The Meek

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I first read Mare Internum, an ongoing webcomic and love it, still can’t wait to read more, so in the meantime, I’ve decided to read this. A story about a 15 yr old nekkid kid, Angora running off from a bunch of half naked fellas in the forest. Whilst this could go in a mad dark direction, girly runs off and meets another fella, Pinter whom was in the middle of getting some jars of yummies most like, and he’s able to fistycuffs first fella until they’re discovered by their work-lead and has them focus on their job rather than chasing a naked girl with jars, since Pinter asked her to save the rest.

She escapes though, and mentions how she was on a mission to locate “the center” given by her grandfather which she didn’t know how to complete, yet. She requests help from Pinter, whom she rediscovers camping in the woods. Then the 2nd chapter shifts to the emperor and his family. His wife’s unfortunate death leading to some crazy powers which he uses against a bystander in the parliament.

Then a couple new characters are intro’d, Soli and Alamand, they infiltrating an old man’s home for his research notes, not realizing they were his own and library books from the fancy shmancy library. Soli ends up taking a hit whilst trying to help a boy leader extricate his kid workers from a arrestable situation, she being found unconscious.

Meanwhile, Angora and Pinter have a new dude added to their party when they learn he’s looking for his wife, whom was wounded. Angora eventually realizes Pinter had a problem with booze and refuses to go back the way they’d come for the sake of the new dude. The new dude’s wife is a cunt and tries to assault Angora believing she’s a witch and utter nonsense, besides. Angora and Pinter end up fucking off without the two, she now having to help Pinter for getting a bit of a booboo.

Rana falls in love and when her father returns, learns she’s to be married off, so she confirms with her lover of agreeing to having the emperor diiiiiie. Draaama! and this is where it has stayed on hiatus… It’s an easy, fun, dramatic, comedic read and I’m looking forward to more.

 

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Lazarus Churchyard: The Final Cut

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Immediately reminiscent of Transmetropolitan, Lazarus Churchyard watches a lady looking like a fella get fucked at the bar whilst someone else bleeds from their mouth, perhaps from drugs. Lazarus meets up with a skull-headed fella offering to kill him and get him wasted whilst they discussed the details. This dude offers a high quality death, Laz being for centuries old and wanting to go feet up by now. the deal was he must locate a missing scientist whom had the most knowledge about datasea, a VR which apparently was exploding some people’s heads. On top of this, the scientist was already dead, Laz taking the job from PJ Proby, whom was with Isis-Elek.

As PJ takes him through the Headquarters, he states how there was a VR “heaven” for those they couldn’t move forward with their projects without. PJ then shows Laz’s incentive, the machine scary-looking. Laz is attempting, a quiet lie-down when he must kick some hindering asses who’d walked themselves in (Holy fuck, the violence!). He’s escorted by PJ to another fella, whom updates what’d occurred to those programmers who’d gone searching for Bruckner. Then, Laz deduces they planned to stick in in the datasea, he pretty much only needing to go in and wonder to himself why he wasn’t seeing the heaven-like program, Bruckner interrupting his thoughts and taking him to a different part of the sys, assumably, “to talk”, which she does.

Once they see what PJ had done, she helps him back into his body and Laz spares PJ, for a short time until deciding to let Bruckner mess with him, instead. By the end of it, Bruckner accidentally screws him over, destroying the kill machine before Laz can do the deed. Laz has been stuck underground for more than 2 months, and when he breaks surface, a hoor greets him looking to party! She immediately leads him along, she catching Laz up on what he’d missed, the police disbanded and everyone living it up, since Isis-Elek blew. Laz knocks her out when he denies her further advances. She wakes up in time to explain her lil “pet”, it killing her, then apologizing and offering to explain, Laz curiously allowing this, and by the end of the monster’s diatribe, dreams of whether crazy ho’s deed for the club was lying around.

He discovers it, since he’s now owned the club over a year. He’s convinced by the monster book to tell his origin story, involving a 12-year-old looking plastic girl called Lucy. One of the scientists gets creepy screwy with her and by the end, she’s burned in a bed, but survives, even after being dumped in the sewer, she developing a way to cry for help, her message becoming the name of the club. Once she was found round about 40 years later, they put her down properly, making Laz much more durable than his predecessor.

Laz enters his club to be met by Angel Hellequin, whom Laz was excited to get drugs from as she attempts to catch up with him, he sprouting big breasteses. As he’s investigating his other bits in the bathroom, the toilet is inquiring about his pooping needs, on the wall, graffiti, “women need men like fish need bicycles.” He goes upstairs to consider how to reverse his lady bits when a vengeful lady, Justine comes in, Laz getting scary tits, not amused by her, at all. She ignores this to mention how Isis-Elek was still active and she’d joined, planning on keeping him captive within their experimental fancy, but he’s saved by Angel, more IE crew waiting downstairs.

They mess with the barman, though and it starts a fiery bar-fight. Laz is almost tricked into believing he’d killed his last ex, which leads to a memory when he’d been getting a beating by a trio of brothers. He turns the table on ’em once they want to set him up for bonfire status, taking out all 3 due to they not being bright boys. 4 centuries later, an old woman watches the news and is eager to implement revenge.

Laz is then shown viewing a lady’s man-like body lying on the bar, he recognizing the name on the knife after the body was removed, an Inspector Sleep arriving and impressed Laz’d be so calm as death approached him. Laz finally becomes impressed when Sleep starts throwing punches at him, they making ouchies and realizing this fool was reinforced not as strongly, but still impressively, as himself. He beats him til Sleep flees, Laz’s boobies gone by now, he knowing Sleep’d be back if his final shot hadn’t killed him, which he realizes is the case when the fool comes back in a fly ship with guns strafing.

This doesn’t save him though, Laz shooting him in 2, but fella survives, so Laz has his barman store him in the cellar. He then has the ship take him to it’s home base in Spain. When he meets the Lizaran organization mostly nakie weapon-toting crew, he tries out his memory-gathering skill, realizing the old woman had been pretty much leaching off of the fam’s parts as well as empaths. Laz doesn’t make her feel placated when noting how stingy she’d been when giving her 3 sons a single grave. He continues with how she’d done terrible things to the empaths for her own longevity, he reaching her, and she ready with a bomb about to go off, it decimating the area to rubble and sand, Laz wandering his way back quite nakie, himself.

30 years have passed and Laz is in Iceland talking of his mother to a stripper. Laz’s hometown is in Germany and his pop was a perv from London, he reminiscing how his parents had met and they being the perfect fit for each other, but his pops being found by a London cop ready to kill his girl and him. He makes it back to her in time to plant lil Laz in her, then croaking, Laz telling this sad, disgusting love story to a dead girl.

Fucking grand! Ellis is the bomb!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Year Seven)

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Snape joins Voldemort with the other Death Eaters at Malfoy’s home to discuss Harry’s next move, false news having been created to mask Harry’s actual plan. Lucius has gotten out of prison by this point and had to relinquish his wand to Voldemort to use on Harry (an even more unnecessary “that” being added to a sentence, Rowling? Jeez..). A professor of Muggle studies is killed after Voldemort seethes and makes fun of the Malfoys’ relative, Tonks marrying Lupin.

Harry was currently at Privet drive unloading his school trunk and packing a backpack with all important items. He also has 2 articles, one Dumbledore’s obituary and the other an interview with Rita Skeeter about her biography on Dumbledore’s life and how dirt-filled it truly was. Vernon was flip-flopping with whether he truly believed he and his family were in danger, but Dudley was scared enough to want the magical protection offered them, so they’d be escorted to a safe spot. Dudley surprises all relatives with his concerns for where Harry was going, but everyone’s farewell being fairly underwhelming, but Dudley shaking his hand in the end being the most contact made through it all.

Moody was whom Harry thought would be escorting him, but it turns out to be Hagrid along with his buddies and others, including Mood himself. This doesn’t help much though, since they were met with 30-odd Death Eaters flinging deadly curses at all of them, Harry being repeatedly reassured by Hagrid of having everything handled, thusly Harry’s sidecar detaches from the motor-bike and during all this, Hedwig has been shot and was limp. Harry blows up his sidecar, supposedly with Hedwig still inside, he now seated with Hagrid as a Death Eater recognizes Harry to be not a poser, the 3 disappearing. Voldemort soon joins them, but not before Harry crashes the bike into a pond. The 2 make it to their Portkey to the Burrow and the only others to show up so far is Lupin and George, whom lost an ear. In the end, everyone returns except for a dead Moody and a biffed off Mundungus.

Harry wanted to leave them for fear of endangering them further, he getting a vision of Ollivander at the bad end of Voldemort’s rage, Hermione desperate he attempt to shut his mind from this. Mrs. Weasley attempts to learn what Dumbledore had ordered Harry to do, which also includes Ron and Hermione dropping out of school to help, but the most she gets is agreement to help tidy and do chores she had for them for the wedding. They weren’t able to recover Moody’s body, so the funeral was on hiatus. The trio found time to talk, Ron suspecting Moody may have survived. They then discuss Hermione’s acquiring Hogwarts library books on horcruxes, when Mrs. Weasley interrupts, mega-pissed the three were sitting around rather than helping her with chores. When Fleur’s family arrives, the trio get only one chance to speak, Mrs. Weasley still thwarting their plan-making and she putting together, what Harry hopes would be a quiet birthday the day before Fleur and Bill’s wedding.

Harry gets a good amount of birthday prezzies, he particularly taken with Ginny’s snog gift. Scrimgeour crashes to speak with the trio about Dumbledore’s will and the unique items he’d left them. Harry receives his first won snitch and was supposed to get Gryffindor’s sword, Hermione got a book, and Ron was gifted a contraption which put out lights. Harry figures out a clue on how to use the snitches memory ability, but it isn’t easy to decipher from there, Hermione confesses she not having heard of the book she’d be given, to Ron’s surprise, since he knew them as children’s tales.

Harry was disguised as a cousin to the Weasley’s after they’d acquired some hair from a local redheaded boy. Luna and her father had been invited, he acting and looking as eccentric as his daughter normally would. Then, after Harry discovers Dumbledore’s family had Godric’s Hollow in common with him, they discover Scrimgeour had been killed and the Ministry “fallen”, them’s coming. (Decent dramatics by this point)

The trio escape by disapparating as Death Eaters break up the party, Hermione providing the boys with less conspicuous attire. They are followed and eventually attacked again by a couple Death Eaters. After the trio defend themselves and flee to Harry’s inherited property, he gets a vision of Voldemort punishing one of the Death Eaters who had attacked them, by ordering Draco to torture him.

They learn R.A.B. was Sirius’ brother after Harry discovers a part of a letter from his mother. They also realize they’d handled a locket during past clean up of Sirius’ home, they off to Kreacher’s quarters. They discover nothing and when Harry summons Kreacher to grill him, they learn Mundungus had filched it all. Kreacher relates what he remembered of the locket, then Harry nicely orders him to retrieve the real locket and Mundungus to meet them back there, taking a tip from Hermione and even gifting the fake locket to Kreacher as incentive and appreciation.

The 3 are up to day 3 of waiting for Kreacher’s return when they see 2 robed men standing outside for quite some time, but not going any further, everyone inside attempting to quell nerves and boredom. Harry is first to see a figure enter the house, it t’were Lupin, they catching up. By the end, Harry had insulted Lupin in order for him to hopefully go back to Tonks, they learning she was up the duff and he was plagued by his status and how it’d effect his newly made family. Harry then reads an excerpt from Skeeter’s book after Lupin runs off, pissed. Kreacher returns with Mundungus, whom reveals he’d practically gifted the locket to Umbridge.

Harry brings back a Daily Prophet with news of Snape securing the title of headmaster, Ron and Hermione shocked. Harry then renews his idea of implementing the plan they’d worked out for 4 weeks. They each obtain a Ministry employees hair and polyjuice themselves for entrance purposes. Hermione and Harry meet Umbridge in the elevator after Ron was tasked with stopping a flood in a particular office. Harry is then separated from Hermione when Umbridge uses her for a court proceeding and he’s left with the new Ministry of Magic, Thicknesse, not being conspicuous and parting ways with him before covering himself with invisibility cloak again and creating a distraction which allowed him access inside Umbridge’s office, he not having learned from his Hogwarts snooping to leave his cloak ON when he’s searching, again scrambling to cover his ass up as Thicknesse enters.

Harry makes his way out with no discovery before learning what they had on Arthur. He makes his way to the courtrooms where a shit ton of dementors were chilling in the hall with the accused muggles, he making it inside the courtroom Hermione sat in with Umbridge, they seeing the locket around Umbridge’s fat neck. Harry throws caution to the dogs and stupefies the old hound so as to snatch the locket, Hermione making a replica so she wouldn’t immediately notice, and saves the half blood witch on trial for being muggle-related. The trio along with the muggle bunch escape, but Harry notices an odd sensation after they apparate since by the end it was becoming obvious what they were doing.

Hermione conducts first aid on Ron’s arm, they now stuck in the forest where the World Cup had been, Yaxley having seen the trio’s hidey hole she setting protective charms about them whilst Ron recovered. They then fool around with the locket to attempt opening it, none succeeding and so Harry resigns himself to keep watch with Hermione off and on. Harry gets another vision, he still having given up Occlumency despite Hermione harping on how he should still at least attempt to bar him mind and instead chooses to get pounded by the scenes, he rather preferring sharing the visions with his buds (he’s tho thmart!), overcome with whomever stole an item from Gregorovitch which Voldemort was now after, Harry recognizing the face in his memory, but unable to currently place it. (This seems to be a going theme and mystery style of Rowling’s, which I’ve grown tired and yet accustomed, *sigh*)

During their passed off time wearing the horcrux and negative moods because of it, they hear Dean Thomas with Tonks’ pops and some goblins (Rowling, you suggesting a Goblin language be named, Gobbledegook??…) eating nearby their camp, learning Ginny had attempted to lift Gryffindor’s sword, the goblins confiding the one protected in Gringotts being a fake. Ginny did get one helluva punishment, though, according to the goblin, they also discussing whether Snape or Harry was the baddie, as well as The Quibbler now being the one spot for real news. They move off and Hermione grabs the frame of Phineas Black to inquire about the sword, which reveals why they needed it to destroy horcruxes. They end the night with a blow out of a fight between Ron and Harry, the former off to his family and Hermione brokenhearted by Ron making her stay seem like betrayal of him.

The two hoped silently Ron’d return, but this doesn’t occur, Harry reminded how Ron had assumed Harry had a ginormous master plan (the fuck?), and he seeing if Ron’d go to Hogwarts again, his name not appearing on the Marauder’s Map. After some more move-abouts, Harry suggests once more they go to Godric’s Hollow, Hermione agreeing this time. They prepare with Polyjuice disguises and see the graveyard first. They visit Dumbledore’s family graves, Hermione locating another symbol on an unrelated grave, and they take a moment to visit Harry’s parents, leaving with Harry at least getting to see where they were.

After suspecting they were being watched, the quickly leave and somehow spot Harry’s first home. Bagshot finds them and leads them back to her place, he nicking a pic of the man whom had stolen from Gregorovitch and then Bagshot becoming Nagini before Voldemort was to arrive. The two barely escape, but Harry’s wand is broken and loses the pic in their haste, Harry stuck in Voldemort’s thoughts most of the night.

Harry was starting to annoy himself at Dumbledore, rather than try solving the snitch and discover his next move. Hermione helps a bit by showing a copy of Rita’s book to Harry, he finally learning the man in the picture was Grindelwald. He and Dumbledore became buddies after he’d been expelled from Durmstrang. Harry has a flip out and Hermione recognizes he being mad Dumbledore hadn’t shared more with him. After they move, Harry sees a doe patronus which leads him to the Gryffindor sword, Ron saving him from drowning and Harry suggesting he destroy the horcrux. It gives Ron a good psychological beating, but he succeeds. Hermione gives Ron a more unceremonious welcome, but they settle after Ron explains how he’d used his deluminator. Since he’d also been able to swipe an idiot’s wand from a watch group for muggles, Harry was able to practice doing small spells, the results unappealing. Later on, Hermione decides she wanted to visit Luna’s father because of Grindelwald’s sign, Harry uncertain, but acquiescing, and upon being received, are greeted hesitantly. When Harry does finally get to his point, Luna’s papa reveals it’s a sign of the deathly hallows. Harry soon blunders to the knowledge Luna wasn’t there and her pop had informed the Ministry, Hermione devising and implementing the trio’s escape plan.

When they’d disapparated, Ron supposed the Death Eaters had Luna in Azkaban, but she’d be fine for now. Harry then considers if his defense would include the acquirement of the magical items of the Deathly Hallows. Ron and Hermione think he should focus on the horcruxes, but instead he dedicates his time in attempting to open the snitch, thinking the stone or ring could be inside. The one thing to get his thoughts away from this is Ron’s found pirate radio stating, they learning Ted Tonks was among the murdered by Death Eater recently. (Rowling’s way of allowing each character intro whom is speaking on the radio is goofy.) Hagrid was now an outlaw, as well, because of a Potter Party, the doofus, and the last dumb move Harry making being to say Voldemort’s name, they found out hella quick.

The trio are captured with Dean Thomas, Hermione having puffed Harry’s face up, Greyback and crew unable to identify them, yet, until discovering Gryffindor’s sword, they deducing Harry and Hermione’s identities. When Bellatrix sees the sword, she tortures Hermione on where they’d gotten it, thinking they’d stolen it from Gringotts. Meanwhile, Dobby apparates and saves Ollivander, Luna, and Dean, this getting attention, Ron and Hermione having to overpower Wormtail, but this ultimately killing him. Voldemort is finally summoned once the goblin confirms the sword counterfeit, Ron attempting and failing to save Hermione, but not being quick enough to dodge a knife and get kilt.

They have a quick burial and funeral for him in the garden of Bill and Fleur’s, Harry then speaking to the Gringotts goblin and Ollivander before Harry sees Voldemort claim the Elder wand Dumbledore had been buried with. Harry was torn by his decision to hang back rather than fight, in the meantime the goblin agreeing to help them in return for Gryffindor’s sword, Harry not specifying when, but would do the exchange. Lupin visits to announce Tonks and his son, Ted being born, and Bill warning Harry about dealings with a goblin being a sensitive thing if treasure is involved.

Hermione had been chosen to Polyjuice as Bellatrix what with having a hair of hers on her robe and also having the wand, but she having trouble controlling it. They still go through with their plan, Harry under invisible cloak with goblin and Ron disguised with face-feature changes, they running into Travers in Diagon Alley. It only gets worse from here, since he’s also going to Gringotts and it seemed the goblins were aware of Bellatrix’s stolen wand. They make it to the vault without being caught, though, instead now had to worry about making the contact with the treasure. This soon doesn’t matter, since it ends with all of them in contact with it, but Harry obtains the cup, but loses the sword, they escaping on the nearly blind dragon (yay!) and landing themselves in a lake some distance from the bank. Harry soon sees the results of Voldemort learning of Gringotts and his questioning whether his other horcruxes were safe; The trio soon aiming for Hogsmeade.

Upon arrival, they’re immediately known to be there due to a nifty alarm charm, Death Eaters looking around and almost catching them early upon arrival. After dementors are added to the search party, the Hogshead’s owner saves them by letter them inside the bar. Harry figures out he’s Aberforth, he feeding them and attempting to convince Harry to get far away as possible. Instead, he’s convinced somehow into detailing most of what’d happened to Ariana. She’d killed their mother accidentally after being abused by some boys in some way to make her ever use magic, it going wild within her and when she was 14, had an unfortunate episode resulting her mother’s death.

Aberforth was made to continue school by Dumbledore, he taking care of their sister until Grindelwald distracts him. Aberforth confronts Dumbledore about containing his ego in order to take of their sister rather than go off and gather a following in their new wizarding regime. The 3 end up fighting, Ariana attempts to help and 1 of the 3 kill her. Harry puts in his 2 cents when he mentions the horcrux charm he’d drank, the torture making him say when he felt worst about and his greatest fear, Neville then being brought when Aberforth acquiesces to helping them enter Hogwarts.

They go through a hidden tunnel behind Aberforth’s painting of his sister. Neville catches them up a bit on Snape’s disciplinary Carrows Death Eater professors, he also finally gets positive feedback form his Gran once she escapes and goes to ground so as to stay hidden, since escaping the Death Eaters’ attempts at using her as leverage on Neville. When they reach Hogwarts about 20 more peeps greet them uproariously. They’d made the Room of Requirement their safe haven, the Carrows unable to reach them. They were catching up when Harry learns Voldemort had discovered another horcrux destroyed, the group of kids desperate to be a part of helping overcome Voldemort, but Harry attempting to keep Dumbledore’s secret, Ron and Hermione then considering they could use their friends’ help without revealing the true nature of why, so Harry begins asking them questions about Ravenclaw items.

In the end, Luna leads Harry to the Ravenclaw statue where one of the Carrows catches him, touching her V (haha) tat. She’s knocked out by Luna’s curse, Harry then cursing her bro when he insults McGonagall. She then helps the two game plan the way to get students out of the castle and overthrow Snape before Voldemort comes, and Harry could search the grounds. Snape gets in McGonagall’s way, but flees by chucking himself out a window when she receives help from other professors. They soon are enlisting the help of other professors to protect the school temporarily from Voldemort, whilst getting everyone to meet in the Great Hall to give those the option to stay and help who were of age. Upon Harry getting back to the Req. Room, most of the Weasleys arrive, they surprised when Percy shows up as they’re trying to get Ginny to leave, but instead agreed to let her stay in the Req. Room, Voldemort now at Hogwarts as Harry’s looking for Hermione and Ron in the loo.

As McGonagall describes what would happen, Voldemort’s voice echoes through the hall to maintain resisting wouldn’t do any good and he didn’t desire offing anyone, he only wanted Harry. Since Voldemort wasn’t actually there, after dumb Pansy attempts to get Harry chucked out, McGonagall has them all leave with their Houses, she having to remind Harry of looking for the horcrux, since he’d been plagued with where Hermione and Ron could be. He comes to a lightbulb moment though, on whom to ask what had happened to the diadem, getting his answer through Nearly Headless Nick, he speaking with the Ravenclaw’s House ghost, Helen Ravenclaw, she stealing the diadem from her mother and how the Bloody Baron had killed himself because he’d stabbed and killed her.

Finally, she admits hiding the diadem in Albania, and Voldemort had brought it back to Hogwarts when he’d interviewed for a job. Harry is met by Hagrid (I realize now Harry could’ve been using “Tom” as his choice to call him the whole time to mock his name for himself, in a way, as Dumbledore had.), the fight being on by this point, since it’d reached midnight. Harry realizes where he needed to go, also spotting Ron and Hermione who’d gone to the Chamber of Secrets, Ron speaking Parseltongue by memory and stabbing the Cup, Harry ecstatic. Ron and Hermione give each other a good snog until Harry thrusts them back to Erf. They have the Room of Requirement become the place with everyone’s hidden treasures, Harry locating the diadem, but foiled by Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle.

Crabbe curses the place with a fire monsters thingy and Ron and Hermione have to save the 2 burkes, Crabbe getting himself kilt, but Harry also catching the diadem as it’d been falling down from a victory throw of treasure by the creatures. When they escape, Harry sees the diadem crumble, since the fire had been cursed and fortunately did the trick in destroying the horcrux. Then, as the twins and Percy are fighting Death Eaters in the hall they’d come in from, an explosion kills Fred. Harry helps Percy stow him, everyone then continuing fighting Death Eaters except for the trio, Harry looking into Voldemort’s mind upon Hermione’s request. He sees Voldemort chilling, knowing Harry’d pursue him for Nagini, he commanding Malfoy’s Pops to get Snape.

The trio use the invisibility cloak due to how many faculty and students were fighting Death Eaters, Hagrid getting swept away with giant spiders as his bro searches for him at the castle windows. They retreat toward the forest, Harry too desperate by the dementors approaching to summon his patronus. Luna and 2 others save their asses and they reach the Whomping Tree where they’d get to the Shrieking Shack, Harry overhearing Snape speaking with Voldemort about the uprise and the Elder wand not impressing him like he expected. He concludes it’s because Snape had killed Dumbledore, meaning he’d have to kill Snape, leaving before he’s truly dead and giving Harry time to collect Snape’s memory.

Voldemort speaks loud-speaker style again to them about allowing an hour to help the injured and gather their dead, and if Harry didn’t reveal himself, he’d kill anyone to get in his way. Ron and Hermione encourage Harry to ignore Voldemort’s terms and focus on a new game plan at the castle. They see the Weasleys at Fred’s body, along with Tonks and Lupin’s, Harry too distraught to see who else hadn’t made it because of him. Instead he makes his way to Dumbledore’s office, which still contained the Pensieve, believing Snape’s memories could be no worse than what he’d currently experienced and having a temporary escape. He sees Snape as a boy confronting Lily about her magic and how Petunia had been a prude from childhood, and Snape’d struggled controlling his emotions around the close-minded Muggle, Petunia.

James and Sirius had taken a disliking of Snape from their first meeting on the train, Lily torn from the start on liking and disliking both Snape and James. Later on, after Snape’d heard part of the prophecy, he’d met with Dumbledore, whom had shown contempt of Snape for the first time because of his love for Lily and disregarding her new family. Snape is shown attempting to heal the injured Dumbledore after he’d worn Slytherin’s ring. The 2 discuss how this’d kill Dumbledore in about a year and how Draco’s task of murdering him should go to Snape as Voldemort had dictated. Dumbledore eventually shares with Snape how Harry’d have to be killed by Voldemort before Voldemort could die, because Harry carried a piece of his soul. The last memory is of Snape preparing to leave Gryffindor’s sword for Harry to find.

Colin Creevey dies, Harry seeing this after noticing how little time he had left, using his invisibility cloak and passing Neville and Oliver Wood carrying him. He leaves the castle without speaking to anyone, making the leaving easier, but does run into Neville again as he’s gone back out for more bodies. He made sure Neville knew to kill Nagini, he going invisible again and not stopping even when he sees Ginny helping someone. He learns how to open the snitch and gets the Resurrection stone, he seeing his parents, Lupin, and Sirius, they walking with him to Voldemort. 2 of the Death Eaters unknowingly lead him there where the rest of the followers, plus a bound Hagrid, whom is aghast Harry’d come. Harry was apparently thinking of Ginny kissing something of his (“—-“, not a period.), then gets the green flash.

Harry wakes up feeling alive, but meeting a quite dead Dumbledore, he believing Harry wasn’t quite corpse. Dumbledore also reveals how Grindelwald had killed his sis. After some time, they reach the subj. of Harry having the option to live, he ofc choosing accordingly. Voldemort had collapsed, as well, he delegating the task of checking Harry’s vitals to Narcissa, she asking after Draco, they then all heading for the castle with Harry playing dead, and Voldemort having Hagrid carry him. Voldemort does his voice boom trick and tells of Harry’s kaput inaccurately, then threatens death to anyone who didn’t kneel before him.

