A/N – A story from Anna's point of view. Anna's thoughts in the aftermath of John's arrest. For a dear friend who is "Obsessed"!
Disclaimer – Downton Abbey and its characters are the property of Julian Fellowes, I'm just borrowing them for a short while.
Disclaimer – M – Mature Content
The Most Precious of Memories
The rain batters against the window, the wind howls through the ill fitting panes. I pull the covers around me tightly to try and find some comfort from the inclement weather and my feeling of complete and utter desolation. How different I had felt just a few days earlier.
The day had started like any other; well at least to the rest of the household it did. Daisy woke me at half past five after cleaning the fire grates and relighting the fires. When I awoke I prayed that my conversation with Mr Bates hadn't been a dream or some unbelievable fantasy that I had concocted. Today was the day; today I would become Mrs Anna Bates. I giggled to myself like a silly girl and clapped my hands together at the thought of standing beside him saying my vows.
Breakfast was nigh on impossible as we sat beside each other trying desperately not to catch each others eye. I'm sure to those watching we must have seemed very awkward. Normally, John would be showing me some interesting snippet from the newspaper or laughing along to some silly tale I would have found to tell him.
The only time we actually acknowledged each others presence was when I dropped my teaspoon and we both reached down to retrieve it at the same time. His hand grabbed mine as I made it to the spoon first. He winked at me as we reached below the table and he stroked the back of my hand with his thumb fleetingly, before resuming his prim and proper pose above the table.
We had a full mornings work to carry out before making our way to Ripon Register Office. What a grim building that appeared to be. It looked not unlike a prison, perhaps I should have taken that as an omen, a foreshadowing of the events that would all too soon unfold.
Mr Bates walked me proudly through the huge wooden doors and into one of the many rooms within the building. An elderly couple nodded politely as we entered; witnesses I assumed. I wasn't bothered that I wouldn't be getting a fairytale church wedding; all that mattered was that I was marrying the man I loved, the man that I dreamed about nearly every night.
The look of unfaltering love in John's eyes, as he repeated the words after the registrar, "I, John Bates, take thee, Anna May Smith, to be my wedded wife," was enough to melt the heart of even the hardest soul.
"With this ring I plight thee my troth, as a symbol of all we have promised and all that we share." John's eyes glinted with tears of joy and when the Registrar said the words,
"It therefore gives me great pleasure to say that you are now husband and wife together."
Neither John nor I could contain our happiness and excitement any longer. We must have looked like a young love struck couple, but we didn't care, we were already lost in our own little world.
His lips touched mine and a spark ignited both of our desires. This kiss was different from all the rest it held secret promises that made me tingle inside, a feeling I had felt many times when I thought of Mr Bates but this time somehow it was so much stronger.
After signing the marriage register we collected our documents and stepped out into the bright sunlight. It was a beautiful day, the sun shone down from a cloudless sky.
John suggested we take a walk in the park before catching the bus back to Downton village. We both knew that as soon as we got back we would have to resume our duties and the charade of being merely good friends, only Lady Mary knew of our plans and I was sure that she would not have betrayed my confidence.
The bench beneath the large oak tree served as our sanctuary for the first few minutes of our married life. John reached out and pulled my hand onto his lap. He caressed my fingers with his thumb and with his other hand he gently lifted my chin until I was looking into his dark eyes. He closed the gap between us and I felt his warm lips touch mine briefly.
"Well, Mrs Bates, how does it feel to be a married woman?" John asked, unable to hide the lust in his eyes.
"So far, so good I suppose, Mr Bates," I grinned. "Mind you, the only difference is this piece of paper… for the moment," I waved the marriage certificate in the air and my wink left John in no doubt as to my meaning. Taking me completely by surprise he took my face between his hands and kissed me. As our lips met I groaned with pleasure. This was nothing like any of the kisses we'd had before. His lips pressed firmly on mine and I felt his tongue pushing through. Instinctively I parted my lips and soon my tongue joined his in exploring, tasting and swirling around our mouths.
John's hand slipped down and around my neck and he pulled me closer to him, deepening our already passionate kiss.
A sudden, loud cough startled us and we pulled apart, only to see a very large woman waddling past us, shaking her head in disgust. I looked at John who was already laughing. He placed a soft kiss on my nose before standing and holding out his hand for me.
The journey back to Downton was quick and uneventful. I held John's hand on my lap for most of the way until Mr Forsyth, the baker from the village, boarded the bus, then it seemed wise to just appear as friends sharing a bus ride together.
Before we got to the servants door, John grabbed my arm and pulled me towards him.
"Anna," he whispered, "you can't wear your ring in front of everyone, they'll know exactly what we've been doing."
My heart sank but of course I knew he was being sensible. I wanted to shout my new name from the rooftops but it wasn't the right time, what with Miss Swire's funeral and Vera's death still hanging over us like a curse.
