"The Mississippi's mighty,

but it starts in Minnesota

at a place that you could walk across

with five steps down.

And I guess that's how you started,

like a pinprick to my heart…"

The sound of a low curse stopped Georg from closing the doors that lead out to the terrace. Peering out from his current spot, safely tucked away inside the villa, he could see Fraulein Maria slightly hunched over in her seat. Had it been she who had cursed? The very thought seemed impossible. He glanced at the empty chairs beside her, sitting in their usual formation around the veranda's table. It had to have been her.

Was she the only postulant who had trouble kicking her habit of using foul language? Surely, if he was thrust into a situation that required a complete lack of vulgarity at all times, he would be done for. It was difficult enough to control his vocabulary around the children sometimes! Curious, he could not stop himself from trying to find out what had caused her to use such a word on such a beautiful night.

He made his way through the doors and onto the terrace, taking a moment to breathe in the cool, crisp night air before he spoke.

"Is everything all right, Fraulein?"

She started at the sound of his voice, and he watched with amusement as she turned to face him.

"Quite alright, Captain, thank you," she breathed, placing a flat palm over her racing heart.

"Until I scared you, that is," he added, granting her an apologetic smile.

"Oh, you didn't-"

"Yes, I did, and I do apologize." Georg, enticed by the lure of the mountain view and still curious over what exactly had made her curse, pulled out the chair opposite her and took a seat. "But it was not me who caused you to use such vulgarity, Fraulein!"

Flushing, Maria turned to explain herself, ready to repent, but stopped short when she saw his smirk and the mischievous gleam in his inquisitive gaze.

She was still adjusting to this new Captain, quite unsure of herself around him. The miserable, closed-off man from her arrival had been arrogant and insufferable, certainly, but she knew where she stood with him. She could anticipate his actions and reactions, his moods and his temper. This Captain across from her, the one that had emerged from out of nowhere after their argument just four days earlier, was something she was still adjusting to. Not just her, of course- the children often still felt wary of his change of heart, but with his affirmations and her gentle encouragement, the family had made great strides in a short time.

Great strides with the children were one thing, of course, but Maria herself still was unsure of how to approach him. She figured an apology would be the best place to start- after all, she was supposed to set an example for his children.

"I'm sorry you heard that, sir," she sighed. As she apologized, she brought her hands from her lap and placed her project- the work that had made her angry to the point of swearing- on the table between them. She gestured to it, annoyed. "I'm afraid I am just not meant to crochet."

Georg, not taking his eyes from her disheartened expression, reached out and took her ongoing project into his hands. Finally looking down, he studied it for a moment with a soft smile. He wanted to tell her that for a beginner, it didn't look half-bad, but the thought occurred to him that she may not be a beginner, and he bit his tongue.

"What are you hoping to make here, Fraulein?" He asked instead.

"Liesl gave me a few patterns to choose from, but I'm afraid that that… thing," she huffed, gesturing to the small piece that rested in his grasp, "will not turn into any of them. At best, it can be a potholder for the kitchen at the Abbey. Or it can go straight into the garbage," she let out a frustrated huff.

"Don't be so quick to discard it, Fraulein," he admonished. He toyed with the crochet hooks, still attached to the yarn that was creating her small little venture. "This is small enough that if you take the time to think it through, it could be a hundred different things."

"I had hoped it could be a small hat for one of Marta and Gretl's dolls," Maria admitted with a small huff of disappointment. "Liesl assured me that they were quite easy to make and could be done quickly, but I have struggled for long enough just for those few rows."

"Well, you are already quite the accomplished seamstress, Fraulein, as evidenced by those abominable playclothes." He paused and fiddled with the hooks once again. "Do you mind if I give it a go?"

Maria started, taking a second to process his question and realize that he was asking for permission to try his hand at crocheting.

"Oh! Of course, sir!" She gave him an encouraging smile before her brow creased with worry. "Do you know the basics? I'm afraid I have been struggling to get my footing and couldn't explain it well."

"I think I remember, though it has been quite a long time," Georg admitted. He moved the small piece that she had started into his lap and began to work, allowing the rhythm of the movements to work their way back into his muscles and remind him what to do. He stared at the small red circle for a minute as he decided what exactly to do with it and then moved his eyes back to the woman across from him, who was giving him a look that was equally inquisitive and amused. Surely she did not expect a sea captain- even if he didn't look like one- to know how to craft.