Ultimately, there’s a revolt and Neville kills Nagini with Gryffindor’s sword, Harry getting under his invisibility cloak. Once Harry’s given shield charms to those on his way to Voldemort, Bellatrix is taken out by Mrs. W and Harry extrapolates how Voldemort wasn’t true owner of the Elder wand, he having deduced Malfoy should’ve gotten it, but when Harry’d taken Malfoy’s wand, ownership should be his, now, the wand doing his bidding and Voldemort’s death being his own fault. It takes a few beats before everyone celebrates, Harry getting his 2 buds to accompany him to Dumbledore’s office as he explains Snape’s memories and his plan. Harry leaves the fallen Resurrection stone where he’d dropped it in the Forbidden Forest, he fixing his wand with the Elder wand and deciding to return it to Dumbledore’s resting place, Ron shocked, but Hermione understanding, ofc.

19 years later, Harry and Ginny are taking their 3 kids to the station, Longbottom’s a Herbology prof, Draco married with a son (obv), and Ron and Hermione with their 2, Harry not having been bothered by his scar since, and quelling the fears of his youngest if he were chosen to be Slytherin, mentioning how he’d get a choice, in the end.

Decent enough, I’ll still check out The Tales of Beedle the Bard.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Year Five)

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Harry’s been attempting to keep an eye and ear out of word regarding odd deaths in relation to Voldemort all summer, he not having any luck. An interaction with Dudley gets him in enough trouble with the Dursleys and the Ministry of Magic where he’s first automatically expelled for using the patronum spell against a couple of dementors. Soon after, he gets word from Sirius, and 2 of the Weasleys, as well as Hermione as to how he should proceed. After which, he gets another official letter condemning him a bit more lightly in only being suspended until a hearing was held as to his reasons for applying magic outside the wizarding community. Throughout all this mess, his uncle officially kicks him out only to be swayed by a letter which Petunia was the only one to understand, so Harry is again “lucky” in having his back up “home” still being an option.

When Harry does finally get the chance to ditch the Dursleys, it’s with the newly introduced Nymphadora Tonks, as well as Lupin, Moody, and a few other wizards who would escort Harry by broom to their new headquarter for the Order of the Phoenix, Sirius’ family home. Hermione and Ron soon get a huge bitch fit from Harry, since he’d felt so alone and left out of being told anything and having been tailed all summer and everyone seeming to know. He receives updates on Percy and his new position having him fall out with the family because they feel he’s being used solely for information about his family and Dumbledore, whom was now a bad word in the Ministry of Magic. Kreacher is the elf of the house and was touched in the head, he attempting to periodically lift family heirlooms which Sirius was in the process of dumping, one of the portraits in the main hall of Sirius’ mother, whom continually shouted expletives against him and held similar views to the Malfoys.

Sirius decides to answer some of Harry’s questions despite Molly Weasley vehemently against it due to Harry still being a child, regardless of how the men in the house felt, which was he was old enough to hear what they thought was necessary for him to be safe. Later, Harry learns from a portrait of Sirius’ family tree, he was related to Tonks, a cousin, and also the Malfoys and Weasleys. After this, Kreacher is still on a rampage after more family items whilst talking shit about everyone under his breath, but not enough for it to be discreet. The night before his hearing he is updated of Arthur accompanying him and Sirius would sit this one out by Dumbledore’s order, Harry a little miffed he hadn’t wanted to speak with him personally after learning he’d been over the night before. He and Arthur walk to his office today, they entering by broken phone box. After a little runaround, Harry is only late by a few minutes, Arthur not able to join Harry inside, but the room shocking him, since he’d viewed it from the pensieve.

Harry sits in the chair with chains in front of the panel of about 50, Fudge in the center and Percy at the far end taking notes, Dumbledore arriving as introductions of the panel were made, to Harry’s surprise and Fudge’s displeasure. The change of venue and time seemed to have changed so abruptly being to keep Dumbledore out, but he’d prepared by arriving early. Fudge begins his damning questions when another wizard asks for Harry to elaborate after mentioning the dementors, Fudge cutting him off again making it seem he was lying, since Dudley couldn’t see them, but Dumbledore jumps in to state of another witness being available which puts Fudge off, so Dumbledore makes certain it’s within Harry’s rights to be allowed outside witnesses to testify on his behalf.

Figg is called in, Fudge attempting to make her sound un-credible. Bones seemed to take the story more seriously and Dumbledore admits the dementors wouldn’t have been there by chance and if Fudge wouldn’t admit to what Dumbledore had previously stated to him, then the Ministry would have to be responsible for releasing the dementors and ordering them to a Muggle city. Fortunately, even though Fudge kept attempting to throw Harry under the bus, Dumbledore had the answers and after stating the forum should make their decision, Fudge isn’t happy in having to announce Harry being cleared, Dumbledore not acknowledging Harry and leaving swiftly.

Harry tentatively exits and shares the verdict with Arthur, they seeing Malfoy speaking with Fudge, being a dick and then the two finally deciding to hold hands and skip to Fudge’s office to finish their important, gold-filled sharing conversation (not quite the way as describe, ofc). Arthur gets Harry back before returning to work, he sharing his good news again and they getting lunch. Sirius, apparently was happy, but also a bit aggravated, since Harry wouldn’t be staying with him now, in the trio’s opinion, anyways. After a few days, they receive their book list letter, Ron getting an extra surprise of also being prefect, Harry struggling with feeling truly happy for a bit, getting through it after reminding himself Ron is a friend (ffs). After, everyone meets for dinner and they also celebrate Ron and Hermione’s prefectdom, Harry feeling warm toward the group after reminding himself his papa wasn’t ever a prefect, either.

Harry helps Fred and George complete a deal with Mundungus for their shop, mentioning Moody possibly watching. Harry feels a bit guilty when imagining what Molly would think of him if she found out he’d helped the twins with their low quality dream. Harry’s good vibes at the party swiftly souring and feeling antisocial. When Molly bows out, Harry planned on following, but is side-tracked by Moody, whom shares a pic of himself and many people Harry knew, including the Longbottoms and his parents, he finally getting a reason to leave when Sirius interrupts them, Harry off after Molly. He also thinks about how unsettling Moody’s thoughtful photo share had been, when he heard crying, and seeing the dead bodies of some of the Weasley sibs and himself, Molly having trouble with the boggart, Lupin then assisting. Molly asks they keep her fears from Arthur, Lupin quelling her anxiety a bit, Harry awaying to his room and realizing how dumb he’d been feeling like shit over helping fund the twins and not making prefect.

Harry has odd dreams, waking to Ron in mid-sentence about his mother freaking out at the twins for almost killing Ginny with a trunk transporting method and being late for the train. Sirius joins them in dog-form despite Dumbledore’s opinion, everyone arriving as usual and no weirdness occurring. They get on the train, but Harry soon learns Ron and Hermione had to report to Head Girl and Boy in the Prefect carriage, he and Ginny finding a compartment. Neville joins them, Ginny suggesting they sit with Luna Lovegood, an odd owl-eyed girl, she responding to Ginny, then identifying Harry, and admitting she didn’t know Neville. The boys were unnerved by Luna’s flighty socializing skills, Ginny entertained.

Neville doused the group with stinksap when Cho decides to greet Harry to his and her severe embarrassment, an hour after the food trolley passing before Ron and Hermione are able to accompany them and share who were the other Houses prefects, one of Slytherin being easy to identify. Ron makes a joke at one point which completely overtakes Luna, everyone soon laughing at Ron’s reaction to Luna’s overreaction Harry then distracting himself with a politi-comic about Fudge wanting to buy Gringotts and an article on Sirius being an alias for a lead singer of a band. The lady whom identifies him believed Sirius would soon be pardoned from his crimes, since he couldn’t have been there at the time. Hermione makes an assertion about the magazine which Luna takes offense to, since her father was editor, Malfoy then dropping in, briefly to provide some paranoia about whether he knew about Sirius’ dog form. When they get to the station, Harry doesn’t hear Hagrid’s usual greeting, a female rounding up the first years. Another odd thing was how the horseless carriages now had creatures pulling them. Ron didn’t have a clue what Harry was talking about, but Luna confirms Harry’s vision, this not quite comforting.

Luna gives her opinion on how Ravenclaw students saw Hagrid’s teaching skills, Hermione’s response being the only one without loyal heat. When they’d gotten to the banquet hall and still didn’t see Hagrid, Harry suggests it could be due to the mission Dumbledore had given him, the Sorting Hat next doing its First Year division, but including a warning for the Houses to stay strong, together. When Dumbledore makes his introduction speech after supper, he’s interrupted for the first time, by Umbridge, the new Defense teacher, she having been a judge at Harry’s trial. She gives one helluva boring speech about being open to change where needed and keeping only the good rules in place. Hermione deduces the meaning simply for them: the Ministry had plans to mess with Hogwarts rules. As Harry and dorm boys readied for bed, there’s a bit of an upset between himself and Seamus, whom decided to believe his mother, whom thought the news written about Harry, the 2 quickly falling out and Harry wondering how many more people he’d lose before Voldemort made his presence known.

Next morning, Hermione sees Fred and George’s notice on the Gryffindor bulletin board for part-time workers, Hermione taking charge by stating they’d have to speak to the twins about their ad. When they enter the banquet hall, they are again greeted by a Hagrid-less room. Later on, Harry is made a fool of by Snape in class again. He was still so butt hurt, he takes it out on Ron and Hermione again, since they were still tiffing with each other. Then, in Divination Ron shares Hermione’s thoughts of Harry treating them unfairly, but the 2 also having stopped their little arguments. When they get to their first class with the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, she declares they’d be filling in their gaps of knowledge due to their teachers never staying past a year.

Umbridge decides to have them begin with a reading assignment, Hermione soon making a scene with her silent hand raise. The class is soon paying more attention to her as Umbridge ignores her for a few minutes until finally regarding her question about application of defense, Umbridge soon receiving more raised hands and Harry costing 10 points after suggesting Voldemort could be a danger to anyone outside, she maintaining this was untrue and they wouldn’t have to practice for their O.W.L.s, since reading should be enough. By the end of Harry’s insubordinance, he’d gotten detention for the rest of the week and sent to McGonagall’s office, she making certain Harry understood what was required of him and to watch his step around Umbridge.

At dinner, the trio leave early with all the loud retellings of Harry’s confrontation, Hermione incensed on how Dumbledore could’ve allowed Umbridge be their professor. The day of his first detention, Harry’s Quidditch team leader angrily demands he get Friday off for their tryout. Harry does ask, but it’s clear Umbridge planned on having him suffer, especially with his standards which cut and healed on his hand after each being written. He decides not to share this part of the punishment with his buddies. It does come out to Ron by the 3rd night, though, he having been practicing for Quidditch tryouts, Harry still attending detention, but viewing part of the tryouts from a bit of a distance, by the end of his session, he getting a shock from his scar and a weird feeling from Umbridge and how she responded to his pulling away from her, Harry leaving and busting in on Ron celebrating becoming Keeper.

On Saturday, the boys put off their other homework to practice for Quidditch before actual practice, it not going well in the proper practice, especially after Fred and George give a teammate a wrong pill and her nosebleed gets worse. As the boys get to their homework, Ron receives a message from Percy which has him promoting Ron to ditch Harry and to see what role Dumbledore would soon have listed in tomorrow’s paper. Sirius visits by flame, they learning what Fudge thought Dumbledore could be teaching and why they’d only be studying from text. Sirius also notes how Dumbledore wasn’t worrying about Hagrid’s absence, so they should do the same, but when the idea of he perhaps meeting up with them again at a Hogsmeade outing goes against him, he pulls a Harry and reacts petulantly and declares Harry was being unlike his father after he and Hermione noted the risk what with Malfoy and the news.

The news certainly showed how Umbridge’s position had doubled in title and power, since she also held the newly stated position of “High Inquisitor”, as well as professor, she now taking notes on the professors and sitting in on classes. Harry also gets himself a second week of detention after talking back in Defense again and getting an extra night in Care, etc., since Umbridge was rating the temporary professor and Harry butted in on Malfoy’s injury story. At night, Harry’s given the suggestion of he teaching his buds Defense, since he was the best at practical use, but it slowly descending into Harry getting upset, he frustratedly agreeing to think about it, at least.

Hermione waits a couple weeks before asking again, Harry a bit more flexible to the idea, Hermione even suggesting they hold an open meeting the weekend to Hogsmeade in case other students were interested. Harry’s only other concern was the possibility of Sirius turning up. Upon the day, they go to the Hog’s Head, so as to stay from under Umbridge radar, the group which Hermione expected to being more than a couple, a baker’s dozen, at least. Hermione warms the crowd up, since she’d set all this up and master-minded it, making sure those students understood it was for only those who actually wanted to know how to practice what they read. One kid seemed to want to make trouble, but the twins with Ron defending Harry and what he’d been explaining to them about half of what he’d done being good luck, the group wanting Harry to teach them, anyways. Setting time and place was a bit difficult, so Hermione had a parchment ready for people to sign and be given the details later, this also being an agreement to keep their lessons to themselves. After, Ron learns Ginny had a boyfriend and Hermione had seen the constant looks Cho was giving Harry, which left him in the clouds again, whilst Ron blustered.

The trio spend Sunday finishing homework and sitting outside whilst doing so, Hermione knitting magically. Harry stayed in happy spirits all the way to Monday morning, when on the “notice” board, Umbridge had posted all types of clubs canceled and those wanting to apply could only be approved by her, and any outlaws would be expelled. Ron shows Hermione, she believing no one from their meeting had done it, since she’d jinxed the parchment and they’d see. Harry didn’t realize until Angelina, the Quidditch leader reminded him, they’d have to behave themselves if they wanted Umbridge to allow Gryffindors team to re-form. Hedwig next interrupts Harry’s history class due to an injury, he leaving her with Grubbly-Plank, reading Sirius’ reply on meeting time and place. Hermione and Ron note how hopefully no one’s been reading his messages, a possibility for how Hedwig became injured.

In the meanwhile, at Potions, Malfoy is loudly sharing how Slytherins team had been reinstated quickly and bashing Harry indirectly until mentioning he should be sent to St. Mungo’s, Hermione attempting to warn the boys of keeping a cool head, but Neville being the first to react, Harry and Ron holding him back, Snape then coming out to see the 3 struggling and wresting 10 points from them. Today also happened to be Umbridge’s sit-in, Harry quite nosy about how Umbridge would display her stepping upon Snape’s toes. It not being worth the 0 credit he receives for his botched potion in class plus essay on how he fucked it up. In Divination it’s obvious Trelawney was sent her sit-in results, she quite aggressive and only a little bit passive toward the class in response. The trio learn later of how Gryffindors team would be on hiatus until Umbridge made up her flabby-assed mind, Hermione noting how Harry had time for Snape’s extra essay now, at least…huzzah. When Sirius shows up, he mentions how he’d heard about their rebel training and whom had spotted them, since Harry was still being tailed.

The trio also got a message from Molly about not continuing the group. but Sirius’ opinion opposing hers, he giving suggestions for meeting spots, but they being interrupted by Umbridge’s hand in the flames attempting to catch Sirius, the conversation quickly ending and the trio retreating. Hermione is now almost certain Umbridge has been the reason Hedwig was injured through her attempts at reading Harry’s mail. During free time, Angelina updates Ron and Harry of getting their team approved, so practice would resume in the evening. Hermione is considering how good an idea it was to keep their secret group active, what with not quite finalizing everything, yet, she noting how Sirius was preoccupied with his isolation (Boosh) and perhaps wanting the trio to do as he and James would’ve done, rebel; the boys don’t take reality well.

During Quidditch practice, weather was still at downpour level, they trying to play for an hour before the session ended, Harry’s scar hurting again due to Voldemort’s mood. Harry tries to do more of his essay late into the night, his mind wandering on Voldemort, before sleeping for a short while, Dobby visiting him in the common room when he wakes up again, he sharing how Hermione’s knitting endeavors was affronting most of the elves, so Dobby had been collecting them for himself and Winky, he even having a decent spot for the Defense group to practice. During the day, Harry tells Angelina of their practice area and time, she passing it on and Hermione agreeing once learning Dumbledore had spoken about it, as well, since Dobby’s word alone was similar to Sirius’ in quality. They have their first official group meeting by voting Harry leader and naming themselves Dumbledore’s Army, Harry then having them start with the disarming charm. The first practice goes so well, there is agreement to meeting more often, but it’d wait until next week for confirmations.

This turns out to be difficult with opposing schedules, but worked for their needs to deceive obvious patterns to be caught. Hermione did come up with a convenient way for everyone to be updated on when their next sessions were by using a coin to present date and time when Harry set his, this soon being put on hold with the game soon to be had. Snape and McGonagall also decide to refrain from homework, so their teams could practice, the day of. Ron is extremely nervous, and Slytherin kids are wearing a crown badge, saying “Weasley is our King”, because of how shit he is, sometimes, when nerves get him; They even have a flipping song!

By the finish with Gryffindor winning, Harry and George both get sent to McGonagall’s office for fighting with Malfoy. Umbridge steps in and bans the 2 from playing Quidditch for life. Harry and Ron have shitty feelings later on, respectively when Hermione sees Hagrid was home.When they see him, his ass had got beat! By giants, which Hermione guesses and it being the obvious choice, after all. Hagrid is then baited with deets from Harry’s summer so they could hear about his secret mission with Madame Maxime. They’re interrupted by Umbridge, Hermione not seeming to stress enough how serious Umbridge’s sit-ins were to Hagrid, he too tired for this shit.

They go to Hagrid’s first class back and Umbridge wasn’t there, Hagrid having his class in the Forbidden Forest to “see” Thestrals, Umbridge locating them, giving her usual spiel on having sent a message, etc, Hagrid continuing admirably, even whilst Slytherin kids shared insulting opinions of their time in class, how he spoke and whatnot, Umbridge relating similarly and talking to him like he wasn’t an English-speaker and slow. Hermione rages a bit after, Malfoy taking another hit at Ron and Harry, nothing of note happening up to the talk of holidays, Harry spending it with the Weasleys, Hermione skiing with her folks, and poor Sirius all alone. Upon their final D.A. meeting, Harry gets selfish when Cho breaks down after class and Harry having wanted it to be a sweet moment rather than being about Cedric, but then she gives him a happy Christmas, for a 15 year old, but his thought on whether to share or take it to his grave, is puzzling.

Hermione completely guesses, though, so she doesn’t care much after, but Ron getting a decent Q&A, Hermione rejoining the chat when the boys need some insight on why Cho may be conflicted about liking Harry. Afterward, Harry yearns for advice from the one fella whom probably had almost the same capacity of knowledge as Harry, emotionally. He does have one fairly forward-thinking thought, which was to have the school teach teen girl psyche (not a bad idea, if one wishes to be empathetic). He then wakes from a violent physically-ill-causing dream, he trying to have Ron believe his father had been in danger. When McGonagall hears his story, she decides to take him to Dumbledore, whom has orders given out to available wizards. He then has the other Weasley kids sent for so they and Harry could wait at Sirius’, Harry feeling some exorcism-hateful kind of thoughts toward Dumbledore, and when getting to Sirius’ before Umbridge had come, Harry retells his vision slightly differently to offset possible accusation for having let it happen.

Sirius soon has to convince the Weasley twins to stay put until they could get Molly there, he settling by giving all butterbeer, Harry shaken and guilty about his first-person-snake vision and his murderous feelings toward Dumbledore earlier. Molly sends a message with instructions to stay put, the kids not liking her choice of words, implying Arthur was only hanging in there. Everyone stays awake and wonders what was happening, until Molly arrives before dawn, confirming he’d be fine. Harry and Sirius both getting her grateful thanks, especially when he invites them to stay through the holidays. Harry has a not-so-fruitful heart-to-heart with Sirius when he admits his dream and feelings toward Dumbledore after reaching Sirius’ home. Harry doesn’t sleep, unlike the rest, caught up with his snaky feeling, they being escorted by Tonks and Moody to hospital later, it being through a closed shop front. The Weasley kids learn about Harry’s possession by snake whilst eavesdropping on Molly, Arthur, Tonks, and Moody’s chat after they’d had seen Arthur themselves.

Harry begins believing he was the weapon Voldemort was using which was why he was being guarded. In the end, he believes he’d be saving those around him if he stayed at the Dursleys, but Dumbledore sends word by one of the paintings to remain where he was, pissing Harry off again. Feeling teen loner angst, he falls asleep, doesn’t go down for supper, and when awaking again, comes back to his thought of going to the Dursleys due to thinking everyone was afraid of him again. He wastes the day sequestering himself away from everyone, Hermione showing up due to making an excuse and not being a great skier, as it was. When she leads Harry back to his and Ron’s room, Ginny also there, Harry acts stuck up and angry until Ginny reminds him she’d been possessed by Voldemort and would know better than most, he finally calming down, apologizing to her, and eating a sammie.

Christ Day was pleasantly begun, minus Percy returning his jumper and not speaking with his parents, still. Molly being cheered up by Lupin before breakies and they all going to visit Arthur again, she noticing new bandages and Arthur making light over his trainee healer giving him Muggle stitches. Molly’s reaction is so palpable, half the Weasley kids bow out for a cuppa, Harry and the rest soon following once she realizes what it meant. The bunch see Lockhart looking through a window from a floor below the tea room, he still memory-damaged, and wanting to provide them with autographs, until being collected by a healer, whom unfortunately ropes them into visiting him, since he hadn’t gotten visitors before, and he was in a locked ward for permanent residents.

Harry hears the healer speak to Mrs. Longbottom when they reach the ward, Ron noticing as well, and calling out to Neville, his grandmother asking about them in return, and recognizing them, also revealing who they were visiting, Ron being a bit of a ditz about it, until Neville’s grandma explains why his parents were there, giving Neville a bit of a hard time upon learning he hadn’t shared with his friends, yet. Before the 2 leave, Neville’s mother gives him a bubble gum wrapper, which apparently she did frequently, his grandmother stating how he had so many he should dump this one, but he keeping it. Lockhart impatiently waits for the kids to return so he could take advantage of his “joined-up writing” skills.

As vacay ends, Sirius’ mood becomes darker, Harry not wanting to leave him, ofc. Kreacher finally is discovered and acts oddly more content. Harry also wasn’t as keen on returning to Hogwarts with Umbridge awaiting them and no Quidditch, Mrs. Weasley begins the process of Harry receiving worse news from Snape, firsthand, he soon learning between jabs from Snape and Sirius, Dumbledore wanted Harry to study Occlumency (the study of defending one’s mind from outside violence) in secret, Snape being his teacher, as well, Harry’s early evening on Monday now scheduled. Before Snape leaves, he and Sirius continue getting deeply bent over insulting each other, until being interrupted by all the Weasleys and Hermione welcoming Arthur back. He’d been cured with a magic antidote, Molly making sure he wouldn’t mess with Muggle cures in future. In January, the kids were set to return to Hogwarts, Sirius giving Harry a package which he could use if he needed Sirius, Harry set on not giving him a reason to frolic off from Grimmauld Place.

The bunch go by Knight bus, the conductor, Stan remembering him and the other bus riders staring as he joined and departed. Lupin gives him the piece of advice to learn well, regardless of it being Snape, Harry still not looking forward to it, ofc., esp., since now he’d have to plan the next D.A. meeting accordingly. When Cho turns up, Harry is obv. too immature to be handling a girl like her, since she’d brought up the Valentine’s Hogsmeade day and he talking and thinking about D.A., but with a few missed beats he’s not dumb enough to not invite her, they sealing the date, fortunately for him. In the evening, Snape describes the power Voldemort has of essentially reading minds, so with Occlumency, one could lie “without detection”, if skilled. Snape impressively shares some deets on why Harry was learning this form and directly after decides a defense match was in order. Harry had hexed Snape as a knee-jerk reaction, he continuing to strengthen Harry by pointing out his weakness, which in turn made it difficult to resist Snape’s assault. He did have a Eureka moment about the door he’d been dreaming of periodically, and upon sharing with his buddies what he’d learned, he decides to got to bed for scar pain and tiredness, he getting a sense of Voldemort’s pure happiness which puts him through he ringer of pain.

Hermione gets her paper next morning, an article startling her about a group of Death Eaters in Azkaban escaping and Sirius being their leader according to Fudge, she also catching another terrible article about a resident at St. Mungo’s being strangled by a gifted plant, Harry recognizing the fellow being an employee in the Dept. of Mysteries. Hagrid was put on probation, and Harry had other students relating to his celebrity due to the Azkaban escapees relatives being noticed, now. Umbridge had also made more rules regarding what was said to students regarding anything other than their class subjects from teachers, another student being punished the same way Harry had been for stating a loophole in Umbridge’s new rule. Since all of Harry’s positive reinforcement at Hogwarts was being taken from him, he and his students focused more on D.A., Neville making great headway with the news of the Death Eaters.

Harry’s new practice course was making his scar hurt worse and gave him bipolar mood-swings from Voldemort. Hermione considering he’d feel better the more time he spent mastering it, but Harry becoming stubborn in his idea of all this being worse because of the practicing, Ron suggesting the idea Snape might be attempting to make it easier for Voldemort to enter Harry’s mind, but Hermione maintaining if Dumbledore trusted him, they ought to, as well. Harry’s day with Cho begins awkwardly and only gets worse as they go, some in-between moments going temporarily well. In the end, Cho, becomes tearily upset, and making a scene, the both not communicating to each other well or the feelings they were having being way off balance from the other, so Harry stops thinking about her and goes to the Three Broomsticks to await for Hermione to show up, he chatting to Hagrid.

Their conversation is mysterious and his cuts being explained away with his job being a difficult one, leaving quickly and Hermione soon after calling him to her table to join she with Luna and Rita Skeeter, oddly. Skeeter still attempts, but is turned down with her idea of writing down Harry having been chilling with another girl by Hermione’s comment. Rita is allowed to speak to Harry, though, but she only asks Harry whether he stuck to Dumbledore’s story about Voldemort being back. Harry confirms and Rita gets down to business with Hermione’s blessing to take down Harry’s list of Death Eaters, but properly and without making Harry sound nuts, Hermione confirming The Quibbler would publish it properly, regardless of the magazine’s reputation. Rita begrudgingly takes the interview, since she couldn’t argue what with the position she was in.

They wouldn’t know if it’d make the issue most recent to come out or the one after, but one of Harry’s roomies did point out the interesting reaction Umbridge would have. Later at dinner, Hermione explains the drama Harry had with Cho, Ron coming in after practice and stating how Hermione could write the manual for boys to understand easier. Gryffindor lost Quidditch by 10 points and Harry dreamt of the door again, Ron’s snoring this time preventing him from glimpsing inside. Harry receives post, surprisingly the next morning from a few different birds. His Quibbler story had been published and he was already receiving fan mail, some believers and some not, but people mostly accepting his version. Umbridge takes it horribly, ofc making a new rule of Quibbler possession = expulsion and Harry receiving more detention and 50 points from Gryffindor, Hermione over the moon about Umbridge’s ban, since it’d only have every student read it asap.

