AN: This story was written for the October writing prompt on the ProBoards. I'm hugely grateful that lemacd from the boards has entrusted me with her idea. I really do hope I do it justice.

Timelines etc are all made up for the purpose of the story and whilst not an AU story, it may not be a faithful retelling of the film. There will be 4 chapters, one for each of the four seasons, so let's just see how it goes!

Oh and I'm sorry that the title sucks so much, I'm rubbish at titles!

Disclaimer: I do not own the Sound of Music or its characters. Written for pleasure not profit.

Rating: K+

As The Seasons Pass

Winter

"Even the strongest blizzards start with a single snowflake." ~ Sarah Raasch

Maria screamed in panic as the sticky, sinewy strands of cobweb clung to her face like a shroud. She felt like she was suffocating and frantically, she began to paw at her forehead and cheeks in an effort to brush them away. Blowing a final persistent strand from her nose, she stood perfectly still as she surveyed the dark expanse of attic that lay before her.

It didn't take long for her to realise that it was filled with dusty, billowing webs. They resembled dirty, torn lace curtains that had been ripped apart by the wind, that was whistling through the ill-fitting attic windows.

"I have some items that I'd like you to retrieve from the attic." She screwed up her face as she mimicked the Captains haughty and dismissive voice. "It should only take you a minute, Fraulein."

A minute? Ha… who was he trying to fool, she thought, as she stepped and stumbled over the many and variously sized travelling cases and trunks that littered the floor of the extremely cold and damp room.

Surely this task shouldn't be included in the duties of a Governess? Why couldn't Franz have ventured up into the attic to find the items that the Captain required? It became quite clear now why the Butler had smirked in her direction when he had happened to walk past as the Captain had barked his orders towards her. Maria continued to mumble under her breath as she navigated her way around the dimly lit attic.

Suddenly her shin slammed into the corner of a huge leather trunk and it sent her catapulting forwards. As she fell unceremoniously into a heap on the floor, she knocked over some boxes that had been piled precariously high on top of the trunk and their contents spilled uncontrollably all around Maria.

Tears began to sting her eyes as she rubbed her bruised leg with the palm of her hand. She had taken quite a tumble and found herself sitting dazed amidst what seemed like a mountain of photographs. Glancing around, she desperately tried to locate the light switch. Finally, as she looked up she saw a light pull in the middle of the ceiling and after carefully standing, she tugged the string and an old stained light bulb fizzed and crackled to life.

Littered around the floor were the photographs that had tumbled from the boxes. Maria was surprised at how many there were, considering how few the Captain displayed around the house. Bending down she began to sweep them into a pile so that she could scoop them all up but as she did so her eye was drawn towards one particular photograph.

She recognised the Captain quite easily, even though he was much younger and he was smiling widely, his arm draped protectively around a very pretty, young lady. How different he looked, handsome even, a far cry from the gruff and unpleasant man that he was now. His manner was as cold and unwelcoming as the biting winter wind that was whipping around outside the window and yet, judging by the photos that she now flicked through with great interest, he mustn't always have been this way.

She thumbed through a few more and came across one of the Captain and the young lady again, although this must have been some years later. They stood hand in hand with five of the children beside them, and a further little girl was nestling in the Captain's arms. They were all wearing winter clothing and carrying skis by their sides. A family holiday, perhaps? Maria was struck by how happy they all looked, the children's smiling faces brought a tear to her eye once again and she found herself running her thumb across the image of the Captain.

Photograph after photograph, all portrayed the same idyllic family scenes, until finally she came to the last one in the pile. It showed the Captain and the beautiful woman who was obviously his wife cradling a new born baby. Maria felt a lump form in her throat as she realised that this must be little Gretl that the two proud parents were so lovingly holding. The Reverend Mother had told Maria that not long after the youngest child had been born, the Captain's wife had sadly succumbed to scarlet fever.

There were no more photographs, no more happy family memories. In stark black and white, Maria realised that the Captain's world had truly ended the day that his wife had died.

