AN: - Written for the Proboards June writing prompt. Following on from the Ball this veers away slightly from the original story and may be a little more angsty than some people might like.
Disclaimer: - Written for pleasure not profit… I own nothing!
Rating: - T
If Only Yesterday
If there had ever been just one day in his life when he would happily – no - forcibly have traded all his tomorrows for one single yesterday, then today was that day. Although, if he had been rational enough to think about it, that wasn't exactly true because it wasn't the first time. He had thought the very same thing the day that his beloved Agathe had died, the difference being, that he had at least had the time to create precious memories with her in the preceding years of their marriage and she had known how completely and utterly he had loved her. But Maria… Maria knew nothing of the deeply intense longing he had for her and now… it was too late. As he cradled her in his arms, his tears falling on her alabaster cheeks, he looked up to the Doctor who shook his head sadly before turning reluctantly, knowing there was nothing more that he could do.
The Previous Day…
"Oh Captain, the children areso excited about tonight's party," Maria skipped into the breakfast room, like an unstoppable whirlwind, twirling and turning as she ruffled the children's hair one by one on her way past. They giggled furiously as the Captain raised an eyebrow at her exuberant behaviour.
"Erm… is it only the children, Fraulein?" he grinned, wickedly.
"I'm sorry, Captain?" Maria was confused by his question and looked towards the children who were still smiling widely.
"Who are excited… about the party. As it seems to me, that a certain Governess has also been bitten by the party bug," he winked and gave her a warm smile before returning to his morning newspaper.
Maria blushed profusely. Did he really just wink at her? Perhaps he just had something in his eye. She looked over to Liesl who seemed to be studying her reaction with great interest.
"Oh, well… I mean, I suppose…" Maria stuttered, still well aware that her face was the colour of the ripest strawberries in the kitchen. "I'm just very excited about the surprise that the children have for your guests this evening."
Maria was lying and she knew it. She just hoped that the Captain didn't!
She had found herself daydreaming about him ever since that day when he had serenaded her, for that is exactly what it seemed like. Even though she had not been the only person in the room, she had felt like he was singing Edelweiss only for her. As soon as there had been mention of a grand and glorious party she had been far too interested in how handsome he would look dressed up with his medals and his white gloves. In fact, she had also found herself dancing and twirling far more than normal, humming waltzes and imagining things that postulants should certainly not be imagining.
The Captain folded his newspaper and placed it on the table, giving Maria his full attention. He spotted her somewhat flustered appearance and flushed cheeks, something that he had actually been noticing far more often since the puppet show. Or maybe she had always been prone to blushing and it was just that he was finding himself staring at her a lot more than he used to.
"Yes, yes, I'm sure that they will be as enchanted by my children as I am," he smiled and held Maria's gaze a little longer than was necessary. "Anyway," he shook his head in an attempt to regain his composure. "I really must get on, there's a lot to do today. Children… be good for your Governess and then I shall see you all this evening."
Maria watched as he pushed his chair under the table and then turned on his heels and left. She felt certain it was going to be a very long day.
As the guests began to arrive, the children sat on their knees with their faces pressed against the railings, peering out over the floor below. The youngest girls gasped at the beautiful flowing ball gowns that the women wore, whilst the boys speculated about the various medals sported by some of their gentleman companions.
Maria walked along the corridor clapping her hands, "Come now children, it's time to get into your party clothes."
For once, the children did as they were told, eagerly, because it meant that the sooner they were dressed, the sooner they could join the party.
"Fraulein Maria," Liesl called after her. "Aren't you going to wear something fancy for the party?"
Maria looked towards the Captain's eldest daughter and smiled.
"I'm afraid that I have never owned anything fancy in my life, Liesl," she answered the young girl honestly, as she patted down her dress. "This will just have to do."
"You always look pretty in whatever you wear and I'm sure father will agree," Liesl replied with a glint in her eye and she slid her arm through Maria's as they made their way along the corridor.
