Salzburg, Austria

July 28, 1830

Dear Journal,

It seems only fitting that this is the first page of a new journal. It's hard to believe I have gone through three since I received that first journal from Father a year and a half ago. That feels like a lifetime ago! I am glad I have kept myself disciplined in journaling each night, even if it's only a few sentences. I think I would have gone insane otherwise!

As I intended, I handed the journal I used through my debut down to Louisa, with instructions that Friedrich may borrow it as needed. Hopefully they will learn from my mistakes just as much as my successes- if it can be said that I had any successes over my time in Vienna's ballrooms.

My one success, Eva, rolled over by herself for the first time yesterday while Father and I were singing her a song- what a shock it was! One moment, she was rocking back and forth on her back, almost dancing to the music, and the next she had rolled over! I think Father teared up, though he'd never admit it. He seemed irritated enough when Maria called him an old grandfather at breakfast! He told me to watch my back; Eva will be crawling before I know it, and then we are really in trouble!

Of course, it is most fitting that this entry begins a new journal because Father and Maria are to be married tomorrow. We have all been waiting far too long for their union to be blessed by God. Though, as Brigitta has taken to pointing out, Maria was certainly sent to us by Him- this final blessing is a mere formality.

Yours Truly,

Liesl


The air of the Untersberg, as always, calmed Maria's mind and refreshed her soul. Though, she had to admit, there was very little in her life that caused her any discontent to begin with. She was to be married tomorrow, after all! The chapel had once again been decorated to host a wedding, though this time the decorations were more to her taste; there were bunches of wildflowers at the end of each pew tied with string as opposed to the ribbons Liesl had used to decorate for her ceremony. She had decided not to make a new gown for herself- it seemed rather impractical when she already owned so many- and had instead opted to wear the gray-lilac gown she had worn over a year ago, her favorite from her time as Johann's chaperone.

She looked over to the chapel where she would stand at the small altar with Georg in the morning. As a small girl, she had harbored a morbid fascination with its dark history more than any thoughts for its future. Now, the future occupied a great deal of her thoughts. Tomorrow, she would officially become the wife of Georg and mother of his children. Of course, she had acted as such for a year now, and she had become quite confident in her ability to act as a wife and mother. She had taken the time to learn how to run an aristocratic household, despite Georg's constant reassurances that she needed to do nothing more than marry him.

She had spent time with Georg's children as a group and individually, getting to know them beyond their most basic traits. She had walked the little ones to school each morning on her way to work and walked them home on her way back. She had delighted in being the first to hear about their days and the highs and lows of their academic and social lives. This, of course, had left out Louisa, who was out of school, and so Maria had dedicated a few free evenings to horse riding with the von Trapp she had perceived to be the most closed-off. It had taken time and diligence, but her attempts to connect with Louisa had paid off. She had earned Louisa's trust and respect, which was a triumph for anyone, let alone someone marrying Louisa's father. Though things were busier during the summer months, she and Louisa had maintained a riding date once every two weeks when the weather was pleasant.

Christmas with the von Trapps and Kutscheras- and Max- had been the happiest time of her life, without question. The children had barely been able to wait until December to spruce up their new home with an overwhelming amount of decorations. Max had even partaken in the celebration of Krampus day; he and Maria had designed and crafted a rather terrifying costume and mask for him to wear in the village near Johann and Liesl's home on the Untersberg. Maria and Georg had been worried that it would all be too scary for the little ones, as Krampus Day was not widely celebrated in Vienna, but all the children had loved it. As was tradition, they celebrated the season with a Christmas tree inside the villa. The children had spent hours placing ornaments and decorated candies on the sturdy branches, and Marta had taken particular care to ensure that there were no large empty spaces on the tree.

She and Georg had been able to spend a great deal of time in Salzburg shopping for gifts that would be from both them and the Christkind. On these occasions, Max had been gracious enough to insist that he would rather sit by the fire in a small cafe than tag along, granting the two of them precious time alone. Of course, with other shoppers darting in and out of every toy and bookstore, they hadn't really been alone, but they had cherished the time together nonetheless. It had given them the ability to discuss things that they hadn't been comfortable speaking about in front of Max and the children. There was the elusive honeymoon that Georg refused to disclose a thing about, Friedrich's upcoming social debut (which would surely be less scandalous than Liesl's), the children's performance in school, the way they were coping with the move to Aigen and their father's new relationship… There hadn't been enough time in the market to get through everything they wished to discuss!

