene in the original movie and then twisted for my own nefarious purposes.
Thanks for still reading, assuming someone is still left out there!
"Wherever is your heart I call home…"
"I refuse to consider it, Georg," Elsa whispered, giving a fake smile at a passing friend as she patted Georg's cheek just a bit too hard.
"Darling, see reason, your overwrought and not in your right mind after that little scene between you and Herr Zeller. I should have listened to you and not sent an invite, but these days you can't be too careful can you? Go and have some champagne and try and regain some of that charm you're so famous for, mmm? Besides that little Nanny seems to have run off...finally," Elsa waved her arm dismissively and started off toward a group lingering to her right.
Georg started after her, seemingly oblivious to the rest of his guests, "Elsa, I-"
Max reached out and grabbed Georg by the arm, "Let her go. Let me talk to her. Perhaps I can get her to understand."
Georg swiped his thumb across his brow, unsuccessfully trying to rub out the wrinkles of concern that had settled there, "I didn't mean for it-"
"She won't listen to reason-"
"I know. I'll help her to understand. I'll find a minute tonight to try and talk some sense into her."
"I let it all go too far Max."
"You did. But she did as well. And if I know you," he wagged a finger, "you've tried to shoulder the blame for all of it and let her down easily with a traditional it's me not you, yes?"
Georg blushed a bit and muttered, "You're not far off."
"Georg, wave to Hansel," both men paused and formed identical fake grins as they each raised a hand in farewell to a friend taking his leave.
"Georg, I have watched you live a half life for years now. No more. I have said my piece about it more than once. It's alright to let go of the past and find a future."
Georg peered at Max and took in one of his rare serious faces before turning away to say farewell to another departing guest.
"She's walking down at the lake by the way."
Max scoffed, "Your future. A lovely woman whom I feel certain will never be a nun," Max said with a suggestive wink.
Georg raised a brow, "So certain are you?"
Max gave him an eyebrow that clearly said 'are you kidding me?'
He clapped Georg on the back harder than necessary, "Close that over organized mind of yours and if you do have to open your mouth around that girl, well, it had better not be to talk. For once in your life go and do something I would do," Max snickered and gave Georg a rough push toward the door.
"Goodnight Helmut," Georg reached out and shook the elderly gentleman's hand before bowing over his wife's hand and brushing a kiss across her glove.
"Lovely as ever Annalise. Are you certain you won't run away with me? Leave this reprobate behind?" he asked with a wink.
"Georg, I am old enough to remember changing your diapers young man! But keep offering, someday I just might take you up on it."
"Thank you both for coming," he offered warmly before turning and walking out into the night towards the lake. He was hardly done the first of the steps when he saw her, sitting just past the gate, her feet in the water and her shoes, no doubt borrowed from Liesl, placed neatly beside her. He couldn't hear anything over the laop of the water but he imagined she was most certainly humming something. She was never quiet, music seemed to follow wherever she went. She was never still but the energy she brought along with her was always welcome. Like a breath of fresh air. It made watching her all the more pleasurable.
Whether or not she welcomed his attentions or returned to the abbey tonight he knew that he would never picture his home without seeing her shadow pass through the rooms as if she had always been there. When he had drug Elsa on her one and only tour of the grounds he had been conscious the entire time of how out of place and uncomfortable she had seemed. Elsa had been a sparkling diamond, precious but cold and unyielding amongst the water and wood that he so loved.
Not Maria, he smiled as he watched her toss a rock into the water. He always pictured her as more of an emerald. Just as valuable but inviting, beneath the placid green surface was a fire if only looked deep enough.
Georg started down the steps, his lip quirking at the irony of turning his back on the life he could have without any effort and walking into the night to offer himself to a woman who might never want him back. He couldn't remember the last time his heart had pounded from nerves. He rather liked it. He felt more alive in this moment of uncertainty that he had felt in the months and years leading up to it.
He tried to make a bit of noise as he approached but she seemed to be in a world of her own. Of course, always the hard way with her.