They see this to be true, since they keep overhearing students talk about it, Harry even getting points back for Gryffindor, teachers showing their support in varying fashion, Seamus and Cho even coming around, Luna learning her father had to make a reprint for selling out so fast. Later in the evening, Harry dreams of being Voldemort speaking of info Rookwood had acquired. Harry shares this nightmare with Ron and Hermione, she deciding they should ignore it and Harry should focus more on Occlumency. Harry does make headway with Snape after this, he seeing some of his memories for once. They soon interrupted by Trelawney’s screams for having been fired by Umbridge, McGonagall showing empathy and Umbridge challenges on whether Trelawney was allowed to stay by Dumbledore, he having authority on whether a teacher had to leave the grounds, he also already having replaced her with a centaur, Firenze.

Hermione expects Umbridge would be zeroing on Dumbledore for revenge by appointing a half-human professor, their first class being held on the first floor now and the room mirroring the forest. Firenze shares how he’d been kicked out of his herd upon agreeing to teach at Hogwarts. He certainly teaching them how leaving most predictions with a grain of salt was best, since it was difficult practice even for centaurs to be accurate. After class Firenze asks Harry send a cryptic message to Hagrid, which was not explained further other than Hagrid needing sound advice and Firenze receiving help by Hagrid and he wished to keep Hagrid on the right path. Hagrid doesn’t receive the advice open-heartedly though, and Harry bustles along, D.A. meetings keeping his brain occupied, the students starting practice for their patronuses.

Dobby interrupts with the almost too late warning of Umbridge having found out about D.A. and was coming for them, most everyone escaping except Harry, whom gets caught by a jinx from Malfoy, Umbridge taking him to Dumbledore’s office. They find Fudge, Percy, some other fella along with Dumbledore already waiting, Harry denying knowing what was wrong, Umbridge getting their witness, she being Cho’s buddy and showing the signs of the jinx, which prevented her from wanting to speak further. Umbridge soon crosses the line when she attempts to physically force the girl into responding, Dumbledore stopping this hastily. When Umbridge then provides the list of names with the D.A. title, Dumbledore confuses Fudge by offering to confess, and then states Fudge’s plan for him to await trial in Azkaban didn’t suit him, a hex being set on the 4 Ministry employees, and Dumbledore vowing Fudge would regret ousting him.

Notice of Umbridge taking over for Dumbledore was quite immediate, the students learning more than Harry expected, and Malfoy being promoted to a side project of Umbridge’s so he could take points from students. The twins turn up to confide of giving Umbridge a reason to expel them, not worrying anymore and wanting to give Umbridge a run, for Dumbledore’s sake. Harry is escorted by Filch directly after this, to Umbridge, whom required his presence and attempt to secretly have him drink a truth magic drink, she asking about Dumbledore and Sirius’ whereabouts, not getting any answers and then being interrupted by an explosion the twins had been warning Harry about. When Harry sees the sparkly mess the twins had created, it was impressive as it gained energy, not dying out past night. As he retreats, he discovers the twins hiding spot, the 2 quietly in hysterics as they shared what would occur if Umbridge attempted certain spells to make them stop.

Tonight Harry got even closer to Voldemort’s goal of seeing inside the Dept. of Mysteries for a glimpse of the weapon, but this time some late fireworks wake him. His upcoming training with Snape would be extra dreaded, but they end up postponing with Umbridge requesting his help elsewhere by Malfoy, whom was sure to spread the word of Harry’s remedial course. Before biffing off himself, however he sees Snape had left his Pensieved memories just hanging out, so thought he’d have a little perusal. What he sees is 15-ish Snape and his pops along with Sirius, Lupin, and Wormtail taking their Defense O.W.L.s. Harry witnesses his father’s bullying arrogance and the early reactions of his mother toward him. Eventually, he is caught in the memory and thrown out forcefully by Snape, not wanting to see him return again, he understanding the bullied Snape’s feelings.

Hermione can’t believe Harry had somehow finished his lessons with Snape for good, but focuses on scheduling their studying for the O.W.L.s. Harry can’t help, but be absorbed with the thought of his parents personalities and how this memory was affecting his non-memories of his most prized family members. Ginny helps him out by getting the twins on the case for diversion, so Harry would be able to use Umbridge’s office fire to speak to Sirius about his troubled thoughts regarding his father. His first Potions back with Snape was unusually and pleasantly quiet, until Snape breaks his classwork so as to continue his zeroes. When he has his occupational and coursework discussion later with McGonagall and Umbridge sitting in, the two argue about Harry’s chances on becoming an Auror and then McGonagall straight up offering to tutor him through if it was truly his dream, despite Umbridge’s every attempt at shutting this path down.

Before having him sit through more of Umbridge’s nonsense, she allows Harry to conclude and leave as the 2 yell at each other. Harry truly struggles whether he still wanted to continue the plan, deciding he couldn’t pass up a good diversion and proceeding to Umbridge’s office, invisible cloak and pick-locking knife ready. As he has this conversation via floo with Sirius and Lupin, he isn’t calmed by the information they give him, one being to continue Occlumency at any cost. He scurries to get to his invisible cloak again before Filch walks in. Harry leaves after him and witnesses the best school quitting to get out of punishment performance, ever by the twins. They had students tumultuously cheering at the end, the students from then on making the moment the stuff of legend, and becoming troublemakers, themselves and exacting revenge on Umbridge daily. Ron is currently concerned about his mother being outraged he hadn’t stopped them, but Hermione considers how long they must’ve been planning it if they already had a physical address for their shop.

Harry confesses he’d given the twins the money, Hermione soon reminded to ask if Harry had inquired about his training to Snape, he not glad of having shared this information from Sirius’ chat. (These periodic grammatical nonsensical sentences are hard to ignore, esp. when not much is driving this humungo story, other than narrative statements and updates of what’s happened.) Meanwhile, Ron has Quidditch to ‘look forward to’ and during the game, Hagrid steals Harry and Hermione to accompany him into the forest, they learning a bit more about what happened to Firenze and Hagrid’s falling out with the centaurs. This long trip into the forest though, had to do with Hagrid sensing his dismissal coming and he having to take care of Grawp, his half bro, whom wasn’t quite friendly. What he’d want from Hermione, Harry, and if Ron agreed, was to only chat with him, get him used to English society. As they’re about to leave, a bunch of centaurs interrupt. This interaction proves intimidating further to the 2 kids, whilst Hagrid makes note of the centaurs not hurting children. This isn’t a comfort to them, and they decide to save telling Ron, since Gryffindor finally won a Quidditch since he’d joined.

When Ron is told of Grawp, he only hopes (NOT against bloody hope, the dumbest Bible reference, ever) Hagrid sticks it out til summer vacay. When O.W.L.s weeks arrive, everyone becomes frenetic, focused, and quieter, Harry seeing the exam set up to be the same as the one witnessed in Snape’s memory. All 3 take their first week of exams well enough, esp. Harry in Defense, getting a bonus point for his patronus. Harry’s astronomy exam is punctuated by his noticing Hagrid being visited and eventually fighting against Umbridge and a few Ministry workers, they stunning Fang and McGonagall, before Hagrid concusses all but one and Umbridge. During the final exam for history, Harry struggles to remember what he’d studied, he soon dreaming of the door and upon seeing a conversation between Voldemort and Sirius, wakes by falling out of his chair.

Harry is soon absorbing whom he’d be able to share his vision with, since McGonagall had been sent to hospital, he settling on relaying his vision to his buddies, they not as ready as he is to jump after Voldemort to save Sirius. Hermione however, receives the brunt of his fuming anger, since she was attempting to make sense of what Harry saw, he becoming louder and more frustrated as they continued until Ginny and Luna come in to offer to help. This gives Hermione the momentum to have Harry at least chill the fuck out until they confirmed Sirius wasn’t at home, Kreacher giving away the information after some slight withholding, then Harry’s caught by Umbridge. When Snape’s called in to help have Harry reveal why he’d been there, Harry takes a chance by yelling a veiled message to him. To save time before Umbridge hit Harry with a curse and after she’d confessed to sending the dementors, Hermione fake breaks down, in preparation to share what Harry’d been doing, Umbridge eating it up. By the end, Hermione had convinced her they had been wanting to contact Dumbledore to confirm the finishing of a weapon, she having Hermione and Harry lead her as Malfoy and some Slytherins held Ron, Ginny, Luna, and Neville in her office.

Hermione leads them outside, Umbridge nervous when she shares it was in the Forbidden Forest, she leading them down a different path than the one to Grawp, they eventually stopped by centaurs, Umbridge making an arrogant dumb ass out of herself, she retaliating by binding one of the centaurs after a warning arrow flies past her head. She’s soon restrained and taken away further into the forest, Harry and Hermione still in trouble with the 50 strong centaurs, being interrupted by Grawp before they’d decided what to do with them. He apparently was out looking for big brah and in his attempt to pick up someone or other, the centaurs attack him for having knocked one of them down, he chasing them further in, and the 2 soon joined by the other captured kids, everyone arguing on who would accompany Harry, the thestrals soon making it easy for all of them to ditch, Harry annoyed, but wanting to biff off already.

They all arrive quickly and wearily, they getting their visitor badges no problem and without seeing anyone, including security, they proceed to the Dept. of Mysteries. After some time looking for the right door, they don’t discover Sirius, but do detect a jar with Harry’s name labeling it, Lucius soon having him pass it to him. More Death Eaters surround them, Lestrange taunting him as Malfoy continues to demand for the prophecy Harry held. He hoped the others were coming up with a solid plan, since all he had was killing time. Soon, though he helped relay to Hermione to have them all smash shelves as he continued talking with Malfoy, he learned his prophecy had the answer to why he’d been scarred. They take their chance, losing half their party on the way to the 2nd room, Harry, Hermione, and Neville fighting some Death Eaters. They soon do worse and it’s down to Neville being tortured and Harry wasting more time until Sirius and the group of 4 from the Order show up to help. By the end of it, Dumbledore had appeared, but not in time to save Sirius from falling through the veiled archway after being hit with a spell.

Harry is at first in denial, then upon seeing Lestrange attempt escape, follows her and has a one on one until Voldemort turns up, he ready to kill Harry, but Dumbledore protecting him and fighting the 2. Which upon Harry collapsing with scar pain, Voldemort and Lestrange escape which Fudge sees and can no longer deny. Dumbledore then begins giving instructions as to how Fudge shall proceed, he regaining his headmaster-ship. Harry is then sent back to Hogwarts to await everyone’s return by Portkey.

It lands him in Dumbledore’s office which he couldn’t leave, he overcome with having gotten Sirius killed. When Dumbledore arrives, he updates Harry on his buddies temporary condition, as well as Tonks. Harry soon loses his shit though, chucking Dumbledore’s breakables around, he verging on threatening Dumbledore, whom refused to let him leave, he wanting to confess why it was actually mostly his own fault Sirius was dead. This revelation stops Harry, Dumbledore starting again with Harry’s scar, but regarding why he’d been ignoring him was to calm the beast, so to speak, Voldemort possibly possessing Harry to get to him, or like in the Ministry of Magic, see if he’d kill Harry to get to Voldemort.

He goes on to confide how Kreacher had been able to lie to Harry about Sirius, and had revealed everything to Dumbledore, since it was a direct order, but also by truth jinx or whatever. He also regards Snape’s choices and how he’d actually helped, Harry not caring much, Dumbledore taking responsibility for not doing more with Harry’s training. After, he reveals a piece which he’d kept from Harry for 5 years, this stemming from the ancient protection charm his mother gave him through their shared blood, which was locked when her sister had taken him in. Dumbledore recaps his feeling to reveal the truth through each year Harry’d been at Hogwarts and eventually comes upon the weapon being the knowledge of how to kill Harry (which isn’t revealed), this within the prophecy (not) and the prophecy given by Trelawney. Harry soon also absorbs how someday, one or the other would have to die before the other could live, Dumbledore confessing his reason for not choosing him as prefect being due to the loads of responsibility Harry already bore.

Fudge gives the press update on the Ministry’s opinion of Voldemort being the correct one, now. Umbridge is rescued by Dumbledore, somehow unscathed, but she was quite shell-shock, clopping noises putting her on edge. Harry refrains from sharing the prophecy with Hermione and Ron, currently still on bed-rest and is waylaid from seeing Hagrid by the Malfoy trio, they interrupted by Snape, whom he loathed worse now. McGonagall interrupts by giving all the students at the Ministry of Magic points, so Snape could withdraw his measly 10 for almost cursing Malfoy, Harry then continuing to Hagrid’s, but soon leaves when he brings up Sirius.

Umbridge leaves the day before school ends and Harry opens the package Sirius gave him in case he wanted to talk. It didn’t work of course, it being like a telephone, Harry then getting no good answers from Nearly Headless Nick in regards to coming back after death, either. Also, even though he now knows why he must spend time at the Dursleys, it didn’t make the going there any easier. Cho had moved on with Ginny’s ex, she now dating Dean Thomas, this news not treating Ron any better than the first. The D.A. curse the shit out of Malfoy and his goons when they were readying to attack Harry on his way back to his carriage, the 3 remaining oozy messes. When the kids go through the station barrier, they’re greeted by some of the Order, who had the idea of speaking to the Dursleys before Harry began summer vacay with them to make sure they understood, they wouldn’t tolerate any misconduct against Harry, he not knowing how to thank them, so simply allows for all to bid him farewell til mid-end of summer.

The most uneventful, but easy read of a thick-ass book. I know I won’t be a re-reader, like so many others, but I’m glad to be finishing this series, since I’ve gotten through the movies a couple times and I still enjoy seeing the, hopefully fleshed out version in book form. This doesn’t particularly include this story, only because it meandered, which is great for beach reading, but only one spot near-ish to the end of the book being exciting; I referring to the Dept. of Mysteries fight against the Death Eaters. I am most definitely looking forward to the next, more slim book in the series.

The Golden Days (The Story of the Stone, Vol. 1)

Image result for the story of the stone vol 1 book cover

Due to how long it took to complete and my own inability to motivate a full edit, what follows are my straight notes as I read.

The reader is presented by a question which may arise during the book’s beginnings, it possibly seeming to cross the line of odd, but more happening under the surface. Years previously, Nü-wa, a goddess, fixes the sky, she using a mountain to make “building blocks” and using all, but one which is left near Green-sickness Peak in the Great Fable Mountains. The block, or Stone contains powers, due to having been constructed by the goddess, it able to move and change its size.

The Stone is also self-aware, knowing it hadn’t been wanted in the reparations of the sky and feeling left out. During this bad mood, it notices a monk and Taoist walking quite a ways away, but are approaching the peak the Stone is on, the two chatting whilst resting. The monk sees and picks up the Stone, it having made itself smaller, and speaks to it of knowing it was special and planned on etching on it to show others the same who wouldn’t be able to travel there; the Stone was quite pleased. The monk stows the Stone away, and wouldn’t reveal the destination he planned for it, the Narrator not knowing, either.

An unknown amount of time later, another monk passes the same area and sees a rock with a length of text written on it. Vanitas the monk reads about the rock’s origins and how after he’d been brought to society, he’d lived as a human and achieved nirvana, then came back. The history of his life follows, the one piece of information not shared is the era this occurred, a little poem following, which wonders whom would go about sharing its story.

Vanitas replies to the rock directly of his feelings on how the story would be perceived without certain details and not making much of a hit, the Stone stating how its story put many perspectives uniquely which would separate its story from those already out. Vanitas breaks it down for it, the risque escapades and depravity of females only supplying interest to a certain sort. Most of its stories involved an assortment of differently themed “romances”, Vanitas continuing to explain why the genre wasn’t a strong one, the Stone defending the possibility it had some redeeming qualities, also speaking of how no part was exaggerated.

Vanitas gives in upon a second reading when seeing the Stone’s words were true. Upon returning, Vanitas had begun “in the Void (which is Truth)”, and returns there, deciding to be called “Brother Amor, or the Passionate Monk”, since he’d regained the Truth through Passion, as well as giving the book the new title of “The Tale of Brother Amor”. The book from there receives four more titles through the years, Cao also being mentioned titling it, “The Twelve Beauties of Jinling“, and the title eventually being given its original one back. Regardless of this, the details within, all being based in reality (which is apparently true after having skimmed the introduction), but the characters and occurrences not being vouched for, at the same time.

Many years before, the world angled differently, the city of Soochow had a certain section which was among the richest. Near this area lived a man, Zhen Shi-Yen with his wife, Feng-Shi, the two not high in financial standing, but had respect from those living in the area. Shi-Yen was an unassuming personality with only a daughter, Ying-lian. One day, Shi-Yen falls asleep whilst reading and views a Taoist and monk strolling and chatting. They discuss where the monk planned on placing the Stone to experience life alongside everyone else.

The monk explains how the Stone had gotten as far as it had by chance, and had located a fairy. This fairy housed the Stone temporarily and bequeathed it “the honorary title of Divine Luminescent Stone-in-Waiting in the Court of Sunset Glow” (a mouthful, which is why I’m being picky about what to share). The Stone spent its time near Magic River where he began giving water to Crimson Pearl Flower, she partially heavenly, so with this additive, transforms into a girl (the more I read makes me see how Madeline Bassett would adore this story). Crimson Pearl is soon plagued by how she’d return the favor to the Stone, believing the only way would be to live a life together as humans. So, for this reason, the monk was bringing the Stone to where the fairy planned to send the assortment of entities to experience human living.

Shi-Yen believes he is overhearing a crazy rant, then hears the monk say some words which worry him, Ying-lian being grasped more tightly by him, the Taoist and monk then decide to meet up again later, Shi-Yen wishing he’d spoken up to inquire about the monk’s words, but is interrupted by a student – Jia Yu-cun, as Shi-Yen was now near his own door, some background then given on the young man’s hard times. Yu-cun greets him warmly, Shi-Yen explaining his being outside was to calm Ying-lian from being upset, he then offers Yu-cun to sit inside and chat with him, due to the slowness of the day.

A servant leads the girl inside as Shi-Yen heads for his office with Yu-cun for tea, soon after, having to rush out for a Mr. Yan having dropped in, Yu-cun entertains himself with looking through some of Shi-Yen’s books, until seeing a girl outside picking flowers, she fetching somehow, then by chance, catching sight of him, she also pleased with his looks. When she turns to leave, then glances back twice at him, Yu-cun takes this as a sign of interest, he waiting only a little longer after learning from a servant boy this guest may be staying for supper, he deciding to go, and when Shi-Yen eventually gets his guest out, decides he wouldn’t be asking him to return when noticing Yu-cun had left.

Later, Shi-Yen goes to offer dinner to the young man after the Mid Autumn festival and supper with his family had been finished. Yu-cun was still thinking of Shi-Yen’s servant girl, Shi-Yen walking in on Yu-cun spouting poetry in relation to her, the two reconvening in his office for wine and food. As they drank and ate, the two become more comfortable with each other until Yu-cun bursts out with more poetry, Shi-Yen congratulating his talent with more wine.

Yu-cun then gets serious about his means of acquiring a lucrative career due to travel costs (I feels ya, buddy). Shi-Yen had been hoping this subject would be broached, since he hadn’t wanted to insult him by offering, but now he’s confided in him, he insisted on fronting all cost for his journey and immediately takes care of everything. Yu-cun didn’t make a big deal out of Shi-Yen’s charity, the two having fun until after twelve at night. When they parted, Shi-Yen sleeps in until noon, and upon waking, plans to set up a place for Yu-cun to stay, but learns he’d decided to leave before dawn, so the issue was let go.

Fifteenth Night brought bad tidings when Shi-Yen has a servant take out Ying-lian to look at the lights, and when the man leaves her on a step whilst relieving himself, the child goes missing, the servant searching until dawn and when not recovering her, leaves town in shame without informing Shi-Yen. He and his wife send out a search party, but Ying-lian isn’t found, the two becoming sick after a month or so, doctors looking after them until a monk living in the Temple next door, has an accident with oil and many houses are destroyed, including of course, the Zhens.

Shi-Yen is distraught over this misfortune, and had planned for them to move to their farm in the country, but the area had become dangerous, so Shi-Yen sells his land and they hole up with his wife’s father-in-law, Feng Su, whom whilst not happy with how they’d turned up, was comforted by his finances from his farm, he supposed to locate them a comfortable new place, but taking half and setting them up with a crap hut and unhealthy land. Not knowing how to recover his bad luck, Feng Su didn’t make his life easier by offering crap advice and then talking shit about Shi-Yen behind his back, he hearing of it later, and this helping his health get worse, his older age not aiding his recovery.

At some point in the future, Shi-Yen is taking a walk and hears a Taoist repeating some words, as he approaches closer, he asks for the man to clarify, since only hearing two words repeated, the monk declaring the words to be important ones and so had understood enough, Shi-Yen then offers more verses, the Taoist pleased, and Shi-Yen deciding then to accompany the mad man and informing no one. Well after this, his wife hears by rumor and is broken by the information, Shi-Yen not found when she’d sent for updates of him. She moves in with her parents and contributes by quilting, and one of her two maids was shopping when a bureaucrat is brought past, she recognizing him, but not recalling where. In the night, Feng Su is dumbfounded when learning someone from his house was wanted at the bureaucrat’s headquarters.

Yamen runners outside inform a smiling Feng Su, Shi-Yen was being summoned and when Feng Su shares how Shi-Yen had left a year previously to become a Taoist, the runners take him instead, his family and servants in fear of what could be happening. It was well into the night before Feng Su had gotten back home, everyone having questions, so Feng Su describes how this new mandarin, a Hu-zhou named Jia used to know Shi-Yen way back when, and had deduced he’d moved and was tipped off they would know where he was because of the woman, Lucky selling quilts in the doorway, and when Feng Su explains where Shi-Yen had gone, was unhappy to learn of this, then upon discovering what had occurred to Ying-lian, decides to send his own search party, expecting better results, and after speaking with each other a little more, Feng Su readies to leave, and Jia gives him silver pieces, his wife stunned by his story and the night passing calmly. Early in the day a package from Yu-cun is delivered to Feng-shi, as well as a letter to Feng Su to inquire if Feng-shi would allow him to take Lucky as his second wife (how sweet…), Feng Su pressing how significant it was she should comply, so they immediately ship Lucky off, and Yu-cun is so happy, he showers them with gifts, especially Feng-shi, to keep her occupied until Ying-lian was found.

Lucky apparently caught a good turn, since she bore Yu-cun a son fairly quickly, and was upgraded when Yu-cun’s first wife dies. Yu-cun’s progress after finishing school is followed, he getting the position of magistrate of the district fairly fast, but unfortunately, had a bad habit of out-thinking the higher-ups and making them seem foolish, so he was soon given a bad report of conduct, getting fired, but takes the news well, settling his family in his hometown with the riches he’d accrued and beginning to travel.

Yu-cun was in Yangchow when learning a Lin Ru-hai was also staying in the area, the man’s background being related to royalty, but his family line dying off and his only son having been lost the previous year. He had a daughter though, Dai-yu, she showing promise and so was educated a bit to take their minds off their son dying. Yu-cun had been ill recently and upon recovering for the most part, realized he needed to replenish his funds, so upon running into some buddies who knew the Salt Commissioner, Lin Ru-hai he was able to secure the position as tutor.

Due to it seeming the little girl dictated when she’d be taught, Yu-cun had plenty more time to recuperate, then Dai-yu’s mother falls ill and dies, the young girl’s lessons falling to the wayside in her grief, she also now becoming periodically sick, Yu-cun beginning to take strolls more often to ease his idleness. One day he walks out of town and sees a temple going to ruin, he reading the name of the place and the gate which had a poem written upon it, curious to learn the history of the place, but upon entering, only finding a deaf and half blind monk, whom wasn’t able to answer his inquiries.

So, Yu-cun leaves and heads for a neighboring village inn for some wine, there meeting an acquaintance, Leng Zi-xing, he having a good sense of business and the two admiring the other. Yu-cun asks how he’d come to be there, Zi-xing having been visiting a buddy by chance, the two then sitting and catching up on their lives since they’d last spoken, Yu-cun asking about anything notable happening in the area, Zi-xing recalling a small event in regard to a distant relative of Yu-cun, his family not normally considering themselves a part of the others family, due to their high class. Zi-xing describes how apparently their houses had fallen a bit, the time in which it occurred surprising Yu-cun.

Zi-xing states how the relation of how it happened would take some time, he clarifying how they hadn’t lost everything, but there having been the cinching of the belt, inwardly, the main problem stemming from the male progeny not living up to standards. Yu-cun is shocked to learn the families wouldn’t have continued the degree of education they’d been known for, Zi-xing giving background of the two heads of households, the men being brothers, one, Ning’s grandson becoming a Taoist and uninterested in any other matters, he having a son, whom in turn had a son, whom was currently a teenager, his father not taking responsibility and living a life of debauchery and no one willing to snap the man into shape.

The other side, Rong’s eldest, marrying into a well known family and having two sons, after he passed away, his wife surviving him, and his eldest taking over responsibility in title but not doing what was necessary for the household, his younger brother being urged to continue his education and going up the ranks in his field, he marrying and having a son, this son dying young, but also having a son, his wife then having a daughter after, and another son born with a piece of jade in his mouth twelve years later, this being the odd part Zi-xing was referring, Yu-cun unable to argue.

This youngest son, Bao-yu had been tested with objects of the family mixed in with different sorts of trinkets, he drawn to the items which were female in nature, his father displeased, but his grandmother doting on the boy. It didn’t end there though, Bao-yu now ten and naughtily clever, the boy precocious, Yu-cun saw this boy’s heritage in a certain light, Zi-xing wishing for him to clarify, so Yu-cun lists good men verses the bad ones, and stating their circumstances, as well as how it related to their current state of living in the world, the state of the world currently on the upswing of good tidings, and how pure humor over “perverse humours” tended to dissipate in certain environments, and on the off-chance the two should meet, being in constant opposition, they sometimes made their way into a human host, then upon this person’s upbringing, excelled in certain areas, which regardless of status, showed itself in some way, he again listing good and bad men.

Yu-cun then relates an experience with a small boy he’d been tutoring whom would also be among the bad, and Zi-xing mentions how like the little boy’s female counterparts, the girls in the Jia family were also good and clever. They then discussed how this family named their girls like the boys, which was unusual, Yu-cun learning his current employer’s late wife was named similarly, Zi-xing offering he research his words, but Yu-cun realizing it must be true with how her daughter, Dai-yu wrote and spoke, she also a part of the Jia family on the Rong’s side. They then wonder who the younger generation would be married off to, Sir Zheng having another son after Bao-yu, from one of his concubines.

After which they discuss Sir She’s having a son, as well, and also how this son had already gotten married within the family, to a cousin through marriage, and whilst he helped manage the family estate, his wife overshadowed him in more ways than one. Zi-xing then decides they should continue to drink after their hearty chat, Yu-cun noticing how the hour was getting on and they should walk and talk, so they made it to the city gates before they shut for the night, and right when they’re readying to leave, Yu-cun is recognized and given commendation, as well as being told of this person having fortuitous information for him.