As both she and Georg had secretly hoped, they had managed to steal a moment in a small, unlit alley behind the local bookstore. The adorable wooden doll purchased for Gretl had fallen from Maria's grasp the moment she found herself pinned between Georg and the stone wall behind her. There was a thrill in that encounter that she hadn't yet experienced- there was a risk of being caught, not just by Max, but by a perfect stranger, that made the entire situation all the more arousing. They had not cared a bit that Gretl's doll was ruined by the sludge on the ground, though she had blushed furiously when they returned to the shop later in the afternoon to purchase another and the owner had questioned the fate of the first one. For just a moment, she missed the relative anonymity of Vienna, despite the fact that it had been taken from her over a year before.

Christmastime had been most special, however, because the children had all begun calling her "Mother" on Christmas Day. Any of her lingering doubts over their acceptance of her had vanished that morning.

Maria had attended Midnight Mass alone on Christmas Eve; the children had been completely worn out by a long day of celebrations. She didn't mind going by herself- it gave her time for prayer and reflection, as well as exposure to different readings than the ones she would hear with the entire family when they attended Christmas Day mass. She had been a little tired waking up early for morning mass after staying up so late, but Christmas Day was always so joyous that the lack of sleep failed to catch up with her until well into the night.

After mass, a large breakfast had been held at the von Trapp villa. Liesl, now visibly pregnant, was doted on by Johann, who was already radiating happiness at the thought of being a father. He fussed over her incessantly, asking how she was feeling and if she was at all nauseous. Despite Liesl's constant assurances that her morning sickness had faded with her first trimester, Johann was insistent that the stress of the holidays may bring it on again. Maria was sure that he was struggling to figure out where to place his newfound paternal protective instincts- thankfully, Liesl did not seem to mind.

With all in a merry and festive mood, their morning feast was devoured among light chatter and discussions of gifts given. Maria, however, couldn't help but notice the darting eyes of the children going around the table, all looking at one another as if they were keeping a secret. When she questioned them, their nervous chatter affirmed her suspicions, but she brushed it off. Georg's children did love to plan impromptu shows and surprises for their family, and it would only make sense to put on a Christmas performance.

Looking back, it was clear that the children had discussed the order of operations many times and had created their own little plan of action. In a touching gesture, it had been Louisa, the most guarded von Trapp child, to say it first. The moment Maria had possession of the butter, the young girl made a point to lock eyes with her.

"Mother, may I have the butter when you're finished?"

Maria, so shocked that she had left her bread unbuttered, passed the dish over to Louisa without a word. She turned to Georg, wondering if he put the children up to such a scheme, but he was gaping back at her with eyes just as wide as hers. After a moment, he collected himself, and gave her a reassuring smile, though he still seemed completely taken aback by Louisa's question.

Then, one by one, the rest had followed:

"Mother, would you please hand me the salt?"

"Mother, what did you think of the readings Father Josef selected? I thought they were just wonderful!"

"Mother, Gretl has jam on her face, would you mind helping her?"

Only then had Maria, Georg, and Max wisened up to their ploy. Quite obviously, Gretl had purposefully smeared jam across her cheek with gusto, having committed to the role assigned to her by her older siblings. With a broad smile, the little girl had turned to Maria with her purple-stained cheeks and handed over an extra napkin.

"Mother, I made a mess!" The little girl had laughed, unable to contain her sweet giggles.

"I can see that, darling," Maria had responded, unable to contain her own laughter as she wiped the sticky patch on Gretl's cheek clean.

"Mother?" Brigitta called, jolting Maria from her trance, "the sun will be setting soon; Father says it is time to say goodbye and go home."

"I'll be ready in just a moment, love, just let me say goodbye to Liesl and Eva." Maria rose to her feet and took a moment to stretch. "Why don't you round everyone up so they can say goodbye as well?"

Brigitta, always happy to be in charge of her siblings, took off with great enthusiasm to find the rest of her family while Maria made her way to the cottage. Georg was far too enamored with Eva to spend much time away from her.

Even from a few paces outside the home, Maria could hear the piercing sound of Eva's cries.

"She's just tired, Father." Liesl's voice carried through the open window as Maria reached the front door and began to open it.

"She's had a long day with all of us here; hopefully she sleeps well."

Maria entered just in time to see Georg reaching down to give Eva one final kiss. He received a glowing smile and giggle from his granddaughter in response.

"Hopefully!" Liesl chirped. "Father, when do they let you sleep through the night, every night?" As it was now, Eva was only letting her sleep through the night a few times a week.

"Sleep through the night?" Georg snickered lightly. "I haven't done that in twenty years!"

Maria laughed, making her presence known, and all three turned to greet her.

"I've just come to say goodbye, and then we'll need to be on our way back home." The path back to Salzburg was rather treacherous in the dark, even for the adults.

