A/N: Written for one my my absolute favourite fans, tumblr user for-witchcraft-and-wizardry, who always goes out of her way to remind me not to let the trolls get me down. She requested the following in an ask:
"I wish you would write a fic where...Severus rescues Hermione (but in a way that no one recognise it was him and she works it out and confronts him)"
And I've granted her wish. I hope. Love you, pretty lady. Thanks for having my back.
The streak of brilliant emerald magic-light whistled and crackled angrily, driving toward her heart and Hermione Granger opened her mouth in shock, her eyes widening and her wand jerking up, instinctively casting a shield charm that would do nothing to defend against the assault. This was it. She was going to die. An evilly smirking Death Eater stood at the other end of the impromptu duelling arena they'd created when their battle began amid the garden of the Burrow. Bill and Fleur's wedding would forever be ruined by Hermione's untimely death.
Vaguely, she was aware that she was moving, her body seeming sluggish as time slowed to a grind. Her life flashed before her eyes, and she knew this was it. She was done. She would die a virgin. The fourth casualty of a war that never should've started. Her body would crumple amid the rubble of the reception tent as the living fled for their lives. Her legs weren't moving fast enough, and she didn't have the presence of mind to disapparate out of harm's way – even if she did, she was probably too scared to dare it without splinching.
An evil laugh sounded from her opponent, and Hermione listened to it as though from under water, watching even as the wretched bastard turned away to engage in a duel with someone Hermione couldn't see. He didn't even respect her enough to witness her death, Hermione thought bitterly, lunging sideways, but knowing even as she twisted her ankle doing so, that it wouldn't be enough. She was done for. No more read-a-thons into the wee small hours. No more dreams of romance or her future. Like she'd erased herself from her parents' memories, this masked Death Eater would erase her from existence entirely, and Hermione felt an overwhelming sort of sorrow intermingled with acceptance at the thought. Perhaps this was her penance.
Just as she began to fall to the floor, her ankle twisting unnaturally and a cry of agony tearing from her throat, the spell still whizzing toward her, something black filled up her vision.
At first, Hermione thought that this was it. This was death. The blackness swallowed her entirely and the vicious sensation of immense pressure bearing down upon her body combined with the sensation of being terribly stretched through a tiny straw overtook her. She was certain this was death. This was the next adventure they'd all been promised.
And then something warm and hard was enshrouding her, and her ankle ached and screamed with torn tendons and snapping bones.
"Fuck!" a low, pained voice sounded from above her head.
That seemed an odd greeting for whatever fresh hell she'd found in this afterlife. And the body curled protectively around her own was new, too. It smelled slightly of stale sweat, and a muskiness that called to mind a mildew-riddled house, and beneath it the vicious tang that reminded her of a particularly unfriendly potion she'd brewed last year at school.
A scream filled the air and it took Hermione a moment to realize it was emitting from her own throat before she was shoved rather viciously onto a garden bench amid a quiet park. The cries and screams of battle were gone. The glow of party lights and spell-light had been replaced by a distant glow of muggle streetlamps.
And Hermione Granger was alive.
Her scream cut off abruptly when she jerked her gaze up to land upon a face that would haunt her nightmares. The Death Eater mask he wore protected his identity, flashing eyes barely visible through the snake-like slits cut in bleached bone hiding his face from her gaze. She recoiled sharply, her eyes wide and staring, her wand lifting to train on the wizard threateningly. He was taller than her, though not especially tall, and he was imposing in the long black Death Eater robes and drawn-up hood that marked his allegiance.
Before she could curse him, he squatted, one gloved hand seizing her knee, his wand clacking against her own as he used the tip of it to deflect her instinctive draw and aim hers away from him. Hermione shivered when he trailed his hand the length of her bared calf beneath the hem of her dress, heading south to cup her broken ankle. His wand still incapacitating hers, wandless magic sparkled at his fingertips – brilliant blue that lit up the dark park around them and made him appear all the deathlier for it – and Hermione felt the pain in her ankle begin to ease before it disappeared entirely.
And then he was gone, his hand leaving her skin, his wand held ready, but not threateningly, and he stepped away from her into the dark.
"Wait…" Hermione said, her eyes wide as she looked from her ankle and back to the Death Eater. "Who are you? You… saved me…"
He didn't answer her, just continued stepping back, never turning his back on her, but retreating just the same. Hermione rose to her feet, intent on following him and finding that her ankle was still tender under her full weight thanks to the heels she'd worn for the party.
"Don't go home," the Death Eater warned her gruffly as the shadows rushed forth the swallow him.
The resounding crack of his disapparation echoed across the park and Hermione stood there limply, staring into the blackness, tears streaming down her face, her mind adrift with how close she'd come to death, and the knowledge that a Death Eater – their enemy – had saved her from that fate.