Reviews for Understanding
JamesLuver chapter 13 . 7/28/2013
What a perfect way to end this story. I thought there might be a flash forward to the future, and this didn't disappoint in the slightest. It was nice to get a glimpse of what their life is like now.

I liked the set-up, with the explanations of what had transpired in those six years. Thank goodness Edith is happy with her life. And M/M seem to have definitely been enjoying their married life! I think it makes sense for Sybil to be carving her own path in life too. Out of the three daughters, she was the one who needed a man the least, and it's nice to see her being active about her independence. The arrangements for the Crawleys, but it works. Good that Matthew wouldn't let Mary's idea of image and propriety stop John from becoming butler. The two of them enacting the housekeeper's sitting room plan made me smile. I wasn't expecting to see that, so I enjoyed the reminder.

Lily and Henry are adorable. Their personalities just made me smile. Yay for Lily being a daddy's girl (I won't accept anything less, haha). John's relationship with his children was just lovely. I can't imagine him being anything but an involved father with their lives. I loved the image of John limping around the cottage and lulling his children to sleep, as well as the little things that he showed them on holiday. Aww. Also, "Lily-pad" is such a cute nickname.

John and Anna still getting snatches of intimacy between their children being in the room was great. Loved the promises of "later" and John's cheeky comment about not getting rid of the big panelled dresses. The love scene was beautiful, and I liked the emphasis on how well they know each other in that sense, with them knowing exactly which positions are best for when they don't have much time.

The ending was great - the fact that you brought it right back around to the idea of their understanding at the beginning really tied the whole thing off, and made this final chapter all the sweeter because of it.
JamesLuver chapter 12 . 7/26/2013
It's always nice to see glimpses of Anna and John's future together, and this one was no exception. I liked the warm atmosphere that you created, and the descriptions of their routines. So nice to know that they've got an addition to the family on the way too. I think it's good that she didn't fall pregnant right away - I know a lot of people are praying for a baby Bates in the beginning of series four, but I wouldn't be disappointed if it didn't happen right away. I'd like to see them having more time as a reunited married couple before (three episodes with about two minutes in each is not enough for me!).

Anyway, I really enjoyed the subtle bits of humour, like John being confounded by how much Anna is knitting for the baby, and her being unable to keep awake past nine. The love scene itself was as nice as ever, and the sentiment of it being a dance between two souls that craved connection was beautiful, and possibly my favourite line. Looking forward to reading the cheese course, though I'm sad that it's come to an end.
JamesLuver chapter 11 . 7/26/2013
The description of the engagement ring sounds beautiful. I agree, blue is Anna's colour, and it sounds exactly like her ring - elegant and beautiful, but still understated.

Bless his lordship, telling John to go to Anna. I loved that they didn't care about propriety entirely at that point - it would have been a little unfair to expect them to do nothing more than shake hands and smile after so long apart. Loved John still asking her to walk out with him, and Anna's response to that.

The proposal scene was very sweet. I liked the touch of her never actually saying yet, but it just being a given after so many years.

And then the two of them in the cottage was great. It's nice that they could have that kind of respite after everything that they've had to endure. John's nervousness and babbling was sweet. I especially liked his "Outside" comment. He ought to know by now that if Anna wants something, then she gets it!

I really liked the scene with Anna and Molesley as well. It was nice to see it come full circle, of sorts, with the story beginning and ending with the two of them and seeing how their lives had changed in the course of the war. I'm glad that Molesley found happiness with Sarah. The poor man deserves a break. I also like how Anna and John have foregone the traditions of a wedding just to have a simple ceremony. It's reminiscent of their wedding on the show, which was perfect in its simplicity.
JamesLuver chapter 10 . 7/23/2013
Once again, the way that you've written their intimacy is beautiful. You have a way with words that just conveys every emotion possible, and makes it all the more wonderful to read. It just shows the honesty and the depths of their feelings. I think it's perfectly natural that they should want to be so close to each other after being forced to be chaste all week, after such a long separation. I loved the intimacy of them undress each other, and especially the image of them standing together in front of the mirror.

