A/N – Set after John's release from prison, it's the first night in their cottage. Will things go smoothly and live up to their expectations.

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

A Place To Call Home

By

Nicky W

Anna stared out of the tiny cottage window. After considering the surrounding fields, she concluded that it wasn't much of a view but it was their view and that was all that mattered.

She pulled the night gown around her as a chill spread through her body, penetrating deep into her bones. Even though the room was warm and stifling, she still felt an uneasy coolness envelope her.

She heard the sound of John downstairs in the kitchen and wondered if he was deliberately taking his time clearing away the crockery from their first meal in their new home. He knew from their conversations that she liked some time to carry out her nightly rituals and he was always so thoughtful, so he was probably giving her the time and space that she needed.

Tonight… it was different. It was the first time they had been properly alone together since John had been released from prison, their first night in their own cottage. A fleeting thought troubled her, perhaps John was putting off coming to bed, maybe he worried that she might expect too much of him?

Anna's eye was drawn towards a solitary figure, walking close to the gate. It was a man in a ragged coat and worn out boots. He seemed to stagger a little and held out his hand to steady himself against the fence but quickly pulled it away as the barbed wire cut into his flesh. She saw him curse under his breath as he raised his bloodied hand to his mouth. Anna couldn't help but feel pity for him, even though she knew nothing of his life. Her mind wandered and she was reminded of how painful it was to see the life slowly draining from her husband with every passing month he spent in prison. If it hadn't been for the generosity of Lord Grantham, so easily could that man have been John, a shell of the man he had once been, scraping a living as best he could just to make ends meet.

So engrossed was she in her thoughts that John coming in and standing behind her went un-noticed. He brushed her shoulders delicately with his fingertips and the sudden touch instantly dragged her out of the day dream and she jumped involuntarily.

"Now then," John joked, "you were miles away from here, care to tell me where?"

Anna considered telling him about her memories but instead chose not to spoil the moment, "Oh, nothing really, just thinking how lucky we are to be here, to have our own home." She brought her hands up to her shoulders and pressed them against John's own.

Their chances for intimacy since his return had been slim. A quick kiss here, a fumble there when they were visiting the cottage before it was truly theirs. So, tonight was the first time that they would be able to enjoy each other without fear of interruptions.

The enormity of this wasn't lost on Anna. For a large part of the day she had worried about how John would deal with the situation. Would he be completely at ease with her? Wrongful imprisonment must have left its mark; it certainly had physically as he was but a shadow of his former self, having lost a considerable amount of weight whilst away. A question formed; How was he in his mind though?

And then there was the worry that she would still be able to please him. Maybe he had changed; maybe she wasn't what he needed anymore.

"Are you sure you're alright, love?" he whispered into her ear. The sensation of his warm breath on her neck made the hairs stand on end and goose bumps appear like a rash.

"I have never been better, Mr Bates," she reassured him and kissed the back of his left hand as it still rested on her shoulder.

John's lips found the side of her neck and she leaned her head over to the left so that he could continue to kiss and nip the soft skin that he found there. Anna moaned as he moved her hair gently away from her neck and trailed kisses along her shoulder.

His hands slowly glided down her arms, his long fingers tracing circles as they went. When he reached her hands he slid his own over the top of hers and laced his fingers through her fingers, then she folded them inward and he rested his head against her shoulder.

"I could stay like this forever," he sighed, as he brought his arms around her, still holding onto her hands.

A slight giggle escaped Anna's lips, "Forever is a long time, that leg of yours would get a bit stiff and sore, maybe we should just settle for a few minutes?"

"You, Mrs Bates, are what is known as a spoil sport," he chuckled in return.

"Well… I had thought, that maybe we would be doing a little more than just hugging in front of the window tonight," Anna bravely replied, holding her breath, anticipating her husbands reply.

John's hips were pressed tightly against Anna's back and she felt him swell against her as she spoke. A thrill coursed through her body as her doubts were cast aside. He did still desire her, she could still excite him.

"Oh, Anna," he growled, "I intend to do far more than hug you tonight," his voice was laced with unspoken promises, which were all but the undoing of Anna right there and then.

