See the marketplace in Old Algiers

Send me photographs and souvenirs

Just remember when a dream appears

You belong to me

"You Belong to Me," Patsy Cline, Sentimentally Yours (1962)

Cannes was just as beautiful as it had been the last time Georg had been here with Agathe many years ago. At that time, they had only toted four children along with them, and Agathe had been pregnant with Brigitta, but she had begged him for a trip to the sea. Somehow, Cannes had only become more vibrant since that time. He took his time strolling down a street of vendors that were clearly (and successfully) targeting wealthy tourists, stopping at each stall to take in the craftsmanship of local merchants.

He looked to the other side of the street, where Liesl was carefully guiding Marta and Gretl through the crowd of pedestrians. He smiled to himself at the sight- his two little girls had their arms full of small trinkets; they were likely unable to see over their stacks of goodies. Liesl had been right to suggest that she take some money with her to make purchases for her sisters. A tantrum or two would have surely ensued if Gretl had been forced to put back any of her souvenirs.

Mindlessly, he picked up a postcard that showed a photo of the gorgeous coastline and put it back down. Who would he write to, anyway?

As he turned away from the postcard display, the glint of sunlight reflecting off glass caught his eye. He craned his neck to see what had grabbed his attention. He took a step closer- it was a snow globe, beautifully crafted, that depicted the Musée de la Castre, a medieval castle and former Monastery. Unable to help himself, he shook it, and watched the flakes of soap and semolina fall to the bottom. It was a little unusual to see snow falling in Cannes, but he had to admit that the scene was idyllic.

Looking at the imposing stone walls of the castle, he wondered how Fraulein Maria would ever enjoy life cloistered behind the stone walls of Nonnberg Abbey. Forget enjoying life- how would she survive there? He couldn't imagine her living in such a restrictive setting, despite the fond way she talked about her life there. When he pictured Maria living her life, it was her surrounded by children- often his children, no matter how hard he tried to imagine otherwise- singing and laughing loudly, always outside enjoying nature.

For a moment, he considered buying her the snow globe. How would he present it to her?

"Here, Fraulein, to remind you that there is life outside the Abbey."

"Here, Fraulein, I can't place why, but I thought you might enjoy this."

"Here, Fraulein, I thought you might like to see such a grand home for servants of the Lord."

"Here, Fraulein, a token of my appreciation. An attempt to show that I care about your future."

He put the snowglobe down with a sigh and shook his head. Stupid. What was he doing, giving gifts to his children's governess? Gifts that, in a few weeks' time, she would be required to leave behind when she gave up all her worldly possessions for a life of poverty?

"Father!" Gretl squealed. At some point, she and her sisters must have crossed the street. "Look what we found!"

"Oh my!" Georg crouched to her level, pretending to be surprised at the large quantity of her haul. "What on earth did you ladies buy?"

"I found a doll that looks like me!" Marta informed him, flashing a toothy grin.

"I have the dolls, Father," Liesl interrupted. She held up one of the small bags she had been carrying as evidence. "They're porcelain and I didn't want them getting dropped."

Georg nodded his thanks at Liesl, and made a mental note to properly thank her later for watching over her little sisters at such a busy market.

"We got these, too, Father!" Gretl pulled out several colorful beaded necklaces and waved them about excitedly. She untangled one from the others and extended it toward him. "This one is for Fraulein Maria, and we got more so we can match with her!"

"And we got her a painting!" Marta exclaimed, pointing to another bag Liesl was holding. "It shows the beach that we went to yesterday! Fraulein Maria has never been to the beach, you know," she said pointedly, as if it was somehow his fault that her governess had never seen the ocean.

"It was very kind of you to think of Fraulein Maria," he said, slightly relieved that he hadn't been the only one to find himself shopping for the young woman who had wormed her way into their family. "I'm sure she will appreciate your thoughtfulness."

At his comment, Liesl blanched.

"Oh, Father!" She groaned. "We didn't get any gifts for the Baroness! Let me go find something." She began to walk away, but Georg reached out and grabbed her arm to stop her.

"Don't worry about the Baroness. I'm sure she already has a full suitcase at the villa."

In all honesty, Georg wasn't sure if Elsa would even appreciate a small souvenir brought to her from the children. She would never be rude about it; Elsa was never one to make enemies, even of a child. She would accept whatever bauble brought to her with grace and poise, making sure to only toss it in the garbage after the children were safely tucked into bed. He couldn't imagine her lighting up at a simple gift the way he knew Fraulein Maria would upon receipt of her necklace and painting.

The chatter of his middle children grew louder as they reached the spot where he stood. Like their siblings, they all carried a few small bags each and were clearly excited about their purchases. Letting them shop for themselves had been a little daunting for Georg, but he had heard Fraulein Maria's stern warning for him loud and clear, as if she was right next to him, while they had begged for the chance to walk the market alone.

"Just take small steps, Captain. Let them practice being independent in little ways. If you forbid it, they will rebel."

