AN Georg is not engaged to Elsa, the Ball never happened and Maria never left. The Captain has changed his ways with the children following a few choice words from Maria and music has once again returned to the house. Maria and Georg are still only employer and employee, although they both have feelings for one another, however, they refuse to admit it to each other.
Apologies if any of the Christmas traditions are incorrect, I did try to keep it as accurate as possible. Thanks to Mucwriter for her help and advise.
Disclaimer – I own nothing
"On Christmas Eve, a wish came true… the night I fell in love with you… it only took one kiss to know… It must have been the mistletoe!"
-DOUG KONECKY, JUSTIN WILDE ~ It Must Have Been the Mistletoe
"Arghhhh…" screamed Friedrich as he balanced precariously on the ladder. "I really don't see why we need to put it up here."
"Shhhh…" Liesl and Louisa whispered in unison to their moaning brother. "If it's too obvious, father will just throw it away, you know what he's like."
Friedrich tutted and carried on trying to secure the sprig of mistletoe to the light fitting in the family room.
"It's a stupid idea anyway… as if a silly piece of..." he waved the mistletoe in the air and muttered as he tried to find words to describe the rather sad looking plant "… of whatever it is, will make Fraulein Maria and father suddenly like each other."
"Friedrich…" Liesl put on her most mature, woman of the world voice. "You're a boy, you know nothing about affairs of the heart."
As Liesl continued to lecture her brother, Louisa looked on, nodding in agreement with her sister's wise words. "Fraulein Maria and father already like each other, it's obvious to everyone apart from them. So, it's up to us… to help them see it."
Successful in his mission, Friedrich made his way down the ladder as his two sisters nodded and smiled, pleased that the first part of their plan was in place.
It was Christmas Eve and the house was filled with the warmth and smell of the festive period. Delicious, mouth-watering aromas were floating up from the kitchens. In every room the air was heavy with the smell of pine trees, cinnamon and gingerbread. Outside, the snow had already begun to fall steadily, carpeting the lawns in a thick blanket of snow. The branches of the trees began to bow dangerously with the weight of their glistening load and the frozen lake which was as smooth as a sheet of glass began to rapidly disappear with the continuing snowfall.
Inside, a huge spruce tree stood proudly in the family room of the von Trapp villa. Its boughs were adorned with sparkling gold and silver ornaments, delicately wrapped Viennese chocolates and slender white candles which rested in tin holders. The children were so excited because finally the day had arrived when the candles would be lit but the little ones could hardly contain themselves and Maria wasn't at all certain that they would be able to make it to dinner time.
The servants were also in a good spirits as the Captain, for the first time in years, had allowed them to take some time off over the holiday period, so the villa was being run on what could only be described as a skeleton staff.
The Captain was certain that they would not be receiving visitors and so, only the cook and certain kitchen maids were still in residence. Franz and Frau Schmidt had happily said good bye to the family earlier in the day. At one-time, Max Detweiller might have joined them but following the Captain and Baroness's acrimonious split, it was clear that it would be some time before Herr Detweiller would grace them with his presence again.
Dinner time was rapidly approaching and Maria was desperately trying to calm the children down so that they would change into the smart clothing that would please their father, before the special Christmas Eve meal. Finally, having sorted Gretl and Marta out she closed their bedroom door and sighed wearily, resting her back against the wooden panels. Just as she did so, the Captain closed the door to the Master suite behind him and walked along the corridor to where Maria was standing, exhausted.
"I hope the children aren't being too boisterous, Fraulein. If you don't mind me saying, you look rather tired," the Captain smiled softly, concern evident in his gentle expressive eyes.
"Oh, no not at all. They're only children and if you can't get excited at Christmas time when you're a child then there is something sadly wrong." Maria instantly regretted her words as she saw a shadow fall over the Captain's face, the ghost of many unhappy Christmases past making him sorrowful and reflective.
"I'm sorry… I didn't mean…" Maria shook her head and sighed as her cheeks began to burn with shame. "I hope you don't think I was trying to say that you don't let them enjoy themselves at Christmas."
"No… Fraulein, you've only spoken the truth. Sadly, I have to admit that Christmas time over the last few years has not been as it should be in this house. But…" the Captain smiled broadly and clapped his hands together. "This year, it will be different."
Maria pushed herself away from the door and joined the Captain as he made his way downstairs to the dining room.
"As soon as dinner is over, I'll ring the bell and the children can come and see the Christmas tree," the Captain explained.
"Oh…" Maria placed her hands on her head, "that reminds me. I must go and light the candles straight after dinner. I keep forgetting that Frau Schmidt has gone to visit her sister."