Suddenly, she felt John's grip on her hands loosen. They came once again to her shoulders but this time it was to remove her flimsy night gown. It floated to the floor like a feather. He took hold of her cotton nightdress and as it bunched in his hands he gently lifted it. Anna raised her arms up and the night dress quickly joined the gown on the floor beneath them.

Anna was aware that she was still standing in front of the window. The night was drawing in and the pale moonlight bathed her body in an eerie glow. Her nipples hardened and glistened at the thrill of knowing that she was there, exposed, and she felt the desire building in her stomach.

Trying to turn into John's arms she felt him holding her steady against him by her shoulders. The back of his fingers slid delicately down her arms once more. Anna's whole body tensed and she was unable to stop herself from shuddering;

"Are you cold, love?" John whispered, concerned that she might catch a chill.

"No, not cold," Anna sighed, as she took his hands and guided them round to her stomach, "can you feel how hot I am?"

She was indeed warm and John allowed his hands to travel up her silky body, his thumbs making tiny circles as they reached her naked breasts.

His breathing, now rapid made his whispers come in ragged breaths, "Tell me if you want me to stop, if we go any further I may not be able to."

He pressed himself firmly against her to show her just how aroused he was and as he took a breast in each hand and squeezed gently, all Anna could do was groan in response and he took that as unspoken agreement for him to proceed.

Anna's head fell back against his shoulder and he took the opportunity to suckle and kiss her neck whilst his fingers stroked and pinched her nipples and he kneaded her breasts with the palms of his hands. Anna's right arm came up and over John's head. She snaked her fingers through his hair and pulled it tightly as she felt the waves of excitement build. John's right hand swept down across her stomach which tensed at his touch and then leaning slightly over her, his fingers made their way through the soft silky hair between her legs.

Her breath caught as his fingers parted her gently and he tenderly stroked the warm hard nub he found within her moist hot lips. She was wet and ready for him and John began to feel uncomfortable as he strained against his shorts.

His fingers stilled and Anna let out a frustrated groan. He turned her slowly so that he could look deep into her pale green eyes. Without shifting his gaze he unbuttoned his shirt and threw it to a nearby chair. He quickly removed his undershirt and Anna couldn't resist touching his chest. She felt his heart pounding as she grazed him with her nails. He reached down and swiftly dispensed of his trousers and shorts. Anna's eyes fell unashamedly as he ran his hand over his hard erection. Their eyes met once more and Anna's smile was enough to make his heart burst.

He took her in his arms and crushed her to him. The slightly coarse hair of his chest brushed against her nipples, the feeling was both uncomfortable and exhilarating in equal turn. Taking his face between her hands Anna could not resist the lure of his warm moist lips a moment longer. On tiptoes she reached up and her lips met his. As soon as his lips parted and his mouth opened to savour her fully she pushed her tongue past his teeth and began to explore his mouth, swirling and probing. John's groans became louder as they devoured each other. Anna pulled away slightly taking his lower lip between her teeth, then she licked it slowly before deepening the kiss once more.

"Oh, dear God, Anna, I've missed this," he moaned, as she decided it was her turn to explore his body. Staring deeply into his dark brooding eyes she gently swept a lock of hair from his forehead before cupping his left cheek in her hand.

"Do you know how handsome you are, John? You are the most perfect thing that has ever happened to me. When you were gone I felt an emptiness, here," Anna tapped her chest above her heart, "I knew that if I didn't get you back here with me then my life was all but over."

John raised his fingers to Anna's lips, "Hush now, you have me back and I will make sure that I never leave you again. For better for worse, for richer for poorer… you're stuck with me now."

Tears stung Anna's eyes and she cupped his face and kissed him once more. John took her by the hand and led her over to their bed. He pulled back the blanket and sheets and guided Anna beneath them before joining her and covering them both.

"You are so beautiful, Anna Bates," John sighed, as he stroked her long golden hair, "It was the thought of lying here, holding you in my arms that kept me going all those months."

"Then let's stop talking and make the most of what time we have tonight, soon enough we'll have to be up and across to the Abbey."

Anna was right, whilst having their own home was wonderful; it also meant that by the time they got in of an evening and then got up the following morning, they would be lucky if they had two waking hours together.

"My, my, we are eager, Mrs Bates," John teased her, "how did you manage all those months without me?"

