Reviews for The First Time
JamesLuver chapter 7 . 6/2/2014
A wonderful end to a wonderful fanfic. I really enjoyed getting to know more about Anna's past. It's interesting to see a story where Anna's childhood was less than ideal, since it's usually assumed that it was a pretty nice one. Still, even with the problems that they faced, I liked the sentiment that Anna's parents did love their children, even if they didn't love each other. Of course, having parents who love each other is still very important for children. It's a wonder Anna did turn out as well as she did!

But the parallels between John's story and Anna's mother's was great to see. Their pasts couldn't be more different on the face of it, but I liked that the underlying themes could still be drawn between the two. And the fact that it was a story so personal to Anna made it all the better for John seeing sense.

And yay, finally, the kiss! What a great build up to it! Anna's understanding regarding John and his confession of love was so sweet, but I'm glad that he did say the words to her anyway, and that he didn't keep the fact that he'd been to see the solicitor from her. And the playful, teasing banter provided such a great contrast to the overall tone of the story, showing that there really is reason for optimism and hope. A brilliant note to end it on.

Thank you for writing such a wonderful tale! Thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.
JamesLuver chapter 6 . 6/2/2014
Wow, this was an incredibly intense chapter. The content was so heavy, but I could not look away.

The calm before the storm was nicely set up. I really love the idea of Anna having a place of solace that is just her own, that she hasn't shared with anyone until now. I liked the mystic air of it all, it certainly does fit in with the end of the chapter, with the idea that anything can be possible, which I'm sure I'll see more of when I get there. And John's little admission about actually being in India in the past has got me wanting that fanfic where Anna and John visit there together!

John finally opening up about Africa was really difficult to read. You've clearly put a lot of thought into everything. The detail about the red uniform was particularly harrowing, as was the way that none of the men were left to die in peace. The imagery was so vivid, I felt as if I was watching it all alongside him. Despite all the horror, I liked the way that Anna kept touching John, giving him her strength and support quietly as he told his tale. It speaks volumes of their relationship. It's always been based on quiet moments, and it shows that they don't need grand gestures to be there for one another.

I'm looking forward to reading the tale of second chances and how it puts John on the path to accepting Anna fully in his life.
JamesLuver chapter 5 . 5/30/2014
I had hoped that Anna would make it in time to stop him doing something stupid, but this outcome was more interesting. John purposefully drinking to try and drive Anna away was so cruel, but of course she wouldn't be swayed that easily. Thank goodness he came to his senses after that and realised that she was there to stay no matter what.

The fight scene had me on the edge of my seat. I certainly wasn't expecting that. I'm glad John came out on top, of course. And now Anna has seen the unsavoury crannies of John's personality, and he can see that she isn't judging him for them. The temper might still be a part of him, but he is a different man now. She's been able to see this all along, but finally John is understanding it too.

I really liked the symbolism of Anna leading John down an unknown path at the end, with him trusting her completely to allow her to do this. It certainly bodes well for the remaining chapters!
JamesLuver chapter 4 . 5/29/2014
I've always loved the idea of John giving up smoking because of Anna not approving of it. It was nice to see them getting a moment's solace together too, even if it was plagued by the darker events of the day. The fact that they naturally found each other in an embrace again was so beautiful. It's good to see them making progress, even though John reproaches himself for it and even though it's technically not allowed. Anna's sentiments about her not wanting him to pretend to be someone he's not around her were so heartfelt too.

The second scene...God, that was some powerful writing. I can't even begin to describe what that did to me. If I thought you were setting it up brilliantly in earlier chapters, you surpassed yourself incredibly here. The stark contrast between Robert and John's recollections was so haunting. John being able to remember nothing but the fates of the men that he'd worked and lived alongside was devastating to read about, as was the way that you touched upon how they died. With memories like that, it's no wonder at all that John can't bear to think about his experiences/turned to drink in the first place. You made his recollections so vivid that I was sitting here with my hands over my mouth as I read. Giving the men personalities and names just made them so real, which only made the whole thing that much more heartbreaking. You are a master at this.

I can't wait to read about what will happen with the pub.
JamesLuver chapter 3 . 5/29/2014
Oh no, poor William. :'( Everyone's individual reaction to the news was heartbreaking - Mrs. Patmore's open sobbing, Daisy's more restrained anguish, Branson's fury. But despite the circumstances surrounding it, I did love the fact that John didn't think twice about pulling Anna into his arms to comfort her, propriety be damned. That they could both find some semblance of solace from being together like that was beautiful. And John still holding onto her hand even when they parted says so much about their connection.

John's thoughts about the families of the men in their unit was the most hard-hitting of all and really showcased the depth of his despair and self-loathing. My heart just plummeted at that part because it was so raw and real.
JamesLuver chapter 2 . 5/26/2014
Wow, this was a really heavy chapter, but I loved it all the same.

