Alright, alright, I'll continue *throws hands up in surrender*
Laura and BiteMarksonHertongue, you guys are brilliant. Here we go.
There will be one more chapter after this. With lots of kissing. And a happy ending. Yay.
Maria walked into the gate of the abbey, her fingers brushing up to her lips. How on earth had she just been kissed by the Captain? And not accidentally. And certainly not without passion. Oh, help. She thought she had let him go. She thought she had moved on. This encounter, even though she refused to admit it to herself, had reawakened something inside of her. It had reignited the flame deep inside her that burned for the Captain, and the Captain only.
"Sister Maria?" Sister Margaretta greeted her as she walked through the gate.
"Sister Margaretta! I have everything we need," Maria said quietly. Would she be able to notice something was different? That she had just been kissed thoroughly?
She gave the bag to Sister Margaretta and silently followed her into the abbey kitchen.
"Maria? Are you alright? You seem quieter than normal."
Maria's head jerked up. "What? Oh, no, that's silly. I'm perfectly fine."
Sister Margaretta looked skeptical. "Alright."
"It's just late and I'm tired," Maria tried to explain.
"Oh, of course! Well, I can put these away and why don't you get to bed?"
Maria nodded and walked away, wondering how on earth she would be able to sleep.
The next morning, Maria couldn't stand it any longer. She practically ran to the Reverend Mother's room and knocked on the door.
The Reverend Mother opened it, and ushered Maria inside.
"Have a seat, Sister Maria," she said.
Maria couldn't sit down. She paced in front of the Reverend Mother, a hand on her head. "Oh, Reverend Mother, I have sinned!"
The Reverend Mother looked surprised. "Did this sin happen in town last evening?"
Maria nodded, her face growing pink.
"What is this sin, my child?"
Maria took deep, ragged breaths, and finally the words came tumbling out of her mouth, "I saw Captain von Trapp. And I missed the bus but we bumped into each other and we ended up taking a taxi together, the taxi dropped me off at the abbey and then it would drop him off at his villa, but we were in the taxi, and we were talking, and oh, Reverend Mother, we kissed! Please forgive me!"
Maria hung her head in shame, waiting for her to scold her.
The Reverend Mother swallowed. She knew she should never have allowed Maria to take her vows.
"Do you still love him?"
Maria looked at her, her eyes wide. "I-I don't know! Oh, there have been times when we would look at each other, oh Mother, I could hardly breathe! But I know that I am a nun, and I have promised myself to God, and I am sincerely sorry. I should never have given into the temptation, and I should never have kissed him."
She looked up at the Reverend Mother, her eyes conveying swirling emotions.
"Perhaps you bumped into the Captain in town because God meant for you two to meet again."
Maria looked at her, her eyes widening. "I don't understand."
The Reverend Mother nodded. "I don't either. No one can fully understand the workings of God. In any event, the fact that you did bump into the Captain has to mean something, Maria. It has to mean one of two things. It was either a test. A test to see if you would resist the temptation. Or, it was a sign. A sign that God doesn't want you to spend the rest of your life with us. He wants you to spend it with Captain von Trapp and with his children."
Maria wanted to cry. "I can't! I can't leave the abbey! And if it was a test, I failed! What am I going to do?"
The Reverend Mother's calmness throughout the whole situation shocked Maria.
"I think that you should think about it for the next several weeks. Spend time in prayer, reflecting and asking God what He wants of you. After those weeks are up, you need to make a decision. Either return to Captain von Trapp's villa and discuss everything with him. At least see him. Or, remain inside these walls."
Her heart pounding at just the thought of seeing the Captain again, Maria nodded. "Yes, Reverend Mother."
It turned out fate would make the decision for Maria.
About a month later, Maria bumped into the Reverend Mother in the courtyard.
"Reverend Mother," Maria greeted her.
"Sister Maria, how are you?"
"I am doing well," Maria answered.
"Good, good. There is something I need to tell you. I think you want to know since you spent time with him and his family last summer."
Maria's heart skipped a beat and she held her breath.
"The von Trapps?" Her voice came out breathier than she wanted.
"Yes," the Reverend Mother looked at her, "They are singing at the festival tonight—"
Maria burst out laughing. "Are you positive, Reverend Mother? Captain von Trapp was quite adamant when I stayed there that his children would never sing in public."
The Reverend Mother shook her head. "Yes, I am quite positive." Maria regretted questioning her. "They are singing tonight but only because the Nazis have given him a commission to join their forces."
Maria's jaw dropped. "No! No, he can't! Joining them would be unthinkable for him and refusing them would be fatal! For him! For his whole family!"
The Reverend Mother looked slightly surprised at her outburst. "Maria, that's why they are singing tonight. It will be a chance, immediately after they perform, to escape. They will come here, hide within our abbey walls, and once it is safe, they will escape to Switzerland where they will all be safe."
Maria's head was spinning. He was in trouble. The children were in trouble. She felt light-headed.
"It will work?" She asked quietly.
"Yes. We will do everything within our power to keep them safe here. A good man and innocent children should never have to suffer at the hands of the Nazis. And we will spend the rest of the afternoon in prayer that everything will turn out fine. God has a plan, Maria. He will lead the von Trapps to us, and He will get them to safety."