She began to feel guilty for her unkind thoughts about his behaviour. She always prided herself on the fact that she could see the best in people, even if it was well and truly hidden and yet she hadn't seemed to even try when it came to him. She had been appalled by the way he treated his children, now though, she could see that there was a reason for his actions.

After carefully placing the photographs back into their boxes, Maria quickly found the walking boots and heavy winter clothes that she had been sent into the attic to bring down. He wanted to make sure that the children could continue their "marches" in the grounds even if the weather became inclement. Maria decided that she would humour him by going along with his request. He would soon be visiting Vienna again no doubt and then she would make sure that they made use of the clothing when they ventured into the mountains with her, to partake in some rather more exciting winter activities.

xXx

Having gathered the clothes together, Maria carefully made her way down towards the laundry room. They were going to need a good airing to rid them of the damp, musty smell that they had collected in the attic. The walking boots had been too much to carry so she had set them beside the door and decided she would go back for them later that day.

"Ah, Fraulein… I see you've managed," Captain von Trapp said with a slight hint of sarcasm in his voice, as he stood in the hall observing how his Governess was struggling to manoeuvre her way through the small door that led to the kitchens.

"Obviously, I have, yes," Maria snapped sharply. "No thanks to you," she whispered under her breath and then quickly scolded herself for thinking badly of him again.

"I still need to bring down the boots, but I'll collect them later and give them a good clean."

She smiled and then pushed the door open with her foot and as she did so, Georg noticed that she had blood dripping down one of her shins.

"Fraulein… your leg." He walked towards her and took some of the clothes from her arms so that she could at least look down and see what he meant.

"Oh goodness, I knew I'd bumped my leg but I didn't realise that it was bleeding. I'm so sorry, I'll make sure I clean up any mess I've made." Maria shrugged apologetically and reached over so that he could return the clothes to her. Once laden again she turned from him and made her way down to the kitchen.

Georg was taken aback by the fact that she didn't realise that he was showing concern for her injury. Yes, he liked things to be done in a particular way and discipline was paramount in his regime but did he appear that lacking in empathy and compassion to everyone around him?

For some time, he had been unhappy with the man that he had become but he just couldn't seem to find a way out of it. He had sought the companionship of a beautiful woman who had in some small part given him something to look forward to when he visited Vienna but he was acutely aware that all he was really doing was running away from the people who needed him most… his children.

His mind returned to Maria. The young woman who had been sent by the Reverend Mother was somewhat of an enigma to him. She irritated him immensely with her rudeness. She had even dared to question the way he brought up his children… the cheek of it and while she seemed to think that encouraging them to sing would help them all get over their fear of thunderstorms… ridiculous!

And yet… there was something about her that he found intriguing. Perhaps it was because of the very fact that she wasn't afraid of him and was willing to speak out with conviction, albeit without much forethought.

Perplexed, he ran his fingers through his hair and sighed. He should really be packing for his trip to Vienna but for some reason he felt restless and unable to commit himself to the task. Instead, he made his way up the stairs towards the highest point in the house. He would show his Governess that he did know the meaning of compassion. He would bring the boots down for her, after all, there were far too many for her to carry in one go anyway.

As the attic door creaked open he realised that Maria had left the light on, something he was quite glad about as he spotted the boots on the floor just inside the door. It was some time since he had ventured this far up in the house. In fact, he hadn't actually set foot in the attic since Agathe's belongings had been packed away and safely stored there.

Scanning the room, he saw her dressing table and various other pieces of furniture that had belonged to his wife. His throat began to tighten as his heart thumped in his chest and beads of sweat formed on his forehead, despite the frigid air in the large drafty room. Panicking, he reached up to his collar and undid the top button of his shirt and loosened his tie in an attempt to calm himself. He began breathing deeply, something he had been taught in the navy to combat any feelings of panic and claustrophobia.

Recovering his composure, he stepped over so that he could reach the light but as he did he noticed the corner of a piece of paper sticking out from under one of the trunks. Stooping down he picked it from the floor and brought it up to the light. In doing so, he realised that it was in fact a photograph. His breath caught in his throat as he looked at the image of his heavily pregnant wife playing the guitar, surrounded by his children. He remembered taking the photograph, it had been Christmas time and they were singing carols. They had spent one last delightful Christmas together and for that he would always be grateful. Shortly after, his wife had given birth to their youngest daughter and he thought that his life was complete, until a few short weeks later his whole world had been torn apart. The fragility of life had shattered his heart into a thousand pieces.