"Would you like me to tell you," Anna grinned wickedly and was about speak when his lips captured hers. "No, Mrs Bates, but you can show me," John answered, impishly and threw back the covers, revealing her perfectly naked body once again.

John watched entranced as Anna's hand found its way down between her legs. He held his breath as she rubbed the palm of her hand over her silky mound and in turn his hand reached down involuntarily and he took hold of his firm, hard shaft. It took him all his self restraint not to start stroking himself, something he feared would insult his gorgeous wife.

"Now it's my turn," he growled, as his hand covered hers and continued to rub and tease. Anna closed her eyes and pressed her head deep against the pillow as she felt the muscles in her stomach clench.

"Not yet, Mrs Bates, you aren't going to come just yet."

It was almost too much for Anna to bear, hearing those words coming from his lips. She felt the start of a deep sensation creeping from her belly between her legs. "John… please," she begged as he concentrated once more on her breasts.

Kneeling over her now his head dipped and he took a nipple between his lips, he licked and swirled with the tip of his tongue, leaving her wet and hard and then he blew softly on the nipple and watched as it hardened even more.

"John, please, as wonderful as this feels, we can have all the time in the world for this tomorrow and the next day and the day after that but now… just for now I want to feel you, to take you completely and for you to take me. I want us to be one, man and wife together."

"Oh Anna, love, we are already that, but if that's what you want then that is what you shall have."

John shifted slightly and parted her legs gently with his own knees. He kissed two of his fingers and then pressed them against her lips. The fingers then trailed down her chin, over her neck and down between her breasts. As they reached her stomach he spread out his fingers and pressed lightly against her. Never taking his eyes from hers his fingers slipped once more between her legs and slid effortlessly into her. She gasped as she felt him slide smoothly in and out, first one finger, then another. Anna's hips bucked from the bed, eager to feel as much of him as she could.

"You are so ready aren't you?" he whispered, lovingly.

Anna nodded, unable to speak for fear of loosing control of her emotions. She lifted her right leg and placed it above John's hip pulling him towards her and spurring him on. He took hold of her other leg and slid his hands under her bottom pulling her carefully towards him.

She reached down and took hold of him firmly. She ran her hand up and down his silky length and as she did so, John took a deep breath to compose himself. Anna guided him into her and with one smooth and gentle thrust he slid into her completely.

"Sweet Jesus Anna, the things you do to me," John moaned, as he began to slowly move his hips. He pulled her to him closely deepening every thrust. Anna licked her lips and John couldn't resist leaning over her and crushing her lips with his. He continued his rhythmic movements as he heard Anna's soft moans.

He could tell she was so close and so he increased his movements, thrusting deeper, harder. He became less rhythmical, more erratic until he could contain himself no longer. He reached down between her legs once more and stroked her until they came together in a beautiful sweet explosion of pleasure.

Anna could contain the tears no longer and she cried out as John thrust a final time before gasping her name. They held each other closely; John being careful not to hurt her he rolled to the side and wrapped his legs around hers. He cradled and rocked her gently until her sobs subsided.

"I hope I didn't hurt you," the concern was evident in his voice.

"No, you could never do that. I'm just so happy, so relieved that I have finally got to be a wife to you once more."

"Oh, Anna, you have always been my wife. There was no man prouder than me when you, my wife, walked into that prison to see me. It didn't matter that I couldn't touch you, or make love to you. Your very existence in my life was enough to make me a happy man."

Anna smiled as she knew that the words he spoke were sincere. Resting her head on his chest she could hear his heartbeat start to slow.

"Thank you," Anna purred softly.

"What for? " John asked a little puzzled.

"For making love to me… for still loving me." John stroked her hair to try and soothe away her doubts.

"How could I not love you? You are my saviour and my very life, without you, I would be nothing."

"We should sleep now," Anna whispered softly, "and tomorrow, tomorrow I shall let you have your way with me… exactly how you want to."

John smiled as he felt Anna laughing against his chest.

"Then tomorrow, Mrs Bates, I will be a very lucky man."

As John drew the covers over them, Anna kissed his cheek lightly.

"Goodnight love, sleep well and I shall see you not only in my dreams now but in my arms at the daybreak."

Seeing the love in her husbands eyes, Anna knew that this was the only view she needed.

~x~