I straightened my fingers and rolled the ring around with the fingers of my right hand. John carefully held my hand and eased the ring off my finger before lifting it to his lips. Then he passed me the ring and I placed it in my pocket before we stepped through the door.
As soon as we got back it was straight to work. The evening meal was being prepared and I was expected in Lady Mary's room. We reached the servants stairway which John was about to climb, when I quickly gave him a chaste kiss on the cheek. He smiled and winked before turning and proceeding up the stairs.
We were married and I was over the moon and only one thing could make the day any more perfect than it already was but the chance of John and I sharing a bed like proper married couples did was out of the question. I sighed and shook my head to chase away the daydream and went up to my room to change back into my uniform.
Whilst I didn't have any posh clothes, the ones I'd chosen to be married in I very rarely ever wore, so I was quick to change out of them before anyone suspected we'd been up to anything. I lifted the posy to my nose and its sweet smell reminded me of standing beside Mr Bates, my hand in his looking into his deep brown eyes. The butterflies began to flutter in my stomach again and I quickly put the flowers into a small glass of water beside my bed.
"The secret Mrs Bates," Lady Mary crooned, with some amusement.
"We will tell everyone, but I thought we should leave it for a while, at least until after the funeral anyway."
"You'll have to control yourselves," she said, wistfully.
"Well, we've had enough practise." More than enough as far as I was concerned.
I stepped back and Lady Mary rose from the dressing table, "Come with me," she said.
I had no idea where she was taking me; perhaps she wanted me to prepare a room for a guest, although Mrs Hughes hadn't told me of any visitors. We walked down the long corridor from her room and she kept glancing towards me with a secret smile on her face.
We reached the guest room at the far end of the East corridor. As soon as I entered the room and saw the candles flicker softly and the flowers lying on the bed I knew what she had in mind.
I started to laugh quietly as she explained, "Smuggle Bates in here when everyone has gone to bed… but for heavens sake, make sure he gets the right room."
"I don't know what to say, M'Lady… who did all this." I shook my head in amazement.
"Jane – I told her, she said it would be her leaving present. You can stay all night, she won't tell." As Lady Mary said the words my stomach began to flutter again at the thought of sleeping all night next to Mr Bates and I'm sure the flush of my cheeks must have given my thoughts away.
"M'Lady, thank you, very, very much."
Looking around the room after Lady Mary had gone, my emotions overcame me as I couldn't believe how romantic it all looked. The flames crackling in the roaring fire, the warm glow of candlelight and the beautiful white bouquet nestling on the bed.
All I needed to do now was tell John. He didn't have cause to come along the East corridor all that often, so I'd have to make sure my directions were good ones.
Mr Carson was already saying grace as I hurried into the servant's hall. I was late. I'd smuggled my brush and nightdress into the guest room. Flustered, I took my place beside Mr Bates as he glanced sideways quizzically. I managed to ignore his gaze even though I was bursting to tell him where he would sleep that night.
The evening meal seemed to take an eternity, with much talk about poor Miss Swire's funeral. Finally, I excused myself from the table and said goodnight but not before pushing a crumpled note into John's hand. He looked at me with a questioning expression but quickly slipped the note into his jacket pocket.
Not wanting to draw attention to myself, I went up the stairs as if to go to my room but instead I very bravely went through the dividing door to the men's corridor and took the stairs down the other side and from there into the house itself. Once in the guest room I relaxed and imagined John's face as he read my note.
My dearest John,
Bring your nightclothes to the guest room on the East corridor. Once up the stairs turn right and it is the fourth door on the left. Count carefully!
I will explain everything soon enough. Come quickly.
Your loving wife, Anna.
As I waited, I changed into my nightdress and sat at the dressing table brushing my hair through. I had never been as nervous in my whole life. Even when I had come to Downton as a young girl and left the safety of my family I hadn't felt as concerned as I did now.
What if I wouldn't make a good wife, what if I couldn't give John what he needed? I had little idea of what to expect, even though having been brought up with brothers I knew the anatomy of a man well enough. I had heard horror stories of husbands having little respect for their wives but somehow I didn't think John would be anything like that. He was such a gentle, caring man but with a dark side that I'm sure I still didn't fully understand.
I picked up the small glistening gold band that I had placed in front of me and slipped it onto my finger. My daydream was broken by a knock at the door. Instinctively, I pulled my night gown further around me as John entered the room. He smiled as he put his clothes down on the chair near the door.
"Good evening, Mrs Bates," he whispered and walked further into the room, looking around him as he did so.
"Hello, Mr Bates. You found the right room then?" I answered shyly, thinking the moment couldn't seem any more awkward.