She had been right- Friedrich, Louisa, Kurt, and Brigitta had carefully budgeted and spent the five Francs he had given each of them.
Friedrich had purchased a small model sailboat reminiscent of the boats his father collected while Brigitta and Louisa had pooled their money to purchase two books that would help them learn the French language, as well as a copy of the French version of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca. Kurt had wandered a bit beyond the trinkets to find a food vendor and purchased enough crepes to keep him satisfied until dinner.

To Georg's surprise- though he wasn't sure why he was surprised- the four of them had put their remaining money together to purchase a shell mosaic for Fraulein Maria. He hadn't seen a sailor's valentine in years, though this wasn't exactly like the ones he had purchased during his time in the navy. This mosaic, though intricate and painstakingly crafted, bore no message on the inside. It was a simple, multicolored flower- the perfect choice for their governess.

"I chose it, Father," Friedrich boasted. "Do you think Fraulein Maria will like it?"

"She'll love it, son." Georg gently ruffled Friedrich's blond hair. "I used to send these home to your mother."

Flashes of the valentines he had sent to Agathe ran through his mind- "Forever Yours," "Think of Me," "Forget Me Not When Far Away"- all spelled out in small shells, surrounded in delicate designs. Guilt washed over him when he remembered that they sat gathering dust in the attic; he would have to rectify that upon his return.

"Father, did you get a gift for Fraulein Maria, too?" Brigitta asked, eyeing his empty hands with curiosity.

"No, darling," he chuckled. "I don't think Fraulein Maria would want anything from me."

"You never know, Father," Kurt shrugged.

His mind wandered back to the snow globe, still calling out to him from down the street.

Georg tossed and turned, unable to sleep. Afraid to sleep, rather. Every night that they had been in Cannes, he had been haunted by her vision in his sleep. On the first night, he had felt sure that she was watching him sleep. It was undoubtedly one of the oddest experiences of his life- he knew he was dreaming, yet he was certain that he was watching himself sleep, and seeing Fraulein Maria watch over him as well. She just stared at him, unaware that he was watching her from some other dimension.

The second night, his dream had been less innocent. Though he was ashamed to admit it, it wasn't the first time his subconscious had fantasized about Fraulein Maria in such a manner. He had trouble remembering the exact contents of his dream from that night- it had not startled him as much as his vision the night before. All he could remember was that they were outside, perhaps by the lake, talking of the future. She had admitted that she would not be returning to Nonnberg, though she wasn't sure what else the future held for her. He had made some sort of joke about the future, and then someone had initiated a kiss. Then, as it always happened, they had moved from the lush green grass beneath him to the master suite.

Perhaps that dream was why he had been so drawn to the snow globe that featured a former monastery. Not because his vivid imagination had conjured up rather explicit images of her breaking her vow of chastity, though that certainly didn't help, but because she had spoken with such honest conviction about finding her life outside the Abbey. Her speech about the future, the emotion behind it- it had all felt so real. He still believed every word of it, even if it had been a product of his subconscious. The monastery itself had changed to a museum, and Maria could change too. In some odd way, he wanted to give it to her as reassurance that she would succeed on whatever path she chose to follow. Or perhaps to encourage her to admit to herself that her chosen vocation was ill-suited to her personality and disposition. Somehow, in his gut, he felt that he could simply give it to her and she would just know. She would understand his intentions and his meaning.

His dream last night had been based in reality. They had been in his study chatting animatedly about the children's studies, and she had been wearing the blue dress she had debuted on the night he sang Edelweiss. It had been simple; they had enjoyed each other's company and spoken of the children. The banality of it all had felt so secure, so genuine.

Tonight, his last night in Cannes, the unpredictability of his subconscious made it impossible to sleep. How could he possibly return to the villa tomorrow evening and act as if he hadn't been plagued by visions of her? Was there a chance that the Lord would grant him peace for this one night and allow him to have a satisfying, dreamless sleep?

With a sigh, he turned over again, laying on his side and looking out the large bay window. The view from the hotel's penthouse really was beautiful. He watched as waves lit by the moon crashed peacefully onto the shore, approaching and retreating over and over again.

"Fraulein Maria has never been to the beach, you know."

He wondered briefly if Maria would enjoy the view that he held so sacred. As someone who appreciated the beauty of nature, he was sure that she would find it stunning, though he couldn't imagine anything holding a candle to her mountain. The way she talked about the open fields and meadows was the way he talked about the sea- and he was sure that no mountain view would ever live up to his magnificent ocean.

He turned again, trying to find a comfortable position on his back that would induce sleep. He pulled his limbs in close, mimicking the position he had slept in as a sailor, which was usually a surefire way to pull him under.