Great parallels drawn between Hemmings and John, it was good to see Hemmings reaching out to John when John told him how it was. And although it was painful for John to relive, I'm glad that he could bring some solace to Hemmings in some ways. The thought of John seriously contemplating suicide is a very dark one, but it definitely works; I have no problem envisaging his mind preying on him in such a way, especially after such traumatic experiences. And I liked that we also got more insight into what happened with John's unit, while still not knowing the full details. I'm eagerly awaiting learning more about that, even if it will be painful and heartbreaking to read.

I loved the fact that Anna kept seeking him out throughout the conversation too, and the way that John couldn't keep his eyes off her when he was talking about love. And of course the fact that Hemmings mistook them as husband and wife was so bittersweet. At least it seems to have spurred John on with his determination to find Vera (even if we know it doesn't happen for quite some time). Also, him telling her how lucky he was because of her presence in his life was so sweet.
JamesLuver chapter 1 . 5/26/2014
The sentiment of John not wanting to go to the hospital because of the potential bad memories that it would drag up for him, yet him still agreeing to go because Anna asked him to is so typical. I also had to laugh at the idea of Miss O'Brien and Mrs. Hughes going together. I would pay to see that one.

I think the disagreement was a necessary thing to have here, but I liked how you contrasted it with their desire to still be close to each other. The sexual tension between the two of them was palpable, and the use of the weather really reflected that too. But Anna is fundamentally right: how can he say that he has nothing to offer her if he hasn't found out properly? I do love her stubborness and clear-headed manner.

John being right about Anna's role at the hospital made me smile. And yay for Lady Sybil picking up on John's feelings and being perceptive enough to keep him out of the way.

The flashback with John cleaning those bandages was brilliant. It completely sucked me into the action, and I sped through reading it, feeling sick but needing to know more. You captured the overwhelming nature of it so wonderfully. I also like the way that you're weaving John into Captain Hemmings' story.

I am intrigued to know more about everything and can't wait to read on!
kb chapter 7 . 11/6/2013
What a lot of really good ideas you have incorporated into this excellent story. Your treatment of the effects of war on the soldiers was quite sensitive. Enjoyed all of it very much.
LaLizi chapter 7 . 10/7/2012
I love reading stories about Anna's life before Downton. I so wish that JFellowes would introduce us to that mother who says all sorts of wise things...

The words leading up to their kiss are just divine...What he says and how she reacts are just adorable. You are incredibly good at writing both of them with banter and this scene was sweet too. I am sad it is finished, but am looking forward to the next Downton story. :)
LaLizi chapter 6 . 10/7/2012
The idea of a hidden and secret waterfall and Anna sharing it with Mr. Bates is just awesome.! Can I just say that I love how strong and comforting Anna is? We know she is strong and tenacious, but quietly listening to his trauma and continuing to provide comfort is a testament to how incredible her character really is. I love how you have written her!
theglamourfades chapter 7 . 9/26/2012
A wonderful end to a wonderful story! It may have been a rough ride but it's been brilliant character development and felt very real.

It's a nice way to end things by giving us - and John - an insight into Anna's past and family life. Not 'nice' in the sense that she's had such a rough time, but that we understand more about on her outlook on life and their relationship in particular. That should she want to hold out for true love and avoid the mistakes her parents made, but also her very close experience of second chances, and how everyone is deserving of them. I like the sort-of parallel you set up between her mother and John, who have both been racked with guilt over the choices they made and the ones that were out of their control. I also love all of John's reactions to her story - first, guilt and feeling selfish for not remembering all that she had told him before about her family, sorrow and frustration for her and needless to say, the way he quietly comforts her is beautiful.

Aww, how Anna assures him that's there's no rush for him to say those three words, but then he does - yay! I was so happy for them both. Then to finish things with their teasing and playing and that lovely intimate moment - you painted that so vividly, it was wonderful and just what they needed. The idea of Anna's hiding place becoming *their* hiding place is the best.

Thanks for sharing such a great story. Look forward to what's coming next, it sounds very intriguing.
Brette O'Connell chapter 7 . 9/25/2012
This chapter was definitely worth the wait and tied up all the others quite nicely. I think everyone deserves a second chance and no one more than John. I'm so glad that Anna is his second chance.

I like the idea of John and Anna having a secret hiding place. Please do write more stories and have them visit their special place from time to time.
fuzzydream chapter 7 . 9/25/2012
I love everything about this chapter. I've always thought Anna must have come from a troubled childhood, with financial problems and problems between her parents, so what you wrote on her family made a lot of sense to me. I loved the story of her parents, and her brothers, and how her mother blamed herself, despite everything. It makes sense that Anna is so strong nowadays, after living through all that.

I loved how Anna managed to get him to understand the past didn't matter now. The chapter grew lighter as I read it, and that was a very good feeling. I loved their adorable banter at the end, their kisses and how Anna's hiding place is to be *their* hiding place. So adorable!

This was a lovely story, and I'm really looking forward to read more from you soon! :D
Guest chapter 7 . 9/24/2012
ah that was a lovely ending. i enjoyed it. i wondered what anna's story would be. you made it a plausible one instead of finding something very far fetched. like their ease and banter at the end.
Guest chapter 7 . 9/24/2012
Great story! Thanks for sharing this!
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