Maria took several deep breaths. It seemed like she had forgotten how to breathe. "Okay. Is there anything else I can do?"
The Reverend Mother shook her head. "No, right now we simply have to let go and let God. Come now, spend the afternoon in prayer with us. One more thing, Maria."
"Perhaps seeing him and his family again might give you another chance to figure a few things out."
Maria nodded, her heart in her throat as she followed the Reverend Mother to the chapel. All she could think of was that they were in trouble, and that she would see the children tonight and that she would have to face him again tonight.
Night had fallen and the nuns were anxiously waiting for the von Trapps to arrive. The bell sounded and Maria jumped up, side by side with the Reverend Mother.
"Sister Maria, we need you. You may be the only one who can comfort the children," the Reverend Mother said as the two walked quickly to the gate.
"Captain! Children!" the Reverend Mother greeted them hurriedly.
"I can't thank you enough for letting us hide here," the Captain told her as she opened the gate.
All eight of them shuffled inside the abbey, the children's eyes wide with fear.
And in that moment, the Captain looked past the Reverend Mother and met Maria's eyes.
Maria forgot how to breathe. Before either of them could speak, the children saw her and rushed forward, wrapping her in hugs.
"Fraulein Maria!" they exclaimed. Maria tried to swallow the lump in her throat but smiled as she saw the children's faces of delight.
"Oh, how are you all?" She asked.
"We're alright," Liesl said. "Hungry," Kurt added. "Scared," Marta whispered.
Maria nodded. The Reverend Mother spoke up, "We must hide you all immediately."
The Captain nodded, and his voice sent shivers down Maria's spine. "Who knows how quickly they will get here."
She led the children upstairs, and the Captain followed with Maria.
"Are you alright?" He whispered, his eyes searching hers.
"Are you?" She asked.
He nodded slowly.
Afraid to speak any more, they followed the Reverend Mother to the graveyard on top of the abbey.
She opened the gate and the children filed in with the Captain. "Captain, you and three children get behind that stone. The other four can get behind that one."
The children looked at her. "Four of us will have to be alone?" Louisa asked.
The three adults looked between each other.
"No, I'll go behind that stone with you," Maria finally said.
The Reverend Mother slowly nodded, not seeming surprised at all, but the Captain looked at her sharply.
"No, Maria, if they find us, they'll hurt you too," he said fervently.
"A risk I'm willing to take," Maria responded, looking at him, not backing down.
The Reverend Mother handed the Captain the key. "We cannot waste any more time."
He swallowed, taking the key from her, and finally relented, knowing there was no way he could change Maria's mind.
Four children crowded behind a stone with Maria and the other three children hid behind the other stone with the Captain.
Before the Reverend Mother closed the gate, she blessed them. Before the children, Maria, and the Captain knew it, she was gone. They quickly huddled behind the stones, crowded against each other.
Gretl's face was pressed to Maria's chest. "We missed you so much, Fraulein Maria." Her small muffled voice tugged at Maria's heart.
Maria simply held her closer. "Father especially," Louisa added softly, her voice barely audible. Maria looked sharply at Louisa. He missed her? She looked over at him, only to find his eyes already on her. She couldn't tear her eyes away from his. His gaze made her insides feel like she was going to slowly combust, but it made her feel safe.
The sound of footsteps finally jolted them back to reality, and the Captain looked away, his eyes darting towards the courtyard.
Maria clutched the children closer to her, her heart pounding, silently praying to God they wouldn't be found.
Once the guards started rattling the gates, Maria frantically looked over to the Captain, her eyes wide, feeling paralyzed with fear.
He met her eyes, and they both shrunk back to the stone wall, trying to make themselves as small as possible.
The guards began rattling their gates, and the light of the flashlight made Maria pray that the guards couldn't hear the pounding of her heart.
At long last, they retreated, and the Captain and Maria simultaneously heaved a sigh of relief. They didn't come out until the Reverend Mother approached the gate, saying, "They're gone. You can come out now."
They all stood up and Maria immediately embraced all the children. The hugs spoke more than words ever could.
She turned around, only to face the Captain. "I'm glad you are safe," Maria told him. Emotions she couldn't name swirled in his eyes. "Thank you," he responded, but there was more meaning to those two words that both of them understood.
The Reverend Mother spoke again, "I think it's time for you to leave. Traveling to Switzerland in the dark will be easier."
The Captain looked at her, nodding in agreement. He faced Maria again, and her eyes were glimmering with unshed tears.
"I don't know how I can say goodbye again," Maria admitted softly, this moment tearing her up inside.
"Then don't. Come away with us," the Captain pleaded.
"Captain! I…" she shook her head, "I can't!"
She looked to the Reverend Mother who had overheard the conversation. "Maybe you should, Maria."
"What?!" She cried, looking between the Captain and the Reverend Mother.
"We could always wait one more day. You could talk with the Captain. Discern whether or not you want to go through the hoops to leave this abbey. Maria, perhaps this is God's way of telling you it is time that you leave us."