Rating: T, for the moment.

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the Night World characters; this phrase has just stuck particularly strongly in my head, so I thought I'd write about it. I kind of wish that James and Poppy had come into Daughters of Darkness.

At the end of Secret Vampire, James says to Ash "You know, you've never really cared about anyone. But someday you will and it's going to hurt." What happens when Ash and Mary-Lynnette need James and Poppy's help, but James is still sore about the past? Will James forgive Ash and help the two soulmates?

Dealing with the Consequences

Chapter 1

"Absolutely Perfect"

"And as I look into your eyes I see an angel in disguise,
sent from god above for me to love,
to hold and idolise.

And as I hold your body near, I'll see this month through to a year,
and then forever on, 'til life is gone,
I'll keep your loving near.

And now I've finally found my way to lead me down this lonely road,
all I have to do is follow you to lighten off my load."

-Like a Rose, A1.

James had to admit that since Poppy had become a vampire, life was perfect. Absolutely perfect. He lived this wonderful life where every morning he woke up next to Poppy and spent every waking hour with her.

They were openly a couple in the Night World now and his parents had accepted Poppy after he'd explained that she was a witch before he made her a vampire. Of course, he'd stretched the truth and said he'd known this before he'd changed her but the most important thing was that what they'd done couldn't be considered illegal.

After properly introducing Poppy to his parents, they'd moved to live near her father and had explained all about the Night World to him since he was a witch too. They'd moved into a beautiful little stone cottage that backed onto the forest. As Poppy had suggested, they were trying to drink animal blood instead of human, but it was a slow and often frustrating road.

At the moment, Poppy was listening to some New World music in the master bedroom, which they now shared. She was belting the words loudly and as James padded into the room, he could see that she was dancing too, completely immersed in the music. He crept up quietly behind her and slipped his arms around her small waist.

He felt her mind go from surprised to contented in a matter of seconds and gave a slight smile, he never succeeded in surprising Poppy, she was too aware being both vampire and witch. He pressed a whisper kiss to the side of her neck and joined in the singing. They stood together in the centre of the room, swaying slightly to the music. James was surprised that he didn't feel particularly stupid even though he was standing in the middle of his bedroom just swaying from side to side, with no particular purpose. He supposed that was just the way Poppy made him feel. Even if life had no purpose to it, Poppy sure made it fantastic and wonderfully enjoyable.

She was so beautiful. Her copper curls were pulled back in loose ponytail at the back of her head, allowing them to bounce upon James' face as they danced. He could see their reflection in the window and they truly looked stunning together. Poppy's bright green eyes were alight with her delight of the moment and James noticed that he had a similar look of bliss in his grey-blue orbs.

His lips hovered at her ear and he felt her shudder as he released a deep breath there. Their hands joined in front of her stomach and James felt a sense of wonder as he remembered that once a deadly cancer had threatened her from that place. Poppy was now one of the strongest people he knew, an excellent balance of physical and mental power. Not that she hadn't been strong before, but there was no such danger to her now.

As the song ended, James pulled Poppy towards the bed and they lay down together in each other's embrace. Poppy rested her head against his chest and shut her eyes, relaxed. Her hair fanned fierily in contrast to his white shirt and a contented smile graced her crimson lips. James very slowly slid his arms around her once again, feeling her weight comfortably on top of him. His lips rested at her cheek now and her hands reached to meet his.

"You're so beautiful," James said slowly, burying his face in her curls.

Poppy smiled and rotated in his strong arms to give him a firm kiss on the lips. "And you, James, are unbelievably wonderful," she said with conviction.

James returned her smile as they rolled onto their sides to face each other. James cupped her cheek tenderly with his hand and looked deeply into her brilliant green eyes. "That's just what I was thinking about you," he breathed.

Poppy gave a slow giggle, her lips turning up at the corners beautifully, James thought. "We could carry on like this forever," she commented.

