Summary: A series of five drabbles (each exactly 100 words long) submitted to the GrangerSnape100 "Angel of Death" challenge on LiveJournal.

Disclaimer: All recognizable characters and fictional places do not belong to me; I am merely borrowing them for playtime before (respectfully) putting them back. Thank you JKR, for allowing such things to happen.

Pairings/Main Characters: Hermione Granger and Severus Snape

Warnings: AU, Mention of Torture and Rape, Implied Character Death

Thank You: JeniD for introducing me to Granger/Snape 100 and inspiring this drabble series, as well as supplying the prompt "Culling."

By: TycheSong

Her eyes were shadowed as she stared up at him from the dungeon floor. She was grotesquely dirty and skinny, her expression beaten. He had heard that Mulciber had tortured the youngest Weasley boy to death in front of her. Severus hadn't been able to help him. He could help her, however. She was not beyond his reach.

"Have you come to save me?" Hermione Granger's expression was soulless, and slightly mocking. She knew there was no saving her at this point. That moment in time had passed the instant she had received her Hogwarts letter and had accepted it.

"You have been scheduled for the Culling, tomorrow." Her former Potions professor said softly, and Hermione felt her blood run cold. It seemed she could still fear, after all. It would be a terribly unpleasant way to die; they would strip her naked before an assembled crowd, and then brutally rape and torture her until she died. They sold tickets to Mudblood Culling Events, she had been told.

"Only a matter of time, I suppose. Have I at least fetched a fair price?" She asked sarcastically. She was a Gryffindor; if nothing else she would attempt to die with pride.

Severus felt an unwilling surge of admiration at her bravado. Even now, starving, beaten, and sentenced to a horrifying death, she was a lioness. It pleased him that he could preserve her sense of dignity for her. His heart ached, just a little, and he told her almost kindly, "Prime seats were more expensive than any other prisoner so far, you over-achieving know-it-all."

To his surprise, Hermione actually smiled, albeit sadly, and responded, "Couldn't seem to help but want to impress you, sir. You have that effect on me." Her eyes lowered to her manacled wrists. "Why did you come?"

His gaze was very nearly perfectly impassive, but Hermione could see the slightest hint of compassion in them. It was such a small thing, but it filled her with traitorous hope that he had perhaps found a way to save her after all.

"I have brought you a potion I have made," Severus Snape answered quietly. "It is not as expeditious as some, but it is entirely painless, and untraceable. I've laced it with Dreamless Draught, as well."

"And so I shall simply fall asleep, finally free of nightmares and pain."

"It is the only thing I can offer you."

Severus was proud of her in that moment; the moment he offered her a way out and she didn't break into pathetic tears of gratitude. Hermione Granger would have made a hell of a woman in a different world. She was so weak that she could barely hold the vial he gave her; nonetheless, she swallowed its contents without hesitation.

"After this, I know I haven't the right to ask, but will you grant me a favour?"

He nodded; her lip trembled slightly. "Will you hold me whilst I sleep?"

Long after it was needed, he still cradled her carefully.

A/N: Thanks for reading my little angst outlet-please review, I appreciate them so much!