A/N: Not the longest chapter in the world, but I find myself proud of it nonetheless. After months of letting this one run wild, I have finally imposed some manner of order on it once again. Warning, I seem to have been waxing poetic when I wrote this.

Thanks for your patience.

Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha.

Hunter's Moon

Chapter Three

Kagome cradled Inuyasha's red cloak to her chest as she lay in the dark, waiting for sleep to come for her. A faint, steady heat radiated from the fabric. She had thought, at first, that it had been from the faerie boy's body, but as time passed, Kagome realized the cloak itself produced that gentle, comforting warmth. She couldn't say just why, but ever since she had discovered the gift's properties, she didn't want to let it go. It was as though a part of her believed that if she dropped it, the cloth would disintegrate, leaving behind only dead leaves and forest earth.

Silly as it was, and childish beside, she could not quite convince herself to put it down. Sleeping with such bedclothes, Kagome dreamt.

In her dream, she waited in the dark. She could see nothing but a flat, featureless nightscape. A few stars peeked out from behind the windblown clouds, but they didn't give enough light to reveal her surroundings. The moon was hidden.

For some reason, she prayed that it would remain so. She feared that moon, even though why escaped her.

*I know you're there,* said a voice that had no part of the dream.

The girl became aware of herself, huddled among the roots of a tree. She could feel the dirt between her toes, and the rough bark against the palms of her hands. She could smell something on the air that she could not identify. It tugged at her nose, familiar yet strange.

A sound startled her, causing her to shrink closer to the tree's hoary trunk. A sudden panic rose up in her throat to choke her. The noise was far off, but clear in the night air. It was the sound of animals moving in the undergrowth, huffing and snorting like hounds after a trail. Tremors started in her muscles as the sound drew closer. She could hear the heavy pad of many feet, and the rattle of bodies as they pushed through the dead autumn branches.

The girl swallowed hard, wishing she could close her eyes. Instead she looked once again at the sky. An indistinct glow from a bank of clouds marked the moon's place in the sky, but it remained safely veiled from sight. She knew, though she didn't know how she knew. . . she knew that so long as the moon remained out of sight, she was safe.

*This is not your place.* That voice again, cutting across everything else for a brief instant, then gone.

The wind picked up. It pulled at her hair. It chilled her skin. It drove the clouds before it. She felt as though her soul fell into the pit of her stomach at the sight of the moon's light wavering throw the clouds. That smell tickled her nose again, stronger, bitter enough to sting the sensitive lining of her nostrils, but still unidentifiable.

The creatures were closer now. She hoped it was only some trick of the night air that made it seem as though they were on all sides of her. She hoped it was just the forest and the moor confusing her senses. Somehow, hoping didn't quiet the fear she struggled to tamp down. Through a gap in the clouds, she caught sight of the moon's pock scarred face. A slim spear of light broke through, illuminating the silhouette of the naked branches overhead.

*What are you doing here, darling?* The words were soothing, and authoritative.

All at once, the clouds broke away and light flooded the forest. 'Things' of every shape and description sprang into view: a rider in silver armor astride a red-eyed horse; a squat, gnarled brown hag with hair like waterweeds falling around her like a cape; a little man with merry pink cheeks; a tall woman with black eyes and pointed ears. There were too many of them to identify.

*No. Wait!*

A horn blared in the distance--

Kagome jolted awaked, her heartbeat deafening in her ears, breath rasping in her throat. A cold sweat broke on her back and between her breasts. Blinking away the last fragments of the dream, the girl fought to slow her frantic pulse.

The house was quiet. Her family was laid out on their pallets in front of the banked fire, Souta curled up in a tangle of limbs with their fat old tom cat, Buyo. Their breathing came in the slow, constant rhythm of sleep, and it relaxed her jangled nerves to hear it. Kagome fell back to her bed, slowly regaining her composure.

Not real. It hadn't been real. Even when she was in it, she had known she was dreaming. Yet, even now she couldn't entirely shake the feeling, as though she had been sleeping awake.

Even after she'd calmed, Kagome's rattled nerves wouldn't let her go back to sleep, nor would the thin predawn light that seeped in through the cracks in the shutters and door. Her eyes refused to stay closed, and what was worse, her mind refused to settle. Not when she still held Inuyasha's cloak in her hands, warm and reassuring. Was it the source of her bizarre dream?

It was said, faerie gifts came with a price.

If so, then this was one Kagome had no intention of paying any longer than necessary. It wasn't that she was not grateful by any means, but if dreams like that plagued her nights, she would have to take to sleeping days.

Anyway, Inuyasha probably had more need of his cloak than she. What call did she have for faerie clothes?

She made her decision. Today she would return Inuyasha's cloak to him. She would go to the old stump, as a start. The logical part of her mind told her that perhaps she ought to try to bridge instead, since that was where he left her the night before, but growing up, the stump had always been the border of Inuyasha's forest. Careful not to wake the others, the girl stood up and walked outside.

The ground was sodden from the previous night's rain, and fog clung to the ground in rolling blankets. The sky was dove blue-grey to the east, and still dropping fringes of rain here and there.

Kagome shifted her hold on Inuyasha's cloak nervously. She didn't want to keep it, but she still found herself reluctant to put it down. Which left only one option, really.

*~*~*

A/N: Until next time!