Georg cleared his throat, "I thought I just mind find you here."
"Captain! Sir, I-" Maria let out a squeak as she reached back blindly to find her shoes and remove her toes from the water without obvious splashing.
"No no, please, sit. Stay," he gestured toward the steps, his fingers wiggling a bit top burn off the excess nerves.
Embarrassed, Maria plucked at the skirt of her dress, "But I'm barefoot and, oh! Why is it that I am never properly dressed around you?"
"Properly dressed?" he drawled, the little lilt in his voice one she recognized from other times when his teasing her had bordered on something more intimate.
Maria blushed scarlet and brushed her bangs out of her face, "Oh, you know what I mean. When I'm not covered in dirt from trying to catch a rabbit Marta brought home, or sopping wet, or worse, under dressed at a fancy dress party. I do start each day clean."
"I believe you. Yesterday, I started that way too and found grass stains on my pants, three crushed toy soldiers in a pocket, and something sticky that required three washes in my hair."
"Uh, may I?" he asked, gesturing to the step next to her.
"Of course," she mumbled scootching over and sending ripples into the lake as she swung her feet to follow her. She watched him shrug out of his jacket, which was no doubt bespoke and worth more than she made in three months and toss it carelessly onto a pegasus horse. The medal came off next, followed by his top three buttons and finally he popped the cufflinks out and pocketed them before rolling his right sleeve.
Maria resisted the urge to nudge the fabric higher so she could see the entirety of the tattoo that flexed with his forearm as he rolled the sleeve on his left. She watched the entire disrobing with a sense of surreal shock. Has she ever seen him without a jacket on, all his buttons and emotions firmly done up? She took a deep breath and tried not to notice how wide his shoulders were under the bright white of his shirt or how blue his eyes looked in the waning light of the moon. She shook her head a bit at herself. She might as well enjoy the view because not noticing the man beside her was simply not going to happen.
Thinking that he would sit in the top step, Maria found herself surprised as he joined her on a lower step and started unlacing his shoes, right then left. He peeled off his socks and tossed the lot of footwear behind him by the gate before finally shocking her into an open mouthed stare as he splashed his feet into the water next to her and swung them back and forth as Kurt was wont to do.
Good grief, she thought, he even had nice feet. She was beyond all hope now. If this man was the window the Lord was opening she was afraid she'd shatter the glass jumping through it.
Georg turned and shot her an amused smile. He looked ten years younger in that moment and she found her mouth curling in reply at him.
"Now we can both feel under dressed at the party," he announced. "Besides, it is my party. I set the dress code, yes?"
She smiled, touched by his effort to make her feel less conspicuous.
"I don't meant to be rude but won't you be missed? Is the house not full of guests still?"
"Oh probably," he said, glancing over his shoulder to look at the swirling shadows in the windows behind them. "But most of them have left, the ones that mattered the most to me anyway. Some of them, as you well know, have been asked to leave and the old men like me always cut out especially early."
"My apologies for Zeller. He and I-don't see eye to eye on many things and I am afraid he targeted you especially to anger me," Georg felt his fists clench before he slowly released the tension, "and I'm afraid it worked brilliantly."
Maria's expression darkened for a moment, "I've dealt with men like him my whole life. Small minded and big egoed. But I appreciate your trying to rush to the rescue."
"Ha! Hardly. I still wish you would have let me hit him just once."
"And spoil your perfectly combed hair? Not a chance," she teased.
"One time! A man is the last one down to breakfast one time and the rumors about his grooming habits become legendary."
She gave him a sly smile, "Is it true that you sleep in hair net?"
"What! Who the hell told you that?"
"That would be Herr Detweiler."
"I should have punched him as well."
Maria laughed and resisted the urge to reach up and muss his hair. This night seemed to be an unending string of her resisting not touching.
Georg cleared his throat, "If I might ask what brings you and your feet into the lake tonight?"
"I uh, was having wander, as Sister Margaretta used to call them. I think better outside. Well, that and Herr Schwanzer."
