Convert this page to Pilot DOC Format
Disclaimer: All characters are mine! Apart from any names you may have heard on the Renaissance TV show Xena:Warrior Princess. The story line may occasionally remind you of a 1965 film. No offence intended against the actors or characters of The Sound of Music.
An affectionate Uber-Xena story involving a certain Julie Andrews musical-how many songs can you spot?
Alexa was a terrible nun. She had no idea why her mother had sent her to the convent in the first place, as she was no great religious person. However, she did like the order of the place, even if she did sort of struggle with the rules.
Alexa was a girl of action. Prayer just wasn't her scene, being more of a scrapper.
This was part of her problem according to her mother. Her beloved brother Lionel had been killed in a fight with the local militia 5 years ago, when Alexa and Lionel had tried to stop them arresting a friend of theirs.
Alexa had been unpredictable ever since, so Mother had decided she needed something more structured.
So, here she was, the world's worst nun, 22 years old, and miserable.
Alexa's one joy in life was to escape the confines of the convent, and head up into the beautiful Austrian mountains. There she would run and leap, shout and sing to her hearts content. And she would pretend that she and Lionel were together again.
"Oh, my brother. What am I to do?" she would cry, when the hopelessness of her situation would become too much for her.
"Alexa! Where HAVE you been!" cried Sister Marguerite. "Do you know what time it is?"
"I am sorry Sister, I was up in the mountains, and the sky was so blue, the air so fresh, I just lost track of time. "
"Alexa, do you know how dangerous it is out there.."
"Oh no Sister Marguerite, I could never be in any danger, I'm far too tough!" she laughed.
The nuns were not amused.
"Alexa, you can't keep running off. I think you had better report to Sister Eliza for extra kitchen duties, you obviously have energy to spare!"
*Cow*, though the young novice, in a highly un-Christian aside.
"So, Sister Marguerite, what do you think of out latest crop of novices? How are they doing?"
It was the weekly chat between Mother Superior and the mistress of novices. Marguerite looked uneasy.
"Well Mother, *most* of them are settling very well. Sister Helen has musical talent to spare, Sister Anya is most devout, Sister Alexa is... well...full of life. How do you solve a problem like Alexa?"
Mother Superior frowned. She was an old friend of Alexa's mother, and had taken the girl six months ago mainly to help her friend. Alexa was such a strong minded girl, and strong bodily too. She was the tallest in the convent, and really would have been ideal on the gates! She would keep the riff raff out! Mother Superior loved to watch her run around the convent, even if it was frowned on. She had easily moved the ancient heavy chapel furniture that the frail old nuns had never had the strength to. The girl was just so lively, and for an ageing nun it was nice to remember what it was like to be like that. But even Mother Superior had to admit, she really wasn't suited to a life of prayer.
"I think I should speak to her, Sister." she said.
Alexa was nervous.
She liked Mother Superior. She was a game old goat, and had quite a sense of humour.
"Ah, Sister Alexa, come in my dear." She said warmly.
That was another thing Alexa liked about her. Most of the older nuns were always bossing her around, telling her what she should and should not be doing, but quite nasty with it. Mother Superior was a sweetheart.
"Mother. I hope you are well?"
"Yes thank you child. It is YOU that I am worried about."
Alexa gulped. This was it, they were going to throw her out. Mother didn't want her, and she had no other family. She didn't know what she would be able to do...
"So what do you think child?"
Alexa had missed the entire conversation worrying about her future.
"I..I'm sorry Mother , could you repeat that?"
"I said, I think you should leave us..."
*Yep, that's what I thought!*
"...and go and help Captain Von Ulysses with his seven children. You do like children don't you Alexa?"
The young woman shook herself mentally. She *wasn't* being thrown out!
"Erm.. what do they want me to do Mother?"
The older nun sighed. This girl was a nuisance sometimes.
"Be the governess, look after the children. I think this would be a good opportunity Alexa, You aren't happy here, but I know you seek a purpose to your life. I don't think we are it. You must find your dream Alexa. One can't climb every mountain you know. You aren't really cut out to be a nun, but you are a good girl. I know you will do us proud, won't you?"
*Baby minding!* To be honest Alexa wasn't all that keen on children, but still, it was better than being thrown out.
"Mother, you know I will do my best." she lied.