"I had no idea you were so skilled at everything you attempted, sir." Her tone was teasing, but she knew that the Captain could sense the genuine compliment behind it. It had been four days since she learned that he could sing just as well as his children, and three since she had heard him playing the piano that sat in the attic late at night when he thought the whole house was asleep. Liesl had mentioned offhandedly a week earlier that he could play the guitar. And now, as casually as he had rolled up his sleeves to play catch with Friedrich and Louisa earlier, he was attempting to crochet! A small smile crept onto her face as she tried to picture what exactly he would be able to come up with- a useless blob not unlike her own, undoubtedly. But the gesture was kind- he was kind. It was a fact she had always known, though she was still adjusting to the truth of it. The children had never left room for her to doubt that beneath his facade there was a warm, gentle, affectionate man.

"Oh, I'm sure Max would be able to list quite a few things I was never any good at," he responded with a chuckle. "Besides, it has only been a matter of days since you reminded me of my shortcomings. Surely you haven't forgotten all of those?"

"Again, sir, I'm so sorry about-"

He held up a hand to silence her, letting the hook it had been holding fall into his lap.

"I was merely joking, Fraulein," he assured her, "and I am forever indebted to you for reminding me." The stern look on his face told her that there would be no further discussion on the topic, and she relented, though she wondered if she would ever be able to forgive herself for her outburst.

She sat for a moment, allowing the soft clicks and clacks of the hooks to comfort her with their steady rhythm. She couldn't quite let her unease settle- the Captain had clearly forgiven her, but she had always been outspoken, and she had hurt him in her tirade.

"You were the first person to tell me to forgive myself, Fraulein," he said suddenly, looking at her with compassion. "You owe yourself that same kindness."

Maria stared at him for a brief moment, wondering how he had managed to read her thoughts, before she realized that her lack of response might come across as impolite. Returning his jesting manner from moments before, she allowed herself to smile.

"As you well know, Captain, it is much easier to give such advice than to take it."

"Fair enough." He gave her a nod of understanding, though his eyes remained on the project he was engrossed in. "We can change the subject, if you like. What made you want to branch out from sewing?"

Grateful for the mood shift, Maria stretched her legs out and leaned back before granting him a reply.

"I taught Liesl a little about sewing while you were in Vienna," she began, hoping to gauge his reaction to the topic of his time away before continuing. Unfortunately, his face remained unchanged, stoic as always, and she returned her eyes back to the sky without an answer. "I may or may not have enlisted her in helping me create those abominable playclothes..."

Chancing a second glance across the table, she saw the corners of his mouth twitch as he suppressed a grin.

"...and she picked it up quite quickly, as she does everything else. She insisted one night while we were working that she return the favor by teaching me to crochet. I'm afraid I don't pick up as fast as she does," Maria sighed. Their nights alone with the curtains had been a great way to bond with Liesl- it had given the oldest von Trapp child a sense of responsibility and the knowledge that Maria respected her wishes to have a friend, not a governess. It had also extended Liesl's bedtime, which had been a point of contention from the beginning. Maria had rationalized this particular breach of the rules by saying that Liesl wasn't staying up for a meaningless reason, but to help Maria accomplish a task. She had deliberately ignored the fact that the task would break one of the most important rules of the von Trapp household.

"Ah, well, she learned both arts from the best, I suppose," Georg shrugged. "It's just as well that she shares her talents."

Maria cocked her head and studied him, deliberating her next move. Surely he was referring to his late wife, something he was still insistent on avoiding when possible. However, if he was bringing her up, she wanted to encourage him- the children were desperate to feel that they could discuss their mother freely again. Beyond that, her interest was piqued, and her outspoken and curious nature won out over her sense of caution.

"Your wife taught her?"

"No, Fraulein, I taught her." His smug expression told her that he had set her up for that particular question, and he was pleased that she had fallen into his trap.

"You taught Liesl to crochet?" Maria spluttered, sure that her face was the picture of shock.

"Does that surprise you?"

"Well, yes!" She was sure that her dropped jaw had been a hint enough that the Captain knew more than he let on. The Captain laughed, a real laugh- not the forced barks or humorless chuckles she had heard before- and she had to smile. It felt nice to know that she had been the one to make him emit such a genuinely joyful sound.

"I was a restless child; I always needed stimulation, always needed movement…" He trailed off, lost in memories. Maria nodded in understanding and waited patiently for him to continue. "When I was struck down with pneumonia, my poor mother could not find a way to keep me occupied. I was under strict orders from the doctor to remain on bed rest. At the time, it was torture."

"Oh, I can imagine," Maria laughed. As she tried to picture what the Captain looked like as a boy, disgruntled and attempting to defy medical advice, she began to wonder what else there was to learn about him. Clearly, she knew very little- that was intentional on his part. Either way, the image was amusing.

"My mother eventually gave up on trying to get me to read through our home library for a third time and brought in an extra set of hooks with her one morning." The Captain shrugged, as if to say that the rest was history.

