Summary: The war against Voldemort ended in Hermione's seventh year. Two years later, Hermione and Percy are forced to deal with what their struggle for perfection cost them. *Slight OotP spoilers*

Author's Note: This is my first Hermione and Percy story that I've published. To state the obvious, if you are completely anti-Hr/P, you should probably run away screaming right now. When reading this, she is nineteen and he is twenty-three. As of now, it'll probably be two chapters long; one for Hermione and one for Percy, but if I get enough good reviews, I'll possibly continue from there.

Disclaimer: You know how J.K. Rowling owns all those spiffy Harry Potter characters? Yeah, well I'm not her, so therefore I own absolutely nothing. I just created a little plot and borrowed a few of her characters for a while to have my fun.

The Price of Perfection

Chapter One: Hermione

Hermione sighed, burrowing into the covers a little bit more. It was chilly in her room, due in part to the window being open in the middle of a rainstorm. She would have shut it before she went to bed, but he had insisted they leave it open. It was August, but the warmest month of summer was quickly fading to fall, and it seemed that every day brought another rainstorm.

She rolled onto her back, staring up at the shadows twisting on the ceiling above her. His arm came up to drape across her stomach as he nestled his face into her neck. She raised her hand to push a few stray tendrils of ginger hair from his forehead and smiled a little at the content expression she knew he must be wearing.

One of her favorite things to do at night, on those all-too-frequent occasions when she just couldn't find rest, was to watch her husband sleep. His expression was almost always a pleasant one, and it seemed to her, that all of his worries melted away.

She knew that not every night was a good one, he had told her as much. She didn't pretend to know what went on in his mind, mostly because she didn't want him to do the same to her. She was just as complex, which, according to her friends, was the reason, why they made such a perfect match. At the time, she had scoffed at the very idea of ever being perfect for that man, but when she thought about it now, she just wished that they hadn't used the word perfect. Of all the things Hermione had ever learned, the most important was that perfect was a dangerous word.

*--------*--------*--------*--------*--------*--------*--------*---------*--------*--------*---------*

From the time that she was a little girl, Hermione Granger had wanted to be perfect. The only daughter of two incredibly bright dentists, expectations had always been high for little Hermione. She studied hard and even began reading chapter books before she started school. For Christmas and birthdays, she asked for books instead of dolls.

Once she started school, Hermione's strive for perfection became even more important. Every report sent home showed that she had the highest marks in the class, but it always came attached with a note from her teacher saying that Hermione just wasn't social enough for someone her age. Her parents decided that it must be because she was much more mature than your average five-year-old, and figured that when she started secondary school, things would be better.

They had been a bit shocked the day that an owl showed up at their door with an envelope. It was address to Hermione, and inside was a letter welcoming her to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Quite frankly, her parents were surprised. There wasn't a single witch or wizard in their entire family. Hermione on the other hand, was thrilled. She had always known that there was something special about herself, and finally she knew what it was.

She and her parents had followed the instructions in the letter, finding themselves in Diagon Alley to pick up her school supplies. As soon as she got home, she immersed herself in all the texts she had purchased. She was sure that she would be behind if not, especially when compared to children who had grown up in wizarding families.

Her first year at Hogwarts proved that even though she was muggle-born, she also happened to be the brightest witch in her entire year. Not only that though, Hermione made friends for the first time in her life. Harry Potter and Ron Weasley, though rather rude at first, had turned out to be two of the best people Hermione had ever met. She knew that they could do with studying more, and she probably shouldn't let them copy her homework all the time, but she wanted to be the perfect friend, and wasn't that what friends did?

The years after that followed in the same manner. She continued perfecting the spells she was being taught, absorbing things as quickly as a sponge does water. For a while, Hermione even tried being the perfect girlfriend to Ron. They had broken up, and she concluded that though she was, in fact, a perfect girlfriend (a fact that she shared with no one, mind you), they were meant to be strictly friends.

Then, something happened that Hermione did not intend. A war broke out amongst the witches and wizards of the world. Voldemort and his Death Eaters tried to wreak havoc on the wizarding world once more, wanting nothing more than to leave all those who opposed them dead in their wake.

Perfect Hermione had joined her friends, Harry and Ron, in the final assault against Voldemort. If they were to fail, the wizarding world would surely fall into his reign of terror. They had fought their bravest, Hermione performing every incantation precisely, until she saw Ron standing in the middle of the room. He had lost his wand, and all he could do was hold his ground bravely while the Death Eater came marching toward him. She knew what she had to do, the killing curse ready to roll off her tongue, but she had hesitated, knowing if she did this, her life would change. Even in battle, taking a life was serious business. In that instant, perfect Hermione had allowed one of her best friends to be killed.