Of course, it was pointless, and he returned to his ocean view within minutes to ponder exactly what the future might hold for him upon his return to Aigen. Elsa and Max would be back from Vienna in a few days with a car full of party supplies and a grand gown for her to wear. Fraulein Maria would return from the Abbey in time for breakfast the day after tomorrow, giving him one night at home alone with the children to unpack and settle before unleashing them on her. He wondered briefly how she had spent her days without the children before remembering that she had returned to Nonnberg for their five days away. Again, he wondered if she felt that she truly belonged there.

He let himself be hypnotized by the rhythm of the waves.

Approach. Retreat. Approach. Retreat.

"Fraulein Maria has never been to the beach, you know."

Maria approached the von Trapp villa after her time away with excitement. She would be seeing the children and the Captain again, she would be allowed to sing at most hours of the day, and she would be granted the freedom that she had missed so dearly in her short time away. It had been wonderful, on one hand, to see her sisters and the Reverend Mother; she had missed them all terribly over the past months. Sister Margaretta had introduced her to the new postulants, one of whom was set to take her vows in the coming weeks. That had been a blow. Maria had spent years working to be worthy of the Sisterhood to no avail.

Still, she tried not to dwell on it. Perhaps this was something to add to the nagging feeling in her gut that she would never fit in at the Abbey.

She opened the door to the villa and was ambushed by six excited children, all jumping and hugging and begging to be the first to tell her of their grand adventures in Cannes.

"Children!" She laughed, trying to hug each child individually. She hadn't realized just how much she had missed them, but she could already feel the dull ache of her heart fading away. "The beach and the sea sound lovely, but so does breakfast!"

Liesl, who had been watching the encounter from the entrance to the dining room, beamed at her governess.

"You're a little late for breakfast, Fraulein," she giggled, "but we saved you a plate."

"This time, it was the bus that was late, not me!" Maria insisted.

Gretl and Marta each grabbed one of her hands and dragged her along to the dining room, talking over each other about the beach while Kurt and Louisa debated the best and worst aspects of French cuisine.

Maria, nervous about seeing the Captain for the first time in nearly a week, had failed to notice their chatter dying down as they reached the large dining room table.

"Oh, my! What's all this?" Maria felt as if her heart might burst. Just behind her waiting plate of eggs and sausage was a small stack of gifts, each wrapped with simple brown paper and tied with string.

"We brought you presents from Cannes!" Marta, proudly sporting her new necklace, giggled into Maria's skirt before she moved to her place at the table.

"Open them, Fraulein Maria!" Kurt demanded, impatient to see her reactions.

"Don't you all think I should be polite and eat my breakfast first?" Maria couldn't help the small laugh that escaped her, and not just because Kurt's face was entirely sunburnt while the rest of him remained pale.

"On the contrary, Fraulein," Georg smirked, "I believe my children will only grow more rude the longer you resist their gifts."

This time, Maria laughed heartily, trying not to focus on the way his fork lingered at his lips as he spoke. He, she observed, had not suffered the same fate as Kurt, but had simply enhanced his preexisting tan. Had it made him even more handsome? She tried not to dwell on it and instead focused on the pile before her.

One by one, she opened her gifts, thanking all of the children for their thoughtfulness. She had no desire to know who picked what or where from- getting gifts at all was quite a novel experience for her. With complete honesty, she admitted that she had never felt so loved in all her life. Of course, the earnestness of her words had gone over the heads of the little ones, but Liesl, Friedrich, and the Captain had all given her looks of understanding.

Naturally, the children were all eager to enjoy their final day of vacation- no studying, their Father had decided- and play with their new toys and souvenirs. Gretl and Marta ran out to the terrace with their new dolls, not heeding Liesl's warning to slow down. Brigitta and Louisa followed the lead of their younger sisters and set out into the sun to learn a new language, something Louisa already seemed to have a knack for. Friedrich, a little shy, asked for his father's help in building his model ship. Maria was pleased to see the Captain heartily agree to the suggestion.

"I'll just bring my things upstairs, Captain, then I'll go out to supervise the others," she informed him.

Carefully, she placed her new necklace over her head, allowing it to fall against her chest, and gathered the rest of her new possessions in her arms. Her clumsiness would not get in the way this time; she would not fall and damage any of her gifts. She was determined.

The sound of the Captain clearing his throat made her jump, but only slightly, and she tightened her grip on the items in her arms. She hesitated for a moment but did not turn to face him, wanting to be sure that he was trying to address her.

"It is nice to see you again, Fraulein, truly," he said softly. "I hope you had a restful few days away."

She turned to him, clinging carefully to each item that was already precious to her. He could tell that she was about to say something before she stopped herself and closed her mouth into a tight line. Unable to resist the urge to tease her, and possibly provoke an argument, he cocked his head and smirked. What funny quip about the Abbey did she have in store this time?

"Yes, Fraulein?"

"Thank you for the snow globe, Captain."


Thank you to MsHope for reading this over for and providing me with wonderful feedback!

I would recommend looking up images of sailor's valentines- they are quite beautiful and I had never seen one before starting work on this story!