Welcome to my newest Dramione WIP! This story has been cooking for 2 years - ever since I watched the Ice Dancing finals live in the arena at the Pyeongchang Olympics. I am so, so excited to take you on this journey with me.

I am anticipating about 35 chapters, one published each Wednesday. I currently have over half written.

My excitement is overflowing guys. I'm genuinely in love with this story, and I hope you'll fall in love with me.

Major, major thanks to my incredible Alpha, Graceful Lioness. Not only has she helped bring this story to the next level, she has also put up with me bombarding her with ice dancing videos for nearly a year.

Without further ado, I present: Subtle Perfection.

PS: Pay attention to the dates at the top of every chapter!


February 2014

Breathe in. Breathe out.

From just beyond the metal doors to his right, he could hear the roar of the crowd and the soaring music. Fleur and Roger were surely killing it on the ice like they always did. The two of them had hardly made any mistakes while skating together since they were kids, so why would the pressure of today get to them?

He was almost glad for the French pair.

Almost.

It was the Olympics, after all.

He wanted to claim the gold for the UK more than he had ever wanted anything in his entire life. It was his dream, and it would take more than his French friends skating well to distract him.

The doors opened, and the moment the seal was broken, the noise from the stadium grew exponentially louder. Draco could hear the sultry tune of a Chicago song blaring through the speakers. Severus poked his pale face in from the metal doors. "Five minutes, you two," he informed them.

Draco could see the nerves in Severus's face. He had licked his lips three times in a matter of seconds and his skin was paler than usual. And that was saying something. If his coach looked nervous, then how must he look? Probably like he was about to be sick.

Severus shut the door with a snap, and the room fell into silence once more.

He shot a glance at Hermione. His Hermione. His skating partner of thirteen years.

She looked beautiful as always. Her petal pink costume for this season was alluring, much as all her costumes were. This particular costume had a lovely slit in the skirt that led the way up most of her thigh. He would love nothing more than to run his hand up and up and up…

No.

Draco shook himself mentally. He would have growled if he had been alone. He couldn't think about her that way. Not anymore. How could he? Not after the way she had betrayed him… betrayed them.

Shooting her another glance, he took in the expression on her face.

She looked rather green.

The vindictive side of him—the side of him he was actively trying to push down for now—thought one, single word: good.

Shaking himself mentally, Draco sighed. This wasn't the time to get into it. Not now. Not when they were minutes away from performing their free dance live on television for the world to see from the Sochi Olympics. It didn't matter what their personal issues were. They were a team—a professional partnership.

And that's all, he reminded himself bitterly.

He cleared his throat. "Ready to go, Hermione?"

She looked up at him, her eyes shining with nervous anticipation. Her fingers were worrying the tassels of her sparkly, pink costume. She swallowed visibly.

"Yeah, all right."

Draco broke eye contact almost immediately. If he looked too long, he might feel his heart actually break. Again.

Severus poked his head inside again. "Let's go. We're at the three-minute mark."

Like an olive branch, Draco held out his hand. Hermione accepted it, and he pulled her to her skate-clad feet. They would have to show a united front from the moment they stepped into the spotlight. Cameras would be on them every second.

"We've got this," he whispered in her ear as they carefully made their way to the side of the rink. "We just have to perform like we did at the Grand Prix."

He felt her nod.

They arrived at the warm-up bench just outside the rink and removed the covers over their blades. Fleur and Roger were just finishing up their routine; they appeared flawless. Fleur's delicate figure and Roger's domineering presence made them an alluring couple. No doubt those two were the biggest competition they would have at these Olympics.

But he and Hermione were going to skate better. They had been receiving higher scores all season, so why should today be any different?

As the music swelled to its conclusion, Draco began his pre-skate rituals. Jump on the left foot twice. Jump on the right foot twice. Jump together three times. Seven jumps altogether. His breathing was coming in sharp gasps now.

Applause filled the stadium. Fleur and Roger were taking their bows, wide grins painting their faces. Draco knew that look. He had worn that look before. Confidence. Success. Joy—no, elation.

When he looked within, all he could see was nerves and bitterness. It wasn't supposed to be like this.

Fleur and Roger skated their way over, opening the padded walls of the rink.