She continued fighting, but her eyes kept wavering, back to his lifeless body in the middle of the room. Her perfectly aimed spells cut through the line of Death Eaters, until she, Harry, Lucius Malfoy, and Voldemort were the only ones in the room.

Voldemort's cruel laughter rang out through the room, but before he could raise his wand, Harry had shouted, "Avada Kedavra," and Voldemort's body fell. Lucius retaliated quickly and severely, killing Harry in an instant and rounding on Hermione. She was too fast for him, and her perfect curse sent him out of this world forever. At that moment, perfect Hermione allowed herself to cry.

She cried until the Ministry officials came. She cried even after a strong, ginger-haired man that she recognized immediately, picked her up and carried her away from the scene. Hermione was still crying hours later as she lay in bed, Percy's arms wrapped around her comfortingly. Hermione finally stopped crying when it felt as if her eyes had dried up.

Hermione woke up the next morning to find him standing over her, shaking his head slightly. He took one more look at her and went to his dresser, pulling out a pair of blue and white striped pajama pants and an over-sized, slightly faded shirt. "Here. Put these on and give me those robes," he said in his authoritative Ministry of Magic voice and hurried out, shutting the door behind him.

Looking down at herself, she had noticed the horrid bloodstains covering the front of her robes and shivered. She would have cried, but she had no tears left.

When Percy came back, it was with a huge tray covered in food. A quick glance in his mirror showed her why he thought this necessary. She hadn't noticed before, but she had gotten considerably thinner over the years. Apparently, in her struggle for perfection, she had been neglecting a few necessary things.

Despite her arguments that she would be fine, Percy had kept her there at The Burrow with him. Mrs. Weasley had insisted that she sleep in Ginny's room, but when he thought that Hermione was asleep, she heard him quietly telling his mother that it was best that he stay with Hermione right now, and that everything would be all right eventually.

After three months of him staying by her side, night and day, he finally deemed her fit to be released from his makeshift hospital. By that time though, she knew that leaving was the last thing she wanted to do. Within that space of three months, filled with horrible nightmares and tears that he diligently helped her through, she realized that she had fallen in love with him.

This she had explained in a jumble of words and more tears, but to her luck, he had grown to feel the same. "I couldn't imagine ever living without you," he said to her one night as they lay in his bed, "Hermione, will you marry me?"

Several months later, the wedding went off nearly without a hitch. Mrs. Weasley and Ginny only cried twice, and Fred and George only set off two Filibuster Fireworks through the entire ceremony. They had slipped a few Ton-Tongue Toffees in with the reception food, but Dean Thomas was the only one who ended up eating one, and he found it rather funny, so Hermione and Percy had decided to forgive the twins just that once.

As the guests were leaving, one of them took the newlyweds aside and told them how perfect the wedding had been. When Hermione talked to him two weeks later, the poor wizard was still trying to figure out why she had hexed him.

*--------*--------*--------*--------*--------*--------*--------*---------*--------*--------*---------*

Hermione stretched and noticed Percy shift beside her. His arm tightened around her waist and she felt his lips press a kiss against her neck.

"How long have you been awake?" she asked, amusement evident in her voice.

"Long enough to know that you were crying," he mumbled against her neck.

Hermione raised an eyebrow delicately, "Oh really? I honestly hadn't noticed. I'm sorry that I woke you."

She felt him move his head away from hers and he released his grip on her waist. Figuring that he was just going to turn over to go back to sleep, Hermione started to turn toward the opposite wall when she felt him stop her.

"What now, Perce?" she asked wearily.

He frowned. "You know I hate that nickname. But that's beside the point, I suppose. Do you remember what I told you when I brought you to stay with me?"

"Umm... something about the price of perfection, and how I'd paid it, I believe."

"Precisely. Don't do this to yourself, 'mione. You can't change the past. You've already paid, now all you can do is get on with your life." He settled himself back beside her, his arm once again draping over her waist protectively.

Hermione turned on her side, snuggling against him, and pressing a gentle kiss to the tip of his nose. "I love you, Percy," she murmured as she felt sleep finally catching up to her.

"I love you too, 'mione," he replied sleepily, tightening his arms around her tenderly.

Percy was right, she decided. She had, in fact, paid for perfection dearly, losing nearly everything she had ever known and loved. But as she lay in Percy's warm and loving embrace, Hermione thought that maybe, just maybe, the price was worth the outcome.