She tip-toed back and forth across the edge, quietly contemplating her next move. The sea breeze blew through her hair, blinding her every few seconds with caramel curls. The night sky, with its big moon and twinkling stars, shimmered on the surface of the water.

There wasn't a cloud to be seen.

She kicked a pebble from the top of the cliff. It fell through the air with increasing momentum, hitting the water with a resounding splash. Water rippled out from the impact point, spreading to the farthest corners of the Black Lake, where the light didn't shine.

She sighed, and brushed her hair backwards. She stared down at the water, illuminated in the darkness. She heard an owl hoot from the Owlery. The sound startled her; it had been so quiet.

It was late. She had been outside for nearly an hour now, which was an hour past curfew anyway. The June air was soft on her skin, caressing her like a lover's touch. She felt warm.

From her location, she could see the whole of Hogwarts. The castle was a beacon in the night. All the windows shone with firelight. She could see shadows move within them, temporarily blocking some of the light.

She wasn't the only one out late tonight.

She had walked a long way to get to where she was now. It was at the far side of the lake. She had been here before during the day. Viktor had first shown it to her, years before. He had liked it because it reminded him of home. Then the Gryffindors had gotten wind of it, and well, the rest had brought her here again tonight.

She was standing at the top of a precipice. Below her was the shimmering water of the Black Lake. Behind her were trees, blocking this particular spot from prying eyes.

She didn't want anyone watching her tonight.

Kicking off her shoes, she inched forward. Her toes were now dangling over the edge. She leant forward and looked over the edge.

She could almost see her brown eyes reflected in the water below.

Behind her, she heard a noise. Heart hammering, she whipped her head around. She narrowed her eyes to try and see in the darkness. It had sounded like a twig snapping.

Suddenly, out of the alcove of trees came a figure. Obviously male, she couldn't determine any other features. That was until the light from the moon hit his hair.

Striking blonde.

She rolled her eyes and turned back to face the lake. "What do you want, Malfoy?"

She heard him take a step forward. "What in the name of bloody merlin are you doing, Granger?"

The Gryffindor Princess sighed. She shivered slightly as the wind picked up. It was whipping her in the face. Her heart sped up.

"I don't see how that is any concern to you, ferret."

"It is tonight."

She turned back towards him, glancing over her right shoulder. She couldn't read his expression; it was shadowed, hidden.

"Why would that be Mr. Malfoy?" she questioned, cocking her head slightly.

"Because, Granger, you are standing at the edge of a cliff."

"We're always standing at the edges of cliffs, Malfoy," she whispered, inching forward again. "Every step forward propels us into the unknown."

She heard him shuffle behind her.

"Granger, what are you doing," he breathed. She heard panic in his voice. She stared forward. She saw out of the corner of her eyes the shining castle. It felt so distant in this moment.

"I'm debating whether or not to jump."

There was silence for a moment. She contemplated the meaning besides this; whether the quiet was because of exceptional thought or lack there of.

"Granger," he said, his voice serious. "I want you to step back from that ledge and walk over here."

She laughed, a bone chilling noise that rocked her deeply.

"Why would I ever do that, Malfoy?"

"You don't need to do this, Hermione," he rushed out, a slight quiver to his voice.

She turned back, confused. Malfoy was standing a few metres away from her, his face despondent and his eyes mirroring how he felt in that moment. He had finally stepped into the moonlight. His face was more readable than she had ever seen it.

And right now, she was reading fear.

"You called me by my first name."

He nodded. "I did indeed."

She was lost, questioning now. "Why would you do that?"

He lifted his arms, gesturing around him. "Because I'm the only one here, Hermione."

She stared at him blankly. "I know that, Malfoy. I'm not blind. But I don't know what that has to do with anything right now."

"I'm not letting you do this," he shook his head quickly. She could almost hear his neck crick.

Hermione sighed. "Do what, Malfoy?"

His panic seemed to be rising. "I never thought I'd be here. I never thought I'd be someone's last obstacle, their last threshold."

