The sun had only just begun to rise over Downton Abbey and yet the servants quarters were already full of life with preparations for the wedding, servants coming to and fro with trays of food and bottles of wine, not one of them being idle. That is, apart from the bride and groom to be. Anna sighed softly as she slowly began to stir in bed and a soft breeze filtered through her hair like a gentle hand, rousing her pleasantly as her eyes opened and she smiled. The entire business with Vera was over, what with John telling them how she had forced him to go out and buy the rat poison on the day that she died, and explaining the entire situation. Thankfully, the case had been dropped just in time for the wedding. For the first time in years she felt carefree and happy, knowing that she and John had nothing to worry about for the foreseeable future. It wasn't long until there was a gentle knocking upon her bedroom door and she sat up slowly, visibly shocked when Lady Mary entered her room with a smile. 'M'Lady?' She slowly got out of bed and stood up directly across from her. 'What can I do for you?' Mary walked over to her and took her hands in hers, stroking her thumbs slowly over the back of them as she smiled down at her.

'You can't do anything for me today, Anna,' She giggled softly at Anna's confused expression before sitting down on the bed with her. 'Today's the wedding and you aren't inclined to lift a finger. It's what I can do for you, in all fairness. I'm going to dress you for the wedding and I won't hear any excuses from you. Heaven knows you've done more than what's expected of you in the past, what with the Turkish diplomat, and this is only a small amount of my gratitude,' Anna's mouth gaped slightly before she smiled kindly at her and released her mistress's hands.

'M'Lady, thank you,' She blushed softly as she looked down at her lap before bringing her gaze back to Mary's, her blue eyes sparkling with tears. 'Very, very, much,' Mary nodded gently before helping Anna to stand up from the bed. 'I'm afraid that I haven't got a dress that's suitable enough though, and I wish I'd made more of an effort now. The marriage was a spur of the moment thing since we didn't know what was going to happen, and I haven't had the time to plan anything,' Mary sensed the disappointment in Anna's voice and rested a kind hand upon her shoulder.

'I've thought of that,' She smirked. 'It may seem rather impertinent of me to do so, but I sneaked in her when you were sleeping last night and left you a small gift in your bureau. I'm sure that no one, especially Bates, will be able to take their eyes off of you when you walk down the aisle later,' Anna's heart pounded in her chest as she walked over to the bureau and opened the door slowly, a sharp gasp leaving her when she saw the beautiful white gown hanging inside. She pulled it out gently and lay it upon the bed, her eyes wide as she scanned her eyes over the intricate swirls and patterns over the bodice, whilst the rest of the dress fanned out like a ballgown. 'It was Mama's when she married Papa back in 1890, and considering how much loyalty you and Bates have shown to this family I asked her if you could use it for today. She agreed, saying that you could keep it, and I asked O'Brien to fit it to your size so that you could wear it today,' She heard the trembling breath leave her maid and rested her hand gently upon her back, caressing slowly. 'Anna? What's the matter?' Anna turned to her and smiled as a single tear ran down her cheek.

'Nothing,' She sniffed softly as she wiped it from her face. 'It's just that nobody in my entire life has been as kind and generous towards me as you have, M'Lady,' Mary smiled sweetly at her as their eyes met and Anna sighed softly, casting her eyes back to the gown on her bed.

'Except Bates,' She cut in.

'Yes, M'Lady,' Anna giggled softly. 'Except Mr. Bates,'

John was stood inside the church later that morning as he straightened the sleeves on his jacket and took a deep breath, knowing that he looked like a complete fool but also knowing that Anna was going to look stunning. He had chosen Tom to be his best man since he was the closest one to him and the only other option was Thomas, which he'd shuddered at the thought of. Anna had chosen Jane to be her bridesmaid along with some of the younger housemaids, and John was content with the fact that things were going smoothly for the time being. Suddenly, he felt a hand upon his arm and he turned slightly to face His Lordship. 'Good luck, Bates,' Robert nodded with a small hint of a smile. 'No one deserves this more than the two of you do, because anyone can see how deeply in love the two of you are. Golly,' His eyes widened in slight shock. 'That was strong talk for an Englishman,' The organ soon began to play which signaled Anna's arrival, and John chuckled softly when His Lordship patted him on the back and went to stand by Cora. He heard the doors opening from behind him and his heart thumped violently against his chest as he tried to clear his mind. With a deep breath he turned around when he heard the gasps from the guests that had attended and his eyes widened as his breath was taken away, trying not to let his mouth drop open by smiling lovingly at his bride. Her hair was beautiful as it was styled into a bun with a band of flowers upon her head, and her veil covered her face but he could still see her smile through it as her hand rested in the crook of Carson's arm. She reached him after a few moments and slipped her hand slowly into his before Carson kissed her cheek slowly.

