Six to Eight
(This is a trilogy so I'm covering it in one chunk)
Story: In the Blood, In the Dunes, In the Heart
Author: Jonathan J strange
Fandom: Harry Potter
Stats: 60 total Chapters, 169k total words, Published in 2008, Pairing Draco/Hermione
Summary: Between my boiler exploding and our car breaking down and having to have the boiler replaced and then my internet dying for several days it was a true miracle I could get through all 60 chapters of this trilogy of stories.
I was recommended this trilogy by an IRL friend who read it back in the day when it was first published, though she confessed she hadn't read it since. In the Blood is a short little smut-piece about a ridiculous situation in which Draco and Hermione get locked in the Room of Requirement during the final battle of Hogwarts and have sex. It's completely silly and smutty and there's not much to it beyond that.
In the Dunes, the second part is much better. It picks up sometime after the events of the one-shot and brings the focus on Draco and Blaise who are living in hiding due to their involvement with the dark side during the final battle. Cut off from magical society they are trying to live in a sea side town, which jumps around a bit due to some continuity errors, but ends up settled on the west coast of England. Draco isn't faring well, his father is in prison and his mother, though he is unaware of this, is in the loony ward at St Mungo's after suffering a nervous breakdown, (which in a shocking break from cliché, she never recovers from.) Blaise is faring slightly better, having sex with lots of muggle girls, getting himself a part time job and managing to find a place called ASDA to get their shopping and not being afraid of the post box.
The main characters jump around some from tight characterisation to moments of laughable dialogue, the friend who recc'd it informed me that at the time she was communicating with the author and suggested that this may be to some chapters not being ran through the beta first, as some have some pretty basic spelling errors and have blank authors notes and I'm to understand that the authors beta was largely reigning him in on the beta-ed chapters. I would accept this as an explanation due to some of the chapters reading very poorly in comparison to others.
One night Draco confesses to Blaise his tryst with Hermione and Blaise suggests Draco starts writing her love letters, this again brings in some continuity issues and the letters themselves are a bit.... cheesy, we'll say, but this escalates to Hermione finally arriving at the boys hideout to inform Draco that Lucius has been killed in prison. With the help of some order members, Hermione sneaks Draco and Blaise into the Zabini mansion where the funeral is taking place so Draco can say goodbye to his father and Blaise can see his mother. There they discover Narcissa has lost most of her sanity and fails to recognise Draco, thinking that he is a young Lucius.
The boys return home where Draco renews his affair with Hermione and Blaise has it off with a muggle girl, only to be interrupted and attacked in the middle of the night by a very alive Lucius Malfoy who has faked his own death and is now mounting his own bid to become the new Dark Lord. The boys are forced to turn to the order for help once again and manage to escape to the old Black Family manor (not Grimmauld Place, Narcissa's parents' home.) It's decided though that Draco is safer away from Lucius as Lucius only wants to use him in his rise to power so they are sent out of the country.
In the Heart picks up sometime later, the boys are now in a ski-lodge in the swiss alps, Draco has discovered a love of snow boarding and Blaise has been drowning his sorrows in the ladies of the ski lodges, after having left behind his old girlfriend from Hogwarts, whom he clearly still carries a torch for. In the Heart is both the best part of the trilogy, but the worst in terms of pacing and some silly story decisions, the amount of characters who die, then turn out to be alive, then die, then turn up alive again is ridiculous.
Lucius is now firmly established as a dark lord in his own right and Blaise's old girlfriend turns up to get the boys to return to England. This part has the best character moments of the run and some truly excellent story moments which make it worth reading the prior two to get to, though I understand through my friend that the authors beta actually wrote large parts of this one, which he did not credit in the actual story, but did tell people privately at the time. I also understand that towards the end the beta either jumped ship or wasn't consulted at all which leads me to believe where some of the more contrived parts of the story came from.
I won't spoiler the main events of this one, should you choose to read it, I've left out enough info so you actually be quite surprised and delighted by some of the plot twists that happen. Fair warning though, some of the stuff involving Lucius and Narcissa gets dark, really dark, and those of a nervous disposition should probably avoid it as though it may seem like a smut story at first, parts of it delve into horror and it's quite graphic.
In the Blood 5 out of 10
In the Dunes 8 out of 10
In the Heart 7 out of 10 (even though this is the most interesting part, I marked it lower due to some of the pacing issues)