"I'm quite sure your father will not be the slightest bit interested in what his Governess is wearing," Maria contradicted, bluntly but Liesl just smiled and gave her a rather knowing look.
The small orchestra played passionately, as the children watched wide eyed from the terrace. The graceful couples floated around the ballroom, the ladies looking like Princesses to the girls. Marta and Gretl sighed as they watched the handsome men sweep the ladies off their feet, leading them masterfully around the dancefloor before bowing elegantly before them.
Maria couldn't help gazing into the beautifully decorated room either, as her eyes were constantly drawn towards the Captain who looked incredibly handsome in his tails, waistcoat and dress shirt. Every time she looked he seemed to be dancing with yet another beautiful woman in a stunning outfit. She looked down at her own plain dress and remembered her conversation with Liesl. Sadly, she tore herself away from the terrace doors but as she turned, the sight of Liesl and Friedrich dancing made her smile again. Before long Kurt also wanted to learn how to dance and he asked Maria if she would show him.
After explaining that the dance was the Landler, a traditional Austrian folk dance, she began trying to show him the rudimentary steps, although all they seemed to achieve was a tangled and less than elegant mess.
There was no denying that most of the women that were now dominating his time, were elegant, sophisticated and yes, beautiful. However, not one of them, including Elsa, he found even half as fascinating as he found Maria. He had been trying to diplomatically decline each dance but their beauty was matched in equal measure by their determination. He laughed to himself as he likened them in his own mind to vultures circling their prey.
Finally finding himself free, his eyes swept the ballroom for a glimpse of his Governess. Failing to spot her he decided to take some air. The ballroom had become unbearably stuffy and as he neared the doors he could feel the cool refreshing breeze on his face.
Stepping out onto the terrace he suddenly stopped as he saw Kurt struggling desperately to dance with Maria. Not only did he find her captivating, he was also astounded at how naturally, looking after and nurturing his children seemed to be for her. It was the first time since the death of their mother that he had seen his children so happy and relaxed and he had Maria to thank for all of it.
A deliciously inappropriate idea crossed his mind and before he could think better of it, he smiled devilishly as he pushed his fingers into his gloves firmly and strode to the centre of the terrace, tapping Kurt playfully on the head.
"Erm… do allow me, will you?"
Maria turned and looked in astonishment as the Captain reached out his gloved hand for her.
Hesitating for only a moment, she took his hand tentatively. Teaching Kurt had been one thing but dancing with his father was something completely different. She tried not to look into his eyes because she knew that if she did she would be lost, along with any remaining will power that she might have left, where he was concerned. As her heart began to race and she could feel her cheeks burning she knew that it was more than just a simple crush that she had on her employer, she was falling head over heels in love with him.
As they glided across the smooth marble tiles on the terrace floor, it wasn't long before their eyes finally met. The second they began to circle one another, getting closer and closer, he dived into the captivatingly lustrous, pale blue depths of her eyes and in that instant he knew he was drowning.
Time stood still as they slowly parted, he released her hand and his arm dropped to his side. Almost in slow motion she stepped away from him never breaking the longing looks that they held for each other.
As if it had been a dream, no sooner had it begun than it ended.
It was only the sound of Brigitta's voice that broke the perfect moment and Maria brought her hands up to her cheeks.
Of course she knew that he wouldn't believe her excuse of having forgotten the dance but her heart was pounding so fast and her head was spinning and it was the only thing she could think of in that instant.
Holding the gaze that he had upon her, the Captain smiled at her reply and seeing this, the Baroness, who had obviously witnessed at least part of their intimate display, swept him swiftly away amidst barbed comments.
The Captain looked back as Maria whisked the children through the hedged garden and although he wouldn't have expressed it audibly, he did have to silently agree with Elsa, that it had indeed been rather hot on the terrace!
Maria should have been basking in the glory of the many congratulatory comments and kind words that she had received after the children performed their musical surprise for the guests at the party. In fact, she could even have been joining those guests at Herr Detweiler's request had it not been for the unwanted intrusion of the Baroness as she had gone to her room to change.