'You look magnificent, my love,' John whispered softly as he leaned closer to Anna and stroked his thumb over the back of her hand. She giggled sweetly as another blush rose in her cheeks and she looked at him out of the corner of her eye with a smile.

'You don't look to bad yourself in all honesty, Mr. Bates,' She replied gently as she tightened her grip upon his hand. 'In fact, you look rather fetching if I do say so myself,' He tried his damn hardest to resist kissing her there and then, but thankfully the vicar began to speak just before he had the chance. It was a long ceremony as the Vicar spoke for nearly an hour, and finally the time came for the ring to be placed upon Anna's finger. John could feel her hand trembling violently as he took her fingertips and held the ring in his other hand, once again stroking his thumb over her knuckles to calm her somewhat. She smiled at him lovingly when the ring settled on the base of her finger, and he slowly lifted her veil and put it behind her to reveal her flawless face. When given the signal to do so, he brought her closer to him so that her hands lay on his chest, his hands planted upon her hips as their lips met in a deep kiss. The congregation applauded for the two of them as they kissed slowly, and they parted after a few moments before walking back up the aisle together.

The reception had been held at the nearby hall after the service, and it was getting quite late in the evening when the guests began to leave. His Lordship had informed the two of them that the family would be going home earlier than the servants, but that they would leave a car behind so that he and Anna could return with the servants when they pleased. The servants were talking among themselves and dancing inside the hall when John noticed Anna stepping outside with a hand on the side of her neck, excusing himself from his conversation with Mrs. Patmore and Daisy so that he could follow her. She was stood on the grassy bank that overlooked the farms and villages, the view of Downton a short distance away as it stood proudly. He came up behind her and rested his hands gently upon her hips which made her gasp softly but then sigh as his arms slid around her waist to bring her closer. 'Are you alright?' He asked softly as he took her hands and tightened his hold around her. 'I saw you leaving the hall and got a little worried about you, is anything the matter, sweetheart?' She shook her head as they both watched the sunset together and his thumbs stroked gently against her stomach, a lazy smile upon her lips as her hair blew softly in the soft evening breeze.

'Nothing's the matter, Mr-' She cut herself short when she remembered his request that she address him by his Christian name when they were alone. 'John...It was just getting a little warm in there and my head started hurting so I came out here to get some air. Before you start worrying, no I haven't got Spanish Flu. Every servant that have come into contact with it had been isolated in their rooms until they recovered,' He gave a soft sigh of relief as he gently nuzzled her neck and she hummed in contentment, her eyes slowly fluttering closed. 'Lady Mary's given us quite an amazing wedding present,' She smiled teasingly against the warm skin of the crook of his neck, her hand upon his chest as he now drew both of his gently up and down her bare arms.

'And what's that?' He chuckled. 'A mirror for our new cottage?'

'Yes, actually,' She giggled gently in response. 'She's also managed to convince His Lordship to allow us to spend the night in a guest bedroom, just the two of us for the entire evening. He's also agreed to let us room together until our cottage is ready for us to move into permanently,' He turned her slowly in his arms and brought her closer until their foreheads kissed and the tips of their noses touched softly, small smiles on both of their faces as they reveled in the touch of one another. 'Should I accept her offer of the bedroom or would you rather wait until we-'

'Are you mad?' He breathed before pressing his lips to hers and holding the back of her neck gently, his thumb stroking against the hair upon the base of her head. Their tongues twisted and danced together as the soft breeze continued to flutter gracefully through their hair, their arms around one another's as they were transported into their own little world. They parted after a few moments and he pecked her cheek lightly, his eyes opening once more when he returned his forehead to hers and brushed the tip of his nose against the bridge of hers. 'I don't want to wait another moment to make you my wife in every way possible and to hold you in my arms, so you're going to accept Lady Mary's offer when we return to Downton and then you're coming to meet me in the small alcove that we found whilst the servants have their dinner,' Her brow furrowed slightly in confusion as a smile appeared on her rosebud lips and he slowly kissed it away, his hand upon her warm cheek as she gave a gentle sigh.