"Good. Captain Von Ulysses is expecting you tomorrow. Be well my child, and be happy," the kindly old nun added.
It was an impressive old place.
It took Alexa a good few minutes to walk up the drive, and bang on the great wooden doors.
She looked around while waiting for the servant. A funny little tune came into her head. Something about 'I have confidence in sunshine..'
*Daft song that. I have complete confidence in me. What the hell does 'I have confidence in sunshine, I have confidence in rain,' mean anyway?*
She put it out of her mind and scanned the grounds.
Lots of trees, a boating lake and a rather attractive summerhouse. Alexa also noticed that there were strong bushes growing up around the outside walls of the house. Perfect for late night escapes and unnoticed returns!
"Well, you don't look like a governess", said the austere Captain Ulysses. He was handsome in a pretty-pretty sort of way, but Alexa thought he was a bit creepy. She had not missed the way he watched his own reflection in the tall mirrors on his way down the stairs.
*Admiring himself!* she thought.
"I guess I don't feel like a governess, but I have many skills! So..are we going to have a problem?" Alexa asked with an edge.
Captain Ulysses looked taken aback. He clearly wasn't used to having people stand up to him, but Alexa had decided that she wasn't going to be a doormat or skivvy for anyone. This man should have paid for a proper governess, instead of trying to get one on the cheap from the convent.
Instead of answering Alexa, Ulysses took a small metal object from his pocket, and raising it to his lips, gave a sharp blast on what was obviously a navy piping whistle.
There was a small silence, and then a growing rumble as suddenly Alexa heard footsteps and multiple children of various shapes and sizes appeared from out of their rooms upstairs. As they raced down, she began a head count; 1..2..3..4..5..6....7!
These were obviously the children.
"Frauline...er Alexa, these are my children. Introduce yourselves!" he ordered sharply.
The tallest girl looked about 17. She had reddish blonde hair and had a friendly grin on her face as she tried to look the much taller Alexa in the eye.
"Hello, I'm Heidi. These are my brothers Gregor and Frank, and my sisters Clara, Francesca, Helena and little Bella. Welcome to our home Frauline."
Alexa was immediately suspicious. No one was THAT friendly without being after something.
Alexa was unpacking.
Ulysses had been giving some instructions about correct etiquette and other boring stuff, but Alexa had cut him off. She had her unpacking to do, NOW.
He had muttered something and rushed off. Alexa was pretty sure that he wasn't bothered what she did as long as she kept the children out of his way.
The unpacking that she had made a fuss about took precisely 20 seconds.
All she owned was a change of underwear, one spare dress, and one spare blouse. Alexa wasn't bothered, she wasn't concerned with pretty clothes, or delicate materials.
Suddenly she heard a noise at the door.
*Must be those children, probably trying to play a practical joke on me. Hmm..snakes in the bed? Spiders in the slippers? Whatever it is, I'll get them.*
Creeping up to the door, she quickly yanked it open and dragged the child on the other side in.
It was Heidi. She looked terrified, and was clutching a bunch of now totally crushed wild flowers.
"I..I..was just bringing you these", she stammered.
Alexa grabbed the flowers and pulled the little bunch to bits as she looked for the trick. After a moment, she realized that they were clean, and Heidi looked on the verge of tears. Could she be genuine?
"Oh...well, it was a nice thought Heidi." apologised Alexa. "Sorry. You OK?"
"Yes thank you Frauline," she stammered. "I just..well, I wanted to talk to you. The last governess we had was really nice. Frauline Maria. She was a nun too, did you know her? She used to sing to us and dress us up in curtains and everything."
*Weird!* thought Alexa.
"She was such fun, but then she left to work with another family. I think she liked us fine but daddy gave her the creeps," the girl jabbered on.
*Understandable* thought the newest governess.
"I am 17, going on 18 and I know that I'm a pain sometimes. Well, that's what Frauline Maria used to say..." Heidi said unhappily.
*Damn*, thought Alexa,*she's just looking for a friend. Poor kid is too hard on herself.*
"'Heidi Gabrielle Von Ulysses,' she used to say. That's my second name, Gabrielle. Pretty isn't it? Anyway, 'Heidi Gabrielle Von Ulysses you are a nuisance sometimes,' she would say. I don't blame her really....."