"Elder or younger?"
"Stepped all over you didn't he?"
"Yes, he rather did," she admitted with a soft laugh. "But he was such a dear, I hadn't the heart to beg him to let me sit down," she offered, rubbing the soles of her feet together to ease the ache.
George winced at her obvious discomfort, "Hurt do they?"
"You have no idea. No more dancing with men past eighty seven."
"Or perhaps you simply wore away your shoes dancing with all of those young men who were shoving amongst themselves to see who might win a dance from you next?" Georg asked, some remnants of irritation and jealousy creeping into his tone.
"I'm sure they weren't!"
"They were," he assured her, "Can't say I blame them though."
"For wanting to dance with the loveliest lady at the party."
"I'm not-I wasn't-"
"You were. You are."
"Thank you," she said shyly, ducking her head from the intensity of his gaze. Suddenly his earlier words at her door came flooding back and the air between them seemed to electrify.
"You know," he chuckled, breaking the tension, "this is a much nicer visit that the last time we met here by the lake."
"Would that be before I disobeyed your direct orders and left the grounds with no one breathing deeply or after when I managed to capsize your boat and children in front of your guests?"
"Oh, after. When you shouted me down, brilliantly pointed out all my failings, and then, even in the midst of firing you, impressed me so much I called you Captain."
"I'm still rather ashamed of myself."
"You needn't be. When you walked into the house and I realized how fiercely you had championed the very children I was supposed to be protecting… you have no idea how much I needed to hear what you had to say...I," he trailed off and they both sat in silence for moment.
"You never stopped loving them, no man that didn't care deeply for his children would go through twelve nannies in half as many years. You were trying to find someone to care for them when you couldn't, while you healed. You were protecting them the best you knew how."
"Thank you," he said quietly, staring out into the water, suddenly uncomfortable with how clearly she saw into him.
She swished her feet and they both watched the ripples ride away. Maria gave an exaggerated sigh, "If only you had been there tonight to protect me from Herr Schwanzer and his pointy feet. He is surprisingly heavy for such an older, seasoned gentleman."
He gave a bark of laughter, grateful for the way she effortlessly lightened his mood when it had threatened to turn dark.
Cocking her head to the side Maria squinted, listening to the strains of music floating from the house, "How lovely. I've not heard this one."
"Its new, its a waltz. I heard it in Vienna," he said, watching her sway a bit to the beat as though she was too carried away by the music to hold still. Georg simply stared as she closed her eyes and let her feet dance in the water.
She was beyond lovely, here on his steps in the moonshine. Georg rubbed his thumb and forefinger together, stopping himself from reach out to brush a wayward curl away from her forehead and tuck it behind her ear. He wanted to find out if her lips were as soft and sweet as they looked.
Impulsively he turned to her and held out his hand, his heart beating a tattoo against his chest, "Would you care to dance?"
He simply held his hand out further in response, his eyebrow raised in a challenge that belied his anxiousness. Please, say yes.
Maria felt her heart stutter in her chest and she knew a moment of indecision and panic. She had been in this man's arms once already tonight and she knew if she accepted them again she would be changing things, possibly forever. But if tonight was all she was going to have then she might as well make the most of this memory. The ghost of his hands, the tan strip of his throat, and the heat of his arms would keep her warm on lonely nights in her cell. She nodded and placed her trembling hand in his so he could help her to her feet.
"But Captain, we're barefoot."
"I have a confession to make," he leaned in conspiratorially as he led her up to the few steps and onto the landing, "I am not wonderful at the waltz. The barefeet might save you further pain should I step on you."
"Are you as bad as that?"
"Worse," he mumbled, slipping his hand around to the small of her back and drawing her a step closer than proper, feeling the delicate bones of her back through the fabric of her dress.
He eased her into the rhythm of the dance before speaking, "Fraulein. Maria," he corrected himself, "I'm not sure how to begin. I have behaved badly, again. Elsa should never have said-"
"Was it not true, what she said?"