'What are you up to, John Bates?' She asked when her hand found his chest and he continued to caress the softness of her rosy cheek.

'All in good time my love,' He pressed his lips warmly to her forehead and lingered slightly before taking her hand and lacing their fingers. 'All in good time,' He then led her back down the grassy hill towards the hall and gathered everyone together so that they could return back home.

The servants had sat down to dinner a short while after they had returned from Downton, but Anna was making her way slowly through the courtyard and out of the gate towards the alcove that she had found with John in their early courting days. She was still confused as to why he wanted them to miss their dinner but knew that there was going to be a good reason for it, considering he couldn't get enough of Mrs. Patmore's steak and kidney pie. She saw the brick alcove a short distance away and smiled at its beauty as she got closer to it, gasping sharply when she saw John sitting on the bench with candles lit around it and a small picnic blanket and basket laying on the floor. He stood up with his cane when he noticed her and she felt the tears burning in her eyes, taking in the sight of the romantic picnic he'd managed to set up for them. 'How did you? Why did you?' She couldn't form a single sentence in result to the emotions that were bubbling inside of her, and he took her soft hand in his before kissing the back of it and smiling at her. 'What is all of this?' Her voice held tears and joy when he led her inside and she watched the small candles flickering as they were dotted around the alcove.

'This, my love,' He brushed his lips against her cheek as he caressed her hip. 'Is my way of thanking you for pressing me to go to the police about the rat poison. If you hadn't had been so insistent about it then I could very well have been away from you right now, isolated in a prison cell and awaiting a trial. I woke earlier this morning and came down to ask Mrs. Patmore to make us a small meal of sandwiches, pork pies, lemonade, and so on. She was glad to do for the two of us, and it was worth the wait to see the look on your face right now. I love you so much,' He began to pepper soft kisses against the warm and soft skin of her neck, moving behind her to envelope her in his embrace. She gave a soft whine as he kissed down to the fabric of her housemaid dress, her head falling back against his shoulder as a pleasured smile graced her features. Even though she had looked exquisite in her wedding gown, he adored her housemaid's outfit. The frilly cap that she had to wear upon the beautiful blonde hair that covered her head, the dark dress that made her features stand out so perfectly. She was beautiful in every single way to him, and he wasn't sure what to say half of the time, choosing instead to show her how he felt by pressing her against the courtyard wall and kissing her senseless or at least until she found it hard to stand afterwards.

They were sat on the blanket soon enough as she was curled into his side and his arm was around her slim waist, her head resting upon his shoulder as her hand lay upon his chest through his shirt. They'd sat in silence for a considerable amount of time since they'd both agreed that they were satisfyingly full from their meal, John dropping the occasional kiss into her soft blonde tresses. She sighed as she shifted closer to him and nuzzled her head against his jacket, breathing in his scent deeply as if it were her life support. 'Anna, darling, you're very quiet,' He pointed out as his hand moved to run slowly up and down her arm through her sleeve. 'Do you want to tell me what's on your mind?' She pulled away from him for a moment and sighed as she wrung her hands together in her lap, her gaze fixed downwards as she blushed, taking a deep breath.

'I know that we're going to be making love tonight,' She admitted as a blush rose in her cheeks for the severalth time that day. 'I'm absolutely fine with that and I'm looking forward to it tremendously, but I guess I'm just a little nervous about some aspects of it. I know that you won't hurt me purposely and I know that you're going to be careful, but I want to speak to you about it first since you're...well...experienced,' He shifted closer to her as he could sense the awkwardness that she must be feeling in result to the conversation she'd started, caressing her upper back slowly as he kissed the side of her head.

'Ask me anything,' He whispered gently into her ear, making her shiver when he laced his fingers with hers in her lap. 'I promise to answer you properly, darling,' She nodded slowly whilst keeping her gaze downwards for a moment, feeling his lips pressing to the skin just below her ear to make her smile.