"That was very clever of her, keeping your mind and your hands busy."

He smiled at her comment and hummed his agreement. There was no doubt in his mind that she had been forced to come up with a similar trick or two herself in her time as governess to his children.

"It worked better than I wanted it to, and my father was not happy to learn that his son enjoyed such a feminine activity," he admitted with a slight frown. "But we persisted, and I managed to make my sister Hede quite happy with the assortment of doll hats I created."

He had a sister? Maria wracked her brain, trying to remember a time when the children had spoken of an Aunt Hede, but nothing came to mind. She shook the thought from her head- she, better than anyone, should be able to understand that families and their dynamics could be extraordinarily complicated.

"I was hoping that I could make something for one of Gretl or Marta's dolls," she sighed, "but I will have to give up on that until I've had much more practice."

"Well, you're in luck, Fraulein," he laughed. "It just so happens that I taught Liesl because she wished to do the same for Brigitta. She was only eleven at the time, but she was determined to craft something special for her little sister," he explained. "Louisa was too close to her age and was never one for dolls to begin with, but Brigitta was the perfect age for Liesl to play doting big sister. I know she made plenty of clothes for Marta and Gretl once they were old enough, too."

To her astonishment, Maria watched as he pulled a small hat, perfect for a doll's head, out from where he had been working and set it on the table.


"As I said, Fraulein, you're in luck." His expression of triumph and arrogance would have been irritating if the gesture itself wasn't so endearing.

"I- I don't know what to say, Captain," she breathed, reaching across the table and taking the garment in her hands. She rubbed her thumbs across the soft, thick yarn as she pondered over what to do next. She could feel him watching her, waiting patiently for her to make up her mind. "Thank you," she said finally.

Without responding, Georg pushed back his chair and stood, taking a moment to stretch his legs fully. He was stiff, and he wondered if it was due to the amount of time he had spent hunched over his work or a sign of his age. Surely, it was due to the position he had sat in.

He turned to bid her goodnight and noticed that she was inspecting his craftsmanship, carefully going over the stitches.

"I made sure to make a few mistakes so it doesn't look too perfect."

"Hmm?" Maria's head snapped up- she had been lost in thought, wondering what the Captain must have been like as a boy. In her mind, he would have the same desire for outward masculinity as Friedrich but the boyishness of Kurt, and undoubtedly the appetite of both. She found herself flushing as he winked at her.

"The hat. Liesl will believe you made it." He was pleased when she laughed; it occurred to him that he had never really heard her laugh before. It had always been mixed in with the sounds of the children, or he had been too far away to really make out the details of the particularities of the sound.

"I'm not so sure, but thank you anyway." The last of her laughter died down as she reiterated her earlier gratefulness. "This will be a much better use for that yarn than anything I could've done."

Georg bit the inside of his cheek to keep back a retort. He wanted to tell her that he had no doubt in her ability to find a practical use for everything, even if it was just as a potholder in the kitchen, but he feared that it would cross some sort of invisible line between them. She did not know him outside of the context of his children; she likely still saw him as the cold, distant creature he had been. He would have to prove himself to her just as much as he would his children.

"I'm sure you and the children would've found a home for it somewhere." He hoped he had settled on the correct response, and was reassured by her soft smile. "Goodnight, Fraulein."

He turned on his heel and did not wait to hear her echo his farewell.

Maria sat for a few moments and watched him leave, wondering what exactly would be in store for her as she went through the rest of her summer with the von Trapps. Clearly, the Lord had sent her here for something different than she had initially assumed, but what? The Captain had reconnected with his children and was working to regain their trust bit by bit each day. The Baroness had been reclusive, but not unkind, and would surely warm up to the children in her own time. Perhaps she had been sent to see not if she could live as the Abbey demanded, but if she could stand not to live as part of a family of her own one day. Could she? Her own hesitancy startled her.

It was too late, she decided, and too cold to think of such things. Surely the late hour was getting to her head and toying with her desires. The Captain had been open and warm and it had thrown her off kilter, that was all.

She walked back into the villa, hat in hand.

"The Mississippi's mighty,

but it starts in Minnesota

at a place that you could walk across

with five steps down.

And I guess that's how you started,

like a pinprick to my heart,

But at this point you rush right through me

And I start to drown"

"Ghost," Indigo Girls, Rites of Passage (1992)


While I do have another full-length story in the works, I have a couple of completed one-shots that I decided to start publishing. I hope you all enjoy them! I won't update regularly by any means, this is just a little side project I will return to sporadically as I find inspiration. I always like reading (and writing) about little moments between the two of them- I feel like we miss so many of those in the film.