"About me or you? Because she was wrong about you."
"I appreciate that. I do. But I shouldn't have said, what I did. She's your-"
"Maria, there isn't going to be any Ba-"
"Let me stop you, please. I understand what you have come out here to do."
"Yes. I've done it myself a time or two before," She paused at his confused expression, "The letting down easy."
"No, that isn't-"
"Maybe those aren't the words that you might have chosen but I understand the sentiment, this situation."
"I don't think you do-"
"I knew all along really. We are who we are and circumstances being different perhaps… You're a good man, is it any wonder I came to care for you-for your family? I've rather been the one that behaved badly. I'm the one who fell-"
Georg stopped her with a gentle finger against her lips, "Max was right."
"About what?" she asked, staring at the buttons of his shirt, afraid to look him in the eye and give away all the feelings she was desperately trying to hide.
"Talking was a mistake," he murmured, his fingers slipping down to cup her chin and force her eyes onto his.
"There you are! I've been looking for you and Georg for the last several minutes and-"
"Elsa!" Max jumped from his peeping perch on the balcony railing and spun around, gathering Elsa's hands in his and giving her a jaunty little spin so that her back was to the lake, pressed against the very railing he had just been spying from. This was not the scene he had hoped for when he tried to break the news to Elsa. He felt the cold trickle of a bead of sweat as he glanced over Elsa's shoulder at Georg and Maria doing their best impression of lovesick fools in a paddling pool.
Despite his anxiety, Max resisted the urge to grin at them and roll his eyes at the same time. Georg looked as though he was getting up the courage to pass Maria a check yes if you like me note in class.
He smoothed his fingers down his mustache and grinned at Elsa, all his charm oozing, but his eyes were narrowed as he focused on keeping all her attention on him. Perhaps if he could lure her into the house he could find a quiet corner to tell an old friend they had both made new mistakes.
"Did you miss me that much darling," Max purred, the pasted smile on his face covering his racing thoughts. He knew, knew, that if she saw Georg out by the lake she might make a scene truly worthy of scandal. Despite the dwindling numbers in the ballroom it would only take one casual observer to notice before the news traveled to Vienna on the swift wings of flapping gums.
"Of course, but I was hoping to find Georg. The party is winding down and I thought a dance might… I was hoping we might, well, you know what they say," she offered with a little grin.
"Mmm? What do they say?" Max asked shuffling backwards and tugging her gently in the direction of the warm glow of the lights.
"Sometimes it's better to say things with music," Elsa said swiveling her head a bit to survey the ballroom, no doubt looking for Georg.
"Perhaps you would accept me as a substitute?" Max offered, swaying a bit on his feet as though doing a samba.
"There is no substitute for you Max. An original through and through. But, I really must find Georg," Elsa patted him on the shoulder and made to turn back toward the lake.
"He's, um, not exactly delighted with you right now. Best leave him to cool off, shall we?" Max tugged her his direction again. A bit more forcefully.
"Nonsense," she sniffed dismissively, "It was a little lover's spat. Hardly worth mentioning. Now where could he have got too?" she mumbled trying to turn out of Max's grasp again.
"It was more than a spat you know it," Max said softly. Her eyes darkened and for a moment Max thought he saw sadness and doubt lurking behind them before she shuttered her emotions away.
"I won't give up on him Max. I don't like to lose and you know it."
"This isn't a hand of poker, Elsa. It's a life, yours and his. And it's entirely too short, as you well know. Please consider-"
"I have. Maybe you don't know Georg as well as you think you do, mm? He will make the right decision in the end."
Max cleared his throat," Yes, he probably did make the right decision in the end," Max offered sadly. This was a disaster. So much for Max the Mighty swooping in and rescuing everything. If nothing else he could try one last time to at least prevent her from seeing the increasingly close scene happening below and perhaps prevent what he assumed would be a screaming fit of epic proportions.
"It's getting chilly out here, no? What about some cake or champagne? Let's go back inside and have some champagne while we look for Georg together, yes?" Max flicked his eyes back to the lake before offering Elsa a weak smile.