"English please, Malfoy."

"You survived the war, Hermione Granger!" He was suddenly shouting. "Do not let yourself die by your own hand! That's disrespectful to everything you represent. You're just wronging yourself."

Her mouth fell open. Then, as if another consciousness had taken over her body, she started to laugh. Laugh as she never had before. She let the chuckles rake her body, sending her doubling over, tears sprouting in her eyes.

Malfoy starred, his mouth wide and his eyes fearful.

"Hermione, you need help. But this isn't helpful."

"Oh Draco," she smiled. His first name felt foreign on her tongue. But beautiful. Like speaking a different language but knowing the phrase meant "I love you." The word sounded so unexplainably right.

She looked him in the eye, pools of caramel meeting ponds of silver.

"I'm not here to end my life. I'm here to live it."

There was silence again.

"I…..I don't understand," he said, sounding frustrated just saying the words. It was probably the first time he had ever admitted that in his life.

"This cliff couldn't end my life," she explained, gesturing to the water below her. "It's not high enough."

"How are you sure?" he demanded.

"The Gryffindors come out here after exams," she continued, thinking back to another day, another boy, and a different message coming from his mouth. "Every year we've done this. They all jump off the cliff into the water, one at a time. It's our tradition. But I've never been able to do it."

Draco took a couple steps towards her. Now that he knew she wasn't standing there to end her life, he was less worried about what making a sudden movement would do to her. "Why?"

"Fear," she whispered, hugging her body. "I've always been scared of heights."

He paused. "You don't need to jump off if you're scared of heights."

She took a deep, shuddering breath. "But it's not the only thing I don't do because of fear. How many cliffs have I passed over, Draco? How many wasted opportunities? How many crazy nights, or incredible memories have I skipped out on because I was scared? There is nothing more powerful than fear. I've gone up against the darkest wizard in history and I still believe that. Fear cripples you. It prevents you from moving forward."

She sighed, and felt a single teardrop slide down her face. "I stopped living because of fear. I never go out anymore. I never take any risks. It might've been because of the war," she stumbled over her words. "It might have been losing all those people, watching my friends die. But it might just me. Maybe I'm not meant to truly live. Maybe my purpose is to be alive. I'm here to read and study and help Harry fight dark wizards. I'm not here to live."

The bitterness in her voice cut like a knife.

"I asked Ginny once what it was like to jump," she continued, glancing out across the Black Lake. "She told me it was the most wonderful feeling. Better than firewhiskey. The freedom, she said, was worth a million galleons. Flying through the air, wind rushing by you, then hitting the water. She described it very simply: it was as if every choice had led up to that moment, every thought, every wish, had led her to jump."

"I want that, Draco," she pleaded. "I want it. But I don't know how to change myself. So I came out here tonight to stare at the water from the top of this cliff. Everything I want, everything I want to feel, is so close." She reached out, almost unconsciously, grasping desperately at nothing.

She turned back and looked at him.

"All I have to do is jump."

Draco looked dumbfounded. It was as if he had just been slapped across the face. She saw him shake slightly.

She sighed. "But I've been standing here for an hour. And I haven't been able to get any closer than I am right now. I'm questioning whether or not I was ever meant to jump."

Draco made a noise at the back of his throat. "You're meant to jump if you want to."

"How do you know?"

"Because I do, Hermione," he replied simply. He walked forward so that he was standing right next to her. "Fear is crippling, you got that right. I know that better than anyone. I was crippled in my house for nearly a year. But there comes a point where you just need to turn around and punch your fears in the face. They have no right to control you."

He reached up and softly brushed his finger across her face.

"And they definitely have no right to control someone as incredible as you."

The words floated through the air, decreasing the space between them.

"So you know what, Hermione?" He asked, smirking slightly.

"What?" she asked, feeling breathless. Her chest was rising and falling quickly.

"I'm going to jump with you."

She felt like the wind had been knocked out of her. Draco smirked even more. She felt his hand reach for hers, interlocking their fingers. He was so gentle with her.