"Do be careful not to burn your fingers, Fraulein," the Captain teased and as Maria walked away, she could have sworn that she saw him wink in her direction.
Ever since the Captain had broken off his engagement to the Baroness, Maria had found him to be far more amenable. He took great interest in the children's progress and would eagerly search out his children to find out what activity they were currently undertaking.
Maria often found herself hoping that he would join them and when he did, her heart would start to race and her stomach would begin to flutter. She knew what it meant and she had confided in the Reverend Mother about her feelings for the Captain. Whilst he had been engaged to be married, she had managed to convince herself that it was just a juvenile crush. That she was only attracted to him because he was unattainable, after all, why would he be interested in her, even if he wasn't already taken? But the feelings didn't go away and only grew from strength to strength when the Captain was a free man once again.
Feeling conflicted and extremely guilty about her wholly improper behaviour, she had considered leaving the Captain and his children. In Maria's eyes, it wasn't the will of God that she fall in love with her employer. Yes, she had long since admitted to herself that she loved him. It wasn't only the fact that he was ridiculously handsome. She had also come to see that beneath his almost impenetrable façade was a hugely honourable man who wanted desperately to care for his children. There had been many arguments along the way but they had finally reached an understanding and Maria knew that the Captain was now grateful and valued her presence.
The Reverend Mother, however, had a slightly different view on the matter and was adamant that Maria should stay. She told Maria that she must look for her life, not run from it. And so it was that Maria was still working for the Captain, even though the children had long since returned to school following the summer holidays and it didn't seem like the Captain was in any rush to dismiss his Governess either.
Maria called the children and when they filed into the dining room one by one, their mouths dropped open as they looked at all the delicious traditional Christmas food that adorned the table. They happily munched their way through Gebackener Karpfen followed by a delicious Sachertorte filled with the sweetest of Apricot jams and covered in the richest Austrian chocolate, served with fresh cream. Their meal was rounded off with the sweetest of cookies. The children looked on and giggled as the Captain kept refreshing Maria's glass with white wine even though their Governess's cheeks seemed to be glowing brighter than the flames in the fireplace and she kept covering her glass in the hope that the Captain would forget to top it up.
There was a warm and happy atmosphere in the von Trapp villa that night and for the first time in many years, the Captain felt as if he had his family back and it only made him believe more passionately, that Maria was a very important part of that family.
Breaking off his engagement to Elsa, when it came to it, really hadn't been a difficult decision. They had so little in common and when she had finally agreed to meet his children, it had been blatantly obvious to him that she would never be able to take on the role of their mother.
It was actually a great relief when they parted ways, even though Elsa made it quite clear that she blamed Maria as much as anyone for the fact that she would never become Baroness von Trapp.
She viciously accused the Captain of lusting after his Governess, telling him that he was stupid if he didn't know how obvious his feelings for Maria had become. He had only been thankful that he had managed to persuade Max to take Elsa back to Vienna before she could unleash her razor sharp tongue on the unsuspecting novice.
The Captain's feelings for Maria had been growing slowly as the weeks rolled on but he knew that she had dedicated her life to God, so there was little point trying to pursue her romantically. Never the less, he couldn't banish his feelings and neither could he think of letting her go at the end of the summer.
There seemed to be an unspoken agreement between them that Maria would continue to look after and nurture his children. The little ones were growing in confidence and the older children seemed to be maturing beyond their years. There was no doubt in the Captain's mind that Maria was his salvation, she was an angel sent by God to save him and his family and he would be forever indebted to her.
The evening meal being over, the Captain requested that the children go to their rooms to await the coming of the Kristkindl. He assured them, that as soon as they heard the bell they could come down knowing that the Christ child had visited their house.
Maria carefully lit the candles as the Captain drew the heavy velvet drapes across the windows. Underneath the now glowing Christmas tree, lay dozens of presents all beautifully wrapped and trimmed with shiny ribbons and bows.
Christmas time when Maria was a little girl had been very different. She found it hard to remember her parents and when she had been under the care of her Uncle, he had tried his best but money had been tight, so she made do with a few little trinkets and some dried fruit and nuts.
Looking at the huge pile of presents that nestled beneath the tree would have made many people jealous but not Maria, she was just thankful that the children had a loving father and that she was here to celebrate the special occasion with them.
The candles being lit; Maria began to make her way up to the children's rooms. She wanted to see their excited faces when they heard the tinkling of the bell but before she reached the stairs, the Captain's mellow voice called after her.
"Err… Fraulein," he said tentatively. "Could I have a moment of your time before you go to the children?"
Maria was a little taken aback but turned to face him with a smile.