"I've had enough champagne for now darling, it's fattening you know. And I really must speak to cook about the schnitzel. It's entirely too delicious for my figure." Elsa cooed attempting to pull her hands from Max's increasingly tight grip.
"Darling, you could stand a little fattening," he grouched, attempting to tuck her arm under his and drag her, gracefully, into the house.
Desperate to change the subject, even if he knew it was a lost cause, Max quirked his head, "Have you given any more thought to Georg's wedding present?"
"You have no idea of the trouble I'm having trying to decide on a wedding present for him! At first I thought of a fountain pen, but you informed me he already had three. Then I thought perhaps a villa in the south of France, but-"
"Too difficult to gift wrap?" Max quipped.
"Yes," Elsa said with a laugh, "Just what I thought as well. How about a yacht? A nice long sleek one for the Mediterranean and tiny one for his bathtub?"
Max shook his head, using her preoccupation with yachts to reel her toward the house step by step. "'Fraid he already has a yacht. Two, I think. And as for what he plays with in the tub...I think he has most likely graduated from toy boats."
"Oh Max, you really are a beast!" Elsa laughed and slapped his shoulder playfully with the one hand she had managed to free from his grasp.
"Come inside then and maybe I'll behave myself," Max offered, giving up all hope of subtly moving her into the house and considering the ramifications of simply shoving her through the door.
"Speaking of the bathtub, what about the honeymoon?" Max shot her a waggled brow.
"Where to go on our honeymoon?" she asked, still craning her neck back and forth as she scanned for Georg. "Now that is a real problem…" she shook her head, "I thought perhaps a trip around the world?"
"Surely there must be better places to go?" Max joked, enjoying the distracting peal of laughter that Elsa let out as he managed to drag her a few more steps forward without her noticing.
"Oh, I do love this new waltz they are playing. I really must find Geo-"
Panicking, he pressed on, "No no. We must solve this honeymoon conundrum. I can see that it is a very serious problem, perhaps we should discuss it inside?"
Elsa glanced over from her eagle eyed search for Georg just in time to catch Max staring wide eyed at something behind her, "Max," she drawled, "If I didn't know better I would think you wanted me to avoid something out here...mmm?"
"Oh, well you know… I wouldn't want you to be scandalized," Max said, peering over her shoulder to see that Georg had offered Maria his hand, either to dance with her or finally unhinge his jaw and swallow her whole. Max resisted the urge to simply sit on the hard ground of the balcony and hold his unfortunately sober head in his hands.
"Is it someone we know? A little tryst by the lake? Oh, maybe Bernard finally made a move?" she whispered, wiggling a bit to try and free herself.
"No. Can't really see faces. Looks as though they might be moving off-"
"Oh! Do let me go Max. I'm very hard to shock, as you well know. Usually I am the one doing the shocking."
Max sighed, resigned and relieved. Perhaps this was the best way, show instead of tell.
Max groaned. "It's no use. I am absolutely rubbish at this," he muttered, dropping all pretenses as he dropped her hands and let her spin around just as Maria spun into Georg's arms.
"Elsa," Max whispered offering a comforting hand on her shoulder, feeling her wince at his touch.
"Yes, Max," she mumbled, not taking her eyes off the two figures swaying ever closer in the distance.
Max ran a hand through his hair in frustration. Relationships were not his area of expertise. He opened his mouth several times and finally blurted, "When two people talk of marriage-"
Elsa spun around, placing her finger over his mouth gently.
"No don't. Don't say another word, please," she whispered, the broken catch in her voice breaking Max's heart a little. He watched the tears build up in her eyes but she shook her head at him and gathered her pride around her as a shield.
"There have been enough of those tonight. Georg tried to tell me... and I wouldn't hear it. Couldn't hear it, really. You were right, Maxy. You always are. Rather desperate of me wasn't it? I shouldn't have pushed with the governess. I had no idea," she trailed off, looking back toward the lake at the single silhouette swaying, "I thought it was, well, just a passing fancy. Foolish," she hissed to herself before tugging her gloves up and pulling herself together again.