"Look Heidi, you shouldn't apologise for yourself. You are a really nice girl. The flowers were a really kind thought and I was rotten to leap on you like that. Never mind what anyone else told you, I think you're OK."
A huge grin began to spread across the girl's face and Alexa couldn't help but notice how pretty she was in a cute, puppyish sort of way.
"Really? Gosh, that's terribly nice of you Frauline.."
"Look, call me Alexa. I'm not much older than you anyway."
"Oh, I couldn't! What would Father say?" replied the girl.
"Stuff him!" replied the nun. "What he doesn't know won't bother him."
"Gosh.." Heidi had a serious case of hero worship.
THREE The children sat gaping at their new governess.
Heidi was already a devoted fan, but the other six had just watched her swim swiftly from one side of the lake to the other in a few brief minutes. She then hauled herself out effortlessly, and backflipped into the water, disappearing under the surface for an alarmingly long time. Just as the children began to get worried, Alexa emerged brandishing a large fish in each hand. Flinging them out, Alexa leapt back onto the deck just as the silvery, squirming animals slapped into Heidi's face. Her grin didn't slip for a second.
"Now THAT'S what I call a useful skill kids. Never mind all that singing and bike riding Frauline Maria taught you. Puppet shows aren't going to get you far. You have to know how to survive, and how to stick up for yourselves. Gregor, Frank," she barked. "Get a fire started. I'll leave it up to you to find a safe place, but remember what happened to Clara yesterday when she got it wrong. You others, help collect firewood. Francesca, Bella's cut her knee. See to it. And NO singing," she shouted amiably to them all. "If I hear that dumb lonely goatherd song again I'm going to be cracking heads. Got it?!"
The children leapt into action.
It had been a fantastic few weeks as far as they were concerned. Alexa had refused to even enter the school room. She had decided these over privileged little sweethearts needed to get out and about. So far they had hiked into the mountains, learnt about tracking and trapping animals- although Alexa had decided not to kill any of the rabbits they caught after seeing the youngsters faces as she got her knife out.
They had seen many animals roaming wild.
"Look Alexa there's a stag," whispered Heidi during one of their hikes.
"That's a doe, a deer, a female deer." Alexa replied.
"Don't you dare kill it!" the younger girl had whispered back urgently as the beautiful animal cropped the woodland grass. Alexa had just smiled at her.
She had also begun to show them some self defence moves. Alexa had always been the toughest kid in her village. No one had messed with her. It felt good to pass on her skills.
Unarmed combat had been a favourite with the boys, Clara had showed surprising skill at knife throwing, and Heidi and Helena had spent ages fighting with the staves. Alexa was a good teacher and showed them the safest way to handle each weapon. "Now THESE are a few of MY favourite things children. Forget about the raindrops on roses and whiskers on rabbits."
"It's whiskers on kittens Frauline," called out little Bella.
"Yes..well, enough said. Pretty little fluffy things might be fine for songs, but if you are in trouble you need more than a crisp apple strudel to fight your way out."
The children had been a little timid at first, and were still completely awe struck, but they all were having a great time and had declared that survival training was better than dancing!
Alexa sat on a rock squeezing the water out of her long black hair. She sensed that someone was watching her, and it didn't take much of an effort to work out that it was Heidi. She followed Alexa around constantly.
"Heidi, come over here and help me dry my hair," she called softly.
"Gosh Alexa, I thought I had crept back really quietly. How did you know I was there?" the young girl asked.
"I just knew. Come on, I'm dripping."
Alexa had surprised herself. She had really come to like this girl and her brothers and sisters. They were good children, if a bit goody-goody sometimes. They always insisted that they had to be back in time for tea and even brought books out to read during lunch breaks. But Heidi had become more than a pupil to Alexa. She had become her first real friend since Lionel. Unlike the others, she would chatter away, telling Alexa everything about their life in this big old house since their mothers death three years before. She told about the string of governesses and how Father got rid of them all just as the children were getting attached. Frauline Maria had seemed like she might stay around, but Heidi confessed that she had caught Father harassing her in the summer house one evening, and two days later she was gone.