"Of course, is there something wrong, Captain?" she asked, a touch nervously.
"Oh no, no, it's just… well…" he gestured for her to return to the room. "I have something for you and I'd like you to have it before the children come down."
As Maria stepped into the centre of the room she saw the Captain reach down underneath the tree to where a small, beautifully wrapped box lay. He scooped it up into his hand and then held it out to her. Maria looked at him curiously before taking the present.
"I wanted you to have something that would show my appreciation for all that you have done for my children. Nothing can really come close to repaying you… but I hope it will go some way towards it."
Carefully removing the ribbon, Maria gently peeled off the paper to reveal a small leather box. Looking up to the Captain once again, he smiled in encouragement and Maria undid the tiny clasp and opened the box.
Her hand flew up to her mouth in shock as she saw inside, resting on a small velvet cushion, there was a delicate gold cross with a single glistening diamond in the centre.
"Captain, I - I can't accept this…" astonished and bewildered, Maria struggled to adequately convey her feelings. "This is far too much and I haven't even got anything for you, I didn't think that… I mean you haven't got any of your other servants any presents so I didn't expect…"
The Captain raised his hand to silence Maria. "Please, Fraulein, you are not one of my servants and this is no more than you deserve. Without you, I dare not imagine what would have become of us. Please, it would make me very happy to see you wear it."
He reached for the necklace and took it from the box before holding it up towards Maria who turned so that the Captain could fasten it behind her neck.
Maria gasped as she felt his fingers brush against the delicate skin of her neck.
"There, it looks beautiful, Maria."
Maria touched the cross with her fingertips. "Thank you, Captain. I will cherish it always."
The Captain nodded, happy that Maria had accepted his gift and as he looked at her captivating blue eyes, he unconsciously took a step closer to her.
"Perhaps you might call me Georg… err, just while the other staff are away of course."
Maria nodded and held his lingering gaze, hardly daring to breathe as she willed him to close the gap between them and take her in his arms. Reaching out and taking her hand between his own he began to speak in barely a whisper.
"Maria, I hope you know how much I…" but the magic of the moment was shattered as they heard excited screams from the children's rooms above them.
Maria reluctantly pulled her hand away without dropping her eyes from his. Her cheeks were on fire and her fingers tingled at the memory of his touch.
"I better go and see what they are up to," she touched the cross once again "I'm not sure how I will ever be able to thank you for such a generous gift."
"Fraulein, there's no need. It's I that can never thank you enough for everything you have done."
"Well, I should…" Maria pointed towards the stairs, as she slowly backed away from the Captain.
"Yes… I'll ring the bell in about ten minutes," Georg smiled and turned towards the fire to poke some life back into the smouldering embers.
As soon as the children heard the bell they all at first fell silent and looked at each other in quiet anticipation. The youngest girls were the first to react. They hugged each other and then ran to where Maria stood at their school room door. One by one they looked to Maria for her permission to go downstairs. As soon as she nodded they all ran to the stairs and proceeded to hurtle down it like a herd of wild elephants.
Their father was waiting for them and as they reached the closed doors he brought his finger to his lips and they all stopped talking. Slowly he opened first one and then the other door and they shuffled into the room, eyes wide and lost for words at the sight of all the wondrous colours and glistening lights.
They all sat around the tree with legs crossed and waited for Maria and their father to join them. Maria sat down beside Marta and Gretl and was pleasantly taken by surprise as the Captain joined her. He reached under the tree and brought out present after present, mostly for the children, who eagerly tore off the wrapping paper and bows. There were a few more for Maria from the children themselves and after the last present was unwrapped they all went to sit beside the now roaring fire.
At the request of the Captain, Maria had brought down her guitar and as he accompanied her on the piano, they all sang carols together and ate the remaining cookies.
Liesl and Louisa observed with interest as their father could hardly keep his eyes of Maria and in turn she seemed to glow with pride as he stroked the keys of the piano with masterly ease.
The sisters had been biding their time waiting until the right moment to ask their father to put a record on the newly acquired gramophone. They had the perfect one in mind and with only a little persuasion, Georg carefully placed the needle down on the record. As it crackled to life, Liesl nodded at Friedrich who immediately stood and reached out his hand to ask Maria for a dance. Liesl did the same with her father and before long both couples were dancing an elegant waltz to "Stille Nacht" as the other children looked on engrossed.
As they twirled and swirled slowly to the beautiful carol, Friedrich stopped just as the two couples came close to each other. He reached out and tapped his father's shoulder.
"May I," he asked reaching out to take Liesl's hand and as he did so he placed Maria's hand before his father.