Yu-cun recognizes an associate of his, Zhang Ru-gui, he also having been let go, and this area being his hometown, he sharing how he learned of ex-officials getting rehired, so there being a possibility for himself to get set up with a new position, he sharing this information with Yu-cun and then hastening onward, Zi-xing believing Yu-cun should use his connection to Ru-hai so he could do the same, Yu-cun agreeing, and the two going their separate ways.

When Yu-cun returns he makes certain the news was authentic before asking Ru-hai, but when he does inquire, the man was eager to do him this favor, then sharing with Yu-cun of having written a letter to his brothers-in law, Yu-cun’s distant relatives, Jia She and having addressed it to the younger brother, Jia Zheng. Ru-hai then states how much easier it’d be if Yu-cun accompanied Dai-yu to the capital, she not wanting to leave, but her grandmother and father convincing her what with having more female role-models by moving, she reluctantly going, and when Yu-cun arrives, he gets seen by Jia Zheng in good time, Ru-hai’s recommendation on top of his being impressed by Yu-cun’s scholarly nature, helping him get his job back as magistrate in another city.

Dai-yu, along with her maids are greeted by covered chairs from the mansion when stepping on land, they having traveled by barge. She notices the odd quality of servants and watched herself in case she made a wrong move. They were brought to the Rong Guo House, her maids helping her out of the curtained chair and walk through the grounds until meeting some loitering ladies who mention of Lady Jia having recently inquired about her, the attendant announcing she’d arrived and her grandmother greeting her with emotion, Dai-yu kotowing after they’d calmed. Her grandmother then introduced their female members of the family and sending for the children, two out of three of the girls each having a distinct virtue, the youngest only seeming still a child.

When tea was readied, the subject of choice turned to the events surrounding Dai-yu’s mother’s illness and death, refreshing her grandmother’s upset, she declaring how Dai-yu’s mother had been her favorite, so was understandably broken up. They then ask about Dai-yu’s obvious health issue, she stating no doctor had been able to cure her, so she only taking ginseng, they then hearing someone loudly pleasant approaching and announcing of being late, a lady entering whom was breathtaking and dressed like royalty, Lady Jia introducing her by a nickname of Peppercorn Feng, but a cousin revealing this was Jia Lian’s wife, Wang Xi-feng, Dai-yu using her given name when greeting her, and after Xi-feng gives her a once over, is quite candid about her beauty and she taking after the Jias, she then offering Dai-yu any comfort she desired and to let her know if someone was mean to her, she also commanding servants to be sure rooms were readied for her servants, she also making certain where the platters of food coming in were set.

Meanwhile, Dai-yu overhears her Aunt Wang discuss with Xi-feng there being silks brought so they could make some clothes for her, Xi-feng having taken care of it, and when her grandmother was ordering servants to take Dai-yu to her uncles, Xi-feng offers to accompany her, she taking Dai-yu by the hand and leading her out, they being driven to Xi-feng and She’s residence. Xi-feng has him called when they enter, but he wasn’t feeling well at the moment, but wanting Dai-yu to feel comfortable enough to tell her family if she needed anything to feel even more at ease and at home, Xi-feng then invites her to dine with her, but Dai-yu knew she was still expected by her other uncle, Zheng, she being escorted by the servants, back to the Rong mansion, Dai-yu seeing an ornate side of the home she had yet experienced, the hall within resplendent with beautiful furniture and scripts on the walls.

Dai-yu is brought to her Aunt Wang, in a side room, she sitting in a chair and brought tea, but is requested to move to where Wang was in another part of the room on some cushions, Dai-yu again refused to sit in her uncle’s place of honor, opposite Wang, but she coaxing Dai-yu to sit near her, explaining her uncle wouldn’t be able to see her today, but having to speak with her of the three girls they for the most part being well-behaved, but her son a major nuisance and of whom should be ignored.

Dai-yu then realizes this must be Bai-yu she referred, Wang explaining how due to his grandmother spoiling him, he continued to stay with the girls, so she shouldn’t trust what he says due to his chaotic nature. Wang then receives word it was time for supper, so leads Dai-yu across the grounds, also showing her where Xi-feng lived in case she had any requests, they then going to her grandmother’s quarters, where she resisted the place of honor, but learned it was her because her elder cousins wives wouldn’t be joining them, so Dai-yu goes through the proper etiquette before sitting.

The custom between dishes was certainly new to Dai-yu, they having tea for rinsing their mouths and different tea for drinking. Grandmother Jia then requests to speak to the children alone, everyone leaving, Grandmother Jia inquiring what books Dai-yu was studying (the four books, I presume), the girl asking about what her cousins were reading in return, and Grandmother Jia stating they could barely read and write, Bai-yu then being heard, and when entering, his appearance given (the poetic parts of this story isn’t cumbersome or hard to understand like some, and brings a nice airy description which is pleasant), Dai-yu somehow recognizing him and wondering why, he greeting Grandmother Jia, and she instructing him to visit his mother and return, he off to do as she bid and coming back quickly in different clothes, the boy even getting a song to go with his appearance (Moon on West River as background) and personality, it made quite clear he was a brat.

When his grandmother instructs he say hello to his cousin, he assesses her for some time before voicing her thought of having met her before, he then asking her questions about study and giving her a school name, he then asking if she had a jade, she stating it wasn’t common, which Bai-yu has a fit over, his grandmother attempting to calm him as he explains how his cousin, whom was so angelic didn’t have one and questioned it being of good value, quite upset.

Grandmother Jia comes up with the story of Dai-yu having used to have one, but buried it with her mother, this calming the boy, two servants then asking Grandmother Jia where she wanted Dai-yu to sleep, she deciding Bai-yu would bunk with her and Dai-yu would have his place, but Bai-yu convinces she let him stay with the girls. One of Bai-yu’s nurses hears Dai-yu still up after they’d all settled in the tent and asks what was wrong, her nurse explaining how terribly she felt for setting Bai-yu off and would’ve been responsible if he’d broken the jade.

Aroma, as Bai-yu named her, or Pearl, makes Dai-yu aware of how this was pittance to what Bai-yu could be like, so she should calm herself and sleep, Dai-yu grateful to hear this and doing so. Early next morning, after greeting Grandmother Jia, Dai-yu goes to her Aunt Wang’s and learns from another family member, Xue Pan had killed someone and need the help of the family, it already under investigation and they discussing whether to have him stay with them.

So, Dai-yu walked in to hear Aunt Wang speak with the messengers of her eldest brother and wife about their Aunt’s family in Nanking being a part of this manslaughter case, and due to Wang being busy with this, Dai-yu and the other girls go see Li Wan, her husband, Jia Zhu having died at a young age, but giving her a son, Jia Lan, now five and already starting his education. Li Wan was the daughter of Li Shou-zhong, whom when becoming head of the family, decided the females wouldn’t continue to receive a higher level of education and focus on needlework, what with a big believer of a dumb woman being virtuous or some shit.

Dai-yu is able to easily adjust to life among these ladies, though due to their mild natures. Now, Jia Yu-cun had begun his position as yamen in Ying-tian-fu, the manslaughter case soon becoming a part of his workload, it involving two sides fighting over the payment of a slave, one side getting fatally injured. Yu-cun hears first from the murdered man’s side, a worker of this man, whom relays how his “master” hadn’t known the slave he’d bought had been stolen goods, and the seller supposed to have deposited the slave to him three days later, but the seller instead turning around and selling her to Xue Pan. This man and his master going off to retrieve the slave, and Xue Pan sicking his bodyguards on them, beating his master to death, and Xue Pan along with the other guilty parties going to ground, this man waiting a year for justice, pleading with Yu-cun to locate the guilty parties.

Yu-cun is outraged by nothing being done, but catches the eye of a door-keeper before issuing a summons, he instead clearing the room, save this man, whom speaks of having known Yu-cun for over ten years, and after a hint of having met at the Temple, remembered him as a young monk, this man deciding to change his career after the fire. Yu-cun then asks why he’d halted his duties, the man informing Yu-cun how officials usually had a manual which listed the most powerful people of their district one would be better off not touching toes with.

Yu-cun hadn’t heard of this, and so the man continues why Xue Pan hadn’t been brought in being because of this, the man then showing the pamphlet, after which they hear a ring indicating Mr. Wang had come, Yu-cun dealing with the man, then returning, the door-keeper finishing his chat by stating how many influential people Xue Pan had to help him, Yu-cun confessing how he obviously had to deal with the case somehow, he then presuming this man must know more, which he doesn’t deny and even offers to detail.

The murdered man was called Feng Yuan, and he had no relatives when his parents died, he having been surviving off his minuscule inheritance, only eighteen or nineteen years old and gay, but apparently saw this slave and was ready to make an honest woman of her, which is why he’d decided to wait three days to give the impression it was similar to a wedding, so when both sides discovered what had happened, they caught him before he could get away and beat the crap out of him, but the issue stemming from both sides wanting the slave and not wanting what they’d paid returned to them, so Xue Pan had Feng Yuan assaulted and brought home, he expiring three days later.

Before all of this had occurred, Xue Pan was already planning to go to the capital, so he still left with the slave and his family, acting like a pampered rich man would, and leaving the clean up to his help. The clincher, though is whom the slave was, Yu-cun learning it was Ying-lian, which this door-keeper knew, since he’d been a playmate of hers way back, and also knew the kidnapper had a system of raising girls until old enough to sell them, he also recognizing her birthmark.

The door-keeper had gotten wind of her presence because the kidnapper rented one of his rooms, Ying-lian staying quiet when he confronted her out of fear of repercussions, then breaking down and admitting she recalled nothing, but this young man being certain of her origins. The night the kidnapper had been paid, Ying-lian started talking with him and felt like she would finally have some peace, until she learned of the three day wait, this young man’s wife seeing her to instill optimism, she stating how the future date meant she’d be living like a woman rather than a worker, and how much he paid showing the amount he cared, and not to worry about the time-frame, and her words seeming to have worked, but then Xue Pan getting involved, and he not having considerate intentions for her, beating her until she willingly came with him, this young man not knowing whether she still lived, so the fact Feng Yuan had gone through all of this with plans to settle only to be killed was a terrible fate. Yu-cun thought Feng Yuan’s sudden change of sexual interest must mean it was kismet, and poor Ying-lian, so close to being pardoned by her lot in life, only to have her suffering prolonged intimated the same.

On top of this, Xue Pan is a man whom divided his time with other women, and it being a terrible situation which Yu-cun now had to decide how to handle the next move, legally, the young man reminding him how Xue Pan may be related to the Jias through marriage, but Yu-cun already being on good terms with one of the family, so perhaps he should make himself even more esteemed to them. Yu-cun noted his newly appointed position being in a delicate area, since it was still so new, but the young man making the point of he not doing his job properly, and how would he could show he’s truly grateful for it, but no matter what he decided, it dictated careful consideration.

Yu-cun takes a moment before inquiring the young man’s opinion, he having thought the next day, Yu-cun should go about business as usual, but with a firm hand, bringing in Xue Pan’s family and workers to be questioned, and the young man would be getting Xue Pan’s people to claim he’d died of a sickness which would then be corroborated by their neighbors, Yu-cun would then get a special table to speak with the afterlife and offer anyone being allowed to come, and proceed by stating Feng Yuan had unfinished business with Xue Pan from a previous life, which he dealt with after death by making Xue Pan ill, and due to this whole debacle being started by the kidnapper, he alone would from there on be held accountable and all others free of guilt.

The young man would then get the kidnapper to agree to confession, and then the people would have no reason to question Yu-cun’s claims. He then would give the Fengs reparations for cost of the funeral, and Xue Pan already being rich, wouldn’t bat an eye about the cost. Yu-cun was entertained by the young man’s idea, but would give it a bit more of a ponder to ensure the public wouldn’t gossip. Yu-cun speaks with the Fengs the following day, the young man correct about they only wanting money and bringing the case to court because Xue Pan had denied them, so he had the Fengs agree to an amount and then wrote a couple letters detailing the issue had been handled. Yu-cun then became paranoid by how much the young man knew, and so waited until he caught him in a minor crime and had him sent to the military, this easing his mind.

Next, Xue Pan is followed, his father dying whilst Xue Pan was a boy and his mother spoiling him to the point of damaging his character. Due to his family’s wealth, he loved expensive things and spoke in a snotty manner, and regardless of education, was practically illiterate. He loved gambling and the sights, he also being technically employed by way of his father and grandfather, but only collected a paycheck without doing any work.

Xue Pan’s mother was the younger half sister of Wang Zi-teng and younger sister of Lady Wang, she over fifty years old now, and as for Xue Pan’s sibling, she called Bao-chai, younger and beautiful, was favored by their father, so was educated and smarter than Xue Pan, but upon their father’s death, she gave up continuing her education in order to help her mother.

The “upside” to this was the females of important officials getting the chance to be chosen as educational partners for the younger female royals. Due to this, and Xue Pan wanting to experience the grander life in the capital, he had a few reasons to go, which included having his sister available to be chosen and replenish his allowance. So, all of this had been in motion well before meeting Ying-lian and second-hand murdering her seller. Hence, he going on his merry way, expecting to only need to pay a fine which his servants would handle in his absence. Whilst they were traveling, they learn his Uncle Wang wouldn’t be present due to a promotion, which Xue Pan didn’t share he was happy about, since he felt he could now truly let his freak flag fly.

Xue Pan proceeds in convincing his mother they should have somebody make certain the servants of the houses hadn’t let their friends stay, due to how long they’d been unoccupied, his mother not seeing the point of rushing, since they had plenty of time and room. Xue Pan considers how busy everyone will be in helping his uncle get ready to go as they turn up, but his mother reminds him, this was what the Jias were for, but she sensing what his problem was, and even suggesting he go off to pick a place for himself, whilst she and Bao-chai continued to his Aunt Jia’s, Xue Pan acquiescing to her wishes, since he knew he’d be required to stay regardless of her words.

Meanwhile, Lady Wang was calmed upon learning Xue Pan’s case was being handled by Yu-cun, but was apprehensive by her older brother, Wang Zi-teng leaving. So, the news of her sister having arrived with her kids and servants put her back in high spirits, they reuniting with emotion, visiting Grandmother Jia, giving their presents, and then having a grand family get-together during which Jia Zheng sends a note to Lady Wang offering to have her sister stay in the secluded house with her kids, Wang having wanted to invite them to stay with her, Grandmother Jia wanting the same, so Xue Pan could have an eye kept on him, believing if he had complete freedom, he’d get into more trouble, Xue accepting the offer and beginning to move them all in.

The home was located next to Lady Wang’s, the two sisters chatting daily along with Grandmother Jia, Bao-chai happy to mingle with Dai-yu and the other girls, Xue Pan the only one dissatisfied, to start with at any rate. He still planned on moving elsewhere, but had to agree to stay temporarily whilst his servants prepared another home. Xue Pan’s opinion soon changed upon hanging out with his male family members, they sinking him into worse depths, the patriarch of the family, Zheng too busy to keep everyone in check, he having become the go-to for Zhen, whom was supposed to be the one in charge. So, upon Xue Pan realizing he was in no danger of being reeled in, he and his newfound best buddies came and left when they pleased, their adventures to follow.

Dai-yu had become another favorite of Grandmother Jia, she receiving the same attentiveness as Bao-yu, the other girls holding each other in high esteem and much closer, since they were treated differently. Now Bao-chai had joined them, Dai-yu feeling put off by her beauty and how well-liked she’d become with everyone, due to being unaware how personable she was, and Dai-yu setting herself apart because of how serious she acted about being proper. Bao-yu, on the other hand still maintained the attitudes of a child, so had no differentiation between family members unless living more closely to them, like with Dai-yu, he speaking too roughly with her and attempting to make up for it, which she was big enough, or gullible enough to accept.

As this occurs, Zhen’s wife, You-shi invites Grandmother Jia, Lady Xing and Wang to a party, her son, Jia Rong accompanying her, they having an uneventful time, up until Bao-yu decides he’d like a nap, Grandmother Jia preparing the servants to attend to him when Qin-shi, Jia Rong’s wife volunteers to take care of him, Grandmother Jia acquiescing, but Bao-yu immediately offended by the art on the walls of the room she’d led him to, and the phrases on the wall clinching his desire to leave, Qin-shi then offering her own bedroom, which he agrees to, but the servants shocked by the idea of an uncle sleeping in a nephew’s wife’s bed, she believing he was too young for the sort of thoughts the servants had in mind, speaking of her brother being around the same age as Bao-yu, he then wishing to meet him, but the boy currently away, and upon getting to her room, is overcome with sleepiness as a pleasant smell assaults his nose, and this room’s art and scripts more to his acceptance.

Qin-shi then having some noisy cats on the roof outside attended to as Bao-yu sinks into unconsciousness and feels like Qin-shi is still with him, leading him to a stream near some trees, it looking as if humans had yet set foot there, and Bao-yu completely taken with the place. Then he hears a lady singing out of view, she heading in his direction, a poem which follows showing she was otherworldly. Bao-yu knew she was a fairy and smiles warmly at her, requesting she show him around for not knowing where he was, she introducing herself as Disenchantment and she living in the Sea of Sadness, her home being in the Land of Illusion. She also describes her relation to the human world by connection of varying romantic dealings and had gone to this spot for sensing karmic love in the area and was gauging if her services could be given, Bao-yu a candidate. She then invites him to tea at her home, nearby and how she’d written a musical composition called “A Dream of Golden Days”, Bao-yu so overcome by the offer, he’d forgotten to wonder where Qin-shi had gone, he following Disenchantment to her home. Bao-yu was curious about the details of her job, which unbeknownst to him, had given access to his body to a demon of Lust.

They walk through an area with buildings designated by certain themes, Bao-yu wishing to see inside them, but Disenchantment relaying it wouldn’t be right to have him see the females’ files regarding their future, but Bao-yu nags her until she allows him a moment to view inside the Department of the Ill-Fated Fair, it lined with cabinets labeled by city, Bao-yu seeing his and inquiring what else the label meant, he learning it contained the twelve best ladies in his area, two more cabinets detailing two dozen more, and all other females remaining unlisted. Bao-yu takes a look at one of the other two, and opens a hard-case folder with a picture and verse on the two pages he viewed before looking at a different cabinet, still confused by the album he chose, and looking at the main cabinet, and unable to understand the words, and knowing Disenchantment wouldn’t explain it, but he continuing looking through the book, filled with pictures on one side and an accompanying poem, which warned and spoke of love, loss, and possibly even danger.

As it goes on, the fate of women Bao-yu may know is spoken of in riddles. When Disenchantment believes he was becoming too wise on the information he was reading, she takes the book and decides they should move along, Bao-yu hearing Disenchantment hurriedly coax other fairies out to meet him, but they being unimpressed, having been expecting a reunion with Crimson Pearl, Bao-yu now uncomfortable, and Disenchantment explaining how she’d been going to retrieve Crimson Pearl, but was waylaid by two Dukes asking for her services of which she couldn’t pass, involving Bao-yu and their request to have his virginity taken on the chance it would sober his nature and aid him to navigate life with a clear mind. Disenchantment decided to fulfill their wish, his look at the records not doing the trick, so leading him there so he could experience a good party, she bringing him inside. Bao-yu then inquires the scent he smelled, she sharing it was nothing he’d be able to discover on his world, and giving the name.

After they sit, Bao-yu tastes the tea given him and is again desirous to know what it was called, Disenchantment telling where it came from, as well as the name, Maiden’s Tears. He surveys the room they were in before asking the names of the other fairies, they all having odd monikers like Disenchantment. When they sit at the table for wine and food, Bao-yu asks about the wine, it coming from flowers and tree extracts. Twelve dancers then enter, Disenchantment requesting they perform her musical. She then informs Bao-yu may want to read about the piece so he could better understand it, the poems of the performance, following. The description has each songs lyrics, telling of past lovers, in twelve songs not including the prelude and epilogue, and by the conclusion, Disenchantment could see Bao-yu had lost interest, he requesting to be allowed to nap.

Disenchantment leads him to a little bedroom where a fairy girl sat, she exuding similarities to both Bao-chai and Dai-yu (this apparently significant symbolism), Disenchantment stating how lust played into all attraction, regardless of men saying it was beauty they were attracted by, she confessing his lust was the strongest she’d seen which her affection for him stemmed, Bao-yu intimidated. He confides how he didn’t truly understand the meaning and believed he was still too young to be listed as such. Disenchantment clarifies her meaning by defining how many sorts of lust there were, his type being listed as “lust of the mind”, which couldn’t be described. She goes on to confide this is why she’d shared tea and wine with him, as well as the musical, and would also be paired with her sister, Two-in-one or Ke-qing to marry, they being bid to hook up this evening, so he could learn the construct of love and obtain an understanding and following of philosophy for everyone’s benefit.

Before Disenchantment leaves them to it, she advises Bao-yu on some techniques, he implementing them stupefied and baffled, but getting the deed done, Bao-yu by morning, is in pure contentment, and the two walk out holding hands and somehow discover themselves surrounded by perils, Disenchantment yelling after them to return the way they’d come, Bao-yu inquiring where they were, and she explaining it was a place which could only be crossed by way of two ferrymen, demons then reaching for him to pull him into the water, he crying for Ke-qing’s help, his servants returning to him in fear, and consoling him, Qin-shi outside and taking care of the noisy cats and dogs, surprised to hear him call out her childhood name, and curious how he could know.

Qin-shi doesn’t look into it, though and Bao-yu is getting helped by Aroma to straighten his pants, she feeling something like jizz, Bao-yu looking embarrassed, and after being returned to looking properly, finishes his meal with Grandmother Jia and then has a moment with Aroma when she supplies him with clean undies, he pleading she not say anything and then coaxed into sharing how it had happened, but she laughing at him when he was about to share the sex part of his dream, Bao-yu then makes advances on Aroma, she allowing this after some playful denial, this being part of the reason she had been given to him, and from then on Bao-yu gives her extra regard, she more loyal to him, as well, and his story now being left.

The next area to be covered is decided on with the arrival of this person happening on the day this was being recorded. The Rong mansion is visited by a local called Wang, this person unknown by most of the family, other than Lady Wang and her brother, Wang Xi-feng’s father. The grandfather, whom had known Xi-feng’s grandfather, the father of Lady Wang, dies and has his son carry on, Wang Chang, he leading a farmer’s life, and when he died, his son, Gou-er continuing this work with his wife and their two kids, Ban-er and Qing-er, Gou-er inviting his wife’s mother, Grannie Liu to live with them and help with the kids. She readily accepts his invitation, but soon has to put her food down when Gou-er is seen to be drunkenly making trouble for her daughter, due to his own stresses of the farm and winter closing in.

Grannie Liu reasons with him to take his stupidity to the city, since he couldn’t stop spending the little money he made, she believing they could still think of a remedy, and leave the details to God, she then remembering his relation to Lady Wang, Gou-er’s wife worried they’d get turned away and look ridiculous for the trip, Gou-er buoyed by the possibility, suggesting Grannie Liu go first to survey for them, but she stating how they wouldn’t know her, until Gou-er suggests she take Ban-er with her and call on Zhou, whom knew his father, Grannie Liu seeing the logic behind his idea and having herself and Ban-er ready in the morning, the four to five year old boy gladly learning some phrases Grannie Liu taught him for the ladies at the mansion. They soon arrive and she leads them through a side entrance and speaks with some men loitering on the grounds, eventually being told to hang about at a certain gate where she’d be met by someone from the house, but an older man advising she see Zhou’s wife, since he was currently away on business, then directing her to where she could be located.

Grannie Liu asks a young boy where Mrs. Zhou lived upon following the directions, he showing them and calling out to her, Zhou Rui coming out and soon recognizing Grannie Liu and inviting her inside. Grannie Liu doesn’t share the true reason she’d come, instead stating how they’d come to see her and see “Her Ladyship”, Zhou Rui’s wife fairly able to deduce Grannie Liu’s real reasons for visiting, but knowing her son-in-law’s father had helped her husband when he’d required and was wanting an excuse to show off her own power, so responds with great charity, explaining her usual job and willing to go against protocol to relay a message to Her Ladyship, she sharing how her niece, Wang Xi-feng managed the place now, Grannie Liu thanking her for her kindness and she dismissing it for it not being an issue. She sends a maid to see how far along Lady Jia’s lunch was, and upon hearing what part they were in, gets Grannie Liu to join her before Mrs. Lian became to busy, she having the two wait whilst she spoke with Xi-feng’s closest servant, Patience whom decided the two could wait inside with her.

Grannie Liu first is overcome by the perfumed room and then its grandeur, Patience deciding to be polite once viewing the old woman and invites her to sit, everyone getting comfortable before proceeding with tea, Grannie Liu noticing a loud ticking and then being surprised by a loud bell sounding, all servants and Mrs. Zhou readying for Xi-feng to appear, the two going to the next room whilst Grannie Liu waited to be called, Zhou Rui’s wife coming in for her and Xi-feng not realizing she’d brought her in already, Grannie Liu showing her respect and Xi-feng requesting she stop for not knowing how they were related, yet and after, Ban-er too intimidated to give respect to his “Auntie”. Xi-feng then has Zhou Rui’s wife see if Her Ladyship, presumably Grandmother Jia, was busy, Zhou Rui’s wife returning to relay Grandmother Jia wouldn’t be seeing them, but to share any message with Xi-feng.

Grannie Liu declines and Zhou Rui’s wife giving a look which spoke of she getting a final chance to confess her thoughts, and so was about to do so when interrupted by the arrival of Xi-feng’s nephew, Jia Rong, whom had come to inquire on the behalf of his father to borrow a little glass screen which she at first pretended had already been borrowed, but soon has Patience get the key, Jia Rong so happy he goes off to gather his own servants to carry the load rather than have hers be put out, but Xi-feng asks he return, so later she could share something with him, and when he leaves once more, Grannie Liu gets into how destitute they were and food being scarce, then attempting to get Ban-er to say his little phrases, but he being too busy eating sweets, Xi-feng mercifully allowing this to pass and states she didn’t have to continue, ordering a guest-sized meal to be brought to them, Zhou Riu’s wife doing so, and the speaking with Xi-feng in private of what Grandmother Jia had said in more detail, it about how Grannie Liu wasn’t a blood relative, but was quite close to the family, so would leave it up to Xi-feng as to how much she chose to help them, Xi-feng then returning to relay how she knew they must be living in hard times and would give them some silver to return home with, Grannie Liu relaying how grateful she was before following Zhou Riu’s wife out, she speaking with her for some time after, before leaving the home.

