Summary A girl wanders too deep into the forest and finds a soul she can entrust her secrets to.
A/N This one gave me a small idea for a continuation, but I'm still not sure if I do it.*
Day 5 (AU / Blue) of inukag week 2017

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She found him in the forest during a summer day, when she was looking for herbs. She got deep in the forest, far from the village, trying to find all plants her adoptive mother needed for her medicines. She knew he had to be somewhere in the forest - after all it was named after the spirit dwelling within its shdows.

She walked ointo a meadow and as she looked around she spotted red and silver with a corner of her eye. As she turned her head in that direction she saw a huge tree and a man in red kimono pinned to the broad bark, an arrow piercing his arm, his body wrapped by vines. His hair were long and shimmering silver, his fair face calm and relaxed, his head tilted to the side. As she approached him slowly she saw two white dog ears sitting atop his head, partially hidden in the wild mane of hair.

She had no doubt - this man was the forest spirit.

He seemed to be asleep, not minding the arrow nor the vines She stood just before him, awe and fear entwining themselves in her heart. He was the forest spirit who had been protecting the village for centuries - until the day the villagers had enraged him and he almost had destroyed it. Then he had disappeared in his forest, never to come back. No one in the village dared to talk about the forest spirit, but Kagome knew the story because her adoptive mother Kaede, the priestess of the village, had told her it once. Since that day youkai were free to attack the village because the forest spirit was sealed by the traitor who had caused his rage. Kagome still didn't know who and how put the village in his disgrace.

Now she was standing mere feet from the being who ruled over the vast forest, the powerful spirit who's ire her people had invoked. Why was his face so calm then? Did he not remember the rage and destruction that had occured that fateful day? Probably not, he seemed to be so peaceful and beautiful with the sunlight dancing on his face.

"Oh, forest spirit, are you still angry at my people?" she whispered, studying his face. She gasped as his ears twitched at her question, but nothing more happened. She didn't dare to speak again and left the meadow soon. Yet deep in her heart she knew she would come back.

Since this day she was visiting the meadow quite often, sitting under the forest spirit's feet for hours and talking to him, sometimes bringing her sewing with herself. The presence of the sleeping white-haired man was making her feel safe so deep within the forest annd the atmosphere under the canopy of tree limbs was so soothing. There was no one to stare at her oddly, no one to ignore her almost all the time. Kagome remembered that before her parents' death people hadn't been so cold towards her, but those days were long gone. Luckily she found this beautiful meadow and the sleeping forest spirit didn't mind her presence - at least she felt that way - and it was warming her heart.

She was never close to anyone in the village, aside of her adoptive mother, so she felt lonely. The man pinned to a tree by an arrow seemed to be lonely too, so she decided to visit him as often as possible in hope that they both could feel better. Quickly Kagome found herself telling him about her life in the village, the mundane affairs of her fellow villagers, pranks of boys, bigger and smaller events. He usually didn't react in any way, but sometimes she could see his ears move, just a little. It was always making her smile, she felt that someone cared about what she had to say. She knew deep down it was odd to monologue to a supernatural being like him about so ordinary things like preparations for a harves festival, but she didn't care. She found it addicting, talking to him and looking for his reaction. When she had no interesting tale from the village she wa singing or, sometimes, telling him about herself, her dreams and troubles. It wasn't like he was going anywhere to talk about her to people, right? One day she told him about about her parents' death and the good Kaede who had took her in and raised, teaching her how to heal and make medicines. This day his ears were the most active and it urged her to tell him more and more.

Of course no one knew about the meadow and she was doing her best to hide the destination of her journeys. It wasn't like she had friends curious where she was disappearing for hours. Only priestess Kaede was sometimes asking about her trips to the forest, but Kagome had always an excuse - a basket of herbs or rare flowers or any other thing. The forest spirit was hers and she didn't intend to share. The thought that her adoptive mother could forbid her from visiting him was too painful to bear.

He was her secret and she liked to daydream about him finally waking up and talking to her too. What a forest spirit could tell her? Would he share his secrets with her? Would he become her friend, not only a mute listener to her monologues? She hoped he would like her. In her daydreams he was a kind person, gentle and sweet. As time was passing he started to appear in her dreams, not always pinned to his tree, not always asleep, not always unmobile. Sometimes the dreams were leaving her blushing and panting on her bed - she was keeping those to herself, unwilling to share this secret even with him.

But Kagome wasn't always talking to her forest spirit. Sometimes she was just observing him, admiring his silver hair and wondering about the color of his eyes. She was pretty sure he was dreaming about something pleasant because one day she noticed a little smile on his face - was it there before she found him? She knew his face as well as she knew her own, but she'd never heard his voice. He was mysterious and she hoped one day she could learn some of his secrets. It would be a fair exchange for all her secrets, right?

As time was passing and the days slowly started to be colder the forest started to change, following tha pattern of seasons. The leaves were turning to yellow and red and days were often misty or rainy. Kagome was at the same time happy because the harvesting season would soon end and afraid - youkai attacks were usually more frequent at this part of the year. One day she cane to the meadow and stood before the forest spirit, speaking softly and sadly. She knew she'd miss him and the serenity she felt while staying in the forest. Yet there would be less excuses to go off the village, the days would be short and dark and she was also afraid she'd meet a youkai on her way to the glade. For some reason she never was afraid one could attack her while being there.

"I am afraid when the winter comes I can't see you so often," she told the forest spirit and brushed a stray red leaf from her black hair. She noticed his ears twitch again and chuckled as she reached to touch one of them in a gentle caress (she didn't dare to touch his ears often, but sometimes couldn't resist, they were simply too cute) "Don't worry, I'll come back when the spring comes. And it's not like I wouldn't visit you during the winter."

