Note: I did take some inspiration from Trapp Ikka Monogatari for a part of the wedding preparation (and please read "How Green Was My Valley", it's an awesome book. And no, I don't own the rights to either reference).

This is one of those quiet times in the house, rarer now that we have a wedding to prepare for, but nevertheless needed. Wedding or not, I'm still fishing for new books, and my latest catch of "How Green Was My Valley" is extremely enthralling. I'm currently sitting in the large sitting room, basking in the afternoon sun as I read the tale of Huw Morgan and the coal miners. Liesl decided to take the youngest sisters with her on a walk and play hide and seek with Kurt and Friedrich, and give Maria a well-deserved break. Friedrich tried to play it cool and go only because he wanted to be nice to Marta and Gretl, but I think anyone with half a brain knows he just wants to hang out and play hide and seek. Maria is currently restringing her guitar as last night's singalong with Edelweiss ended with the broken G string, and an a cappella rendition of Edelweiss.

The house has been a hive of activity for almost a month now, and I'm told by Liesl, it would be a lot bigger if Maria wanted to make it a huge social affair. She only wanted to be with family and close friends when she marries Father. Father agreed, since I'm guessing the party was not great, according to Father's quote: half my guests aren't speaking to the other half. I think it has something to do about the spider symbol that some of the boys in school keep talking to each other about. But maybe that spider is just one of those fashion phases I don't particularly like.

Father has left to deliver an invitation to our grandparents' personally. Liesl says it's also to gauge if the extended family on Mother's side would be alright with Maria. She says if it's bad, then he'll have to think of ways to make them change their minds. I still think that if he'd bring Fraulein along, she'd just charm them all, even snooty cousin Rudi. She charmed us in less than a day, I think she can take on Mother's family. He's coming home today on the 7 o'clock train, anyways, so we'll see how well my grandparents took the wedding. I hear some noise and look up, a little annoyed at having my concentration on the story unceremoniously interrupted.

In come Gretl and Marta, both excited and a little more tired after their walk. Liesl trails behind them, a little more tired than the energetic 5 and 7 year olds. Friedrich and Kurt follow soon after. Maria smiles at them.

"Enjoyed yourselves on your walk?" asks Maria, getting up and putting the guitar aside. Marta and Gretl grab onto Maria's skirt.

"Oh Mother! We saw the biggest frogs around the flowerbed when we were playing hide and seek!" yells Marta and goes into talking about the frogs. I've noticed that any time Marta and Gretl call Fraulein Mother, she, in a very subtle way, flinches. Maybe she's worried the little ones will forget our biological mother. I think that might be a discussion for when we're all together, since Father isn't here right now, and might not be here to provide insight, and a detailed explanation of who our real Mother was. Good news is that he's coming home tonight, so it should be a talk in the near future. Maybe then Maria will relax a little.

Franz walks into the room, carrying a big brown box with an address line on the side stating our address and Fraulein's name. We all look over, curious at the package. I don't think Nonnberg would give her that much stuff. Nuns aren't supposed to have anything of their own, or at least that's how Maria put it.

"This is for Fraulein Maria, from the Count and Countess Whitehead." says Franz and puts the box on the desk. Whitehead, that's Mother's last name. That's from grandfather and grandmother!

"That's our grandparents. Are you sure that it's not meant for us?" says Liesl, a little confused at the name. Franz just points at the name on the box, and Maria looks on, a little confused at the situation. Franz then decides to leave

"Open it up. Maybe it's something for you to hold on for Father." offers Louisa. Maria nods, and smiles, satisfied with the idea of the reason behind the package. We huddle around the box as Maria gingerly pulls off the knots and opens the box. We all gasp as Maria delicately pulls the fabric out of the box.

It was a long white dress, with long sleeves and the skirt down to the floor. There was no question in our minds. We haven't been to a wedding at any point in recent memory, but it doesn't take all 7 of us to figure out that what was in Maria's hands was a wedding dress. Maria cautiously, just about as shocked as we are, puts the dress against her to measure it up, almost as though she's not quite sure this was meant for her.

"Oh Maria, please put it on!" cries out Liesl, "It looks so beautiful on you!"

Maria, for the first time since Father told us about the marriage plans, looks at the dress, not being able to speak and with a few tears welling in her eyes.

"Fraulein, are you sad?" asks Marta.

"No, this is just very beautiful and very kind of your grandparents to send to me." Maria shakes her head, smiling. I remember Maria, on one of the rare occasions she talks to us about her past, told us about how both her parents were dead before she was 8 years old. Maybe she's always imagined this moment before but with her mother and father with her.