This left Maria and the Captain standing beside each other in the middle of the floor. Georg laughed nervously before taking Maria's hand in his. She followed his lead and rested her left arm on his shoulder.
Liesl smiled widely as she watched Maria and her father glide around the room. When Liesl and her brother broke away and sat near the gramophone, the two adults didn't seem to notice. Maria's hand had found a comfortable position almost touching the Captain's neck and he had pulled her closer so that they were totally unaware of anyone or anything else around them.
It was very important that Liesl timed her next action perfectly. She looked to Louisa to help her and upon seeing her sister's signal, she nudged the gramophone and the needle slipped from the record. Maria and Georg immediately stopped and looked over to where Liesl was now standing.
"Oh, I'm sorry, I'm so clumsy," she shrugged.
"Father, father, look up," Louisa shouted and the two adults glanced up to where the sprig of mistletoe was still dangling precariously from the light fitting.
Georg looked at Maria and could see that the Governess's cheeks had turned the most vivid crimson colour and her eyes shone with embarrassment. How could his children have put them in this position? He was furious and unable to think rationally as he became more and more flustered.
He took a step back and let Maria's arms drop to her sides. Looking over to the children who were all waiting with bated breath he felt his own cheeks burn and his heart raced with anger and frustration.
Dragging over a nearby footstool he took a step up and ripped the mistletoe from the light, thrusting it unceremoniously into his jacket pocket.
"It's time you all went to your rooms," he announced abruptly.
"Oh but father, father, it's Christmas Eve," the youngest children pleaded as they crowded around him and pulled at his jacket.
"To your rooms," he shouted firmly, stepping away from the children.
"I told you it was a stupid idea," Friedrich snapped as he stomped past a crestfallen Liesl and Louisa who were slowly following the rest of the children to their rooms.
"I'm sorry, I don't know what they were thinking of," Georg muttered, trying desperately to avoid looking at Maria who was clearly shocked and bewildered by the Captain's behaviour.
"It's unforgivable, you must feel…" Georg was silenced as Maria looked him straight in the eye.
"You have no idea how I feel and clearly you care nothing about your children's feelings either," Maria herself was furious. Yet again he had managed to spoil what should have been an enjoyable occasion. She thought he was past his displays of pompous superiority but clearly not.
"I… it's just, it put us in an impossible position and I could see that you were uncomfortable."
Maria could stand it no longer. It was obvious that he didn't share her feelings and she had been stupid allowing herself to believe that he might after what had happened when he gave her the Christmas gift. Unable to bear being in his presence any longer she turned and made her way upstairs to the children.
Completely confused and deflated, Georg turned off the gramophone, tidied the room and retired to his study.
Having looked in all of the children's rooms to no avail, she went to her own room only to find the children sitting despondently on her bed with their knees tucked up to their chins.
"I'm sorry, Fraulein Maria, I didn't mean to annoy father or embarrass you," Liesl apologised.
"Shhhh… there's nothing to say sorry for. You were only having a little Christmas fun. And don't think too badly of your father, he was only trying to protect me."
"I know, I mean, I really know… I just wish father did too," Liesl shrugged and Maria squeezed her hand to comfort the distraught teenager, she nodded and pulled Liesl into a warm embrace.
The children calmed down as Maria sang to them and after they each had a hug she convinced them that it was time for bed anyway and so she went with them to their rooms and tucked them all in one by one, all the while singing "Silent Night."
Down in his study Georg poured himself a drink before slumping into his large leather chair. Swirling the golden liquid around his glass he mulled over his earlier behaviour and tried to make sense of Maria's reactions. He had only been concerned for her feelings and worried that he might lose control of his own, should their lips actually meet.
Draining the liquor from the glass he set it back down on the silver tray. It had been a long and for the most part, enjoyable day, the best Christmas that they'd had in a very long time. Yet, he had spoiled it. In an effort to make amends he tiptoed up the stairs and visited the children in their rooms. Most of them were asleep so he just brushed the hair away from their foreheads before kissing them softly. As he approached Liesl's room he saw that her bedside lamp was still lit. Knocking gently he pushed the door ajar.
"Er… may I come in?" he asked warily.
"Yes," came Liesl's whispered reply.
Georg walked over and sat down on the side of his daughter's bed. She put down the book she had been reading and pulled her knees up to her chest.
"I'm sorry," Georg shrugged "My behaviour was unacceptable… I suppose I just panicked. I didn't want Fraulein Maria to be upset."
"I know, but there was no need to act in that way. Fraulein Maria isn't as delicate as you seem to think."