"Are you ready?" he questioned. She nodded quickly. He smiled.

He kicked off his shoes. They both inched forward together. She looked up at him. The moon was directly in front of them now, illuminating both of their faces.

He smiled. "Then one….two….three!"

And then, they jumped.

It only lasted a few seconds. But it was the most exhilarating few seconds of her life. The wind rushing past her ears, the water drawing closer and closer. Her hand entwined in Draco's. She had never felt more alive.

They hit the water with a resounding smack. It stung slightly, but she barely cared. She kicked to the surface, gasping for air when she broke it.

Her hand never left that of the Slytherin Prince.

The two of them swam to the shoreline. They dragged themselves onto the sandy strip of beach. They both collapsed, laughing.

They were both soaking wet, clothes sticking to them. Hermione's hair was drenched, curling frantically. Draco's blonde locks had sand in them.

But their eyes were shining.

"That was incredible," Hermione breathed, lying on her back, her chest filling with air.

Draco rolled onto his side. "Are you glad you jumped?" His eyes twinkled.

She nodded. "I could never regret that."

He smiled. "I'm glad, Hermione. I'm really glad."

She propped herself up on one elbow. "If you don't mind me asking, why were you out anyway?"

He shrugged. "I had a feeling I didn't want to stay in my common room tonight."

She chuckled. Sitting up, she crossed her legs and stared out over the Black Lake.

"It was everything I thought it was going to be, and more," she breathed. She felt like she was glowing.

He sat up next to her. Brushing his knuckle over her shoulder, he asked. "How so?"

She was warmed by his touch. "I thought I was going to be proud of myself. Proud of myself for getting over that barrier, for taking that risk. I thought I was going to feel free as I flew through the air. And I did. But even more than that, as we tumbled off of that cliff, I felt happy. Real, mystical happiness." She laughed. "Isn't that crazy? How can jumping off a cliff at midnight into cold lake water make me feel happier than I've felt in a long time?"

"What makes you happy makes you happy," he whispered. "Why question it, Hermione?"

She turned her head to look at him. "Why do you keep saying my name?"

He shrugged. "I like the way it sounds."

She stared at him for a moment. Then, he moved closer to her, until their faces were mere inches apart.

"What are you doing?" she asked, her heart hammering in her chest.

He smirked, and reached up to rest his hand on her cheek. "I have my own personal cliff to jump off of."

Then he leaned forward and kissed her.

In that moment, she didn't know her future. She was no seer, and she deplored the "art" of divination. She didn't know that this wouldn't be the last time Draco Malfoy kissed her. She didn't know that she'd spend many Saturday afternoons cuddled up to him in that very spot. She didn't know that Ron and Harry would come around eventually. She didn't know that they'd get a little cottage in Godric's Hollow. She didn't know what she would wear as she walked up the aisle to meet him. She didn't know that in him, she'd find support like she'd never known, love like she'd never imagined, and happiness like she'd never dreamed.

In that moment all she knew was that because of Draco Malfoy, she had jumped.

And that was good enough for her.

An hour or so later, she stumbled back into the Gryffindor Common room. She was still soaking wet, and her back was full of sand.

Ron and Harry were fast asleep on the couches. She smiled and walked over to them. The heat from the fire was refreshing. She shook them awake, gently.

"Wake up, sleepy-heads."

They both groaned, and slowly came to, their eyes groggy.

"Hermione?" Harry muttered, blinking frantically. "We waited up for you."

"I can see that," she chuckled.

Ron rubbed his eyes. "We swear! We wanted to make sure you got back ok."

She smiled. "Thank you. I got back just fine."

Harry sat up, yawning spectacularly. "Where did you go anyway?"

There was a pause.

Hermione looked at her two best friends. Suddenly, her smile turned into a smirk, not unlike someone she knew, had kissed, and would come to love. As her face mimicked the famous Malfoy smirk, she answered Harry's question.

"I jumped."