"We should write a big thank you letter to Grandma and Grandpa!" I offer, and we get down to business, as Maria wipes away her tears and the cogs of her mind begin to work out the words to express the boundless happiness she feels.

I look at the clock on the train station as we wait for the 6 o'clock train. Dang it, the one day we come to pick him up from the station with Fraulein and he isn't on time. Liesl told me he's not responsible for the trains, but it doesn't lessen my frustration and Fraulein Maria's obvious nerves. She's been standing close to us, but keeps searching for the telltale plume of smoke and the sound of churning wheels. Gretl keeps asking if anything happened and why Father's so late, but Maria says that it's nothing to worry about and it's just that the workers sometimes need extra time before to be ready to go to the next station.

"Fraulein, why do you need to go back to the abbey for a week before the wedding?" asks Kurt, for like the 10th time. Maria, still patient as ever, sighs and looks over at him.

"Nonnberg has been my home for a long time beforehand, and I want to spend a few days preparing and praying before I marry your father. Marriage is before God, and I want to assure God that I will give my 100% of my love and care for you guys." she repeats.

"And Father?" smiles Liesl cheekily. Maria always seems to blush whenever the topic of loving Father comes up. Well, it has only been fairly recently that the adults got their heads on straight and confessed already. Maybe she's still not used to saying that out loud.

"Yes Liesl, and your father." Maria replies, cheeks red, before her eyes sparkle, as she looks out towards the tracks.

"Look! It's Father's train!" calls out Kurt, excited. We all take a few steps to look at the cloud of smoke and the familiar sound of the train growing ever louder. I can see Fraulein step a few paces in front of us, her eyes trained squarely on the locomotive.

The train screeches and roars into the station, before fizzing smoke out of every crevice. People start to disembark, as we look for the familiar face of the captain. The first person to notice isn't us or even Gretl, even though since he's started to open up, she can pick up on Father like you would an opposite magnet.

Before any of us can see his face, Maria starts walking up towards the clock on the tracks, then begins to run, pushing past people. We follow her afterwards after we see her target.

Father is standing, suitcases in hand, impeccably dressed as usual, and his eyes glinting with longing and relief at seeing Fraulein. He drops his things and braces himself, as Fraulein flies into his arms. His arms are tightly laced around his fiancé's back. Maria settles into his arms and proceeds to kiss Father. I slow down a few meters away. It's not good to listen into a conversation, but it's better than interrupting, at least in this case. Maria may have been trying her best to make sure that she doesn't worry us, but it doesn't take a genius to guess she missed Father the most out of all of us, guaranteed.

"Maria, can it be possible that you missed the cranky captain?" he asks Maria, a playful grin on his face. Maria's face, bright and happy, ignores the jab and tells him:

"Utterly and completely. And I got a wedding dress from the Count and Countess Whitehead today, and I was so overjoyed, Captain, and-"

"I know, they wanted to come, but unfortunately, the Countess hasn't been feeling well lately. They were so happy that you were going to be the children's mother, they had to give you something. My darling, I couldn't be happier." Father explains, looking at Maria, as his forehead presses to hers. Maria, undeniably happy, just enjoys the embrace. We, as in all 7 of us, then attack Father in a big hug. The older kids and my younger siblings all start telling him about all our adventures all at once, so Father probably heard none of us in the cacophony of the station. I just keep quiet and smile, because this is just the first of many memories of my new mother, as my mother.

Ring, ring.

It's on. It's happening. I swear, if they drag this out any longer, I will get a stomach ache from the excitement. I'm already feeling the butterflies. Although, I don't need to be a genius to know that the most nervous out of all of us is definitely Maria herself.

The last week was intense. Maria left on the Monday to go back to the abbey, all of two days after Father came back. Let's just say that without Maria, we had about as much structure as we did at any time between governesses. Liesl took on the responsibility of trying to make sure we didn't get into trouble, but that didn't stop Louisa from sneaking in a frog to have as a pet, or stop Marta from nearly screaming when she lost her teddy bear. The only time we were semi-peaceful would probably be our 2 picnics on the mountain with Father, where we played a soccer game, and when we tried to learn the new version of Do-Re-Mi that Maria was teaching us before she left. It was definitely harder, with a new time and more metronome work, where I, for one, and Kurt for two were just about ready to chuck the little box out a window, but we did improve. Although, without the patient force that is Maria, there was a lot more yelling at each other involved.

Father also told us about the honeymoon in Paris, which, yes, that sounds like a wonderful place, and what Liesl would call romantic with a capital R, that means she'll be away even longer, and I'm not sure how much longer she can be away without us quite honestly breaking something.