"I'm afraid I was rather, er, shrill about the entire.." she waved her hand in the air as if looking for the right word. She gave a brittle laugh, "You know, I haven't been jealous like that in decades. Might do me some good you know," she turned back to watch the shadows by the lake dance.
Elsa cleared her throat, "Does he love her?"
"Yes. I believe he does," Max said, still rather shocked by how quietly she was handling all of this.
"Good. Good," she mumbled. "You see, there are other things I have been thinking of, other things I need. I'm not sure I would be cut out for the sort of life Georg wants to live. I certainly couldn't take many more frogs at the dinner table. Perhaps I need a man who needs me desperately," she gave a weak laugh, "or at least needs my money desperately."
"You know you can have me anytime. Just say the word sweetheart."
Elsa gave him a teary smile and patted his cheek, "Fond as I am of you, I really don't think you're the right man for me."
Max clutched at his heart dramatically, "You wound me madam."
Elsa glanced back behind her, her fists clenching a bit as she watched the pair by the water clearly engaged in a passionate embrace. Max heard her take a deep breath before she turned back to him, a single tear tracking down her flawless cheek.
She cleared her throat, "You'll tell him thank you for me. That I enjoyed almost every moment we spent together, yes?"
Max nodded, thumbing the tear off her jaw.
"Now, if you'll forgive me I'll go inside, pack my little bags, and return to Vienna where I belong. You know you're always welcome in my home Max," she managed a smile and squeezed Max's hand in farewell
"Auf Wiedersehen, darling," Max whispered, pressing two fingers to his mouth and blowing her a kiss.
Georg stood for a moment. Locked into place, unable to move forward or back without some signal from her. An exhaled breath or nudge forward, but she seemed as trapped as he was in the moment. The weight of all their past encounters; the anger that disguised the passion and the haughty disdain that cloaked the roiling attraction between them made the air between them unbearable to breathe.
His hand clenched on her jaw and the flex startled her. Maria bit her lip unconsciously, her teeth dragging across her lower lip.
Georg groaned, watching her lip slip from between her teeth, "My turn," he grated out before he pressed them together from shoulders to hip and swept his mouth down on hers.
He had planned for a sweet teasing kiss.
A kiss that hinted at the depths of his feelings for her and made a polite statement about the gentleman inside that wished to court her.
But this kiss ended up being a promise. A pledge to her of the passion he had held in check, now vibrating between them as he felt her hands clutch the fabric against his back.
He smiled against her mouth as he realized he should have known that no kiss between them could be tame. And he should have anticipated that she would give as good as she got.
Giving his own little nip to her lower lip he drew back to bring both his hands to her face and shove them into her hair, his mouth pressing kisses to her jaw, the corner of her mouth, and finally against her lips. Georg gave a little laugh of shock and pleasure as he felt her swipe her tongue across his lip.
"Yes," he mumbled against her mouth, deepening the kiss as he slanted his mouth across hers. "I quite liked that," he added, leaning his forehead against hers. "I'm in love with you."
"I.. You shouldn't be, Captain."
"I love you. I told you hours ago I wouldn't be letting you go. I'm going to ask you to marry me. Soon. But before I do that I am going to throw roses at your feet and ask you all the things I want to know about you, and see how often I can snatch you into a dark corner and kiss you until you make that delightful little moan you make," he leaned in and sucked at a sensitive spot behind her ear.
"Yes, that one right there," he chuckled.
"Say it," he whispered, drawing her into another kiss, licking into her mouth and losing himself in the pleasure of her response to him.
"I love you too."
"No, I mean yes, but," he stopped and kissed her upturned nose, "I have a name. I should like to hear you say it."
"Would you, Captain?" she asked, sliding her hands up his chest, over his shoulders and into the hair at the nape of his neck.
He gave a hum of pleasure.