'The thing that I'm most nervous about is the pain that I'm going to experience in the beginning,' She admitted. 'My pain tolerance is extremely low and I'm worried that it's going to be uncomfortable for me when you start. All throughout my life I've had people telling me what I should be expecting when I make love for the first time. My mother told me that when I found someone who wants to take me as their wife then I should lay there and let them ravish me for the first time round. I was told that if I moved or showed any sign of pain then my husband had every right to beat me for it, considering that he'd be my superior. I know you and I know that you're not like that but the idea of the pain being as strong as that makes me so nervous, John,' She whimpered softly when she gripped his shirt and looked at him with tears in her eyes as she trembled slightly. 'I want you to be truthful with me and answer me as honestly as possible. How much does it actually hurt?' He caressed her cheek gently as he kissed her temple and brought her close to him, bringing her slowly into his lap to cradle her against his chest. He buried his nose into her hair and caressed her thigh slowly before kissing the top of her head softly, feeling her body lose its tension against him.

'Well, when we first start making love you're going to feel stretching more than pain. The stretching will get stronger and stronger but it won't be painful, it'll just be uncomfortable since you're adjusting. There'll be a point when I have to stop because of your virginity, and that's when it is going to hurt you a little. I have to force myself into you and it'll sting quite badly when I enter you properly, but I swear that it'll be over in a single second and then you'll feel better afterwards. You'll adjust to me and then the pain should stop entirely or at least subside to throbbing,' She nodded against his chest as he was rocking her slowly in his arms and she was content against him, readjusting herself more comfortably.

'What about my lack of experience in that department, though?' She closed her eyes when he began to draw his knuckles across her cheek, smiling to herself as she fell further and further in love with the man holding her so securely in his arms. 'I've been so nervous over the past few days that I'm going to disappoint you in bed since you know exactly what to do, whereas I've never willingly kissed a boy except from you. The only boy that I've kissed was a village boy when I was thirteen years old and I was forced up against the barn wall by him. All I can remember is his tongue in my mouth and his hands touching me where they shouldn't. My stepfather found out about it and slapped me, locking me in my bedroom after calling me a slut and saying that I led him on. That put me off of boys for years, let me tell you,' A nervous giggle left her as she sat up on his lap and rested her hands in her lap again. 'I just don't want to make a fool of myself or let you down tonight, John. I love you,' She then turned to face him and rested her hands upon his shoulders as she pressed her soft lips to his in a slow and delicious kiss. Their lips caressed slowly as they hummed gently into one another's mouth and his hand lay upon the side of her neck. She sucked on his lower lip when they parted and he sighed when he held her close once again, wrapping his jacket around her shoulders as she shivered and the candles began to go out.

'It sounds like you didn't have one of the best starts in life, my lovely,' He admitted when his arm was around her waist again, her head now resting upon his shoulder as she nuzzled her nose against his neck. 'Your parents weren't helpful in the least and that boy needs a whacking never mind being allowed to get away with it. I promise you that no one is ever going to treat you like that again, and I want you to come to me if someone tries to hurt you in any way, do you understand?' She nodded against him as his lips were to her forehead, feeling his warmth surrounding her. 'You could never make a fool of yourself and you could never let me down, Anna. I wouldn't allow it. I had an awful childhood too, but I'll save that for another time. Right now all that matters to me is you,' He pulled her away for a moment and hooked his finger beneath her chin, bringing her gaze to his. 'All that's ever mattered to me is you,' He then kissed her deeply as she wrapped her arms around his neck.

They soon decided that it would be best to go inside when a clap of thunder shocked them apart, and so they blew out the candles and packed up the basket and blanket before hurrying hand in hand back to the house as Anna giggled gently in the rain. They stopped by the back door and John brought her close to him before kissing her desperately and groaning gently into her mouth. 'I love you,' She panted between kisses. 'I've never loved anyone more,' He was kissing her neck hungrily as the rain continued to fall and she whimpered in pleasure before slowly pushing him away reluctantly.

'Me neither my love,' He pressed his wet forehead to hers and breathed heavily as he tried to distract his mind from the fact that she was pressed so intimately against his body. 'Me neither,' They then went inside and parted as if nothing had happened, both of them sharing loving smirks as Anna went towards the laundry room and he headed for the boot room. It had been the perfect day for them...

But what would the night hold?

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