Liesl sighed, not wanting her family to leave, but comforted by the thought of seeing them again early in the morning. She walked over to Maria and embraced her gently.

"I'll see you first thing in the morning, yes?" Liesl whispered.

"Bright and early," Maria laughed. She pulled back and glanced over at Georg, who was having a private conversation with baby Eva, before confirming her plans for the morning. "It will be Gretl, Marta, Brigitta, and I early in the morning. Brigitta can watch the little ones and help them get ready."

"We will have breakfast ready for all of you," Liesl promised. "Johann is going to take care of Eva after I feed her, so it will be just the two of us." Blue eyes sparking, Liesl smiled at the idea of time alone with Maria. She loved her daughter more than anything, but it had been months since she had been able to completely forego her motherly duties. Getting ready with Maria and helping prepare her sisters would be a welcome break from her routine.

"You can forget my breakfast; I think I'll be too nervous to eat anything!"

"You won't be." Liesl's reply was firm, spoken with the authority of someone who'd been through it all before. "You love Father and he loves you. All you're doing is saying that in front of all of us!" There was a small pause while Liesl giggled. "From the amount that Kurt bellyaches about it, I'd wager you've done that before."

"Kurt," Georg cut in, "will have to learn to deal with hearing such admissions from us if he insists on keeping his habit of eavesdropping." He walked over to the two women and handed Eva to Maria, who quickly gave the sweet girl a kiss on the forehead. Eva's blue eyes were just as striking as her mother's, though she had inherited the lighter hair of her father. As was her habit, Eva did not give Maria the wide smiles she reserved for her grandfather.

"She never smiles at me like she does at you, Georg!" Maria whined, pretending to be hurt as she handed her granddaughter over to Liesl. "I will just say it's because she's tired from her exciting day."

"Oh, I don't know, darling," Georg smirked, "she smiled at me just now, like she did all evening."

"Ohh," Maria growled, turning to her fiancé, "be careful, Georg, or I will leave you at the altar tomorrow!"

Before he could respond, the chatter of the children outside grew louder as the six of them reached the front of the cottage. The sounds of Kurt and Brigitta arguing filled the air, though the two of them- aided by Friedrich's pleas for them to hush- had enough tact to quiet down as they entered their sister's home.

"Goodbye, everyone!" Liesl said, raising her voice just enough to carry over the incessant chatter of her siblings, not doubting that Eva would remain undisturbed. Her sweet child had gotten used to the usual abundance of family noise very quickly.

A chorus of farewells and auf wiedersehens followed. Friedrich walked over to wrap an arm around his sister and press a kiss to the top of her head before spending a moment cooing and fussing over Eva. Liesl couldn't help but smile- it seemed he took after their father, putting on a tough exterior but falling to pieces over her infant daughter.

"All right everyone, we need to be going," Georg called out. The exhaustion of a day in the sun and the anticipation of his wedding day were both catching up to him, and he was suddenly quite impatient to get home. He ushered his children out the door, saying one last goodbye to his daughter before shutting the door behind him.

Maria wrapped Liesl in one final hug.

"Give Johann my best when he gets home from work, please," she instructed.

"Of course I will, Maria."

With Liesl's assurance and one last kiss to Eva's soft head, Maria followed her family out the door. She was surprised to see Georg standing alone without any of the children in sight.

"Georg?" She asked slowly.

"Friedrich and Louisa offered to help the others hike down so we could walk at our own pace." With a sly grin, he extended a hand in her direction, and she accepted the invitation gladly. They walked together in silence for a few moments before Maria's curiosity about their current predicament beat out her desire to pester him further about their honeymoon.

"It's odd that those two would offer such a thing," she said with only a hint of sarcasm, "since Louisa told me just last weekend that she was finding Gretl and Marta to be more annoying the older they got, and Friedrich readily agreed to her observation."

"I may have asked them to go on without us," he conceded.

"I'm glad for it either way," she sighed, leaning her head on his shoulder. "I've missed you."

Unlike their usual rare minutes alone, neither of them made to start something they could not finish until they were married. Perhaps it was because they were to be married in the morning, and they knew the temptation would be too strong to resist. There was the fact that the children were undoubtedly somewhere nearby, and to be caught in a heated embrace wouldn't do either of them any good. More than anything, there was the quiet contentment, the peace and stability, that surrounded them. Neither wanted to break such a magical spell.

"I don't know if I can wait until tomorrow to be married," Maria breathed after several minutes of contented quietude.

"It's less than twenty-four hours, darling," he soothed, though he understood where she was coming from.

"I just hate the feeling of not being married to you."

"I know." Georg sighed. "But as I recall, I offered to marry you much earlier than tomorrow!"