Zhou Riu’s wife goes to Lady Wang, but discovers she’d gone to see Aunt Xue, so she goes after her, she waiting with Bao-chai, since she’d found her speaking with her sister, Zhou Riu’s wife asking if she’d been well the last few days, since she hadn’t come by, she admitting she’d been ill and explains how it wasn’t dangerous, but also had no cure, a monk relaying it was only an overheating problem and supplied a home remedy which surprisingly worked. Bao-chai then explains why she couldn’t describe the powders used, due to when it’s administered affecting how it worked, and as they speak, Lady Wang calls out to them and Zhou Riu’s wife goes in to share the happenings with Grannie Liu, after which Aunt Xue invites her to stick around and hands off a box of fake flowers for the Jia girls to wear. When Lady Wang suggests she keep them for Bao-chai, Aunt Xue shares how the girl was picky about accouterments to her attire, Zhou Riu’s wife then going back out and speaks with Golden about the young lady Caltrop, learning she was the one involved with the murder trial, and when seeing her up close, notes how her features reminded her of Master Rong’s wife, Golden thinking the same, and upon questioning Caltrop, learns nothing due to the girl’s blocked memories.

Zhou Riu’s wife continues to the girls quarters and delivers the flowers, she staying and speaks with a nun about whether the Mother Superior had gotten the monthly donation and where she was, currently. The nun didn’t know, but relays the woman’s whereabouts, and after a little more conversation, moves along to Xi-feng’s, Patience helping her complete her task and then plans on going to Grandmother Jia’s when she runs into her daughter, whom is full of questions, which Zhou Riu’s wife takes lightly, instead inquiring if she also had any issues, since she sensed it was one of those days, her daughter admitting to this and had hoped she’d be able to help her husband. Zhou Riu’s wife agrees to see to it after delivering the remainder of the flowers, going to Dai-yu’s, whom was with Bao-yu, the girl not pleased with the idea of receiving the leftovers of the flowers, and as Bao-yu sends a maid to deliver a message to Bao-chai, Zhou Riu’s wife exits, it being told her daughter’s husband was Yu-cun’s old friend, Zi-xing, he in trouble over some issues with some ancient items bought, Zhou Riu’s wife certain when she brought it to Xi-feng’s attention the issue would be handled.

As evening came, Xi-feng updates Lady Wang on the day’s events, beginning with gifts sent by the Zhen family and having shipped them gifts in return, also informing of gifts also being ready for the Earl of Lian’s mother, and continuing about how she had been invited by Cousin Zhen’s wife to come over the next day, making sure she was allowed to attend, the night then ending. Bao-yu decides he wants to accompany Xi-feng to visit Cousin Zhen’s wife, You-shi, her son and daughter also present. They sit down for tea, Qin-shi then informing Bao-yu to go see her brother, he quickly doing so, but Xi-feng deciding she also wanted to meet Qin Zhong, the boy arriving and awkwardly greeting her, then having the usual inquiries answered of his studies, etc.

When the ladies move on to a card game, the boys leave to chat, the two each having similar thoughts of envy of the other and how they hated they weren’t the other’s equal, so they could be close buddies, and once initializing conversation, become familiar with each other, Bao-yu learning Qin Zhong was currently tutor-less and waiting to get a new one, Bao-yu offerring a school situation his family had set up and suggesting Qin Zhong ask permission to go with him, the two boys agreeing the idea was a good one, they returning to discover Xi-feng had won the card game and a show would be set up as her winnings in a couple days time, Xi-feng then giving her opinion about an old belligerent worker, Big Jao, whom had been asked to accompany Jia Rong home, but was insulting everyone, the man needing to be sent away, she then leaves with Bao-yu, Jia Rong commanding the servants to restrain Big Jao, since he continued prattling on with his threats, Bao-yu making the mistake of inquiring about one he’d heard and Xi-feng threatening to inform his mother, he pleading for her not to and apologizing. Xi-feng changes her anger to comfort and shares how she’ll be speaking with Grandmother Jia about Qin Zhong joining his school.

When they get back, Bao-yu shares with Grandmother Jia his wishes and why it was a positive choice to allow Qin Zhong to join him in class, Xi-feng also supplying her agreement which Grandmother Jia is affected in a good way, Xi-feng then inviting her to the play which was being set up for her, and Grandmother Jia tagging along on the day with Lady Wang, Dai-yu, and Bao-yu, but Lady Wang and Grandmother Jia leave early, Xi-feng having so much fun, she stays much later. Meanwhile, Bao-yu had wanted to watch more of the plays, but had left with Grandmother Jia and then decided to call on Bao-chai, but is held up by some men his father had belittled, and when they release him, a nurse learns they’d left Sir Zheng before he’d taken his afternoon snooze, Bao-yu glad he didn’t have to avoid his father, now and goes straight to Bao-chai’s, but not before being stopped once more by some men who ask about getting some calligraphy by him due to having seen some of his about town, then finally being greeted with familiarity by Aunt Xue, she sending him in to see Bao-chai, he finding her sewing and when Bao-yu speaks, greets him respectfully, the two sitting over tea and speaking of their other cousins.

Bao-chai then states of how she’d been wanting to see his jade more closely for quite some time, he handing it to her, the Narrator reminding this was the same as the stone mentioned at the start of the tale at the Greensickness Peak, listing a poem about it along with the words the monk scraped onto it. When Bao-chai’s maid notes how she had a similarly written message on her necklace, Bao-yu is intrigued to see it, she agreeing and Bao-yu gleefully agreeing the two sounded like two parts of the same script. Bao-yu then smells something on her clothes, she believing it was the pill she’d taken, Dai-yu then entering and making a joke of having come at the wrong time, since Bao-yu was there, talk then turning to retrieving his cape due to it having begun to snow, after which a Nannie Li tells of how she’d gotten flack for Bao-yu drinking wine a time before, since he’d requested a cup this time to go with some goose-foot preserve.

Aunt Xue eases the woman’s mind by assuring she’d take the blame if it came to it, so Bao-yu gets his wine as Dai-yu gives her maid a hard time when she brings her a hand-warmer, Bao-yu having to plead for more wine and Nannie Li warning him to watch himself, since his father may call him later, this sobering Bao-yu’s good mood, but Dai-yu speaking up for him which in turn amuses Bao-chai, Aunt Xue then supporting Bao-yu’s drinking, he feeling better upon her invitation to dinner. When his Nannie goes off to change with instructions to watch Bao-yu closely, the other maids ignore this and go about their business, Aunt Xue discreetly removing the wine when necessary, and replacing it with tasty soups, along with strong tea, believing this would recover him, Dai-yu then mentioning it was time to go, so Bao-yu tags along, the two greeting Grandmother Jia, whom hadn’t dined, yet, she instructing Bao-yu go sleep it off, but when he returns, he’s told by Skybright to use up the ink she’d mixed for him, he inspecting her job of pasting his characters outside, Dai-yu joining them and praising Bao-yu’s work, he then inquiring whether Skybright had received the dumplings he’d sent her, she agreeing and had planned to save them when Nannie Li had taken them for her grandchildren, and also had drank all of the tea being saved for him, this pissing him off, but Aroma stating how if he got rid of her, all the other maids would go, so he stops complaining as they undress him, he falling to sleep almost immediately.

In the morning, Bao-yu overhears Jia Rong come with Qin Zhong to speak with Grandmother Jia, whom was impressed with him and has the other ladies in the family meet him, the visit keeping them into the evening, she also offerring he stay with them if ever his studies kept him too late. When Qin Zhong returns home, he informs his father, Qin Bang-ye of the day he had, it being told of the position he held and his adoption of two children, the boy dying, and Qin Zhong being his progeny late in his life, he happy to know he now needn’t worry about a tutor. The only issue was in thinking of what he’d have to spend to keep Qin Zhong properly started and supplied, but knew it was for the best, so he gives the teacher his raised tuition, whilst paying respect with his son, they then only waiting for Bao-yu to decide when they’d start, the day they go being an eventful one.

Bao-yu wishes to begin their schooling immediately, so sends word they would go in two days. Bao-yu then gets some advice from Aroma about what she’d packed for him on the morning he’d be going, and for him to stay on top of designating someone keeping the place warm, Bao-yu assuring her he’d be all right, and for the maids to keep themselves busy by staying with his cousin Lin, he then going to see Grandmother Jia, Lady Wang, and his father, Jia Zheng, the last being candid about what he believed his son capable of, and wishing he’d go away, his literary guests attempting to keep the mood light and hurry him on to breakfast, but Jia Zheng calls in Bao-yu’s pages as he waits outside, he asking them to inform him of what Bao-yu was actually doing in class, he choosing Nannie Lin’s son to speak, whom honestly informs how far into a book of poetry he was reading, in fear of repercussion. Jia Zheng instructs they tell the teacher to begin him on the Four Books, his attendants agreeing and walking out, they making certain Bao-yu had heard and instead of making it up to them if he disappointed his father and one of them received a beating, they implored him to obey the rules from time to time. By the time he gets back to Grandmother Jia’s quarters, Qin Zhong was waiting with her, the two then walking out, Bao-yu saying goodbye to Dai-yu and then going off to school.

Description of how the Jia school stayed funded and its location are given, then Bao-yu and Qin Zhong are introduced to their fellows upon arrival and get straight to their assignments. The two boys were joined together from then on, Grandmother Jia even looking after Qin Zhong for her gathered affections bringing about getting him clothes and having him stay for multiple nights. Bao-yu soon decides their formalities of being nephew and uncle would be forgotten and they’d from then on treat each other like buddies and siblings, which at first Qin Zhong hesitated to agree to, until Bao-yu kept insisting and led by example, Qin Zhong eventually complying. Like in any school, there was a variety of personalities and classes within the school, their commonality coming from the relations to the Jias, and due to the two boys being close friends, it gave the other students room to start rumors. Xue Pan took advantage of the school by seemingly using it as a sex service. Xue Pan soon had two ‘regulars’ and Bao-yu and Qin Zhong also were taken in by the pairs charm, which Bao-yu and Qin Zhong were unaware was so obvious. Then, Qin Zhong gets a moment with one of the boys and is rudely interrupted by another student, whom threatens to spread lies and speak with the Jia Rui about this boy harassing then, but due to Xue Pan paying him off, he was biased, and since Xue Pan was currently off of Jia Rui and Darling, the boy Qin Zhong was speaking with, he decides to put Darling down which also shames Qin Zhong by association. Jokey Jin, the bully takes advantage of this by furthering the rumors of the two boys taking the time alone to make out etc.

Jia Qiang, related to Jia Rong was being raised by Cousin Zhen, and the sixteen-year-old stood up for the under-dogs. Jia Qiang, thinks strategically the best way to handle the situation since both sides had an in with his relative, so gets the help of Tealeaf, the youngest and most impressionable of Ba0-yu’s pages, Jia Qiang describing the terror Jokey Jin would be if not taught a lesson, so Tealeaf confronts him, Jokey Jin gets permission to ditch class, since Jia Rui is a pussy, Tealeaf gives him crap and Jia Rui notes Tealeaf’s foul language. Jokey Jin is about to have Bao-yu deal with his servant, when Qin Zhong notes something flying by him from the table of Jia Lan and Jun, related to a second Lan, whom was the son of Li Wan and was Bao-yu’s nephew, and whilst Jia Jun was at first indifferent, he gets hooked in by a water bottle hitting his desk, his buddy, Jia Lan keeping his rage from manifesting to more damage. Jokey Jin though, is furious by this, Jia Lan holding him back from returning fire, but Jokey Jin too incensed, throwing a bag of books instead of the inkwell, but his aim not catching the culprit and instead hits Bao-yu and Qin Zhong’s table, Jokey Jin then launching himself at the original thrower. Jokey Jin, meanwhile had picked up a bamboo pole and was whipping it around, hitting Tealeaf, whom then calls in three more pages to assist.

Some students took cover whilst others joined the fight or hooted and urged others on as they stood on desks, Li Gui entering the hubbub and giving the pages the most crap for not keeping their cool, but Bao-yu having final word as he aids Qin Zhong after sustaining a head wound, he declaring they were leaving and would be informing his great-uncle Dai-ru of the unprofessional behavior they’d suffered. Li Gui suggests he leave Dai-ru out of it and blames Jia Rui for not stepping in, he defending himself, but Li Gui stating plainly why the boys had stopped respecting him, and if he didn’t stop Bao-yu from outing them, he’d go down with the rest. Bao-yu declares nothing would sway his decision to speak with his great-uncle, Qin Zhong speaking for justice in the expelling of Jokey Jin, Bao-yu reasoning it would be in Jokey Jin’s future once he told their story and when Jia Rui asks whom Jokey Jin was, Li Gui decides to refrain sharing so as to spare Jia Rui of the pain. As they hear Tealeaf through the window bad mouthing Jokey Jin’s aunt and her bad conduct, which has Li Gui yelling at him to be quiet and Bao-yu deciding now he knew whom Jokey Jin’s aunt was, he’d instead speak with her, Tealeaf then stating proudly, how he’d bring Lady Jia to him, Li Gui pissed off by this and threatening Tealeaf, finally getting the young man to shut up, and hoping his discretions wouldn’t be brought to light and had fixed the problem by pleading with Bao-yu and Qin Zhong separately, Bao-yu eventually deciding the matter would rest pending Jokey Jin admitting he was sorry, he refusing until Jia Rui and Li Gui convince him to relent, he doing so, and Bao-yu changing the condition to have Jokey Jin kotow to them, which would be shared in the next chapter.

Jokey Jin kotows to Qin Zhong, Bao-yu then agreeing the issue was resolved, but Jokey Jin grudging Qin Zhong his closeness to Bao-yu, but his mother hearing him as he spoke to himself, reminding him how lucky he was to be in this school. So, he does as he’s told and continues with his classes next day. Jokey Jin’s aunt was wife to Jia Huang, they living a humble lifestyle, receiving help from Xi-feng and You-shi when close to inability to pay their bills, His aunt decides to visit her sister-in-law about Jokey Jin’s run-in with Qin Zhong, thinking he was responsible for the negative outcome and see if she could get permission to speak with Qin Zhong’s sister. Her fire subsides though, as she sits with You-shi, the lady explaining how Qin-shi was feeling ill and her little brother, Qin Zhong had informed her of the school fight, You-shi then sending him to Bao-yu’s whilst she calmed Qin-shi and had her eat breakfast. She then inquires of Mrs. Huang if she knew a decent doctor, of which she had no information and decided against mentioning her true reasons for coming by, agreeing she should make certain Qin-shi wasn’t pregnant before giving her any definitive remedies.

After a pleasant visit, she leaves, You-shi then describing to Cousin Zhen of the uneventful visit, and then moving on to what they needed to do for Qin-shi. Fortunately, Zhen knows someone they can contact, believing Zhang will definitely visit them the next day, You-shi pacified, and then inquiring what they should do for their father’s birthday the day after, he revealing how their father wanted no part in any family parties for himself, so You-shi plans a two-day party for the family on his behalf. They receive a message from the doctor, promising to drop by next day and put down his own abilities as a practitioner before agreeing, due to respect, to visit Qin-shi. As promised, Dr. Zhang comes by, Zhen greeting him, the doc again explaining his lack of practice as a medical doctor, Zhen believing him humble, and then sends him to Qin-shi where he takes her pulse for some time before going outside with her husband, Jia Rong. The doctor explains his theory not being the conclusion of pregnancy, and he would prescribe her a treatment which if was responded to positively would give her a better chance of living. The list of herbs are given with how much to include and the doctor states she could make it if surviving the Spring, then leaves, Jia Rong relaying to his parents what he’d been told. The chapter after this supplying Qin-shi’s reaction to the medicine.

On the day of Jia Jing’s birthday, Zhen sent some gifts and instructions for the deliverer to note the man’s pleasure, and received the message of Grandfather would lead the prostration of the family from his home. Then, they learn Grandmother Jia wouldn’t be attending due to some dietary issue, they then touching on Qin-shi’s illness before Zhen goes to greet the recently arrived men-folk. You-shi continues to explain how they’d begun the doctor’s prescription, but nothing much had changed. Xi-feng is touched with emotion when learning Qin-shi had forced herself to get up the last time they’d met because of how much they’d bonded. Jia Rong then comes back with the news of their grandfather being happy with how they were conducting the celebration and would now continue looking after the men, but stating Xi-feng would be able to deduce how unwell Qin-shi was upon seeing her soon. You-shi then states how they should decide whether they’d dine inside or out, what with the show being prepared in the yard.

The decision was made to remain indoors and the table was set quickly. After they’d finished, Jia Rong gives a message to his mother of the men who had left and those who they would see at the show, as well as where all the presents were being stowed and the thank you notes and how the guests were treated before being sent off. Xi-feng then decides to visit Qin-shi before joining the rest, Bao-yu becoming affected by her words and Xi-feng turning it around light-heartedly, the reason they’d come, she then deciding to send Bao-yu back with Jia Rong, whilst she spoke a bit longer to Qin-shi. Xi-feng stayed as long as she could ignore messages from You-shi to come out, but finally readying to go, and still attempting to maintain Qin-shi’s positivity level, she then getting emotional as she agreed to visit as frequently as possible, and as she walked, is startled by Cousin Jia Rui, he obviously eye-balling her, she aware and pretending to enjoy his “charm”, they tentatively setting up some time to chat, she allowing him ample distance to move back toward the family, and thinking how she’d set him straight when the timing was right.

Xi-feng is then approached by one of You-shi’s servants, she informing Xi-feng she was now being sent for, You-shi makes clear how dedicated she was to Qin-shi, she then having her sit and drink with the other ladies, Xi-feng then instructed to choose a couple plays from the bill, since the two aunts had already done so, after which Xi-feng states how those two choices would be the final bit of the program for the players, but You-shi insisting she’d like the company, Xi-feng then seeing the men had left, a servant supplying they’d gone off to drink, and when the play was done, the party ended after the ladies had another course and tea, everyone beginning to leave. Cousin Zhen offers the ladies return the next day, but they choose to decline in favor of a day of rest. The day after brought another celebration, and this point onward, Qin-shi got steady visits from Xi-feng, her state of health fluctuating, Cousin Zhen, You-shi, and Jia Rong stressing more with her instability.

Whenever Xi-feng came over for Qin-shi, Jia Rui inexplicably turns up, and at the start of the final month to mark Qin-shi’s having begun the doctor’s treatment for almost a year, Grandmother Jia and ladies were consistently wanting updates of her health, it still not having normalized. Grandmother Jia decides Xi-feng should see how she was the next day, and to make certain her favorite food was in constant replenishment. Xi-feng saw Qin-shi’s lack of appetite having affected the skin on her face, but she still tried to keep her spirits up, and when she spoke with You-shi after, they wonder about Qin-shi’s surviving, You-shi tentatively having planned for the worst, she then reports to Grandmother Jia, being dismissed, and going home. She is then updated on her home’s calls, Jia Rui one of them, and after informing her servant why she was ready to take him on, the woman agrees with her, Jia Rui’s visit spoken of in the next chapter.

Whilst the two were still discussing Jia Rui, they were told he was now about to enter, and when he arrived, Xi-feng could see the pleasure in his face by her non-formal attire, he wondering why Cousin Lian wasn’t in attendance, hinting it could be due to a lady, he then declaring he wasn’t the sort whom flitted from one love to the next when Xi-feng comments all males were like this. He felt even more special when she’d commented how rare an attribute it was, the conversation progressing until Jia Rui states how he’d wile away the hours with her daily, if allowed. Xi-feng then shows how she believed him by comparing how two other men had proven themselves barbaric. Jia Rui became even more smitten, Xi-feng politely warning his movements were being surveyed by the help, he adjusting his body language accordingly. Xi-feng then decides he should ready to leave, but says he can meet her later in the evening when he protests, she quelling his worry of being noticed by anyone near their appointed meeting place.

Later, he arrives to the total darkness behind the side gate, but as he waits he hears the gate he came through being shut, the realization he was stuck there for the night his only company. He was properly chilled by morning and got lucky when an old woman came to be let in, he sneaking out without any trouble and making it home. His grandfather, Jia Dai-ru, whom had raised him, was certain Jia Rui had gone out carousing, since he’d kept him on a tight leash from the start, so Jia Rui decided to say he’d spent the night at his uncle’s house. His grandfather not buying this, whipping him good, then making him do extra homework all night, and not being allowed to have food, but this foo doesn’t learn.

A couple days go by, and he again goes to Xi-feng, she realizing his stubborn efforts hadn’t diminished, so she offers another task for him. Jia Rui falls for it, hard, he leaving her, as requested, and she informing those necessary to expect the berk later in the evening. Jia Rui had the misfortune of being waylaid by relatives joining his grandfather and he for dinner, then must wait for his grandfather to retire for the night, so when Jia Rui makes it to the agreed spot and sees no one, he wonders if he’d been stood up again. Someone does arrive though, and Jia Rui is so filled with lust he immediately goes after the figure and readies to do some poking, when Jia Qiang walks in with light. Jia Rui gets a glimpse of whom he was about to nail, it Jia Rong, Jia Qiang informing him of being expected by Lady Wang, whom was furious to learn Jia Rui’s obsession. He then decides a bribe was in order, Jia Qiang not needing much convincing, and when Jia Rong feigns a more difficult customer, Jia Rui ups his price and writes them an IOU, Jia Qiang then deducing Jia Rui must wait elsewhere until he located the route which would which would keep him “unnoticed”. Jia Qiang deposits him underneath a stair, the two leaving him, and during his short wait, is drenched in human feces,

Image result for 8 crazy nights whitey and porta potty Jia Qiang then returning to let Jia Rui know he could go through the gate now, he not wasting anymore time, getting a servant to let him in and wash. He thought how whilst Xi-feng had betrayed him, he was still overcome by her beauty, these thoughts not allowing him to drift to sleepy-land.

From then on, Jia Rui stayed away from her home, but Jia Qiang and Jia Rong dropped by often for their agreed upon moolah. Due to this stress, his grandfather’s strict homework assignments, and only the company of his hand, since Xi-feng was out of reach, he was stricken ill before the year was done, no remedies showing relief. By Spring, he’d gotten no better, his grandfather Dai-ru in a state, since no one could cure him. Dai-ru, in the end goes to Lady Wang, whom speaks with Xi-feng about acquiring pure ginseng for him, Xi-feng not going out of her way to comply though, she instead sending a crappy package-worth to Dai-ru, Jia Rui desperate to get better, so takes everything, and one day overhears a Taoist saying he could cure certain illnesses from the door, and when the Taoist states he wouldn’t be able to, but had a trinket which would keep him alive, he handing him an inscribed mirror. The Taoist shares how the fairy Disenchantment made it, and as long as Jia Rui resisted looking at the front, he’d be cure in a few days, the Taoist states he’d return for it then.

The Taoist then quickly exits despite those who’d heard, asked him to tarry. Jia Rui then looks at the mirror, seeing a skull, he covering it, and deciding to look at the front to spite the Taoist giving him a fright, he seeing Xi-feng enticing him to come, and boy does he, going through the mirror a few times before the last one, he getting pulled away before being allowed to reenter the real world once more, and everyone who watched this, seeing Jia Rui picking up and putting down the mirror until he stopped breathing, and as Jia Rui’s grandparents mourned, are ready to chuck the mirror in a bonfire and blamed the Taoist, they hearing a disembodied voice remind of Jia Rui having had a choice to obey the instructions. The mirror biffs off without help from anyone, and Dai-ru sees the Taoist outside catch it, and vanishes. Dai-ru is given contributions so Jia Rui’s funeral would be of good quality. Whilst Jia Rui had been dealing with his issues at the end of the year, Lin Ru-hai was also severely sick and requests a visit from Dai-yu. Grandmother Jia didn’t want to allow the girl to go, but makes the proper reservations for her to go to her father’s bedside. Bao-yu also was stricken, but accepted the girl’s departure, Grandmother Jia also had Jia Lian join her on the journey to Yangchow.

Xi-feng was affected with restlessness when Jia Lian had left with only Patience to converse with, the two considering how far into the trip he could be, Win-shi coming in as Xi-feng was close to sleep and Patience already asleep, she wishing to confide in her, since she also would be leaving soon. Qin-shi begins by speaking of some foretelling sayings about how whilst their family was currently respected, how it could fall from its perch easily. She continues about how Xi-feng could stave off too far a fall for them by preparing whilst they were still stable enough, and how there were a couple areas which Xi-feng could focus to make life easier if trouble should strike. Qin-shi explains the family cemetery and school both needed tending, which could be funded with the purchasing of property around the cemetery and the school moved on to said property to be paid for with the new purchases. The family would then share responsibility of tending to the school, which would keep everyone from complaining of having sole charge of the duties. So, in this way, the property would be safe from being taken to its charitable status, and would allow the young people to continue their education and be useful agriculturally.

Qin-shi then professes of a positive occurrence in the near future which could make them all spend in celebration and to be way of the excess extravagance. Qin-shi reveals a riddle before the hour of death is heard by chiming. When Xi-feng awakes, a servant announces Qin-shi had died, Xi-feng then getting ready to go to Lady Wang’s, and family and servants alike mourning her. Meanwhile, during Dai-yu’s absence, Bao-yu kept to himself and began retiring early in the evening, his reaction to Qin-shi’s death worrying his servants, since he’d thrown up blood, but he refused having a doctor called, believing it had been caused by the surprising news. He prepares to see Grandmother Jia and insists being allowed to go to Qin-shi, she setting up transport and entourage for him, and after seeing her body and grieving, looks in on You-shi, whom was ill with a stomach issue, then goes in search of Cousin Zhen, whom was speaking to other family members who had arrived and were mourning. He lost hope for the family name ending because of Qin-shi’s death, then speaks of plans for the funeral. Arrangements are made for her body before the ceremony and moved to a shrine.

Meanwhile, Cousin Zhen gets a deal for the making of the coffin from Xue Pan, they soon hearing of Qin-shi’s young servant committing suicide upon hearing of her passing, they burying the girl next to her. Cousin Zhen then has the good luck of speaking with a well-respected servant whom would be able to help him get his son, Jia Rong considered for a better position so he’d be able to add it to the needed banner for for Qin-shi’s funeral. The servant makes the arrangements with his secretary, and after he’d left, Cousin Zhen plays host to new arrivals to mourn Qin-shi. The next day, Jia Rong’s rank was promoted and the coffin stated as such. So, whilst most everything was progressing easily, Cousin Zhen still stressed over You-shi still being ill and this reflecting the family badly if it damaged some sort of rule regarding the “female head of household”, his answer coming from Bao-yu, Cousin Zhen completely agreeing with him and setting about the temporary head being Cousin Feng (Xi-feng), so brings Bao-yu to his room where only Xi-feng remained, since the other ladies disappeared for embarrassment, and Xi-feng notes how Cousin Zhen had been over-extending himself, he ignoring this and asking for her assistance on receiving her aid, she instructing him to ask Lady Wang, whom enters, but also puts her opinion of herself being too young, Cousin Zhen maintaining she was the only option and becoming upset, Lady Wang and she eventually consenting, so she accepts (I’m getting annoyed by the formalities basically referring to the same person to different ways, it’s confusing). After Cousin Zhen leaves, Xi-feng puts in order the tasks which she need focus on most once Lady Wang also leaves, she narrowing down how best to deal with the servants, especially.