Kagome came back the next day. This time it was different than any other visit. She didn;t sneak to the meadow, making sure no one could see her on her way and follow her. She didn't stop to admire the beauty of the old trees around the glade and didn't greet the forest spirit. Instead she ran straight to the ancient tree, crying and panting heavily after running there all the way from the village. Her blue kimono was torn in a few places, but she didn't care about it. She was horrified and scared, needed to reach the meadow and drown in the atmosphere of safety and peace. She ran from chaos and death, from painful cries and merciless laughter, from fire and blood. Kagome didn't run here to hide, she wanted to beg for help - maybe it was crazy to hope that the forest spirit would open his eyes and help them, but she didn't know what else she could do.

She stumbled through the grass until she reached the forest spirit's tree. Bitting her bottom lip she reached out to his warm body and buried her face in the rough red fabric on his chest. She knew the sleepin forest spirit couldn't possibly do anything to protect her, but she always felt safe near him and had no where to run, no one else to ask for help. The spirit's chest was rising and falling in a steady breath. This rhythmical motion alone managed to soothe her fear a bit and silence her sobs as she was crying in despair. After a minute she was able to speak, but her voice was hoarse and shaky.

"Oh, Inuyasha, this' horrible!" she wept, daring to speak his name. "The youkai attacked and there's so many of them... And priestess Kaede is no where to be found... Without her we can't fight them back..."

She was gripping the red fabric and the arrow for support until she realized something was wrapped loosely around her waist.

"Keh, and why're you tellin' me this?" a warm breath brushed against her ear as she froze, for a second forgetting about her fear and everything else. The grip on her waist tightened and she felt his soft hair tickle her cheek as he bowed his head, but she barely registerd that.

He was awake. He spoke. His voice was deep and quiet, unlike voices of the village men she knew. She dared to open her eyes and lift her head a little, her gaze rested on an ear in close proximity to her face. It wasn't her imagination, he was no longer asleep. Feeling awkward she tried to step out from his embrace, she wanted to bow and beg him for help, the villagers needed his aid and there was not too much time to stare in wonder at her forest spirit and listen to his voice. She had to focus. As she tried to push herself away from him she felt more than heard his growl, resonating deep in his chest. .

"You're stayin' here," he growled against the side of her neck and she found herself pressed against him so tightly she was afraid she couldn't breathe for a moment. "So?"

"The village... Youkai attacked it..." she hid her face on his chest agin, the feeling of being safe sweeping through her despite the fact that she was in arms of a forest spirit who had been sealed for decades after almost desolating the same village. "Please, help us..."

"Feh, why should I do that, Kagome?" he asked, still with his face buried in her hair, breathing deeply. A part of her was amazed at the sound of her name as he spoke it. "Why are so desperate to help them? They betrayed me. They ignored you, didn't want to talk to you, treated you like you did somethin' wrong and never explained what exactly."

Kagome gasped, realizing he had heard her when he was still asleep. He knew all her secrets and worries, he had heard her sing and... She fought back her embaressment, trying to focus on the thing which had brought her to the meadow in the first place. She needed to make him help them, the village was within his forest, he should protect it!

"That doesn't matter, they're still human beings. Please, help them... They don't deserve to be devoured..." she felt her tears start to flow again as images from the village, burning and in total chaos, returned to her mind. The forest spirit made an annoyed noise.

"Stop crying!" he demanded. "And pull off this damn arrow!"

"A-arrow...?" she blinked back her tears. Did he want to help them? Could she break the seal?

"The thing you hold, idiot!" he barked and lifted his head to look at her. For a second she could only stare inot his golden eyes, full of anticipation, ire and... Hope? He scowled at her. obviously impatient, so she quickly dropped her gaze to the arrow and gripped it tighter. He hissed through his teeth and tensed, but when she stole a glance at his face he nodded.

Kagome took a deep breath and started to pull. Soft pink light enveloped the arrow and her hand, at the sight of it the forest spirit growled lowly, She felt odd, warmth was radiating from the arrow and she could feel her fingers tingle and weaken as the light was growing stronger. She fought against this feeling, desperate to pull the arrow and break the resistance of the light. Kagome knew she had to do it, she had to break the seal in order to free the forest spirit so he could protect her village She started panting heavily, feeling her physical strength fade. Luckily, the light started to dim as well before it changed color to azure and disappear. The arrow disappeared too, changing in countless blue sparks.

If it were not for the arms still wrapped around her waist she'd fall to the ground, exhausted. As she rested her forehead against the warm body of the spirit she felt something rising around her like mist - maybe it was just her imagination, but she felt as if it was pulsing. With a corner of her eye she caught a glimpse of his face, he gave her a fangy grin.

"Now," he lowered his head back to bury his face on her shoulder. "To the payment for my help."

"P-payment?" she repeated, her voice small not only because of exhaustion. What she could give him to pay for his help? Should she argue with him? Was it wise to do that, to annoy him? He could decide not to help and just leave... "What would you want?"

"I think I'll take you," he murmured in her ear. "If you still want me to save the villagers."

A/N I must admit that posting things so soon after finishing writing them is a bit new for me, I usually put finished works for ca. 2 weeks before I go through them again and then publish them. Still, I'm quite glad I managed to write things for the prompts despite my mood/creativity swings and other things which keep me from writing (rl mostly)
*Spoiler - I totally do it, so stay tuned if you want to see where this story goes