Feeling as if the breath had been sucked from his lungs, he sat down heavily on the edge of the trunk with the photograph gripped tightly in his hands. Unbeknownst to him, at the door, Maria stood motionless as she watched him mull over the photograph that he now held closely to his chest.

Maria coughed lightly to alert him to her presence. Wiping an unshed tear from his eye, Georg stood and slipped the photograph into the inside pocket of his jacket. As if there was nothing amiss, he stepped towards her and scooped the boots from the floor.

"I thought there would be too many for you to carry," he shrugged.

Maria looked into his bloodshot eyes and realised that coming into the attic had been difficult for him and yet he had done it to help her.

"Thank you," she smiled as she picked two pairs from the top of the pile so that he was able to see where he was walking. "I'll turn off the light."

xXx

After depositing the shoes in the boot room the Captain returned to his study without further conversation. Maria couldn't stop thinking about how she had found him broken and hurting in the attic. If only there were something that she could do to help him. She didn't even know if he wanted help but she couldn't stand by and see him throw his life and his family away.

Never one to listen to her better judgement she decided to speak to the Captain about the children's winter activities. After all, there was no time like the present and she knew that she really didn't want to go behind his back whilst he was away in Vienna.

Following him to his study she knocked quietly on the door and waited.

"Yes… come in," the voice from behind the door said very distractedly.

Maria pushed down the door handle and walked into the middle of the room. The Captain sat at his desk, engrossed in the papers that lay in front of him.

"Was there something that you wanted, Fraulein?" he asked without even looking up.

Maria was bewildered, "How did you know that it was me?"

Slowly lifting his eyes until they met Maria's, he put down the pen that he had been holding and sat back in his chair placing his hands in his lap.

"You are far too inquisitive to let what you have just witnessed in the attic pass you by without further explanation," he continued to stare at Maria. "Am I right?"

"No… I wouldn't dream of… I mean, I was concerned but…" Maria squirmed in discomfort. It truly had never been her intention to interrogate him.

"Fraulein, calm down," he smiled briefly and then rose from the desk and walked over to the small drinks table at the side of the room. Pouring himself a drink he took a small sip before settling himself against the front of his desk.

His constant stare began to unnerve Maria and she shifted uncomfortably on the spot.

Finally, the Captain spoke. "Well… what can I do for you?"

Gathering her nerves, Maria summoned up all her courage, "I noticed on… that is, I dropped some photographs and when I was picking them up I happened to notice that you and… and your family…" Maria glanced at the Captain who had now stood upright and appeared slightly agitated. "That you know how to ski. I just wondered if you would let me get the skis out of the attic and…"

"Fraulein, you really don't know when to stop… do you," Georg took a large gulp of whiskey draining the glass. "I do not want my children on skis, in play clothes or any other outrageous ideas that you may have."

Maria looked on as she watched his shoulders become tense and he desperately tried to keep his composure.

"I trust that you have remembered that I will be leaving for Vienna again at the weekend? When I return, I expect to find that you have managed to adhere to my wishes. They are my children, Fraulein and I will decide what is best for them." Georg looked towards Maria who was red faced and appeared on the verge of an outburst. "Do I make myself clear?"

"Perfectly," Maria seethed.

"Good… if that's all, then I have work to do." The Captain moved behind his desk once again and pulled the chair in under himself.

It was clear that their conversation was over but as Maria made her way to the door with her tail between her legs she glanced back to see the Captain take the photograph from his pocket. He ran his thumb delicately over the surface before opening his desk drawer and placing it carefully inside.

Perhaps not in a week or even a month, but one day, Maria was certain that she would find a way to thaw his frosty exterior.

xXx

Each of these chapters would probably be able to stand alone as separate stories, however it will become clear that there is a theme that runs through them. I hope you enjoyed it and if you did or even if you didn't, I would love for you to leave a review!