After placing the envelope carefully on the hall table, Maria took one glance behind her and then stepped out into the night air. The Baroness's words were still piercing her conscience like daggers.
There's nothing more irresistible to a man than a woman who is in love with him.
Of course, Elsa was right about Maria being in love with the Captain. She'd discovered that herself, as she had indeed blushed in his arms that evening, but she would never have intentionally tried to use that fact to seduce him in any way.
What makes it so nice is… he thinks he's in love with you.
However, the most unsettling thing of all was the fact that the Baroness had such little regard for her prospective husband. Maria knew that he was an honourable man and that he would never do anything inappropriate, why didn't Elsa feel the same?
A mixture of anger and desperation spurred Maria on. The road was badly lit and a combination of that and the now inclement weather was making it difficult for Maria to see even a few feet in front of her. She knew that she had missed the last bus back to Salzburg and so she was faced with the unwelcome prospect of walking back to the Abbey.
She grabbed her bag and guitar tightly and started to widen her strides. The rain was lashing down now and water dripped from the brim of her hat. She lifted the back of her hand to her face and wiped away the moisture that was threatening to obscure her vision. Hearing a car some distance behind her she turned to look. There was indeed a vehicle that was swiftly approaching her. As it got nearer she recognised the driver and lifted her bag in the air to try and grab his attention. Whether the driver saw her she couldn't be sure but the next moment she stumbled over the uneven surface of the road and staggered into the path of the oncoming car.
The side of the car hit her with a glancing blow and she was thrown violently backwards. Her bag and guitar landed under the wheels and were crushed before being thrown in the same direction as she was.
Lying in a crumpled heap by the roadside, Maria lifted her head painfully. Drifting in and out of consciousness, she saw through blurred eyes that the car had stopped for a moment. The driver opened his door and glanced behind without stepping out. With only a cursory glance he closed the door and then carried on down the track towards the main road to Salzburg.
Maria was unable to hold her head up any longer and it flopped down onto her arm. Breathing heavily, her chest feeling like it was being crushed by a huge stone, she desperately tried to drag herself to a place of safety. Having reached the shelter of a tree she slumped into the deep undergrowth and finally lost her fight to stay awake.
After having the satisfaction of seeing off Herr Zeller who had decided that he would rather brave the disgusting weather that had swiftly and unexpectedly swept over Aigen, than remain at the Captain's party; Georg returned to his guests.
He was disappointed that Maria hadn't joined them, as Max had requested, but wasn't entirely surprised. He doubted that such occasions suited her but vowed to himself that he would talk to her in the morning about what had happened between them that night on the terrace.
Elsa never left his side for the remainder of the evening and he began to grow a little suspicious of her motives, never the less, the evening went well and it wasn't until the wee small hours that the final guests decided to leave.
Sitting in his study, Georg raised his glass to his friend.
"To pretty little Governesses," Max returned his toast with a twinkle in his eye.
"Max, you are incorrigible," Georg snorted as he downed his drink in one and then slammed the glass down on the table.
"What?" Max replied innocently. "Are you to have me believe that you don't find your Governess pretty?"
"I'm not sure that is any of your business." Georg was becoming a little irritated by his friend's interrogation.
"It is my business when it involves Elsa. You know that she and I have been friends for longer than I care to remember," Max answered firmly. "She knows that you have fallen in love with Maria, as do I."
Georg looked at his friend rather defeated and filled his glass once again before slumping down in the arm chair near the fire.
"Yes, I do believe I have, Max. But I intend to put things right with Elsa. Tomorrow I'll speak to her and then I'll find out if Maria shares my feelings."
"I have a hunch dear boy that Elsa may already have beaten you to it."
"What do you mean?"
"Judging by her comments to me this evening, I think that it wasn't entirely a coincidence that Maria didn't join us for dinner."
"You think Elsa warned her off?" Georg snapped, the idea that Elsa may have hurt Maria, disgusting him.