"I heard him Alexa, he kept saying 'But you don't want to be a nun Maria, stay here and worship me.' Then I heard Maria making a choking, retching noise and she just ran out of there like a streak of lightning. I was so upset with Father. I mean he has a girlfriend. Some Countess from Munich. She's OK but hates us children. Especially me. She likes the other girls because they don't see through her like I do, and the boys just keep going on about how pretty she is. Oh Alexa, I wish I could just get away from here," she cried unhappily. Alexa was constantly amazed at the younger girls ability to talk for so long without seeming to take a breath. *Must be all that singing they did,* she mused.
"Don't worry Heidi, I won't let anyone hurt you," Alexa replied soothingly as she gave the girl a comforting shoulder to cry on. *And I mean it,* she thought.
By the end of the fifth week, the children insisted that they had to do some school work. Frank wanted to be a doctor when he grew up, and at 15 took his studies quite seriously.
Under protest, Alexa checked out the school room. It was nice and light, but the books seemed awfully dull to her. However, she had always been pretty good at maths and was surprisingly proficient at embroidery. The children had been quite shocked.
"I have many skills, girls." She said with a grin.
One morning, as the children worked Alexa paced around the room. She was anxious to get going as they had a trip to the mountains planned. Alexa was worried that the weather might turn and wished they could just give arithmetic a miss for once.
Just then the door swung open and in marched Captain Von Ulysses.
The children instantly stood up and chorused," Good morning Father."
"Good morning children, Frauline." He nodded in Alexa's direction. She gave a curt nod back. "I've come to see how you are getting on." He said.
Ulysses was scared of this fierce-looking strapping so-called nun. He got the impression that she would beat him hands down in a fist fight, and boy, could she give withering looks. He was initially a little concerned about his children, but not so worried that he would actually do anything. Ulysses was basically a weak man. On the plus side, he had a modest fortune thanks to his dead wife, was rather dashing (if he did say so himself), and he was available. He wanted a new wife, and the Countess might just be the lucky lady. The only fly in the ointment was the fact that she wasn't keen on the children. Boarding school looked like the best option, and once he had definitely decided and popped the question, he would find out where the best ones were.
For now though, Ulysses had realized that he really couldn't avoid this Alexa any longer.
However, as he looked at the children's books, he realized that they had done hardly any school work.
"Frank, have you been slacking? Where are the rest of your sums? Have you been playing lazy for Frauline Alexa?" He questioned his elder son.
The boy looked terrified and glanced nervously from his toes to Alexa.
"Well.. erm..we haven't really....I mean.."
"Captain, he hasn't been writing them all down because we worked verbally. Frankly, the sums were too easy Captain and he was going so well I got him to do them in his head with me, " lied Alexa. "Right Frank?"
The boy just grinned at her and at his father.
"Also Captain, we have been taking a lot of nature walks. You know how beautiful the countryside is at this time of year and I thought it wise to make the most of it and learn all about animals and plants. We found lots of wild flowers too, like the one with the song about it. Heidi what was it you all kept singing to again? Oh yes, edelweiss." She was getting into this now. "Not forgetting how important it is to be physically fit. You know, a healthy mind and a healthy body. I think the children are fitter than they have been for a while."
As she spoke Alexa advanced on the man. He was a few inches shorter than her, and Alexa thought a bit of intimidation might help her cause. It was working.
"Ah..well...that's excellent Frauline. They certainly look well. Keep up the good work." He retreated towards the door. However, he had one parting shot. "Just send me their books by tomorrow Frauline, after all they are supposed to go back to school next week."
Alexa was dumbstruck. Next week!
"Next week!" she shouted as the door closed. "Heidi! Why didn't you tell me there was so little of your holidays left? You realize what this means?"
"Now don't worry Alexa, we'll get caught up on out work. Father won't know," she soothed.
"Damn your work! I'll have to go back to that bloody convent!" She sank down onto a nearby armchair. The other children looked down at their books silently, rather shocked by the nun's language. Alexa had a temper that none of them wanted to get caught by.
Heidi crouched next to her and laid a hand on Alexa's knee.
"I'm sorry Alexa, I didn't even think..Are you sure? I mean, maybe Father will keep you on, we all like you so much and.."
"Come off it Heidi, he's scared stiff of me. Do you really think he'll keep me around any longer than he has to? You know what I think of that place Heidi," she went on quietly. They had had several long chats and Alexa had opened up to Heidi all about Lionel and the convent and her dissatisfaction with her life.