I liked seeing them make more concrete plans for the future if the war continued on for longer, though it's good to see that it didn't have to come to that. You captured the aftermath of the war very well, I think, particularly with the more melancholy mood, because John is right about the sacrifices that were made and what they got out of it in the end. I've always enjoyed the interactions between John and Robert too, so I enjoyed seeing the conversation between them. I loved the "Our Anna?/My Anna" train of thought from John. Looking forward to seeing them reunited - this time for good.
JamesLuver chapter 9 . 7/23/2013
The recap of the visit at the beginning of the chapter was great. I enjoyed getting more of an insight into the afternoon that the two of them spent together; by expanding it, you got across the feelings of urgency and tenderness even more. I also loved the walk home, and Anna not shying away from what she'd said when they met Mrs. Hughes in the road.

Their time together in London sounds wonderful. I loved the image of John wrapping his jacket around her when she was cold, and taking her to the music halls. But so much of Anna and John's time is spent in quieter moments, and their love for each other is so obvious through those, so the quieter moments you described here, such as their afternoons listening to the pianist, really help to emphasise that too. While their intimacies are always nice, they're so much more than that, which you illustrate in this chapter.

And yay for an appearance from Mrs. Bates! I love it when she's involved, and I have no doubt that she and Anna would have gotten along famously. It's nice to see them able to have fun even with the war.

So excited to see what happens in the next chapter now that they're alone in a room together. Their frustration at being so close and still so far was palpable, and also terribly cruel.
JamesLuver chapter 8 . 7/21/2013
It was so nice to see Anna and John reunited here. A whole year (or two? My maths is appalling) is a long time to go without seeing each other.

John's crippling self-doubt at the beginning was very true to form, though I did want to shake him a little when he was thinking that his news would extinguish Anna's smile. I completely and utterly understand his guilt, especially in line with your sympathetic version of Vera, but he ought to know by now that Anna would never stop loving him. Thank heavens that she was able to make him see sense. Her arguments against his guilt were very on the mark. I'm so glad that John didn't do something stupid.

The final scene was great too. You write the intimate moments between them very beautifully indeed. It's no surprise that Anna would be eager after so long without him - I loved her comment about having had lots of time to imagine. And it was nice to see John comfortable enough to let her rest against him, unlike the last time. I think it's true to form that they wouldn't make love before their wedding night, but everything else would be most definitely acceptable. Having a snatched moment of happiness in a war-torn world is a blessed relief.
JamesLuver chapter 7 . 7/21/2013
I really enjoyed the way that you chose to explore Vera's situation here. In the show, we only saw one side of her, and although MDK was superb, Fellowes could have done so much more with her. Although she didn't appear in this, I still felt sympathy for her and for her situation, right from the beginning of the chapter. Just by saying that her father had known where she'd lived at some point but hadn't bothered seeing her just shows how poor her childhood must have been, and it made me feel sorry for her. Interesting to see the two of them married after his time in Africa. I don't believe that I've seen that before, but it gives a different angle to their marriage. A/B is my primary concern, but now I feel bad about thinking of her as an obstacle, especially knowing how her days ended. I've studied workhouses quite a bit, and they were awful places. I wonder what John will do now. The line "Buried. In a common plot at a workhouse. His failure was complete." makes me think that he's about to do some wallowing.
JamesLuver chapter 6 . 7/18/2013
John's reaction to the letter was perfect, I think. His reasoning for feeling the things that he did were very in line with his character, and I enjoyed the further insight into his past.

His response to Anna's letter was very apt, a wonderful show of restrained passion. And his gift to Anna was inspired. I wasn't expecting such a great tie-in to their previous encounter.