"A year was the right choice, don't you agree?" Maria asked, suddenly worried that he resented her decision to wait.

"Undoubtedly," he assured her, raising their joined hands and pressing a kiss to the backs of hers.

Maria stumbled a bit on a tree root that extended far out onto the path. Georg, with his impeccable reflexes, tightened his grip on her hand and reached out with his other arm to catch her. Perhaps it was cliché and melodramatic, but Maria took it as a prophecy of sorts. How many times, from the ballrooms of Vienna to this moment just before their wedding day, had she stumbled and he been there to catch her? How many times had he tripped over her during a waltz and depended on her to keep him upright? They worked well as a team. There was a trust and respect that ran just as deep as their love.

The lights of the villa came into view as their walk came to an end, and she gave him one final kiss before they continued their journey home.


Maria could not ever recall a time where she had been so nervous, excited, and perfectly calm all at once. It was as if she knew deep down that she was fulfilling her destiny, but it was simply the process of it that was daunting. Her stomach fluttered as Liesl placed the final touch- a dainty necklace- around her neck and fixed the clasp behind her. Looking in the mirror, Maria recognized it immediately as the necklace that Georg had gifted Liesl for her debut. The necklace that Liesl held so sacred.

"For good luck," Liesl whispered, eyes shining. She placed a comforting hand on Maria's shoulder. Maria lifted her hand to meet Liesl's and gave a squeeze of gratitude.

"Is it time?" She asked softly.

"It's time."

The walk to the chapel from the cottage was not long, and the summer sun was shining down on them as if God Himself was granting His blessing. Maria took in as much of the refreshing mountain air as she could, not wanting to waste a moment of this glorious day.

And then it was all happening so fast- the chapel door opened and she tried to catch a glimpse of Georg inside, but could not see him. Gretl and Marta squealed with delight at the sight of her and gave her a crushing hug before Liesl shooed them down the aisle to scatter the petals they had so carefully selected from the wildflowers on the Untersberg. Liesl, as her Matron of Honor, followed behind them with careful and measured steps, never rushing.

Now able to step into the chapel, Maria locked eyes with Georg, who was standing at the altar with Father Josef. She had not prepared herself in the slightest for the sight of him in uniform! He had teased her so brutally about how handsome the uniform was that she had not actually considered the effect it would have on her, instead chalking it up to his impossibly charming arrogance. She willed herself to breathe evenly and just walk. When Johann stood beside her and offered his arm, Maria gave him a thankful smile, placing her arm in his to steady herself. Before she knew it, they had completed their journey, and Georg was extending his hands to her. It was time.

"I, Maria, take thee, Georg, to be my wedded Husband."

Georg could feel nothing but the way Maria's delicate hands trembled with excitement in his own and the thudding of his heart against his chest. Even the sound of Eva beginning to fuss- normally something he could not tolerate- did not register in his mind. All of his senses were completely focused on the woman before him and the thought of their lives together.

At times, he found himself wishing he could do everything again and fix his mistakes. He would not close himself off from his children after Agathe's death. He would not spend so much time away with Elsa and Max to avoid the painful memories the villa held. He would allow his children to grieve openly around him and remind them of the joy to be found in their mother's memory.

"To have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health."

However, as soon as those thoughts struck him, Georg knew that he was exactly where he was supposed to be. Every choice he had made led him to this very moment, holding the hands of the most extraordinary woman on the planet, the woman whose eyes were shining with tears as she repeated the words of Father Josef with unwavering love and conviction. It was in the moments of reflection that Georg was able to see how desperately he had needed to learn the lessons the past years had taught him in order to be the best father, husband, and grandfather that he could be. He had learned of love, of death, of betrayal, and of forgiveness in ways and magnitudes that he had not thought possible. He had learned so much of that from her.

"To love, cherish, and to obey, till death us do part, according to God's holy ordinance."

Maria could hardly contain her joy. Her heart was singing. The last year and a half- her entire life, really- had led up to this very moment, to two simple words:

"I do."

The End


A quick final note: "I just hate the feeling of not being married to you" is a line I stole from the sitcom Parks and Recreation. I had some of my favorite episodes playing in the background while I worked on these final chapters.

I cannot give my thanks enough to everyone who followed, favorited, reviewed, and PMed me throughout this story. I appreciate it more than you know!

Thank you especially to MsHope and persaphones for all their help and support over the time I spent writing and posting this story, and thank you again to MsHope for the beautiful portrait of Liesl at her debut that is the cover art for this story.

And yes- "Schwanengesang, D957, No. 4: Ständchen" by Franz Schubert was the number one song on my Spotify Wrapped this year.