"Alexa, you'll think of something. I have faith in you," the younger girl said with a look of such devotion that Alexa felt quite overcome.
*It is amazing. To have found a friend like Heidi. It's like having Lionel back,* she thought. Alexa grinned and gave her young friend a wink.
"OK, come on all of you," she called to the other children. "If we only have a week, there is so much I still have to teach you. Go get dressed for the mountains, and Bella- leave your dolly behind this time, OK? Meet you back here in ten minutes."
As the children trotted out, Alexa's shoulders slumped. Despite Heidi's words of encouragement, she was in despair. Her work here would be finished and then what would she do? She had some serious thinking to do.
FOUR "Ah..Frauline, could I have a word with you please?" Captain Von Ulysses asked a few days later.
Alexa had finished with the children for the day and was just on her way out for a run. She had known this was coming, so squared her shoulders mentally and entered the Captain's den.
"Well Frauline, I want to thank you for what you have done with the children. They certainly love you, and are as fit and happy as I have ever seen them. However, it is now time to say so long, farewell, auf wiedersehn, goodbye I believe. The new school term starts on Monday, and your services will no longer be required."
Alexa sat with her head down listening to his annoyingly smug voice. She still had no idea what she was going to do, except that going back to the abbey was not an option. She had no intention of becoming the first nun to run amock and commit mass murder in a convent. Alexa knew that going back to that life would drive her mad now that she had had a taste of freedom.
However, there was one thing she needed to know.
"Captain, what about Heidi? She is past school age now. What is she going to do?" she asked trying to be polite.
"Oh, she's getting married soon," he said dismissively.
"Married! To Who!" Alexa yelled.
Ulysses looked up at her exclamation. "My old friend Baron Draco is looking for a wife as his wife died last year. It will be a good match for Heidi, he is a good few years younger than me, so he still has a bit of life in him. Actually he was always a bit of a rogue, so I am sure Heidi will not find it a dull marriage." Ulysses looked satisfied with himself. It would all work out nicely now, he would marry the Countess and get rid of his most annoying child all in a month.
Alexa was not so happy. Not happy at all.
"Does she know about this?"
"Heidi of course!" Alexa was getting angry. This pompous cold hearted...
"Why no, not yet. It will be a nice surprise for her."
"Captain, I don't think it is right to marry her off like this. She is little more than a child, she hasn't had a chance to live her own life yet.."
"Frauline Alexa," he said in a stern voice, "Heidi is MY daughter and I shall do as I see fit. It is not your concern. Now, once again I thank you for your work here. Please be gone by Monday."
With that he looked down at his desk and began to write, dismissing the young ex-nun.
Alexa sat for a moment before storming out, and giving the door a slamming it would not forget. This was awful! Sweet little Heidi married off to some old roue! Alexa decided that she had to do something to save Heidi, and while she was at it, she needed to think of what she herself was going to do. She went in search of her young friend.
"Alexa, over here!" Heidi called. She was sitting in the summer house sketching. It was a beautiful late summer evening, warm but with a gentle breeze to keep the temperature down. Heidi had been waiting for Alexa.
"I thought you were coming straight out for a run Alexa? What took you so long?" she asked with a friendly grin.
"Your father wanted to talk to me," she replied gravely.
Heidi's smile faded. "Oh. It's what we feared isn't it? He wants you to leave?"
"I'm afraid so Heidi. I told you he wouldn't want to keep me around. But that's not all. There is something you should know; your father has plans for you Heidi."
The younger girl looked up sharply at her friend.
"What do you mean Alexa?
"Do you know someone named Baron Draco?"
"Urgh yes! He is a horrible old man who always tries to look down my blouse. He came to dinner a few months back and spent the evening guzzling wine, pinching the servant girls' bottoms and staring at me in a really creepy way. "
"Well that does it," cried Alexa jumping to her feet and pacing around the summer house. "I can't let him do this."
"Alexa, what do you mean?" Heidi was confused.
"My dear, he wants to marry you off to the Baron."
Heidi was shocked. Her mouth dropped open in horror at the thought of marrying...him! Alexa saw the girls face and was beside her in an instant.
"Look Heidi, we have to get out of here. I am not going back to the convent and you can't marry that man. Let's take off into the mountains. We could borrow a couple of horses and go. I can take care of us. We can travel around the villages, camp out under the stars, help out people in need. What do you think?"