John nodded as he walked over and stood behind me looking at me through the dressing table mirror. Carefully he took the hair brush from my hand and after waiting for my unspoken approval he began to gently brush my hair. For a big man he was surprisingly delicate and made sure he lifted my hair with his other hand before running the brush slowly through. I felt so relaxed that I allowed my head to tip back and I sighed as he stroked the side of my neck with the back of his fingers.
"You look beautiful, Anna," he whispered, as he lifted my chin and then dropped his mouth to mine. I moaned, as once again I started to drown in the taste of his lips. So many times I had dreamt of this moment. I gasped as his lips travelled along my jaw and down my neck. After moving my gown and nightdress aside he placed a soft kiss on my bare shoulder.
There was a look in his eyes that I had never seen before. They glistened in the candlelight and I could see the love but also something much deeper. I reached up and touched his cheek. He took my hand and led me over to the bed.
As I sat on the edge, John walked over to his pile of night clothes. He carefully unfolded his shirt and laid it over the top of the chair and then he started to undo the buttons of his jacket. Not wanting to cause him any embarrassment I turned my back so that I was looking into the embers of the fading fire.
"You don't have to look away, Anna. I have nothing to hide from you." As he spoke I turned around and smiled shyly towards him. "I'm not a young man and I'm battered here and there, but what you see belongs to you."
Having removed his shirt he then moved onto his trousers. As he lowered them he winced as he slid the fabric down his bad leg. I couldn't bear to see him suffer, so quickly I moved over to where he was standing and crouched down to help him ease the trouser leg off. I had never seen John's leg before but he had once told me of the terrible leg iron he tried, to correct his limp. The scars from the screws were still visible and I glided my fingers delicately over the sensitive pink skin.
John took hold of my upper arms and pulled me back up to him. I placed my hands on his chest and could feel the rapid thumping of his heart. Taking my hands in his he raised them to his lips and kissed the back of each one before turning them over and kissing my palms.
I cupped his face in my hands and kissed him. The kiss became deeper, more urgent as we both realised that we desperately wanted each other.
Staring deeply into my eyes, John opened his heart, "I love you so very much, Mrs. Bates."
"Oh, John, I've always loved you, even from the very first time we met."
Our lips met once again as John took me in his strong arms, crushing my body against his. His hands started to explore as I ran my hands through the back of his hair, down his neck and across his broad shoulders.
Suddenly, John pushed me gently away from him and as I stepped back I could see his obvious arousal through his shorts.
"I'm sorry, Anna," he stuttered. "I don't want you to do anything that you are not comfortable with."
This beautiful man, standing before me was so humble, so caring. I never believed that it would be me who would have to be the confident one on our wedding night. I took him by the hand and led him over to the bed. I slipped off my nightgown and then pulled back the covers. I slid beneath them and then patted the bed next to me. John got in and drew the covers back over us.
"I want to be your wife, John, in every sense of the word. Please show me what it is to be a married woman."
My words were silenced as he captured my lips with his. The tender and delicate kiss turned swiftly into a hungry and passionate one. He stopped and looked into my eyes, as if seeking approval, before placing the lightest of kisses on my shoulder.
Whilst running his fingers through my hair with one hand the other made its way downwards. John's hand slowly worked its way down, his thumb lazily trailing over my breast. He rubbed me through the fabric of my nightdress and I could feel a tightening between my legs as his hand glided over my stomach.
His eyes never left mine as his hand reached down to my thigh. He stroked my leg with his fingertips pulling up my nightdress at the same time. He stopped to wait for my approval before taking hold of the hem and drawing it up my body. I eased my hips up from the bed and lifted my arms for him to remove it completely. He tossed it on the floor and then pulled me to him. The feel of our skin together for the first time was like nothing I had ever felt before. I moaned as I felt the coarse hair of his chest brush across my breasts, grazing my nipples and sending a pulse of desire through my body.
I arched my body into him and he slid his hands down my silky smooth skin and then buried his head in my neck, sucking and nipping me until I was pleading for him to go further.
Carefully he took one of my nipples between his teeth and traced circles with his tongue until it was nice and hard. Reaching up, he captured my lips with his. It was a deep, hungry kiss, which left us both breathless.
I gently pushed against John's shoulders and he flopped down onto the bed. He took my breasts in his hands and rubbed his thumbs roughly against my nipples. In my position above him I decided to be bold and I drew back the covers. He still had his shorts on but I could see him firm and hard. I swept my hand down his stomach and he gasped and breathed in as my fingers played with the waist band of his shorts. I brushed my hand over the bulge which elicited a moan from John's lips.
"Oh, Anna… my love. This is what you do to me."
Feeling emboldened I then slipped my fingers under the flimsy material. He was hot, so hot and I gently stroked my hand up and down his silky length which hardened at my touch. He was so hard, so firm and soon I felt John's hips shift in response to my touch and so I gripped tighter and his hips built up a steady rhythm. All too quickly, he stilled and placed his hand on top of mine through the material.