"Not in so many words I'm sure… but it might not be as easy as you think to sort out your little problem. Anyway, I'll bid you goodnight. Thank you once again dear fellow for a marvellous evening." Max walked unsteadily to the door and headed off up the stairs to his room.
Georg sat back and his head slumped against the back of the chair. All he wanted was a simple uncomplicated life and he knew that it was within his grasp if only Maria felt the same way as he did. He knew in his heart that she did and he also knew that not many people were lucky enough to have a second chance at true love.
The present morning…
"Captain von Trapp…" Frau Schmidt called after him as he entered the breakfast room. "I have a letter for you. It was found on the hall table following the Ball last night."
"Thank you, Frau Schmidt," Georg smiled and he took the note from her hand.
"Good morning, children," he nodded, as he sat down and began to tear open the letter.
"Father… where is Fraulein Maria?" Gretl asked, as her father unfolded the letter.
"Oh, I expect she is just late again. You know that your Governess has many endearing features but punctuality is not one of them."
"But Father," Marta whined. "Frau Schmidt had to see to us this morning because nobody could find Fraulein Maria."
As Georg cast his eyes over the letter it suddenly began to dawn on him that Elsa hadn't only persuaded Maria not to attend the party but she had also managed to convince her to leave them.
"Children, eat your breakfast and then go to your rooms and carry on with your studies. I have some urgent business to attend to today," Georg left his breakfast uneaten and headed towards his study, almost bowling Max over in the process, as the impresario made his way for breakfast.
"What on earth… Georg!" Max yelped as he just managed to steady himself against one of the marble pillars in the hall.
"Max, I may need your help… the study…NOW, please," Georg snapped and Max knew by the tone of his friend's voice that he was better to follow orders.
After closing the study door Georg threw Maria's letter towards his old friend.
"Did you know about this?" Georg spat. "Because it certainly sounded like you had a fair idea of what Elsa was up to."
As Max read the contents of the letter, Georg paced up and down with his hands firmly clenched behind him.
"Of course not, how would I know that Fraulein Maria intended to leave last night. When I told you I thought Elsa had been up to something I never for one-minute thought that she would chase Maria away."
"You will go and speak to Elsa and find out what exactly it was that she said to Maria."
"But Georg, don't you think that is a conversation that would be better coming from you?"
"At this very moment in time I'm not sure that I can even look at Elsa, let alone speak to her."
"Very well, I'll talk to her as soon as she comes down. Perhaps it's for the best. After all, Maria is a postulant and as soon as she has fulfilled her duties here she'll be taking her vows," Max tried to be the voice of reason.
"Max! When I want your words of wisdom I shall ask for them. Now… I suggest you go and see Elsa this minute and if she is still languishing in her bed then please make sure she gets a rude awakening!" Georg turned and picked up the phone that was on his desk. He looked once more towards Max who took that as his cue to leave.
Slamming the receiver down, Georg walked to the window and looked out over the gardens. The storm the previous night had brought down many branches which were strewn about the lawn and he could see the gardeners already setting about clearing up the debris.
He flexed his fingers as he mulled over the Reverend Mother's words.
"Fraulein Maria has not returned to the Abbey and if she is not with you Captain then I have no idea where she may be. We are all she has in this world. I pray God will keep her safe in her time of need."
He couldn't just stand there and do nothing. Striding out into the hall he grabbed his jacket and shouted up the stairs to Max. He had been tempted to get out his whistle and blow it as hard as he could to attract his friend's attention but he knew that would only bring his children running and gone were the days when they were ruled by a whistle.
Max appeared at the top of the stairs with a very bashful looking Elsa by his side.
"Georg, I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to…"
"Enough!" Georg barked at Elsa. "I shall speak with you later."
Max joined his friend in the hall and took the coat that Georg held out to him.
"We have to find her Max; she didn't go back to the Abbey last night. There's nowhere else she would go."
Max glanced up the stairs towards Elsa who looked on as Georg flung the villa doors open violently.