Chief Steward of the Ning-guo mansions, Lai Sheng gives directions to his men to do as Xi-feng asks, their work hours guaranteed to be a bit longer now. So, as long as they put up with her bitchy, stubborn ways for the month, they could kick back after, she being known to go after anyone who disobeyed. Sunshine, Xi-feng’s servant then turns up for the household list of names, everyone snapping to work accordingly. After recieving said list, Xi-feng goes home. Xi-feng arrives back at Cousin Zhen’s early next morning to discuss Lai Sheng’s wife of almost the same topic of discussion Lai Sheng was going over, and then saw all servants before giving out their duties, she then making plain how everything would now be run. Her hold was immediately felt and order returned after many years of nonsense. After seven times seven days before the funeral, the monks had made it to a serious part of their prayers, as were the Taoists and other holy people all doing their parts to prepare Qin-shi’s journey through the afterlife.

Xi-feng had a late start next morning, and upon arriving, has the servants begin the procedures for their mourning. Xi-feng leads by example, Cousin Zhen and You-shi ending the display and Xi-feng starting the task of meeting with the servants, one woman later today, found and begging forgiveness whilst Xi-feng handled an order for silk-cord, which soon turned into other diverted attention for servants and wives of “important” men. Xi-feng continued her tracking of funds and deciding what would be handled according to her logic. Then, she returns her attention to the lady, informing her how she would normally have her conduct qualify dismissal, but instead would make an example of her, and ordered her whipped by bamboo, the servants taking her look of anger seriously and following orders. Xi-feng afterward, notes the new rules for how tardiness would be handled would be double the whipping number the woman endured, along with some other dissuasive fines, she then allows all to get to work. Xi-feng makes her leadership clear, and no one dared slack off. Bao-yu is then followed, using Xi-feng’s office to speak with Qin Zhong, she greeting them and finishing lunch as she took care of restocking orders and chatting to the boys about their school work, Bao-yu realizing Xi-feng hadn’t put through the request for materials necessary to finish his homework space, she revealing the materials had already been supplied and was only teasing him.

A servant traveling with Dai-yu then comes in to report the news of her father’s death and how long they’d be away for the burial. Later in the evening, she gathers requested coats and gives the servant more tasks whilst he looked after Jia Lian. As the funeral day drew nearer, Cousin Zhen picked out Qin-shi’s plot and the number of monks wanted for the ceremony. Cousin Zhen also stayed over at the head monk’s room overnight so he could finish the readying of the plot and whatnot before the funeral, Xi-feng also finalizing her reservations before and after the funeral, she also dealing with other family-related matters throughout, everyone becoming impressed with her multi-tasking and superb handling of all situations. Then, the night no one was to sleep was upon them, Xi-feng surrounded by shy family members, but she not perturbed and giving assignments to all as people came and left throughout the night, morning bringing the funeral. It beginning with the tradition breaking of the bowl by honorary daughter/servant, Jewel, showing her sadness appropriately. One official, the Prince of Beijing had also attended, asking about wanting to meet Bao-yu to Jia Zheng, his father. He retrieves the boy, Bao-y excited to have been asked for, he admiring the Prince, and their conversation forthcoming.

Bao-yu admired Shui Rong, the Prince of Beijing’s mourning accessories and outfit before attempting to greet him formally, but was prevented by the man, he instead asking about Bao-yu’s jade, and being handed the corded stone immediately for inspection. After, the Prince inquires about Bao-yu’s studies, etc and then states how Bao-yu was sure to surpass his elders, Jia Zheng replying how lucky they’d be if Bao-yu lived up to the affirmation. The Prince then offers Bao-yu an invitation to his home to speak with the cultured writers the Prince had been known to host, this allowing Bao-yu another way to be taught different sorts of intellect. He then gives Bao-yu a bracelet he wore, Bao-yu and his father both thanking him traditionally before Jia She and Cousin Zhen offer he go before the coffin’s procession, but the Prince decides the hearse’s presence to importance, so the funeral party was temporarily separated whilst the Prince left. Bao-yu was preparing to join the other men to go by horseback, when Xi-feng invites him to accompany her by carriage, he accepting and then taking a moment to stop at the midway of their travels.

They get out at a farm, one of Bao-yu’s pages describing the farm tools whilst Xi-feng changed her outfit, they eating and taking tea before continuing their ride and catching up at the Temple, and after staying the day, is offered to return home in the evening, but decides to stay, Xi-feng taking responsibility for him. The two, along with Qin Zhong, since his father was unable to remain, retire at her arranged rooms, she speaking with the lady of the house, Euergesia, whilst Bao-yu and Qin Zhong are met by one of Euergesia’s “disciples”, Sapientia, Bao-yu giving Qin Zhong a hard time for supposedly hugging her privately, he denying knowing anything about it. Sapientia couldn’t deny Bao-yu’s claims though, the two having fallen for each other, but their affections innocent, so far. They had tea, then leave Sapientia for other pastimes.

Meanwhile, back with Xi-feng, Euergesia relates a story where a family wished for her assistance, but she not interested in getting involved, Euergesia warning it would give the wrong impression, so Xi-feng decides to quote a price she’d agree to help, if paid, Euergesia immediately assuming they would and whether she’d be prepared to begin the next day, she not saying yet, but the two chatting on. Qin Zhong soon locates Sapientia, he vowing his love, she wanting him to prove it through getting her out of her servant status, and his agreement, but forcing his unbridled passion upon her, Bao-yu cock-blocking him in a odd way, and he deciding what Qin Zhong would do to keep his secret for him, but the details unknown. Now, Qin Zhong is attempting to figure a reason for them to remain longer, Xi-feng weighing the reasonability, deciding it’d suit her for the task she agreed to do. Xi-feng has a servant send a message to a general Yun Guang, and when they were set to leave the next day, Xi-feng makes sure Euergesia will contact her with Yun Guang’s answer. Qin Zhong and Sapientia’s parting was full of sadness and the details of the departure are to follow.

Everyone’s return home is uneventful, Bao-yu had every intention of using his finished work space, but Qin Zhong became sick, and woe he is made to wait longer before he could study with him. Xi-feng received Guang’s response in affirming his readiness to help her which had him receiving his gifts back and a young lady and man committing suicide in the process, Xi-feng looking like she was content with money made and Lady Wang remaining in the dark, this seemingly the start to her new hobby. Soon, Jia Zheng’s birthday has come, a message from the Emperor coming by Head Eunuch of the Bedchamber, they learning Jia Zheng had been summoned to see the Emperor right then, this having the rest of the family wondering what reason there could be as Zheng readies to leave. A few hours later, Grandmother Jia receives message of she and her female family members were now also being asked to go meet Zheng so they could show gratitude, Grandmother Jia learning privately one of the ladies had been chosen as Imperial Concubine.

When the women found out, they were quite pleased and dressed according to title of power. Bao-yu was the only one whom wasn’t bothered by this good news, Sapientia having followed Qin Zhong and he getting punished when Qin Bang-ye found her, he getting so incensed, an illness which he periodically fought, finally claimed him a few days later, so due to the physical stresses and mental anguish from losing his father, he struggled to get better. This is why Bao-yu’s sister, Yuan chun’s “promotion” didn’t brighten his mood, the family putting it off to being one of his crazy ways. Although, the knowledge of Dai-yu finally returning helped him defrost a bit, and when she arrived, she became swept up with locating space for the new books she’d brought back (I feel that). Meanwhile, Xi-feng and Jia Lian were jokingly speaking formally with each other, and as they had tea, spoke of Xi-feng’s duties and she down-playing her competence at managing households. As she’s inquiring Jia Lian to have Cousin Zhen forgive her terrible management of his home, Jia Lian is reminded of hearing news about Xue getting Caltrop as he’d been wanting. Jia Lian notes how Xue wasn’t suitable for her, so Xi-feng offers to exchange her maid for Caltrop.

When Jia Lian goes to see Zhen, whom had dropped by, Patience admits the reason Caltrop was mentioned was because Brightie’s wife had come to deliver money. Later on, as Xi-feng and Jia Lian have wine, his old nurse comes by to ask about possible work for her sons, Xi-feng willing to take the matter into her own hands. The conversation then moves on to the Emperor’s project of having a place for the concubines to visit with their parents, Jia Lian helping with this. Nannie Zhao speaks of the old Emperor’s ways and is soon interrupted by Jia Rong and Jia Qiang who were delivering the message of where the Visitation spot would be placed and to give comment the next day. Jia Qiang then relays a message about his own task of hiring entertainers and was to accept advice, Jia Lian wonders whether he was experienced enough to choose appropriately, Xi-feng defending Zhen’s choice to have Jia Qiang handle it.

After Jia Lian learns how the money for this task would be handled, he approves of Jia Qiang’s plan so far, and Xi-feng offers a couple helpers to aid him, which he’d been hoping to request. Jia Qiang offers to pick up anything Jia Lian needed in appreciation for his help, and after this, heard a few general household matters before retiring for the night, Xi-feng joining him by midnight. Jia Lian plays a large role in choosing the builders to undertake the project which began the next day, after which they started purchasing supplies and moving a garden to attend to the landscape before building. Due to the family focused on this, Bao-yu wasn’t hassled about his school work, but soon discovers Tealeaf, Qin Zhong’s state turning into a deathly illness. Bao-yu relays this to Grandmother Jia, whom allows he go to him until he passed, but must return directly after. Bao-yu leaves and quickly takes a carriage to Qin Zhong’s where he was being looked after by female relatives.

When Bao-yu sees his friend lying on a bed instead of his kang, he becomes upset, Li Gui reminding Bao-yu the reason behind this could be due to Qin Zhong’s sensitivity to certain levels of hardness of cushion rather than it being about the custom of not being allowed to expire on a kang, hoping this possibility would calm Bao-yu so as not to upset Qin Zhong, but he needn’t have worried, since Qin Zhong was currently dealing with beings ready to drag him into the afterlife, but upon hearing Bao-yu calling, the “demon” leader and bunch put them atwitter as to how to proceed. The lead demon decides to relent in letting Qin Zhong a few more moments to say goodbye to Bao-yu, since he wore his demon repelling jade. Unfortunately, Qin Zhong was unable to speak and could only awake to look at Bao-yu before descending into blackness.

Bao-yu was terribly distraught from this day until quite some time after the funeral. Later still, Cousin Zhen informed Jia Zheng of the garden being done and he would be last to decide if they needed to add anything else, as well as the opinion for certain points of the space to be named, the two agreeing with an idea from a man of words about putting their ideas on lanterns and have Grandmother Jia decide later which would be best. Bao-yu had been prompted by her Ladyship only moments before to go in the garden, so hadn’t been quick enough to retreat before his father approached, Jia Zheng then deciding he’d see how gifted Bao-yu’s couplet skills truly were, since receiving good notes regarding this from his instructor.

Jia Zheng leads them all to the first spot needing to be named, everyone suggesting something, Jia Zheng not disappointed after Bao-yu makes his suggestion, but the area ultimately going to receive a different name. They move to another area and the group again gives opinions, Bao-yu doing well and this time his father acknowledging this in the usual minimalist way, they moving on. this time, the little enclosed area bringing to mind the idea of studying within to Jia Zheng’s attention and Bao-yu showing a look of guilt. After hearing the other men first, Jia Zheng speaks deprecatingly about Bao-yu to Cousin Zhen, since he’d suggested hearing from Bao-yu once more, he again giving a more suitable idea and stating why the others didn’t seem fitting. Jia Zheng hadn’t been impressed with the couplet Bao-yu offered thought, getting the report of what deliveries had been made for the structure thus far. They move on to the next area as they listened, Jia Zheng happy to have reached this particular rest-spot.

Bao-yu doesn’t wait to be asked this time and his father responds heatedly about they only having been inquiring to test him, so when they moved to another building he had Bao-yu attempt a name, Jia Zheng not pleased and putting down both name and couplet before moving on, this time traveling to another area with a stream, Bao-yu still unable to impress his father, the group then climbing to another area over a hill. Jia Zheng’s first impression of another building turned from negative to calm due to the view from the door, plants all about within, Bao-yu mistakenly offering his opinion on the smell form the plants coming from a particularly named rare plant.

When Bao-yu stays silent at the next building as the literary men suggested couplets, Jia Zheng calls on his son again, goading him for his opinion, and again acting surprised when the other men praise Bao-yu, but inwardly agreeable, at the least to the positive feedback. The next place they went was the entrance hall, this place giving Bao-yu deja-vu, the other men having Jia Zheng allow Bao-yu to give his opinion in a day’s time, since he looked so preoccupied with attempting to remember. Jia Zheng does only allow these terms if Bao-yu gives him a perfect suggestion, they then being interrupted by a servant with information Yu-cun having sent a message. They leave with Jia Zheng leading, he again shooting down a suggestion from Bao-yu when they crossed a dam, after which they walk past many other quaint rest areas, Jia Zheng only stopping when he became tired.

Bao-yu still attempts naming the place they were in after his father had the others speak. The idea wasn’t accepted, though and they continued on until reaching where they’d begun, Jia Zheng allows Bao-yu to depart, the boy being stopped by his father’s pages, who took all of his valuables they could see as payment for supplying him with his poems, they then take him to Grandmother Jia, after which he goes back to his quarters, Aroma and then Dai-yu seeing his missing articles, the latter annoyed he’d given away a gift of hers, she collecting and cutting up a bag Bao-yu had requested she make, he showing her how the gift she’d thought had been re-gifted was actually saved, she upset by his reaction of returning it to her and then calming her down when he saw she was going to destroy this purse, as well. When he didn’t let her alone, though, she attempts arguing why he’d insist keeping the little purse when he’d tried to reattach it, the two eventually making peace enough to go to Jia Qiang’s where they learned of a twelve girl act he’d acquired, also 24 nuns also being employed by Lin Zhi-xiao’s wife, the lady informing how they may get an extra nun, Adamantina, whom would fit well and came from a good family, but the young lady having not been convinced, yet. Lady Wang suggests a formal invite of which the results continue presently.

As Xi-feng became busier, Bao-yu decides to move their group to Ying-chun’s quarters. Meanwhile, Lady Wang would be occupied with work for the garden for the next ten months straight. Finally, after Grandmother Jia had given her okay, Jia Zheng puts in request and receives answer for a “Visitation”, in a month’s time. A eunuch made last minute rules and requests on behalf of the concubine and the night before the visit brought rest to no one. The important members of the family were all ready by five next morning and waiting at the entrance until hearing how the concubine wouldn’t be arriving until early evening. Xi-feng prepares small assignments in the meantime, and when night finally falls, the eunuchs soon get wind of the concubine’s approach, the Jia family also reclaim their spots of welcome, and then two sets of ten eunuchs stand in a line before they hear the concubine reaching their estate. First her servants carry her belongings, she bringing up the rear. Yuan-chun descends only for a moment to “‘changing her clothes'” before being brought to the freshly pimped garden, she overwhelmed by the lengths obviously gone to in order to show the excessive make-over. As Yuan-chun was brought further into the garden, it’s explained why Jia Zheng had chosen to use his son’s suggestions being to do with Yuan-chun having been so close with him when he was a small boy. Yuan-chun, not knowing this it seems, spoke her mind, and one title for the entrance to an area was shortened whilst another changed completely. Yuan-chun then sat to be greeted by the family, her lady-in-waiting dismissing each group as they paid respects.

Yuan-chun’s lady-in-waiting went about excusing each group as they paid respects. After this, she again, “changes her clothes” and is carried to her family’s home. Grandmother Jia and Lady Wang both waiting, and Yuan-chun becoming emotional from seeing them after so long. Six other ladies were standing around and watching the scene with tears in their eyes. After everyone calmed, others were brought forward to greet her, and after learning Aunt Xue, Bao-chai, and Dai-yu weren’t present, she had them called on to attend the reunion. Then, when most of the high-positioned servants were led out, Yuan-chun was comfortable enough to lose diplomatic formality, unfortunately, it making certain trouble when wanting to chat with her father, Jia Zheng, they having to speak with a curtain hiding one from the other. He spoke of advising her, and also stating of his wife and he were honored by her royal position and she shouldn’t feel upset for her good fortune including this stipulation of her visit.

Yuan-chun then wonders aloud where Bao-yu was, after which Jia Zheng shared his son’s contribution for the titles in the garden. She calls for him and is overcome with joy once more, until being led to a feast elsewhere, getting the chance to explore the grounds further, and afterward, she and the family sitting down for their meals and she writing down her choice for titles of the lovely garden and changes to the names of some, but not Bao-yu’s inscriptions. After doing a bit more writing, Yuan-chun requests the ladies of the family to attempt writing some poetry, as well as Bao-yu expanding on his inscriptions of her four top favorites. Everyone immediately begins, the ladies poems being read first. Yuan-chun praises two out of the four young ladies, and then Bao-chai helps Bao-yu with his last requested poem. After this, the twelves little girl performers got their chances to show their talents, one girl, Charmante being noticed considerably more. Then, Yuan-chun makes an inspection of the list of gifts which would be given to the family and servants, she agreeing, the time for her visit ending. Grandmother Jia with Lady Wang were both visibly upset, Yuan-chun attempting to reassure them everything would be fine before steeping back into her carriage.

The emperor hears of Yuan-chun’s visit a day later, and Xue-feng along with the rest of the family, were taxed physically and mentally by all the planning they’d done, she continuing to oversee the cleanup of the garden which lasted for the next few days. Bao-yu though, was among those being completely sedentary with his time, he accepting an invitation to attend some plays at the other house. The productions were so loud, people on the streets could hear the cacophony. Bao-yu becomes tired of it fairly quickly and decides to move along, chatting with You-shi first, but leaves her and the maids and concubines shortly after, his attendants all having let him be for believing he’d only mill about until evening. Bao-yu was on his way to see a portrait of a lady hanging in one of Cousin Zhen’s studies, and upon approaching closer, hears questionable sounds from within. He makes a tear in the paper window and witnesses Tealeaf getting off with another girl. Bao-yu was shocked into a yelp and busted in on the two, allowing the one girl to leave and inquiring of Tealeaf to share the girl’s name, which was Swastika (the story behind this, shared), the two then decide to visit Aroma where they are also greeted by her family and before being escorted back home, sits a little while.

Meanwhile, his maids were also taking advantage of Bao-yu being out, Nannie Li dropping in and not being impressed with their behavior. She helps herself to Bao-yu’s gift to Aroma, though and becomes peeved and feels guilty when hearing why the koumiss had been saved. Another maid attempts to make light of Nannie Li’s egotistic perspective by agreeing with her, but she didn’t believe the maid’s genuineness, and after leaving, Bao-yu returns to notice the maid, Skybright lying down, Ripple relating the events with Nannie Li and how Skybright started losing when the old woman arrived. Aroma then comes in, Bao-yu asking for the koumiss and the maids naming the drinker, Aroma stating how Nannie Li would’ve been welcome to it anyways, since she’d made herself sick of the drink before Bao-yu could react.

When Aroma requests Bao-yu peel some chestnuts for her, this distracts him from thinking anymore of Nannie Li and he drifted to the topic of one of Aroma’s younger relatives, the girl catching his interest and confiding his opinion of liking the girl to reside with them, Aroma taking offense over how her family shouldn’t all have to work for his, Bao-yu claiming the possibility he could’ve meant as a bride rather than a maid, Aroma not buying this due to her family’s lower status. She then shares how the girl was already betrothed, Bao-yu showing disappointment, and then shocked and surprised when hearing her family’s plans of buying her freedom to move back home. Bao-yu’s reaction to state how he could keep her there when she’d confessed her wish to return to them, and explaining how his family couldn’t deny her freedom if purchased, Bao-yu distressed over this, but seeing how possible it was, regardless of his hypothetical scenarios to make her stay, he then sharing how he’d rather have not had her employed for him if she’d told him sooner she’d eventually leave, readying for bed.

Then the conversation between Aroma’s mother, brother, and herself is related, she not wanting  them to buy her out, due to how well she was treated and they not having need of the money to sell her off again, they also agreeing with her after seeing Bao-yu. So, Aroma confessing the opposite to him was part one in a complicated plan (maybe?), she’d successfully gotten Bao-yu off his high horse and discovered his true feelings. She then goes to Bao-yu to see he’d been crying, she confiding her change of heart to stay and Bao-yu asking her to think of a way to prove to her how much he truly wanted her to remain with him. Aroma wants him to perform three tasks for her, one being to not go on and on with long drawn out responses, the second to at least pretend to enjoy studying, especially around his father and associates, Bao-yu claiming to already having stopped doing this, the third was to resist taking lipstick and eating it, he agreeing fully, and Aroma stating if he could keep it up and only be careful how reckless he was, she wouldn’t ever leave. Another maid then walks in to share the hour being late, so Bao-yu again goes through his bedtime rituals.

Next morning, Aroma becomes ill, so had to take most of the day off, Bao-yu going to see Dai-yu, whom was attempting to nap, but he insisting her napping after a meal was unhealthy, so she relented staying up and chatting with him. Bao-yu becomes distracted by Dai-yu’s perfume scent as she advised him to be careful being seen helping to make rouge, since the news could read his father. Dai-yu confesses it wasn’t perfume, but perhaps came from her closet, Bao-yu denying this for the smell being different. After some time sniffer her cuff, he attempts to make idle conversation, Dai-yu not participating until Bao-yu pretends hearing of a story about Yangchow and some magic mice, she then relenting to listen. When Dai-yu finally realizes this story involved a character with connotations to herself entering the story, she punishes Bao-yu with a lip-pinch, Bao-chai coming in and asking what had happened, Dai-yu explaining and happy to know Bao-chai could now whip Bao-yu at his own game, they then hearing an angry outburst from the vicinity of Bao-yu’s room.

So, as they’d been having a grand ole time, Bao-yu feels better now Dai-yu wouldn’t get indigestion, she identifying the yelling coming from Nannie Li arguing at Aroma, Bao-chai keeping Bao-yu from breaking it up for Nannie Li’s outburst being small potatoes. Bao-yu agrees with her words before going off and hearing Nannie Li’s insults to Aroma having to do with her not having at least acknowledged her presence when she’d arrived. Aroma kept her cool, but became upset when Nannie Li began suggesting how better off they’d all be with her getting married and leaving, Bao-yu attempts to support Aroma with the allowance of she having been sick, but Nannie Li continues her rampage by believing Aroma had turned all of them against her, she then becoming upset, Bao-chai and Dai-yu attempting to ease her emotion.

Xi-feng’s attention is caught in the front room, she entering and stating to Nannie Li of needing to be quiet, Grandmother Jia was in good spirits and didn’t need to hear her petty b.s. (seriously; It was said in kinder terminology, though). Xi-feng also states how if Nannie Li was being upset by anyone she should report them to her for punishment, she then insisting the old bag come have some stew and drink in her quarters, Nannie Li begrudgingly following, but quietly bitching about how she didn’t regret her actions. Bao-chai and Dai-yu were properly amused by this, Bao-yu wondering why Nannie Li had truly gone off on everyone, Skybright defending the girls due to the culprit should’ve willingly come forward if circumstances warranted, Aroma then stating how Bao-yu shouldn’t have turned the quarrel into a group affair, since she always received the backlash, stopping herself from becoming further distressed for Bao-yu’s sake, he also staying reserved, since he could see she was truly ill.

As a proper lie-down is set up for her, she suggests he sit with Xi-feng and Grandmother Jia for awhile, she assuring him she’d be alright, Bao-yu agreeing with her idea and so joins his grandmother once Aroma was settled, he returning afterward to find all his maids gone except Musk, whom had decided to keep an eye on Aroma and Bao-yu’s quarters. So, before retiring himself, he brushes her hair when he remembers she’d been talking about it earlier, another maid coming in, teasing Bao-yu, he making light of it, fortunately, and then returning to her game. By the following morning Aroma had recovered, so Bao-yu goes to Aunt Xue’s home. Some of his other closely-aged relatives were also there playing games, Bao-yu’s half-brother, Jia Huan playing against Bao-chai, she treating the two brothers equally, so when Jia Huan starts losing the game and attempts to cheat, Bao-chai has the other girl give up her winnings, she annoyed, but Jia Huan breaking down, which Bao-yu then comes in to inquire the reason, but the other too ashamed to confess.

Besides this, there was an odd relationship between the two due to Jia Huan being a concubine’s son and the younger. Bao-yu didn’t bully him, since people were already speaking about him enough as it was, and he also was ruled by his religion teaching respect of blood being of utmost importance, so Bao-yu dealt with Jia Huan as this and the fact he’d grown up with females coloring his reasoning. He made it clear if the game was upsetting him, he should go find something else he’d enjoy. Jia Huan ends up back in his own quarters where his actual mother, “‘Aunt Zhou'” wondered aloud what had happened (Lady Wang was known as his mother only by title). When Jia Huan shares his story of what had occurred, Aunt Zhou bursts with how he shouldn’t have been mixing with them anyways. Xi-feng hears her as she passes by, telling her off through the window and having the boy come with her. She proceeds to berate him about his choice of bad company and being too weak-minded, she then sending him off with more cash for betting with and would make him regret any similar behavior in the future if she heard about it again. Meanwhile Bao-yu and Bao-chai go to visit with Miss Shi when she comes to call.

When arriving at Grandmother Jia’s room, Dai-yu was there giving Bao-yu a hard time about spending time with Bao-chai. She exits, and Bao-yu goes after her wondering why she was mad, she stubborn and Bao-yu getting pulled away by Bao-chai on behalf of Cousin Shi, the two leaving Dai-yu upset, and when Bao-yu returns later, she is more distressed and so he attempts calming her with how close they were compared to Bao-chai, whom was too new to be considered more of a closer cousin. Cousin Shi then comes to say how perfect it was they deserting her the one time she’s actually available to them, the two laughing at her lisp and she quickly exiting after a joke about Dai-yu marrying a lisper. Bao-yu blocks Dai-yu’s attempts at chasing her and Bao-chai tries to diffuse the situation by waving the white flag, Dai-yu having a Nannie Li moment when she sticks to her pursuit and belief there was collusion against her. Bao-yu makes her realize how this nonsense began due to her own tom-foolery, a servant interrupting with news of Grandmother Jia starting supper, after which Bao-yu hangs around with Dai-yu and Xiang-yun until quite late, Aroma asking for him periodically.

The next morning, Bao-yu is up with the light and fussing at Xiang-yun’s blankie, Dai-yu having him leave temporarily whilst they dressed, and after finishing cleaning their faces, Bao-yu requests Xiang-yun style his hair, Aroma sees this and returns to Bao-yu’s room where Bao-chai comes looking for him, she taking a moment to speak with Aroma about herself, liking the girl. When Bao-yu returns, he notes how quickly Bao-chai leaves, Aroma not in a good humor and Bao-yu stating as much, she confessing she’d like to work for Grandmother Jia once more. This worries Bao-yu, but he doesn’t get anything more from her, and when he receives similar attitude from Musk, he lets it go and lays down for a nap. When Aroma covers him and he takes the blanket off, they begin speaking, he stating how she wouldn’t even let him in on why she was mad, and she maintaining he should know already and when he finishes lunch and returns, she has fallen asleep. He goes to his room and reads for awhile until seeing one of his maids, Citronella, standing in the room awaiting instruction, he changing her nickname given to her by Aroma to Number Four due to the number of girls in her family and she being the baby, he growing tired of the flower and fragrance theme.