"No, Anna, you'll have me undone." His breath was ragged. "I want you to enjoy this, we need to go slowly."
He propped himself up and gently pushed me back down to the bed. A disappointed look must have swept across my face that he read to be a completely different emotion.
"Are you frightened, Anna, are you worried what I might do to you?"
"No, I'm not frightened, I am a bit nervous but that's more because I don't want to let you down. I want to be everything that you need me to be, John."
I could see his eyes glisten and he smiled warmly.
"Show me what you want, Anna, show me how to please you."
I was taken aback by his words. I'd never made love before, I didn't really know what I wanted or should want but the feeling of desire between my legs made me reach for his hand instinctively and guide it down between my thighs. He rubbed me gently with the palm of his hand and then circled upwards, teasing me, leaving me gasping. He leaned forward and kissed my stomach before looking up into my eyes. His other hand reached up and our fingers intertwined.
I pushed my hips forward indicating that I wanted to feel his fingers over my intimate place, properly this time. He swept his hand down and I gasped as his fingers slid through my burning folds until I could feel him stroking, rubbing and finally as I moaned he slipped a finger inside me.
"Oh, Anna, you are so wet, so ready," he whispered, as his teeth nipped my earlobe. "Do you trust me, Anna?"
"With my life, John," I managed to say through ragged breaths.
Still sliding his finger in and out of me he trailed his lips down my body, stopping to give attention to both breasts. He took my nipples in turn between his teeth and flicked with the end of his tongue before swirling around them and sucking gently. Then he continued down my stomach to my thighs. He kissed me on each inner thigh and then nuzzled the smooth silky hair with his nose.
I was sure that something inside me was about to explode. My whole body tingled and the muscles in my stomach were clenching with anticipation.
Oh, my, surely he wasn't going to go there with his mouth, with his tongue, but before I could utter a word he took me between his lips and sucked gently, releasing me and then flicking his tongue quickly. Soon there were two fingers inside me, pushing, probing, and sliding back and forth. My hips started rocking against him "That's it, Anna, let it go." The feelings that were washing over me were indescribable. Suddenly my body started to jerk and shudder and a wave of pleasure spread from my stomach to every inch of my body. I cried out in shock and John quickly held me to him, stroking my hair as my body recovered.
"It's alright my love, don't worry, that's normal," he said reassuringly. "Did you enjoy it?"
"Oh, John. I just want to feel you inside me, please," I pleaded.
I loved this man with every inch of my being and I wanted us to be complete, to be one. Husband and wife… together.
"You do know this might hurt… you have to tell me if it does, we can stop," he said. I nodded and I couldn't help feeling just a little bit scared.
He removed his shorts and for the first time I saw his manhood. He was much, much larger than I expected. Part of me was eager to feel him inside me, filling me completely but the inexperienced housemaid in me was quaking at the thought.
John knelt above me and parted my legs carefully with his knees. He moved one of my legs over his hip and I did the same with the other. He leaned over me and ran his thumb over my bottom lip before kissing me firmly. I could feel him hard and warm against my hip and I bucked off the bed, rubbing myself against him making him groan into my mouth.
"Please, John, make love to me," I whispered against his neck.
I could feel him teasing me, touching me there and gently pressing further and further.
"Tell me to stop," he breathed, heavily.
"Never," I answered.
Lifting my bottom with his hands he sunk slowly into me. I tensed, and shut my eyes. He pulled me closely to him as I became accustomed to his size, as I relaxed and gently he eased himself further into me. Slowly, he started to rock his hips and the pain increased.
"Shhhh," he breathed into my hair. "Soon it'll be fine."
He rocked harder and deeper until I cried out. After the pain had gone I began to push my hips up in time with John's thrusts. He dropped his face to my neck, his breath warm and moist against my skin. My hands found his back, my nails scratching down his shoulder. Instinct told me I wanted to feel him deeper inside me. I slid my hands over his slippery back down to his bottom. My hands grabbed his buttocks and pulled him firmly to me with every deliciously deep thrust.
John's movements became less regular as he moaned into my ear. He regained enough composure to slip his hand between us finding that part of me that would be my undoing once more. My body tensed around him, my muscles gripped him and sent him crashing into his own sweet release.
"Oh, sweet Jesus," he gasped through gritted teeth as he jerked into me a few more times and then collapsed onto me saying my name over and over.
We lay together, arms and legs entwined for several minutes until John leaned over and after placing a soft kiss on my forehead he said,
"Well, Mrs Bates, you've had your way with me."
"Anna, come on yer've got to get yerself up, it's gone 'alf six, Mr Carson will ave yer guts for garters"
Daisy's wake up call is enough to shatter the daydream and once again I realise that my heart has been shattered into a million pieces. I may as well be dead without John here beside me. I pull the covers over my head and am unable to stop myself from sobbing once more.