The car weaved in and out of fallen branches on the mud smeared road and it was clear that no one had yet attempted to clear it. Under strict instructions to scour the roadside, Max kept his eyes firmly fixed to his left.
"I hardly think we are likely to find her out here. She's an intelligent girl, I'm sure she would have sought shelter. She's probably enjoying a hearty breakfast with some kindly souls as we speak." Max glanced across at Georg. "Something I should be doing actually; my stomach feels quite empty." He rubbed his stomach painfully.
"Max! I don't think you're taking this seriously. You may not know but I certainly do, that there are no houses on this stretch of road for miles. The storm hit just as we were having dinner last night, the exact same time Maria must have left the villa. Don't you see, she could be out here anywhere."
Max felt quite ashamed which was rare for him and he turned to carry on his important task without further grumbling. Suddenly, he spotted something by the side of the road.
"Georg, over there… look." Max pointed some distance ahead of them. "I think it's a bag."
Georg stopped the car with a screech of the wheels and quickly got out, running across to where Max had indicated he had seen something. As he got nearer he saw that it was a bag, he walked a little further and also found a battered brown leather hat.
Max got out of the car as the shocking truth hit him. They had found Maria's belongings. Georg began searching in the over grown grass and before long he stumbled upon the broken and mangled guitar.
Max put his hand on Georg's shoulder. "I'm sorry."
Georg glared at Max and handed him the bag and hat. "Here, take these back to the car. We have to keep looking."
Max did as he was asked but no sooner had he placed the wet and filthy things in the car than he heard the distressing sound of his friend shouting out in despair.
"No, no, noooo… Oh please God, no."
Max quickly turned as he saw his friend drop to his knees and cradle something in his arms. As he approached, Georg stood and then bent down and scooped the limp and lifeless body of his Governess into his arms. He staggered out from the bushes at the side of the road and made his way towards the car.
Max could see the tears streaming down Georg's cheeks as he held Maria closely to him. She was caked in mud and congealed blood covered the side of her face.
"Is she… is she breathing?" Max whispered.
Georg nodded as Maria's head fell against his shoulder. He kissed her forehead before placing her gently onto the back seat of the car. Her clothes were wet through and she had lost both of her shoes. Georg covered her in a travel blanket and tucked it under her before rushing to the driver's seat and heading back to Aigen.
Pacing outside Maria's bedroom door, Georg tried to remain calm as the Doctor tended to Maria's injuries. Frau Schmidt who had helped clean Maria and get her into her night clothes before the Doctor had arrived, waited anxiously with him.
Finally, after what seemed like hours, the Doctor opened the door and gestured for them both to enter the room. A nurse was tucking the blankets around Maria once more and she then excused herself and left the room.
"I'm afraid she has extensive injuries consistent with having been hit by a car or some other sort of vehicle. It's possible that in the storm last night she may have wandered out into the road and been struck."
Frau Schmidt gasped at the Doctors words and looked across to the Captain who stood ashen faced staring towards Maria.
"Her broken bones will heal but her head injury concerns me," the Doctor continued his diagnosis.
Georg walked to Maria's bedside and sat down beside her. Frau Schmidt looked on as she realised how much her cared for the Governess.
Carefully raising her, her slid himself behind her so that she rested against his chest. He brought his arm around her shoulder and pulled her gently to him. He softly caressed her cheek and swept the hair away from her bruised and battered face.
"Will she recover," he asked in a whisper, barely wanting to hear the answer.
"It is my opinion that her injuries are too severe. I believe Captain von Trapp, that you should prepare yourself for the worst."
As he cradled Maria in his arms, his tears falling on her alabaster cheeks, Georg looked up to the Doctor who shook his head sadly before turning reluctantly, knowing there was nothing more that he could do.
Thank you for reading, I do hope you enjoyed it. If you have the time, I would really appreciate it if you would leave a review… good or bad!
I do have further ideas to add another chapter or two to this story if you would like to read more.