"Congratulations. Your routine looked really great," Hermione said, reaching out a hand.

"Oh, merci!" cried Fleur. "And good luck to you!" The French ice dancer patted Hermione's arm before sheathing her blades and making her way with Roger to the Kiss and Cry station.

It was go time. Two minutes until they took the ice.

"Right. Listen up." Severus motioned for them to huddle with him. "Your short dance was excellent and you're neck-and-neck with those two. But I don't need to tell you that." He glanced between the two of them. Draco took the opportunity to shoot a look at Hermione. She was staring at the ground. "You're the best damn skaters I've ever worked with. Even when you were kids, I knew it, even if I didn't tell you so it would go to your heads. Remember how good you are. Put all your strength into your lifts. Watch the angle of your arms. And above all, passion!"

Draco nodded along, though he wasn't sure if his ears were working any longer. The crowd around him had become muffled, as though he was listening to their applause underwater.

A great roar erupted, driving Draco from his own head. He looked over at the Kiss and Cry station. Fleur and Roger were hugging, ecstasy radiating off of them.

"Combined score 197.83," Hermione hissed from beside him. Draco squinted up at the board. She had read it right.

Shit.

"Their season best," he responded grimly.

"Don't let them get in your head," Severus warned them. "Your score was nearly identical at the Grand Prix Final last month. Just go out there and skate your best. Skate for each other."

Draco took a deep breath and swallowed his ego. He looked at Hermione.

"Let's do this."

He reached out his arms expectantly toward his partner. She hesitated, but stepped into his embrace after a moment. From the moment Hermione's ear laid against his chest, her hands pressed into his back, it was like coming home. They'd been holding each other for years, and Draco couldn't deny the rightness of feeling her in his arms. Even with everything that happened, he wanted so much for this to be their reality.

"It's just us out there," he whispered.

"Just us."

He felt Hermione's soft breath on his chest, warm and erratic.

"Listen." She looked up, her eyes shining with desperation. "I want to say something, Draco."

"No," he hissed, his stomach roiling. "It's not the time."

"But I need to say it," she insisted. "I need to apologize."

He rested his chin atop her head. "And I want to hear it. But not now. Now we need to focus."

"I just—" She moved her hands so her fingers were splayed on her chest. "I just want to get it all out on the table."

"Now?" Draco drew back slightly. "Hermione, we're about to skate."

"I know." Hermione gave a little sniffle and Draco felt his innards turn to lead. This was not good. She couldn't go out on the ice in tears. He had to fix this now.

"Look at me, Hermione," he whispered, moving his hand to cup her jaw. She obeyed, her chin lifting. When he saw her eyes, they were swimming with tears. "Let's talk. I promise we'll talk. After, though. Let's go out there, skate our best, and then we'll talk all night if you like."

Hermione nodded in return, taking deep, calming breaths.

"All night?"

"All night. Just like when we were kids."

Severus chose that moment to pop back over. He held the barrier to the rink open for them to make their grand entrance. "Right. Let's go."

Draco stepped back, letting his hand drop to grab Hermione's. Inhaling again, he plastered a big smile on his face. To his right, he saw Hermione do the same thing. Years in the public eye had trained them for a moment just like this. For the moment they'd been waiting for.

It was time.

They skated out onto the ice to tumultuous applause. As their names were announced over the loudspeaker in English, French, and Russian, Draco took in the crowd. Union Jack flags had popped up all over the stadium. Some had even made posters with their faces and their team nickname, 'Dramione'. It might have surprised him when he was younger, but to see this level of support today only strengthened his determination.

Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger of the United Kingdom were favored to win gold in Ice Dancing at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, after all.

As they settled into their starting positions in the center of the ice, silence fell over the crowd. Draco was familiar with this silence—the great, swelling pause before their routines began. Though he had heard these silences countless times in his twenty-three years, they always seemed to unnerve him.

Normally at this moment, he would look to Hermione for strength and comfort. Normally, her chocolate eyes would radiate the confidence he needed—the confidence in him—to skate with precision and poise.

But not today. Today, their connection seemed slightly severed. Damaged. Torn.