"Oh ho… I know she's not delicate, but some things are just not done, Liesl," he tried to reason with his daughter.
"Why… because she's our Governess?"
"Yes and she's also a novice," nodded Georg
"You just don't see it do you?" Liesl laughed.
"What?" Georg was confused.
"Maria is never going to be a nun."
"Has she told you that?"
"No of course not but how can she become a nun when she's fallen in love with you?" Liesl blurted out.
"That's ridiculous," Georg hissed as he stood and paced around Liesl's room "You should not say things like that about your Governess."
"Why do you think we planned all that. Do you really think you ended up under the mistletoe by accident?" Liesl admitted shyly.
"I don't understand… you wanted us to be together?"
"Yes," Liesl sighed.
Georg returned to his daughter's side and gently picked up her hand.
"I know you care a great deal about Fraulein Maria and I can see how the thought of us…" Georg looked down at his daughter's slender fingers. "I'm sorry but some things just aren't meant to be."
"But father…" Georg brought his finger up to his lips. Liesl's head fell as she had to finally accept the possibility that her father did not hold the same feelings for Maria that she knew her Governess held for him.
"Goodnight, Liesl. Sleep well."
Georg flicked off the light as he shut the door behind him. Passing the top of the staircase his eyes were drawn to a flickering light coming from below. In case the fire had taken on a new lease of life, he made his way down to check that all was well.
Standing just a few feet into the room leaning heavily against the piano was Maria. As he quietly approached her he could see from the erratic rise and fall of her shoulders that she was crying.
"Maria… please, I don't like to see you like this," he said softly, placing his hands gently on the tops of her arms.
Maria flinched and turned abruptly. "Don't call me Maria, it should be Fraulein Maria."
"Why?... erm… I mean I'm sorry, I didn't think that you minded."
"You don't call Frau Schmidt by her first name and I'm no different," Maria snapped.
"Of course you are, Mari…" Georg sighed at his mistake, "I mean Fraulein. But you're right. I have become too over familiar, forgive me."
Maria pulled a handkerchief from her sleeve and began to dab at her red and swollen eyes.
"I apologise for the children's behaviour; it has clearly upset you. I've spoken to Liesl and I will tell them that they shouldn't' have put you in such an awkward position." The Captain was now pacing the room with his hands firmly clasped behind his back.
"It isn't the children; in fact, I feel sorry for them," snapped Maria.
"Then why are you crying, I don't understand."
"You don't for one-minute think that you've done anything wrong do you?" Maria was astonished by his lack of awareness.
"For your information, Fraulein, I have also apologised to Liesl and I'll speak to the others in the morning."
Maria laughed in disbelief, "You couldn't even bring yourself to give me a peck on the cheek could you? Am I that disgusting?"
"No… NO of course not. But Maria, I didn't want to make you feel uncomfortable. It wouldn't have been proper."
"Of course it wouldn't. You are a Baron, a member of the nobility and I'm… I'm just a poor servant,"
"You are going to be a nun, Maria. That's why it wouldn't have been proper and please stop calling yourself a servant. I long since stopped thinking of you as one of my employees, I thought you knew that. If you hadn't promised yourself to God…" Georg stopped as he realised what he was about to admit.
"Yes…" Maria tilted her head as she longed that he would continue.
Shaking his head, Georg turned away from her, "What does it matter… we are what we are, Fraulein. You will soon take your vows and I will continue to pretend that my life has some purpose beyond my fatherly duties."
"Captain…" Maria stepped towards him. "I'm not going to be a nun."
"You're not?" Georg walked to the gramophone and placed the needle back down on the record.
"Oh, I'm sorry," he said distractedly as the music began to play softly.
"What… you are?" Maria was puzzled.
"Yes… I mean… you're not?"
"No… well, you can't dedicate your life to God and become a nun when you're in love with someone else… can you?"
Maria closed the gap between them and held out her hand to Georg. He took it gingerly and brought her into a close hold, wrapping his arm tightly around her waist. The notes floated between them as they swirled once again at a languid pace and as it came to an end they stood in a comfortable silence, only the sound of the crackling fire breaking the solitude. Georg reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out the battered mistletoe holding it above their heads.
Looking from Maria's sparkling eyes to her moist pink lips he slowly leaned in and kissed her on the cheek.
Maria's eyes began to glisten with tears, she wrapped her arms around his neck and leaned in herself until their lips met in the sweetest of longed for kisses.
"Merry Christmas, Maria… I love you."
"As I love you, Georg."
As the last crackling embers of the fire began to lose their warmth, Maria and Georg held each other tightly and amongst kisses which became deeper and more passionate, they declared their love for one another, time and time again.