James' smile widened. "Forever," he echoed. The words were always so weighty to him because he knew they really did have forever. He bent forwards to kiss her once again, feeling her eyelashes flutter against his cheek. He pulled Poppy's small figure into his arms and hummed along with the new song.

James eventually lifted his head as he remembered the reason he'd come into the room. Memories of the phone call he had just received resounded in his head and he bit his lip, wondering how to bring up the conversation with his soulmate.

"Is something wrong, Jamie?" Poppy asked him tenderly. Of course she'd notice that he was upset, she always did. It was just the nature of their soulmate bond.

"I just spoke to my Mom. She rang me to tell me that she and Dad are having a big family get-together kind of thing, with my uncle and cousins…" he started to explain. "I couldn't get out of it, sorry."

"Its fine, we haven't seen your parents since we moved here, so we really should go," Poppy replied, looking at him tenderly. She reached forward to place a light kiss to his lips but stopped when she realised something important from his words. "But when you say cousins…?"

"Yeah, Ash will probably be there," James admitted unhappily. He still hadn't forgiven his cousin for what he'd attempted to do to Poppy. The memories were just too painful. The idea of a world without her was just impossible. "He won't give you any trouble though, Poppy," James insisted, "I promise I'll keep him away from you, my darling."

"I know you won't let him try to hurt me again," Poppy replied quietly, trust radiating from her eyes at his promise. James would never let anything hurt her. He hadn't let the cancer and now he wouldn't let any of his family hurt her. Little did James or Poppy know that Ash had much bigger things on his mind than hurting young women for sport.

"And even though I know how very far apart we are,

It helps to think we might be wishing on the same bright star,

And when the night wind starts to sing a lonesome lullaby,

It helps to think we're wishing underneath the same big sky."

-Somewhere Out There, Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram.

(Such a perfect song for Ash and Mary-Lynette, if you ask me!)

Twelve months… twelve long, lonely months. That was how long it had been since Ash had seen his soulmate. How long since he'd felt the heat of her blood running in her veins, seen her dark hair illuminated by the bright stars, her closest friends.

Every moment was harder than the previous, every second he wanted to leave this quest (which seemed more ridiculous with each passing second) and just return to her arms. He must love her, he'd never put himself through such pain for any other reason.

The sky was darkened but Ash's vampire senses merely noted this condition and didn't struggle as he moved through the sleeping town. Everything seemed calm and beautiful under the violet cover of darkness, things that Ash could find anywhere in the world. Yet they seemed so much more fabulous here. The old oak that Jeremy had tied her against as he'd attacked Ash; claw marks were evident in the seemingly soft bark. The place they'd stood and gazed at the stars together. The spot where they'd shared their first kiss.

Although he loved Mary-Lynette and was desperate to return to her, desperate to be home, he couldn't help but be apprehensive about seeing her again. What if she wasn't ready? What if she'd changed her mind? What if she had sent him away to keep him away? What if she didn't want him anymore? Ash loved her and he didn't think he could bear it if she no longer felt that way. He couldn't help it, as his soulmate he had to be with her or else life had no worth.

He'd changed so much in the last twelve months. He didn't play with young human girls or even treat humans like vermin. He still drunk their blood but erased their memories so that their lives weren't ruined and he never killed to feed anymore. He didn't even play with the affections with witches or female vampires; all he could think of was Mary-Lynette. He hadn't been home in months, sure that his father would see the changes within him and wonder. He couldn't afford for his father to find out what had happened in Briar Creek.

His pace was fast for a human but painfully slow for a vampire. Although he was desperate to be back in Mary-Lynette's arms, he dragged out the journey there because if she didn't want him, he wanted as long as possible to believe that there was still a chance that she still reciprocated his feelings.

AN- don't know if I will ever get around to continuing this but I wanted to post it and give it a chance. I will probably have to read the book again first. I've only read the first two books by the way, so sorry for any mistakes.

Please tell me what you think and whether I should continue this or not!

Love JLF xx