Aroma and Musk quietly find this amusing, Bao-yu now bored with his uneventful day, Number Four wanting to make a favorable impression on him, and after dinner, Bao-yu now a bit inebriated, he considered how best to bide his time from Aroma, reading and becoming inspired by a passage and adding his own thoughts in the book regarding Aroma, Musk, Dai-yu, and Bao-chai, then retiring. Aroma is asleep next to him when he wakes in the morning, he rousing her so she could go sleep comfortably on her own kang (which everyone seems to lounge and sleep on, so I presumed). When Bao-yu attempts to get her more comfortable, she resists, still playing her game of having him see his wrongful ways. Instead, it seems to be left alone once Bao-yu breaks a hair-pin, they both washing up. Bao-yu leaves and Dai-yu comes looking for him, seeing his open book, and ads her own lines to his. She then goes to Grandmother Jia’s, and after to Lady Wang’s, the doctor having seen her daughter, she being sick with smallpox. The doctor advises the potential for recovery and how to treat it for the little girl’s comfort. A room was then prepared for the girl, doctors, and parents, since it would be a 12 day process.

Jia Lian was affected by this set up because of the forced abstinence it entailed, which would be satiated by a lady known as “the mattress”, the wife of a cook called “Droopy Duo”. Jia Lian soon had her brought to him, she delighted, they meeting in the evening, and upon getting down, her nickname explained as coming from an affectation her body took, and once finished, the two ‘come’ (wink) to an agreement. When the baby’s illness had passed and everything was normal, Patience discovers a lock of hair under Jia Lian’s pillow, she confronting him about what it could be, and when he makes a lunge for it and fails to retrieve it before Xi-feng was heard heading towards them and requesting an item for Grandmother Jia, asks whether anything was found or missing from Jia Lian’s temporary quarters, she knowing the possibility of her hubby’s naughtiness.

Patience keeps his secret and when they’re alone again, was about to negotiate terms when he tricks her into releasing the hair, and her frustration making him ask for her to let him lay her, she leaving whilst the getting was good. He then vows to make Xi-feng realize whom was actually in power in their relationship, it sounding murderous, he claiming she was using the double-standard on him (rightly), Patience defending Xi-feng for not being a cheat. When she mentions how trustworthy she thought of him, he widens his threat to include anyone who thought his conduct unsavory, Xi-feng then happening to return to see Patience conversing through an open window, she giving Xi-feng some attitude when she mentions why she was outside to speak with Jia Lian inside, then exiting, Jia Lian also trying to excuse himself, but Xi-feng having a topic to discuss.

Xi-feng inquires about their plans for Bao-chai’s birthday, since she’d be turning fifteen and Grandmother Jia wanted a nice party for her, so Jia Lian comes up with a simple solution, Xi-feng only making certain he had final say, he not caring as long as she eased up her surveillance of him. Shi Xiang Yun is then followed, she preparing to end her stay, but Grandmother Jia insisting she wait til after the party, she agreeing and sending word back home. Meanwhile, Xi-feng speaks with Grandmother Jia about what her thoughts were for entertainment, she going off on her in a burst when she was offered a meager sum to obtain said festivities, fortunately everyone taking it lightly. Grandmother Jia had caught on to the situation being for her benefit, she enjoying these set up digs on her.

On the day of the party, a different child acting troupe is scheduled. The party stayed a private affair, and Dai-yu was still acting aloof toward Bao-yu, as he’d come to her room to offer choosing her favorite plays for her, she not impressed, but still allowing him to lead her out. After the family had eaten, Bao-chai chooses the first play to be from a piece of Journey to the West, Grandmother Jia happy with her decision. The others also get a choice and everyone sits to watch the set, Bao-yu asking Bao-chai why she kept requesting similarly themed plays, her answer having to do with the music and lyrics, Bao-yu having her share which part she particularly liked, she obliging by quietly singing the section.

Bao-yu agrees with her assessment, Dai-yu voicing her annoyance at his talking, and after everyone had watched the plays into the evening, Grandmother Jia gave extra gifts to two of the girls who stood out, afterward. As the troupe was packing it in, some noted how one of them looking like one of their party, Xiang-yu naming the person, then becoming angry when receiving a look from Bao-yu, which she mistakenly perceived to be a look of insult, and she not caring for his explanation, he then getting pushed out of a room by Dai-yu when he was looking for her. He waits her out and when she opens the door once more to find him still waiting, she allows him entry, alluding to how he seemed to support her being teased, he declaring the statement hadn’t been made by him, and she concluding with a baffling answer, since she supported everyone’s reaction, whilst wasn’t ideal, she thought his staying straight-faced made it worse, like she couldn’t take the joke. Besides this, how he’d reacted to Xiang-yu confused her into thinking it was due to she being on a lower rung-of-importance to Xiang-yu and shouldn’t have been joining with her, for risking a comeback, and so believed his excuse of she being sensitive was to distract from this, Dai-yu not liking he’d stuck in nose in. Bao-yu realizes how his actions had received negative results from both ends and his book reading reminded him of the philosophies saying how unfulfilling the task he’d put on himself was, making him feel worse, so he ditches her in favor of his quarters.

Dai-yu took this even more insulting and declared he stay away from her and not speak with her again. Bao-yu doesn’t respond, and when Aroma sees him, lets it be and talks of different subjects, her attempts being met with indifference. Bao-yu was determined to keep out of any suggestion referring to the ladies and so stayed aloof with all of Aroma’s ideas regarding good spirits toward the women. After quoting a line describing how he felt, he became upset and began writing some verses. When he was satisfied, he goes to bed, Dai-yu wandering in later and Aroma detaining her before she withdrew, after learning Bao-yu had retired, but was amused by Bao-yu’s writing which Aroma gives her, she showing Xiang-yu and Bao-chai, the latter disposing of it, since believing Bao-yu had written it because of what she’d told him of the play, Dai-yu finding her reaction amusing. She states how destroying the paper was unnecessary and could reverse Bao-yu’s reaction by posing a specific question to him, which when he heard, could not find a reply, all who watched on amused and suggesting alternatives to his torn up thoughts, he then realizing his Enlightened moment was false, taking the three’s ribbing lightly, since they also hadn’t obtained Enlightenment, regardless of knowing more than he.

Meanwhile, Yuan-chun had sent a riddle for the family to decipher and return a riddle of their own to her. Everyone took part in answering the riddle and supplying one of their own and the answers along with the riddles were delivered and returned in kind. So, whilst some of Yuan-chun’s guesses were incorrect, those who’d stumped her pretended she’d succeeded in solving them. Jia Huan was the only one whom had given a riddle Yuan-chun admitted she couldn’t solve, the answer being sent to her, Grandmother Jia so taken with the game, she sets up one of her own for everyone, Jia Zheng also taking part, and after Grandmother Jia had Li Wan join them, also noting Bao-yu staying monosyllabic due to his father’s presence, the other ladies were also lacking in conversation, Bao-chai the least affected by whatever was putting the others off, Grandmother Jia considering the cause to be Jia Zheng, she attempting to convince him to turn in, but he wanting to be a part of the fun, Grandmother Jia relenting by offerring him a riddle, the two soon trading riddles, Jia Zheng giving presents when Grandmother Jia’s answers were correct.

After, she suggest he has a go at the kids riddles, getting them with one guess, but becoming depressed by how dark they were. Grandmother Jia could tell something had darkened his mood and didn’t want him bringing down the party anymore and again brings up of he readying to retire for the night, he agreeing this time and doing so after a couple more drinks and conversation with her before making his exit, his mood not improving. At the table, upon Grandmother Jia stating they loosen up, Bao-yu immediately begins critiquing the riddles, Dai-yu and Xi-feng making fun of how animated he’d become and realizing Jia Zheng should stick close to him more often if they wanted peace, he retaliating against Xi-feng’s comment by play-wrestling with her. After some little time, Grandmother Jia becomes tired and breaks up the party so all could settle for bed.

A bit after Yuan-chun’s visit, she has a copy of the poems made about the garden and has the best ones engraved in the family’s honor. Jia Zheng goes about passing the responsibility to have her wishes met and was considering how to proceed with transplanting the nuns and monks elsewhere (this being mentioned way back…), Zhou-shi turning up thinking a job for her son, Jia Qin could be acquired, since the family needed the money, she getting the opportunity to chat with Xi-feng, whom liked her, and after hearing her idea of how to keep the nuns and monks with no problems of separating them, Xi-feng has Jia Zheng informed because it was so clever, she being reminded by her hubby Jia Lian they had to think of Jia Yun first, she already having plans for him, Jia Lian agreeing and asking about a little romp they had the night before, she giving a small laugh and not answering. Later, when Jia Lian relays all of their plans for the boys to Jia Zheng, he allows this quickly for indifference in these matters, Jia Qin being hired and he stating his gratitude to them, Xi-feng also having Jia Lian supply him with an advance, he immediately starting his work after speaking with his mother.

Meanwhile, Yuan-chun was reminiscing  about the beauty of the garden as she worked on the poems it had inspired and thinking how terrible it was knowing they wouldn’t be using it in her absence, so she decides to have the girls and Bao-yu move in there. She writes her wish of this and has it sent to Jia Zheng and Xi-feng, and when Grandmother Jia is informed, they begin setting up for this to happen, Bao-yu quite ready to move in and chatting to Grandmother Jia of his plans of what he wished put there, he then being called by Jia Zheng, his attitude changing obviously, Grandmother Jia comforting him and telling him how to respond to his father during this visit, and when she sends him off with some nannies as “protection”, he makes his way to his father slowly, the nannies awaiting outside the area his father was enjoying seeing him take his time, one making light of his apprehension and letting him know his father was in a decent mood, so he should take advantage whilst he could.

Jia Zheng states what he expected from Boa-yu once he’d moved and the consequences if he got out of line, his mother then reminding him to have Aroma give him his pill each night, Jia Zheng becoming irritated upon hearing the maids nicknames, the two then dismissing him. When he returns to Grandmother Jia’s and sees Dai-yu, they decide which part of the garden they wanted, the two being neighbors and a date set for them all to move in, Bao-yu’s life becoming a thing of idyllic freedom. He’d composed for poems indicated by season of how he fest and had become popular as a source for knocking them out, pleased with the attention: what with being thirteen and liking having people refer to him for his work. One day, though he’d grown unfulfilled and couldn’t get comfortable. Tealeaf realizes Bao-yu had yet to try one thing, he gifting some books the boy hadn’t seen before, and Tealeaf asking he keep them secret.

Bao-yu attempts to, but one day as he’s reading under a tree, Dai-yu walks in on him, explaining what she’d been doing with the fallen tree blossoms, as Bao-yu had been dumping them in the water, she then mentioning the book he’d been reading and disbelieving his reply, so he promises her to secrecy and praises its absorption capacity. Dai-yu soon realizes the truth in his claim she agreeing after reading a bit. When Bao-yu quotes a couplet which Dai-yu takes personally, he quickly apologizes, she brightening and the two burying petals when Aroma announces Uncle She was sick and the two were summoned by Grandmother Jia to attend. After, Dai-yu was walking by herself and heard the girl troupe practicing a song, she concluding how a song could have wonderful pietry and is soon brought to her knees and tears as she listened, someone interrupting.

Caltrop explains why she’d been wandering and then walks Dai-yu back to Naiad’s House. They see a gift sent to Dai-yu, hang out, and after, Caltrop leaves her. Meanwhile, Bao-yu was expected by Grandmother Jia to check on his Uncle She, and as he wait for his change of clothes, essentially wraps himself around Faithful, Grandmother Jia’s servant and wanting to eat her lipstick, Aroma walks in and states how he was becoming a lost cause. Then, before he away’s to She’s, he’s greeted by Jia Lian, the two interrupted by Jia Yun, Bao-yu and Jia Lian’s nephew, a joke being made about Jia Yun not minding if Bao-yu wished to be his father, even though Jia Yun was years older. As they all part ways, Bao-yu invites Jia Yun to visit him the next day, he then riding (by horse) to She’s. After seeing him, and noting he only had a chill, he relates Grandmother Jia’s message, he’s then brought to Lady Xing’s room where they chat, being briefly interrupted by Jia Cong, Jia Huan, and Jia Lan, Lady Xing making an excuse to have them leave, Bao-yu then being invited for dinner with she, Ying-chun, and her nieces before returning to Grandmother Jia, then his quarters.

As this is going on, Jia Yun was after a job from Jia Lian, he conveying an opening when the planting was to be started, then going to his uncle, Bu Shi-ren for a loan of goods, but he hard up not only for the products, but the money from someone else already being owed. Jia Yun puts perspective to his Uncle’s words, noting he could be more trouble, his Uncle mentioning Jia Yun’s other cousin whom had gotten the priests and nuns position (to transport them to different temples), Jia Yun having enough of hearing about why he couldn’t acquire a job like him was ready to leave when his Uncle offered he stay for dinner, but declines. As he’s walking away moodily,he walks into a drunk man, whom turns out being his neighbor, Ni Er, a dirty businessman, he about to knock his clock off until realizing who him was, then telling he’d help him out if need be, Jia Yun accepting if only to keep the man friendly. They part ways after he’s given a message to pass to his wife.

Jia Yun begins his plan the next morning, back to the Rong-guo House and sees Xi-feng, he giving her his purchase of oil scents, pleasing her with his surprise, but not getting anymore information about a job, he remembering his invitation from Bao-yu, and the boy’s pages leaving him to wait, Jia Yun hearing a girl from outside, and Tealeaf returning by then and having her take a message to Bao-yu, Jia Yun fascinated by the maid and taking her advice to return next day. He again speaks with Xi-feng, she having learned his reasoning for his gift, she playing hard to get, but he making clear he’d take whatever she could give, they scheduling a meeting so he could start. After recieving payment, he gives Ni Er his money back, then goes to buy the trees after sharing the news with his mother.

As for Bao-yu, it’s clarified he’d invited Jia Yun flippantly, and so had been away a couple days with the Prince of Beijing, and then returning to note his maids were detained someway or another and when he called, turned away the older maids who answered. A young lady, then comes in to pour his for him, she able to relay Jia Yun having come by, Ripple and Emerald then return and confront Crimson outside, she explaining her presence and Ripple insulting her, they interrupted by an old lady delivering the information about how they conducted themselves when the trees were planted the next day. Crimson soon realizes she had more information then the two bitches. She had been resident in the House of Green Delights before Bao-yu and girls had moved, she retreats to her room, then hears her name being called, discovering it was Jia Yun, and when he attempts to pull her closer, she falls in her attempt to run off. She awakes realizing she’d dreamt it, beginning her chores when dawn comes.

Bao-yu had been thinking of Crimson and wanted to invite her to become a closer attendant, but doesn’t get a chance before his washing. Then, Aroma speaks with Crimson to have her borrow a spittoon from the Naiad’s House, Crimson seeing the tree workers with Jia Yun, but not up to speaking with him, feeling sorry for herself, and instead lies down after she completes her mission. The following day brought Wang Zi-teng’s “lady”‘s birthday, Lady Wang wishing to go, but not since Grandmother Jia wasn’t up for it, but Aunt Xue, Xi-feng, Bao-chai, Bao-yu, and a few other girls accepted the invitation. Jia Huan had returned from school recently and was getting to work on some copying, delegating tasks as he did, Sunset decided to advise him to speak more kindly, since the other maids thought he was a schmuck, he not taking her helpful criticism well, but being interrupted by Bao-yu’s return, his mother suggesting he rest for awhile, since he’d been drinking. So, whilst he lay, Sunset massaged his legs, but not giving her undivided attention, she warning he’d tell on him, since he’d captured her hand, Jia Huan, Sunset’s master, deciding to punish him anyways, dropping a candle brimming with melted wax on his face, Lady Wang and Xi-feng both talking harshly about Jia Huan’s thick-motioned ways, then Lady Wang turning to Jia Huan’s mother, Aunt Zhao (Why must there be a Zhou and Zhao?!), she taking the put-downs and making certain she was seen helping Bao-yu.

Lady Wang knew she’d be hearing about this from Grandmother Jia, and begins applying lotion on her son, Bao-yu. He was prepared to take the blame, but Xi-feng knew there’d be hell, regardless. Bao-yu was returned to his room, Dai-yu visiting once learning of what happened, and he expected to see Grandmother Jia the next day, she blaming his care-takers. Bao-yu’s “Wise Woman”, Mother Ma also visited and did her magic lady words to make certain he healed properly, Grandmother Jia also learning of an incense-related ritual to keep him safe. Mother Ma explains how her other customers would purchase various amounts of oil to keep a light burning of which she herself would upkeep at her home (Bloo), Grandmother Jia considering carefully, so Mother Ma presents a suitable possibility for her in the case of Bao-yu, which she agrees, also making certain his attendants had extra cash for giving to good karmic charitable cases, like monks or various poor they meet on their way with Bao-yu.

After, Mother Ma visits Aunt Zhao for some silk and discusses Jia Huan and her contribution for him, she sharing her frustration about how Bao-yu would always overshadow him, even whilst understanding the reason. Mother Ma then deduces Aunt Zhao’s true problem being with Mrs. Lian, Aunt Zhao checking to be certain there weren’t any prying ears before agreeing and feeling she had to put up with the woman’s will. Mother Ma sees the potential for more money and plays hard-to-get when Aunt Zhao shows interest in the idea of investing in an underhanded way of dealing with the woman whom seemed to be in line to claiming all property and goods leftover in the Jia name, Mother Ma taking her more seriously when Aunt Zhao brings her attention to how she’d be able to name her price if her idea worked.

So, Aunt Zhao bargains with her by giving her a bundle of goods and a little extra cash, as well as an IOU, Mother Ma giving her paper cut-outs of people and demons, she explaining how to use them and placement of them under the targets beds, she then leaving after being summoned by Lady Wang. Meanwhile, Bao-yu had become a homebody since his burn, so Dai-yu would chat with him most of the time in his room, and one day, after getting bored of reading and sewing, walked to Bao-yu’s and found Li Wan, Xi-feng, and Bao-chai having a blast, Xi-feng inquiring about the tea she’d sent her, Bao-yu piping in with his opinion of them being nasty flavored. When Dai-yu states the opposite, Xi-feng gifts her the rest of her supply and would have someone speak of a favor she had in mind for her upon its delivery.

Dai-yu remarks how the gift seemed to be attached to strings and Xi-feng retorts with a phrase which alluded to she being a bride which would attach her to the family, this embarrassing her and she stating how it wasn’t funny, Xi-feng not resisting her jabs and speaks of Bao-yu and she, which had her running out, Bao-chai going after her as Aunts Zhou and Zhao enter, Xi-feng and Dai-yu actively not conversing with them. Then a summons is given for the younger ladies to visit Wang Zi-teng’s wife, so Li Wan and Xi-feng leave, as well as the Z’s, Bao-yu calling for Dai-yu, whom hadn’t gotten very far outside. When she returns, he holds her hand and only smiles at her, making her self-conscious, then he complains of his head before having a fit and scaring the maids and herself, he attempting suicide multiple times before Lady Wang and Grandmother Jia arrive, they soon distraught, many other family members hearing and milling about in bewilderment outside. Xi-feng’s reaction was to start gutting dogs and chickens with a knife and was looking at the crowd with blood-lust until some servants overpowered her and put her in her quarters. Many began suggesting what should be done metaphysically and otherwise, and by sunset Zi-teng’s lady leaves for home and visits again to ask after everyone the following day. Others visited with well-wishing and help from doctors, and the family had resorted to moving “the cousins” into Lady Wang’s room, Jia Yun and pages tasked with watching them at night due to their conditions still on the raving side.

The search for a cure continues and the fourth day Bao-yu requests Grandmother Jia to prepare his belongings and himself to be expelled from the family, Aunt Zhao gleeful, but acting sad, she attempting to convince Grandmother Jia to bide his words so he could die peacefully, her response being to hock a loogie in her face. She berates her and declares she wouldn’t gain anything from his death, along with anyone else, a servant then informing of the coffins having been finished, this putting Grandmother Jia over the edge and ordering the wood-smith to be whipped to death, and then hearing a chanting monk outside. Upon seeing him and his companion, they being a scraggly sight, they are invited in, the monk requesting to pray over Bao-yu’s jade to aid its ability to ward off the evil. When the monk holds it, he speaks familiarly to it of the time they’d met 13 years before on Green-sickness Peak, and once finishing his prayers, instructs Jia Zheng where to place it and the cousins recovery to be expected in 33 days. The two then leave before he could offer sustenance, and his instructions are followed diligently, Bao-yu and cousin regaining sanity and appetite by evening, Dai-yu relieved along with the others.

When Bao-yu’s month of rest is up, his face has healed, as well. This time also allows Jia Yun and Crimson to be around each other more, she noticing, but not remarking on the handkerchief he carried looking like her missing one. Later, a young maid, Melilot comes to her for the favor of looking after some money for her, she advising Crimson to go home and see a doctor, Crimson acting emo and declaring she would be better to die, Melilot warning her to not speak in such a way. They are interrupted by a quite young maid giving Crimson the task of copying patters for Mackerel, but she needing to retrieve a tool from Oriole and meeting Grannie Li, whom had told Jia Yun Bao-yu wished to see him.

Crimson loiters and soon the two eye each other as she speaks with his guide, Trinket. Jia Yun and she continue to Bao-yu’s, he impressed with his uncle’s home. Bao-yu asks after him when he invites him in his bedroom to sit, Bao-yu remarking how long it’d taken for him to remember his long ago invitation, but Jia Yun only glad he’d recovered. Bao-yu makes idle chat and when Jia Yun notes he was growing tired, decides to take his leave, Bao-yu wishing he return sometime. On his way back, Jia Yun asks Trinket a variety of questions about herself and the other maids, soon landing on the handkerchief, she mentioning how Crimson had even offered her a reward if found. Jia Yun had a plan for the item and gives Trinket a different hankie, he having her promise to let him know what she did.

Meanwhile, Bao-yu was being awoken by Aroma to go have a walk, he reluctantly relenting, soon running into Jia Lan, whom was after some deer to shoot with bow, and after allowing the young boy to continue, headed unconsciously to  Naiad’s House. As he approaches closer to the window, he hears a quote from a book he knew, Dai-yu speaking, and when he enters and startles her, she denies having said anything, she dismissing her “guardians of morality”, Bao-yu quoting a line, himself and upsetting her, she walking out and he following in distress, but they being interrupted by Tealeaf with a summons from his father, and so Bao-yu rushes off and is led outside the gate, where he’s met by Xue Pan, he laughing and apologizing, and Bao-yu taking his jest lightly, but readying to return the favor.

Xue Pan then gets to his point, which was in celebration of his birthday next month, some buddies had put together a feast and he wished Bao-yu to join them, the with a singer already in attendance. When they sit, Xue Pan brings up how Bao-yu could draw him something for his birthday present, he seeing some good erotic ones recently. Then another buddy comes in, Feng Zi-ying, Xue Pan asking after his family and how his black eye had come from a hawk’s wing during a hunting trip with his pops. As he finishes with it being good fortune he’d gone rather than stayed home in comfort, he attempts to bow out, but the group refuses him, wanting more deets, he playing at being annoyed, but after agreeing as long as they supplied him with a couple decent-sized drinks, he still keeps his news to himself, but hits it would be shared at a get-together of his own in under two weeks, he then driving his horse away (yes, drive).

The group sticks around for awhile longer and when Bao-yu returns to a worried Aroma and clarifies what had become of him, due to his toasty state, she was a bit perplexed he hadn’t at lease sent word, but Feng Zi-ying was a distracting fellow. Bao-chai joins them, she relating how she’d refused the invitation, taking her tea and speaking of unimportant topics. Before Bao-chai had dropped by, Dai-yu had also planned to visit Bao-yu once learning he’d returned, she even seeing Bao-chai ahead of her, but distracted herself with some beautiful fish, so when she did finally get to his home, she had to knock to be let in the gate. Unfortunately for her, Skybright was in a bad mood and not recognizing her voice, turns her away, Dai-yu debating what to do and feeling bad for herself, she then hearing Bao-yu and Bao-chai inside, her mind going to even further paranoia of what reason could make Bao-yu turn her away, she becoming distraught and sits under a tree, someone eventually exiting from the house, but only to be known upon continuation of the second volume.

Regardless, though, I am hooked, and I’ll be quite happy to continue In the Appendix we learn who Bao-yu had seen the fates for in the fairy’s library, beginning with Skybright’s terrible fate by slanderers. Aroma does marry, Caltrop/Ying-lian is murdered by Xue Pan’s horrible wife, Xin Jin-gui. As for Bao-chai and Dai-yu, they are represented as two halves of a perfect woman and the meaning behind their songs are up for debate as to whether the first or second refer to one or the other, or the first to both, or the first and second about Bao-yu, alone. There are other characters explained, but I’ll only list those I remember, the last being Xi-feng, whom will have an unfulfilled life which may end in divorce.

I’m hooked, I’ll be quite happy to continue the series (with time). In the Appendix we learn who Bao-yu had seen the fates for in the fairy’s library, beginning with Skybright’s terrible fate by slanderers. Aroma does marry, Caltrop/Ying-lian is murdered by Xue Pan’s horrible wife, Xin Jin-gui. As for Bao-chai and Dai-yu, they are represented as two halves of a perfect woman and the meaning behind their songs are up for debate as to whether the first or second refer to one or the other, or the first two both, or the first and second about Bao-yu. There are other characters explained, but I’ll only list those I remember, the last being Xi-feng, whom will have an unfulfilled life which may end in divorce.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Year Four)

Image result for harry potter and the goblet of fire book cover

The locals of Little Hangleton have continued to refer to a particular home as “the Riddle House”, even though the family hadn’t resided there in years. With time, the house was showing its age, the older locals still sharing stories about an odd and terrible occurrence, the facts being lost with so many retelling’s, but a couple certainties remaining: it happened fifty years ago in the summer, the maid discovering the three Riddles having perished. The maid hastily goes to town and tells as many people as possible, the constabulary eventually are notified, the town curious more than empathetic, the Riddles not being well-liked. Everyone was mostly wondering whom had killed them, the townsfolk congregating to the local pub to share their thoughts, the Riddles chef coming in to update them of a Frank Bryce, the Riddle’s gardener, being brought into custody, no one believing he could have been the culprit, but the chef explaining how Frank had the means to enter the house, and the townspeople convincing themselves he could’ve done the deed.