That's when uncle Max decided to step in and offer to babysit us when the parents will be off on the honeymoon. I'm very sure that there is an ulterior motive involved because when Father isn't looking, he's telling us about the Salzburg folk festival. I know he wanted us to perform, but Father gave him exactly zero permission to go with us so that we can perform, so I'm guessing he's trying to convince us to agree to go with him of our own free will without Father noticing. I'll be very surprised if we end up going. I'd be happy and excited to go, but I'm about 99% sure Father won't let us go at the last second.

Ring, ring.

The huge organ begins to play, as I snap out of my thoughts. This is it. The moment I've been waiting for for so long. I'm in a fancy dress standing up and looking at the back of the cathedral along with the majority of my siblings. We're going to have the best mother in the world. Father's standing at the end of the long walkway, dressed in full navy officer uniform, staring down at her.

Fraulein, our former governess, not 10 minutes away from becoming our mother and Mrs. Maria Augusta Von Trapp, is standing at the back of the cathedral. Liesl hands her a bouquet, and the bride smiles at her charge, taking it. Maria then looks up directly at Father. Her dress is practically shining in the light of the cathedral. The columns of light are streaming through the cathedral like beacons of light to ships coming home to harbour. Maria said that the abbey for the longest time was home to her, but I disagree. It was her ocean before coming home, coming home to us. The Mother Abbess told me as much herself.

When Maria was leaving, we went with her to see her off. At the gate of the Abbey, where not too long ago we were waiting to see Maria and talk to her, was the Mother Abbess, or who I think is the Mother Abbess, based on Fraulein's description. She was about our governess' height, and her warm weathered face was kind as Maria walked up to her.

"Thank you for greeting us, Mother Abbess." Maria said before curtsying politely. I think that's the only person I've ever seen Maria act so reverently to before.

"Of course my child. And are these the children you'll be the mother of soon?" Mother Abbess asked her. Maria looked at us and nodded.

"Oh Maria! Can you please show us a little of the abbey? I want to know what your life was like here!" asked Marta, curious about her new mother's old home. Maria looked questioningly at the head of the convent. The matriarch silently nodded, adding: "Just so long as they don't disturb those in prayer."

As my siblings left to follow Maria, something made me stay with the matronly woman. I looked up at her and asked: "Are you sad that Maria will be gone and won't become a nun anymore?"

The Mother Abbess took notice of me and looked over at me, surprised but still smiling at my question.

"Truth be told, I don't think she would've become a nun, even if she did come back in September." she said quietly. My eyes widened. But wasn't that Maria's mission, her greatest goal in life, when she came to our house? The older lady noticed my confusion, and continued: "Maria is a good girl, and a strong believer. But I think that, despite everything she was planning, God wanted her to give her gifts and love to the world, rather than stay here forever. I think it was God's plan all along, that Maria needed to learn to believe, and then bring that joy for life to your family. She will always be part of our family, but she needed to find her own dream. And that dream will bring you all together, especially now, in the coming storm."

"What storm? Does it have something to do with the spider?" I asked. For the first time, I saw a flicker of genuine surprise and something not unlike dread, flicker in the old woman's eyes. Then she took a few steps, and crouched low to me, pulling out something like a carved wooden cross on a string out of her habits.

"That's something only God would know. But don't worry, my child. You will all go through trials and tribulations, for that is the rule of this world. Have faith, and you can find your dream." she deflected the question. I took the cross. That was the only conversation I had with this lady, but truth be told, I think that was the wisest thing anyone has ever said to me.

Maria's even steps take her ever closer to the altar, as the nuns sing about her, or at least I think that's about our Maria, because I don't know of any other Maria who has exactly those qualities. Her face was serious, but her eyes betray her sense of awe and genuine happiness. Uncle Max is standing with Father, as his best man. Father is barely breathing, as he looks on to his future wife. Maria reaches the stairs and as she walks up, he outstretches his hand towards his fiance. Fraulein takes her fiance's hand and they walk towards the altar, where the archbishop of Salzburg is standing. I'm practically grinning ear to each as Maria hands Liesl the bouquet and kneels with Father before the archbishop begins the ceremony to unite them. I can feel the tears prick at my eyelids as the joy of seeing my parents unite threatens to overflow my heart. This is it. Fraulein will stay. She'll be our mother, and no matter what, we'll be alright, because we're a family and we'll always be together. I could cry and jump for joy. The only thing stopping me is that I cannot ruin this moment. A year ago, I'd be alone, reading a book, or planning to remove another governess, trying to remember what my father's hug felt like. And now, I could cry with joy as our Father marries the only woman I could ever see as our new mother.

Welcome home, Maria.

Thank you for reading this to the end. Hope you liked this fanfic!