Heidi looked at her friend adoringly. "Oh gosh Alexa, that sounds wonderful, but I don't like horse riding. I am always afraid of falling off, they are just too high up."
"OK, OK you can walk then. Listen Heidi, we need to get this figured out so that we can get away safely. If we disappear suddenly your father will have the local militia onto us. I think I should leave as expected on Saturday. We can have dinner and I'll say goodbyes and leave as if I am going back to the convent," she said, pacing around and thinking aloud. "Then I'll hide in the woods. You act normally, wait until Monday and then slip away once the children have gone to school. I'll be waiting by the trees on the far side of the lake."
"But won't father check with the convent when he finds me gone. He knows we are friends Alexa, I am sure he will suspect," Heidi said thoughtfully.
"Wait!- Alexa I've got it! Suicide! I'll pretend that I can't take being married off to Draco, write a suitably forlorn note and leave a pile of clothes by the lake! Then they won't follow us."
"Heidi, we can't do that! That is horrible." said Alexa shocked at the thought.
"Alexa, do you want us to be fugitives all our lives? It might be a mean thing to do, but we have to get away. You are the only real friend I have ever had and I want to go with you. Father doesn't really care about me, that much is obvious. It is just the others I am worried about. Especially little Bella. However, I'm betting father wouldn't tell them about my suicide. Knowing him he will make it a drowning accident which will still be horrible for the children, but they'll be ok. What do you think Alexa?" She looked up after the torrent of words at her friend whose dark features were twisted into a deep frown as she considered.
"Well.. it would be a way out I guess. I don't like it though Heidi. What if something happens to me and you have to come back here someday?"
"Alexa, I am never coming back here. This hasn't been a happy home since mother died, and even before that. Her and father weren't getting along for a while. The only happiness I have had in six or seven years has been these last few months. You are the first person to not just put up with me, but to be interested in my opinions and ideas. I'm sticking with you Alexa, I won't come back here, ever." She spoke with a maturity and certainty that Alexa had not heard before. She realized that this was no mere girl, but a young woman who knew what she wanted.
"OK then Heidi, let's make plans..."
EPILOGUE The tall woman on the horse and her shorter companion crested the hill to see a beautiful valley below, and a small village nestled by a curve in the glinting river.
"Oh Alexa, look at that! Isn't our country pretty," the smaller figure said.
It had been a hard six months. *Next time I plan to run away into the mountains, I won't do it when winter is approaching!* thought Alexa.
Fortunately they had found a goatherd's hut in a sheltered spot that had kept them out of the worst of the snow and ice. Alexa had helped save an isolated village from wolves and had got another month's accommodation for payment. They had done quite a lot of wolf hunting, had chopped endless logs for tired old ladies, mended shutters and fences and found a few lost sheep. More excitingly, they had saved a family after gales blew several large trees on top of their house, trapping them inside. Alexa had caught numerous thieves and brigands, and they had even saved a kitten caught in a tree once!
Heidi had not had a moments regret since leaving her note and bundle of clothes beside the deepest part of the lake all that time ago. Alexa had not had a moments regret either.
Life on the road suited Alexa.
She had lately had some odd dreams about a leather clad warrior, tall, dark and dangerous. She had a name with an 'X' in too, and Alexa felt a strange afinity with the ancient warrior. Alexa wondered who she was, although in her dreams, she herself became the warrior, battling injustice, helping the needy. Alexa also saw this woman's companion- who looked amazingly like Heidi, and was just as talkative. They pair had adventures together, travelling a faraway, and much warmer land, and while Alexa didn't get details, she felt the bond through her dreams and across the centuries. The two pairs of friends were bound together.
Alexa wasn't one for deep, mystical thoughts, but somehow her travels with Heidi felt familiar. Right. The dreams just reinforced that feeling. While the future was uncertain, Alexa felt that destiny was on their side. She and her young friend would do good together. She had confidence in them.
Alexa thought of the difficulties she had overcome, and the challenges ahead optimistically.
"You know Heidi, Mother Superior once told me that I had to find my dream, but that I couldn't climb every mountain. I think she was half right. Come on..."
FADE OUT MUSIC
Return to the Fan Fiction area