The music began, the sound of the oboe and strings coursing through his veins. He had heard this song a thousand times in the last several months. He knew every lull and crescendo by heart. The words—the feel of the song had soaked into his very soul. Looking at Hermione, he knew that this was the moment—the moment they had dreamed of for thirteen years. In her eyes, he saw a determination that mirrored his own. This was it.

At once, Draco began to move, his muscles conditioned to bend and twist to the exact rhythms and notes that had dictated his life for the past eight months. The narrative of the song drove his movements; his arm wrapped around her waist as he began to lead her in a foxtrot across the ice.

As they danced, the world faded away once more. Like their pre-skate mantra, it was just them. It had always been just them, ever since they were little. And he wasn't sure if Hermione had always known it, but he had: everything they had done together had led to this moment, here at the Olympics.

Everything. Their successes. Their failures. Their laughter. Their tears.

Even…

As they transitioned into their twizzle sequence, Draco re-focused on the here and now. He wanted to remember everything about today—everything about the way the crowd looked and how Hermione's smile grew whenever she spun on the ice. She had always liked spins. That much had been obvious from the moment he had first watched her skate.

When they skated, Hermione was his whole world. She was his everything. He knew she felt the same about him. And no matter how mad he was at her—no matter how much they had to figure out in their personal life—on the ice, their partnership was solid. Always had been. Always would be.

They came back together after their twizzles, their bodies close and nearly intertwined. Round the ice they skated; he led and she followed mere inches from him, their eyes never losing contact. His hand held tight to the small of Hermione's back. The feel of her beneath his fingers kept him grounded. Kept him focused. Nothing else mattered. Only this.

Three minutes in, and Draco could feel his muscles begin to strain. Just one more to go. Four minutes was a long time to skate with such focus and athleticism, even after all these years. He was so close. They were so close. The song began to swell. Draco let the music fill his body. This was it.

Their keystone lift was fast approaching. It was the part of the dance that always took the audience's breath away—the moment that required all his strength and concentration. It was also the moment that would surely secure their gold. The music swelled around them, and the vocalist faded away. All Draco could hear was the blood pounding in his ears and the sound of his own breathing.

Draco looked into Hermione's eyes. They shone with determination and trust. As they skated backward, hands held, arms stretched out between them, they felt the beat together.

He released her, and she spun just out of his reach before stretching her arms out to him once more. Hermione skated into his arms, and he prepared to catch her around the waist and thigh. This particular lift required him to pass her around various points of his body. He had executed it perfectly at each competition to raucous applause. This time would be no different.

He caught Hermione with precision and began the practiced lift, passing her around his torso as he spun. She stayed balanced along his body as they relinquished their hands, holding them to the sky in a great show of trust. Even through his focus, Draco could hear the crowd gasp with delight. As the music reached its climax, Draco prepared to transition to the second part of the lift. He shifted Hermione in his arms.

It only took a second.

From the moment he began the transition, something felt off. It could have been the timing. It could have been that the pick at the front of his skate caught on something. Or perhaps, their issues off the rink had finally caught up with them. He couldn't pinpoint exactly what went wrong.

All he knew was that one moment, he felt Hermione solid in his arms, and the next, she was slipping through his fingers.

The world froze as she dropped. He saw her fall in slow motion, all the air leaving his lungs as she hit the ice with a thud. The entire stadium gasped in unison.

There was a singular, brief, horrifying moment where Draco thought all was lost. The possibilities of medics and ended careers flashed in his mind. It was one thing to fall during a performance, but during this one? During their Olympic Free Dance?

Draco's pity party was interrupted by reality. Hermione had thankfully landed on her side, and had pushed herself off the ice in two seconds, scrambling to her feet with all the grace she could muster. It seemed there would be no time to fret or to complain. They had to finish their routine. Hermione was already transitioning to the next sequence. Draco followed her lead, pushing on with her.

Inside, he had never felt like more of a failure.

They managed to finish their routine without further error, though it mattered not. Despite the polite applause, in that moment nothing could be clearer: their vision of an Olympic victory was dead. They, the favorites to win gold, had failed. He had failed. As they took their final bows to a shell-shocked stadium, Draco felt his face burn with shame.

Thirteen years together, and it had all been for naught. Their dream was all over now.


See you next Wednesday!

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