And now Vera will potentially turn up? I'm not sure whether I should be excited or apprehensive about that - she's usually good at causing trouble!
JamesLuver chapter 5 . 7/18/2013
I liked the bittersweet tone that you struck up at the beginning of the chapter, with John ruminating on Anna and then acknowledging that it was bittersweet. The last line of the first section in particular really did capture that. I loved the idea of it being a glimpse of what it could have been.

Their personal goodbye was lovely, and it felt natural that it should take a more heated turn. In times of uncertainty, people do crave a more corporeal reassurance. And I especially liked the idea of "goodbye" seeming too final, so they used "I love you" instead. It makes it much more intimate too.

Bless Mr. Molesley, offering his understanding. It's nice to see that he's still prepared to be a friend, even if Anna doesn't feel the same way about him (and I just love Molesley!).

So glad to see the theme of letters being important again, especially after we've seen series three and know just how significant they were. I loved Anna sending him so many letters of reassurance, but then also feeling the need to express her more melancholy thoughts too. The final letter which she sent to him captured Anna's wistful tone, but also the intimacy of Anna and John's relationship, that she feels comfortable enough to share such thoughts with him. I'm interested to read his response!
JamesLuver chapter 4 . 7/16/2013
Well, John's news wasn't quite as bad as I expected it to be. While it's gutting for them to have to be separated by war, I initially thought Vera would have been brought up again - and that might have killed the romantic atmosphere.

I loved John asking Anna to take her hair down, and the emphasis on how intimate it is. I sometimes forget that it /was/ an intimate thing, and your phrasing really emphasised this. The two of them breaking her hair pins was great too. I always love a bit of heat, and you developed yours wonderfully - damn the dratted dress for getting in the way!
JamesLuver chapter 3 . 7/16/2013
I was a bit apprehensive about how this chapter would go with John's thoughts at the beginning. I particularly liked him realising that Anna hadn't been able to take the same comfort from any confessions like he'd been able to from hers. You also did a great job of building up the tension of the meeting - like Anna, I was on tenterhooks about how it would all pan out. I loved Anna deciding to push her case forward if it was going to be the time that he let her go. I like to see Anna being more forceful and giving John the push he needs to make decisions. So, so relieved that John said that he didn't want Anna to find another man, and their promises to each other were lovely. The kiss was beautiful too, especially the idea of Anna hoping that it would be her last first kiss. But the last line sounds ominous again. I hope John doesn't undo the steps that they've just taken forward!
JamesLuver chapter 2 . 7/15/2013
John's angst at the beginning was perfect. I especially liked his turn between being frustrated at Molesley for making a move on Anna when she was taken, and being angry at himself for saying that she was taken when he had nothing to offer her, as well as him feeling ill as his thoughts progressed further and further when imagining their day out together. Anna's innocence over Molesley's true motives was sweet, and her anger when finding out that John had made a claim on her was very believable - I really liked the line about even Molesley knowing more about John's feelings for her than her herself. That was a very powerful line. Good on Anna, too, offering John an ultimatum. He needs something to push him forward, and I hope that this will be it.
JamesLuver chapter 1 . 7/15/2013
I'm a little late, but I'll raise my hand for you owning Downton. I'm all for that.

This is already shaping up to be something extremely enjoyable. It's nice to see the issue of Mr. Molesley and the garden party being tackled; I've never seen it tackled quite like this before, and it's wonderful. Surely they would have had to have a conversation about that? Poor, clueless Mr. Molesley, pushing on despite what he'd been told. Oh well, you can't blame a man for trying. I also liked that you touched upon Anna's frustrations when it came to John's total lack of pushing anything forward. It's a side to her that's not always seen, but I have no doubt that she must have been feeling like this at some point. I'm looking forward to reading about how John handles this situation - hopefully it will be enough to spur him on.
Guest chapter 13 . 5/10/2013
I was riveted. This was so good! Being a huge Bates and Anna fan I got lost in the story.i was we'll written with lovely passion that you would expect to see from them
abigailc chapter 13 . 1/7/2013
What a joyous story. I loved how you played everything out. You write them so well. You have their "voices" down pat. Great job!
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