Maria tugged, bringing his mouth down closer to hers, "Kiss me, Georg," she breathed against him.
"Yes," he mumbled, backing her into the pillar of the gate behind her, pressing her back against it as he lost all control between them and plundered her mouth with his. He marveled at her, how well she seemed to fit in his hands, how she gave herself without reservation, how overwhelming it was to be loved deeply in return. She gave a moan as his hands slid down from her shoulders, thumbs grazing the sides of her breasts as he gripped her hips in his strong hands pressing his entire body tightly against hers.
He felt her gasp of shock and pleasure against his mouth as he deepened the kiss, his hips mirroring the blatant stroke and swirl of his tongue. Maria pushed up onto her tiptoes and tugged at his shoulders to pull them closer together.
Growling at the delightful change in angle and pressure Georg slipped his hands beneath her bottom and lifted her easily into his open palms and pressed her back against the pillar.
"Georg," she breathed out, answering her instincts and wrapping her legs around his hip bones to regain the delicious strain of his body against hers she craved. He let his lips trail down the column of her neck, sucking at her collarbone as she curled her fingers into his hair. Everything in him was straining for her, toward her. He felt his control slipping and reveled in slipping the tight leash he has bound himself to for so long. Holding her with one arm he pressed his hand to her stomach and pushed upward, letting his palm cover her breast, his thumb brushing over her nipple.
A splash from the lake behind them startled him out of his pursuit of her pleasure and he forced her hand to still, resting his forehead against hers. He felt a twinge of guilt as he realized his best laid plans to court her had gone by the wayside the moment he had touched her.
"Maria, we have to stop," he said, easing his hands from their perch on her bottom and letting her slide down from the pillar behind her.
Letting her eyes open slowly she gave him a sloe eyed grin, "Well, Sister Berthe did say I could be quite wicked."
"Brilliant," he took deep breath, "Tell me more about Sister Berthe. Take my mind off what its on, where my hands have been just now," he said, reaching for her again.
"Ah ah," Maria teased, darting away playfully, "You said you wanted to talk about Sister Berthe…"
"Yes, I've met her," Georg gave an exaggerated shiver of displeasure and reached out for her again only to have her dance away just out of reach. He smiled at her, he appreciated her being unafraid to tease him. Maria seemed to always know how to draw him out, whether it was to make him laugh or make him angry.
Maria gave a laugh and snuck in to kiss him on the cheek before backing away again.
"Your quick," he chuckled.
"I have to be. Have you met your children?"
His smile faded a bit as he looked at her with serious eyes, "They love you."
"I love them."
"I know. What's that phrase the children all use? It's one of my favorite things about you. You loved them before you loved me, it makes you all the more beautiful to me," he said quietly, holding his hand out in invitation.
Maia blushed and reached out to take his hand, twining their fingers together.
"Take a walk with me?" he asked.
"You wouldn't be trying to lure me into one of those dark corners would you, Captain?" she asked as they headed across the lawn.
He gave her a roguish smile and a wink in answer.
"Your champagne Herr Detweiler."
"From Georg's little secret collection?" Max wiggled his brows as he reached out to grab the bottle and examine the label with a weathered eye.
"Of course, sir. As requested."
"I'm a bit surprised that you went along with my request," Max said, clearly approving of the vintage.
"Captain von Trapp stopped me earlier this evening and instructed me to bring you, and I quote, anything you asked for from the cellar. He implied that you had earned it, sir."
"Excellent," Max smiled, handing the bottle back for Franz to expertly pop the cork and fill his delicate flute.
"Shall I leave the bottle, sir?"
"Naturally. Thank you, Franz," he said to the butlers retreating back, before turning to lean his elbows against the railing of the terrace. Max smiled, never ashamed at being a charming voyeur, and lifted his glass in the direction of the gazebo where his friend was clearly taking his advice seriously.
Champagne and a heartfelt thank you to everyone who enjoyed this and even those of you who didn't! And sorry (not sorry) for defiling the Pegasus Gate! Couldn't help myself!