By the next morning, in Great Hangleton, Frank was denying guilt and speaking of seeing a teenage boy the night of the deaths, the police not buying it, but after the bodies had been examined, the report stating of nothing in the norm having killed them, all three in peak health, and no evidence of Frank’s involvement, he’s released and continues living in the cottage on the grounds, staying beyond the two families who’d moved in and out fairly quickly, neither feeling comfortable staying. The most recent owner didn’t live in the house or repaired it, speculation being it was kept for “tax reasons”. Frank was still paid to tend the garden, he dealing with hoodlums vandalizing the house. One night, Frank notices lights inside the house and suspects a fire had been kindled, he going off to investigate, noting no signs of a break in, and unlocking the fairly hidden back door. Even whilst not having been inside the house for quite awhile, he still knew the layout well, he listening for movement as he climbed the stairs.

Once on the second level, he could clearly see where the light was coming from, the door slightly open, he realizing the fire had been lit in the fireplace, and a man inside was speaking of more liquid still within a bottle if the other man was still craving sustenance, the second man declining, his voice unnerving to Frank, whom then hears the first man being referred to as Wormtail, he placing a chair close to the fire. The second man asks after Nagini, Wormtail informing she’d gone exploring, the second man commanding she be milked, for the second man’s hunger to come later in the night. Wormtail inquires to the length of their stay, it being a week or more, they not moving until the Quidditch World Cup was done. Frank didn’t recognize the reference to Quidditch or the other magical world words, as the second man explained why moving would bring possible attention. Frank now figures the men he was eavesdropping on could be spies or criminals, Wormtail then offering the possibility of their plan working without Harry Potter, it getting done more efficiently, the second man seeming to consider, until relating how his health would fail without constant care, he sensing Wormtail’s reluctance to aid him other than for necessity.

Voldemort then refers to himself in the third person, and explains why Harry Potter would be waited upon, Wormtail then urgently relating his issues of having to kill someone else, but Voldemort mentioning how he wouldn’t have commanded it if he were stronger, he sharing how he was waiting on his loyal servant to arrive, Wormtail taking offense. Voldemort expands on this other person’s value out-ranking Wormtail at least in two ways, but when Wormtail reminds him of the valuable asset of the woman he’d brought to him, the latter agrees and decides to honor his deed with a task most of his worshipers would clamor for, Voldemort not revealing what it was, only of it being near the conclusion of their plan.

Meanwhile, Frank was realizing the seriousness of whom and what he was listening to, he deducing Harry Potter being in trouble if this psychopath was after him, but he staying to listen rather than follow his instinct to phone the police. He overhears not as useful information as Voldemort suspects hearing Nagini returning, Frank frozen upon seeing the large snake and being trapped by either moving into the occupied room or being murdered by the reptile. Fortunately, the snake passes him without acknowledging his presence, he sensing Voldemort was speaking to the snake, and afterward informing Wormtail of the elderly Muggle standing outside the door, Wormtail opening the door wide, and Voldemort inviting him in. Frank gains courage upon learning what Voldemort had called him, attempting to have him believe he told someone his whereabouts, but Voldemort not taken in. Frank demands Voldemort face him, which Voldemort acquiesces, Wormtail turning his chair, and Frank horrified by the sight, Voldemort killing him. Two hundred miles away elsewhere, Harry awoke, startled.

Harry calms after his clear dream, his scar feeling hot, puts his glasses on and notes his scar still hurt him, he checking in the mirror and seeing no change, only pain. Then he attempts recalling the realistic dream, remembering seeing Wormtail and Voldemort, the view of the latter waking him, or possibly by the stinging of his scar. He vaguely recollects their discussion of murdering someone and he being next. He then peers out his window, and when returning to sit on his bed, is troubled by the thought of his scar hurting him when Voldemort was nearby, he not certain whether to believe this was an option. He’s momentarily startled by a snore from Dudley, talking himself out of his unreasonable suspicion.

Harry also thought about how pointless it would be confessing to the Dursleys of his stresses, he instead focusing on he being able to begin school in two weeks, and considering how Hermione would respond if he’d shared of his scar bothering him, he also musing on the idea of Dumbledore going somewhere sandy and sunny for the summer, as well as how he’d describe his situation, then wondering about Ron’s reaction, this scenario not panning out either. Which then led to thinking of when they’d invite him over and not wanting to taint it possibly unnecessarily with worry over his scar. Once realizing whom he truly should contact being Sirius, he started his letter whilst being pained with the knowledge of how close he’d come to being rid of the Dursleys. Harry had been sent two letters from Sirius thus far, his tone sounding positive and the birds sent, brightly plumaged, so once completing his reply, which included information about Dudley and his treatment from the Dursleys, he had to await Hedwig’s return from her grub-getting, he readying to go down to breakfast.

Harry enters with all 3 Dursleys already seated, he being ignored as he joins them, Petunia giving Dudley slices of grapefruit, the tension being believed to have come from Dudley’s shit report card, and the issue which was bothering them not being by his grades or bullying, but from the school nurse informing them Dudley had reached the limit of fitting into the school uniform, so now the family ate the same diet as he was assigned, Harry’s portions smaller to make Dudley feel better, but Harry having called the aid of his buddies to provide tummy fillers, Mrs. Weasley’s contributions the most ample, plus the getting of four birthday cakes didn’t hurt the cause. Vernon then goes off to answer the door, they able to hear paper tearing as he returned to command Harry follow him to the living room, he reading the letter having been sent to them about Harry staying with the Weasleys for the rest of the summer and attend the World Cup, the request coming from Molly Weasley, and Vernon not amused by how much enjoyment the postman had gotten during the delivery, the envelope fully covered in stamps with a small spot open for the Dursleys address, Harry remaining quiet for a space before asking if he could accept their invitation.

Vernon struggles visibly with giving his okay to release Harry, considering whether two extra weeks without him was worth more than Harry staying miserable. When Vernon became too close to exploding as their discussion continues, Harry waves the white flag of accepting not going, and needed to complete his letter to his dangerous godfather, Vernon’s expression changes drastically since Harry had put him snugly in a corner, he then giving permission. When Harry returns to his room ecstatically, he notes Hedwig had returned, and irritated about the mini owl zooming around them, a letter from Ron on the floor. Ron had written of a warning to Harry about his mother’s letter and how they’d been planning on retrieving him regardless of the Dursleys answer and would be coming on Sunday. He then mentions Hermione already being there and warning Harry not to say the word “Abroad” in front of Percy since he’d begun working at the Department of International Magical Cooperation. Harry writes his short reply and sends the little owl off, he then completing his letter to Sirius and Hedwig acting more calmly as if to show the mini owl’s manner was unprofessional. Harry then has a piece of cake and was content with soon leaving, his scar not bothering him anymore, Voldemort not seeming enough to get distressed over.

Harry was ready to go by noon, the Dursleys quite stressed by the knowledge of wizards coming, which annoyed them. Vernon states how the wizards better know to dress “normally”, Harry not worried too much about the Weasley kids, but Mr. and Mrs. Weasley tending to don robes, which made him concerned for them in having to listen to Vernon’s uncivility. Vernon dressed formally in order to make him seem powerful and foreboding, Dudley however, was abuzz with nerves what with his last face-to-face with a wizard had brought a piggy tail, so he tended to walk with his back to the wall. They had an untalkative lunch, Petunia seeming to hold back telling Harry off, Vernon then defensively asking whether the Weasleys planned on driving him, Harry uncertain since they hadn’t replaced their old car, he spending most of his afternoon in his room, returning downstairs when the time was closer, but the Weasleys didn’t show at five, Vernon stating of their lateness with heat, Harry even getting edgy when it was nearing half an hour past, Vernon on a tirade of wizards not able to keep appointments well or they most likely having a crap car, Harry in the hall listening whilst the family was in the living room, but then Vernon screams, Dudley rushes to the kitchen, and Harry goes in to hear some Weasleys behind the boarded up fireplace, he relating to Mr. Weasley, Fred, George, and Ron of the Dursleys having blocked the fireplace, Mr. Weasley temporarily distracted by the mention of an “eclectic” fireplace, then deciding he’d have to blast them out, Vernon being naive and ignoring Mr. Weasley’s warning to move away, he only doing so after being covered in soot and the Weasleys emerging, Mr. Weasley attempting politeness by offering to shake Vernon’s hand after identifying he and Petunia as Harry’s relatives, then apologizing for the mess and explaining how he’d gotten a contact to temporarily connect the Dursleys fireplace to the Floo network, and once getting the boys back, would repair the damage and Disapparate.

None of this makes sense to Petunia or Vernon, and as Fred and George retrieve Harry’s trunk from upstairs, Mr. Weasley compliments the Dursleys’ home, Vernon’s face coloring and Petunia biting her tongue again, neither speaking still. When Dudley enters the room once hearing the noise of the trunk coming downstairs, Dudley’s manner made Mr. Weasley think he was mentally ill, again attempting pleasant and polite conversation and still not getting a response, Harry and Ron resisting looking at the other too much for wanting to crack up. When Fred and George reenter, Mr. Weasley sets up the fireplace with a roaring fire, Fred then dropping sweets and picking them up before being first back into the fireplace, George next with Harry’s trunk, then Ron, Harry giving his parting goodbye, not getting a reply and Mr. Weasley stopping him when no one had returned his farewell, Vernon begrudgingly doing so with the threat of Mr. Weasley’s wand convincing him, and as Harry readies to go, he hears Dudley choking, his tongue one foot long, the toffee wrapper on the floor, Petunia trying to pull Dudley’s purple tongue out of his head, which she met with Dudley’s resistance, Mr. Weasley then stating of fixing him, but Petunia getting protective when Mr. Weasley raised his wand, he attempting to explain what was happening to Dudley, but even Vernon losing it and chucking a glass figure at Mr. Weasley, this being the last straw for him and then instructs Harry to leave as Vernon readied to throw another, Mr. Weasley stating he’d deal with them. Harry obeying, but also wanting to witness the madness, he viewing Mr. Weasley exploding the third item aimed at him as Petunia shrieked and Dudley lay underneath her, Harry next seeing the green flames about him.

Harry’s ride is speedy, and when he arrives at the Weasleys kitchen, Fred immediately inquires hopefully about Dudley’s eating the candy, Harry confirms this and the room erupts with laughs, Harry seeing Ron seated with two people he didn’t recognize, but sensed were Bill and Charlie, the eldest Weasleys, the two each greeting Harry with a handshake. When Mr. Weasley popped back, he’s incensed with Fred, whom denies doing anything, Mr. Weasley threatening to out his troublesome prank to Mrs. Weasley, but when she enters, Hermione and Ginny soon to follow, he keeps the prank to himself. Mrs. Weasley not letting it go, so Hermione giving Harry and Ron an out by suggesting they head to Ron’s room, Harry then asking about Weasley’ Wizard Wheezes after hearing Mrs. Weasley mention it, Ron explaining their mother had found purchase forms in George and Fred’s room, he not having known they’d come up with a list of product. Their mother was furious due to this and their O.W.L.s scores being low, Percy then makes an appearance to quiet them, Harry asking after his work and learning his report had to do with regulating cauldron thickness.

After Ron ticks him off, they hear renewed shouting from the kitchen, and when entering Ron’s room, Harry inquires why Ron’s owl was called Pig, learning Ginny had named him Pigwidgeon and Ron couldn’t change it now, so he shortened it, the little bird annoying Ron with his behavior, but Harry knowing Ron’s ways of complaining of his pets which he did truly care for. Then, to cover an unfinished question about Sirius, due to Ginny still present, Hermione notes the loud arguing had dissipated and they should return down to help Mrs. Weasley. When they see she’s alone and angry, she designates tasks to the group to prepare eating in the garden (eleven inside, beyond their capacity). After, Ron and Harry hear Mrs. Weasley rant about the trouble Fred and George would make for themselves if they weren’t careful. She then becomes more irritated when she learns she’d been cooking with one of their fake wands, Ron urging Harry outside to stay out of her warpath. They then see Crookshanks chasing a gnome in the yard, whilst Charlie and Bill were table-fighting each other, Ginny, Fred, George, Ron, and Harry getting entertained, whilst Hermione struggled between enjoyment and worry.

Percy gets them down to business when complaining of noise, and as everyone sits to eat after the loads of food was served, Harry is satisfied with filling his tummy than indulging in conversation, instead listening, Percy discussing his assignment with his father, and his thoughts of the missing Bertha Jorkins, whom was known to get herself lost, but usually resurfaced, Percy giving the Department Head a hard time for not staying on top of it, and Mr. Weasley speaking forgivingly about the situation. Percy gives a fishing line about a highly classified piece of information which no one bites, Ron informing Harry of this song and dance occurring a few times already, as Mrs. Weasley hassles Bill about his new earring and long hair, whilst Fred, George, and Charlie chatted about the World Cup. Harry asking after the current events of what he’d missed over summer. As the early evening sun set, Harry reveled in his full stomach, candle light, and Crookshanks running after hysterically laughing gnomes. Ron then takes this moment of abuzzed concealment to inquire of Sirius once more, Hermione listening intently, and Harry updating them of a possible return message whilst he was there. He then considering sharing the reason for his correspondence, but wanted to maintain the feel-goods of the evening. Then, Mrs. Weasley reminds everyone of the hour and has Harry give his school list to her so she could prepare his items along with the others, the possibility of the World Cup running over almost a week, something to consider.

Harry doesn’t feel like he’d slept much at all before being woken by Mrs. Weasley, the other boys getting ready dazedly, and when meeting Mr. Weasley downstairs, they hear of how Bill, Charlie, and Percy were sleeping in due to apparating to meet them, and when Ginny and Hermione come in, they learn they had a short ways to walk, this having to do with being inconspicuous to Muggles, Mrs. Weasley then catching George attempting to hide mischievous contraband, she uncovering the twins’ attempt at getting their Ton-Tongue Toffees out of the house after their mother had ordered them to dispose of them. The group then starts their trek, Harry learning where and why they were footing to a certain destination. When they get there and begin looking for the Portkey, Mr. Weasley hears someone he knew locate it, they being properly introduced to Cedric from Hufflepuff, Seeker and Captain for their team and his father, Harry getting a bit more attention from Cedric’s dad which was heading in an unpleasantly awkward direction, until the moment came to touch the old boot, as they all did so, Harry feeling a tug, and along with the everyone else, was transported to the place where the match would be held.

Harry’s first to stand, he viewing the moor, two annoyed-looking wizards dressed without fashion sense, like Muggles, Arthur greets one of them as he returned the Portkey, the wizard locating their camp and giving the name of the site manager, and when arriving, noting the man was the only Muggle for  quite a distance. Once they verify the tents they’d reserved, Mr. Weasley has Harry help him decipher the correct amount to pay. The man inquires about whether Arthur was from another country since there’d been others who hadn’t known the proper amount to give, he seeming fixated on the strangeness of people and outfits, a wizard appearing and casting a memory spell on him, the man releasing Arthur’s change and a map. The wizard escorts them away, letting Arthur know how inquisitive this particular Muggle had been needing a charm renewal multiple times per day, the wizard moving along to other duties. As they continued on toward their camp tent, Harry realizes why the Muggle had been suspicious, there being quite a few with unnatural additives to the outer detail of their tents.

Arthur is happy to see the location of their camp being perfectly placed on the other side of the forest where the game would be, Hermione and Harry designated to help put together the tents, Arthur getting a bit too hyperactive with the mallet, but once finished, they noting how tight the tents would be for all ten of them. When Arthur invites them in for a look, Harry is shocked the inside had expanded nicely, Arthur then giving the duty for the trio to get water, Harry experiencing the youngster wizard generation for the first time, the families with quite young children rising earlier, he also becoming aware how widespread the wizard population was. As they walked through the sea of tents, they’re called to by Seamus, whom was with his mother, and buddy, Dean, he relaying how the Ministry was upset by their shamrock decorating of the tent, the trio investigates what the Bulgarians had put on their tents after being informed by Seamus’ mother, it being pictures of Krum, the Bulgarian Seeker, whom Ron states of being a prodigy.

They reach the line to the water after this, overhearing a conversation between two wizards which gives Hermione uncontrollable snickering to the point of retreating until the wizard had gone. When they’d collected their bucketfuls, they meet a few more of their classmates and then upon reaching their own camp, they learn from Fred how Arthur was enjoying his lack of ability in lighting a match, Hermione stepping in to show him how it worked. Then, as the fire heated up enough for the water and other cooking, Arthur chatted to Harry and Hermione about all the Ministry personnel who passed their tent. When they’d begun making food, Percy, Bill, and Charlie turn up, and as they ate, Arthur greets Ludo Bagman, former Quidditch player and Percy’s boss, whom was there to see if anyone wanted to make a bet on the game, Arthur contributing a small amount, and Fred and George going all out, Percy looking on with distaste when Ludo was pleased by the fake wand and it’s quality.

After their business, Arthur asks about Jorkins’ disappearance, Bagman unbothered and claiming to not have the resources to send a search party, they then joined by Crouch, whom Percy was obviously in awe by, he acting so reverently, Fred and George strangling themselves on their tea with enjoyment. Meanwhile, Crouch spoke with Arthur about another business associate whom wanted to export carpets, Bagman getting cut off by Crouch before revealing some fact involving Hogwarts, even Arthur keeping the details to himself after Fred had asked him about it when Crouch and Bagman had left. As the sky became darker once more, magic overpowered the Ministry’s ability to stop it, Apparating being common for souvenir sellers. The trio went around collecting little trinkets, Harry getting the three of them omnioculars, then returning to camp to see Arthur had gotten himself an Irish flag, and Ginny, Charlie, and Bill had green rosettes (Harry could’ve gotten the twins some omnioculars, as well to make up for the Marauder’s Map, but maybe he’ll return the favor in some other way, hopefully), then Arthur ushers them to the field when hearing a loud gong.

The group, along with the other spectators, walk through the woods which takes twenty minutes, everyone talking excitedly, and when Harry sees the outside of the forum, knows it’s a vast space, Arthur supplying the 100,000 guests it could accommodate, he then getting the instructions to locate their box, at the top and midway from either side of the goal posts. Harry is entranced by the slowly filling-up stadium, noticing a blackboard with advertisements being written by an invisible hand, he seeing a creature seated in the row behind them after, thinking at first it was Dobby, but it turning out to be some other, female house elf, called Winky, she sharing how she knew Dobby and updating Harry with how he now insisted on being paid for his work, which she attempts to convince Harry of this being a negative quality to his freedom, putting this and other uncommon ideas into Dobby’s head. As for Winky, she’d been sent to save her master a seat, the area agitating her fear of heights, Hermione then sharing how there would be a pre-game show, of sorts with the teams mascots.

Meanwhile, as their box filled with important wizards, Percy gets up so often out of respect, it looked like his seat was hot, he looking enviously at Harry when Fudge greets him warmly. Then, unrelated master to Winky, the Malfoys walk in, Draco’s mother, Narcissa first being met. Lucius coldly asks how Arthur had gotten his seats when Fudge goes through introducing some of those present, he not hearing Lucius’ veiled insulting inquiry, but Fudge stating how Lucius’ donated contribution to a hospital had gotten he and his family in as Fudge’s guests. When they sit, Bagman bursts in to inquire if the Minister was set to begin, he then magically amplifying his voice so all could hear him, he welcoming the crowd and presenting the Bulgarian teams mascots, the veela, Harry soon understanding Arthur’s pleasured response as they filed out and danced. The creatures put them in a trance which left the boys turning on their team, Ron starting to shred his hat, but Arthur stopping him. Then Ireland’s side shoots out a shamrock whipping around and showering the place with gold coins, leprechauns within. After, the Bulgarian team is listed, each player flying out, then the Irish side, and when the referee comes out, the game starts promptly, Harry using his omnioculars to test the play-by-play feature and having the moves listed (see, Quidditch Through the Ages), but Harry misses the first goal for Ireland because of his slow motion viewing, and so is sure to watch the game through real-time, instead.

Then, with Ireland ahead thirty points and Bulgaria at ten, Krum fakes out Lynch with pretending to see the Snitch, and Lynch hits the ground, but is revived and the game goes on. Ireland pulls ahead at 130-10 under half an hour, the Bulgarians getting more nasty and soon being fouled, the veela responding to the leprechauns by dancing, and affecting the referee, whom when brought to his senses, wants to send away the veela. Two of the Bulgarian players argue with him, giving Ireland another penalty in their favor, the veela become more hostile when the leprechauns goad them, everyone distracted, including the referee when the veela set his broom tail aflame which is also when Krum gets knocked in the face with a Bludger and Lynch spots the Snitch. Krum is on his tail though, he catching it, and Ireland at first not noticing the scoreboard, they winning by ten points. Ron doesn’t get why Krum had ended the game before getting ahead, Harry supposing he must have known the Irish Chasers were better than them, the Quidditch Cup then brought to their box. The Bulgarian team then enters and shakes the Ministers hands, the Irish team being given the Cup and taking a second victory lap, Bagman then having the twins to deal, due to they wanting to settle their bet.

Arthur starts by discouraging any mention of gambling to Molly, Fred and George quite willing for their own plans for the cash. When they return to their camp, they speak of the match until Ginny passes out, Arthur having everyone turn in, he relieved he wasn’t on duty to handle the Irish’s late celebrating, and Harry fantasizing incorporating the moves he’d seen. Later, Harry’s rudely awakened by Arthur shouting for him to grab a jacket and leave the tent, yells being heard outside along with running, Harry sees a marching crowd approaching and destroying tents as they walked. When they get closer, Harry recognizes the site manager and, who he presumed was his family immobilized in mid-air above the marchers, Arthur ordering them into the woods until he came for them, he off to aid the Ministry. Ron trips whilst they hurry off, and Malfoy of course turns up to comment, he then stating how they may want to move along before Hermione was noticed, the boys having a back-and-forth of insults before Hermione finally encourages the two to move along, but Fred, George, and Ginny are nowhere in sight, along with Harry’s wand, which he realizes is missing when he checks his pockets as Ron and Hermione took their out for light.

The two then begin suggesting the possibilities of where it could be or what had happened, Harry feeling exposed without it. Winky then appears, running awkwardly, Hermione feeling badly for house-elves living conditions, Ron taking a “lazy” viewpoint until more loud noises get them going again, eventually seeing young men wizards around a trio of veela, Harry and Hermione having to lead Ron away, they walking to a more secluded part of the wood, they running into Bagman, whom hadn’t known about the mob and Disapparated. Hermione is first to notice someone approaching, the three then hearing what seemed to be a spell accompanied by a green light which turned out being the sign of Voldemort, which Hermione explains, they attempting to leave, but wizards Disapparating around them. Harry has them all duck as they’re shot at with a stupefying spell from all, Arthur shouting a halt when seeing Ron, Mr. Crouch coming at them with accusations of one of them having to be responsible for the sign, but Hermione confessing where the voice they’d heard had come, Cedric’s father going out for a look, and returning with Winky, Crouch disbelieving she could’ve been the culprit and looking around, they noting how she’d gotten a hold of a wand, Bagman returning and wondering what had gone on.

Soon, they’re inquiring Winky of her part, Harry then realizing she had his wand, and when they’d tested to see what the last spell had been used with it, they see a replication of the green skull. Diggory accuses the elf again, Arthur bringing the logic of how unrealistic the claim was, Crouch then requesting Diggory allow him to handle Winky’s punishment, she terrified through all of this, and then inconsolable when learning Crouch was planning on freeing her, Arthur then getting them out of there, he planning on expanding on all which had occurred. They run into some wizards back at camp wanting an update for what was found, but Arthur had no information to share, they getting back to the tent and finding everyone else present, they discussing Winky and the Dark Mark not having been viewed for thirteen years. The Death Eaters, supporters of Voldemort, having gotten away when the Mark had risen, Arthur ending their conversation after thoroughly discussing the possible reasons someone would want to magic the Mark, he having them try to rest before getting a Portkey back. Harry doesn’t get to sleep easily this time, wondering about the events and relation to his burning scar.

Arthur had them pack up after a nap amount of time, the group seeing the site manager on their way out, he looking stuporous and vacantly wishing them a happy Christmas. Arthur attempts to reassure the group he’d be fine, this reaction from the large forgetting they had to place on him. When they reach the Portkey area, other witches and wizards are already there to leave, as well, Arthur lucky to double up with Basil, and the gang being met by Molly when they reached the Burrow, she having read the news in the paper, relieved everyone was alright, and squeezing Fred and George in a hug for how their last meeting had ended, Arthur then leading her back to the house, and after spiking her tea, reads the half fabricated article, he feeling partially responsible, since he’d been the one heard not giving information when he’d emerged from the woods, deciding he should make an appearance at the office, Percy excited to accompany to turn in his report on cauldrons. Harry asks Molly if Hedwig had come with mail, which piqued Ron and Hermione’s interest, they excusing themselves to Ron’s room, Harry finally confessing to the two about his scar, and then explaining why he’d asked about the post, the news relieving Ron, whom offered they play Quidditch to take their minds off of everything, Harry agreeing.

Over the next week, Percy and Arthur are kept busy at the office with late hours, Percy sharing of all the Howlers they’d been getting, and after some idle chat, Arthur returning to inform how the article writer had discovered Bertha missing and this being covered in tomorrow’s paper. When Arthur mentions how lucky it was the writer hadn’t learned of Winky, Percy puts his two cents in about Winky being feckless, but innocent, Hermione speaking up about how it should be Crouch’s conduct toward elves which should be in question, Percy again defending his position, Molly finally having all go check to see if they were packed. As Ron and Harry organize there suitcases, Molly comes in with their clean robes, Harry having found all his new textbooks and allowance Molly had gotten for him, Ron asking why she’d left a lacy dress, she telling this was his dress robe, another requirement for this year, Harry’s not looking so frilly. He thinks how he would gladly give half of his savings to the family, but was certain they’d refuse, Ron currently stubborn about ever wearing his and be more willing to wear nothing, Molly giving up and asking Harry to take a picture so she could have a laugh, and after leaving, Pig choking on an owl treat, giving Ron reason to complain of all his belongings being junk.

The morning they were returning to school had a somberness in the air, Molly calling up to Arthur as Harry was coming downstairs after she’d received an important message from the Ministry to do with Muggles, and Harry unable to believe his eyes when seeing the message by Amos Diggory’s head in flames, Arthur being ordered to deal with the issue before the news reporter heard of it, someone called Mad-Eye causing some trash cans to spew refuse everywhere and jinxing other areas, fortunately, since no one had been effected, the job could be fairly easy for Arthur to aid Mad-Eye’s trouble, he hurrying off to attend to the matter, and Molly sending Diggory off with a bit of buttered toast. Arthur says his farewells, makes sure Molly would be okay taking everyone to the train, then disappears. Harry learns whom Mad-Eye Moody was, he a wizard whom used to work for the Ministry as an Auror, capturing Dark wizards and now plagued with the thought of being tracked by his enemies.

After this, Molly called a few taxis for them, Bill and Charlie coming along to see them off, the Muggle drivers having quite a time with the luggage, the trio glad to make it to the station, since Crookshanks was rattled by the fireworks in Fred’s trunk going off, Charlie hinting seeing them soon and unable to disclose more due to Percy and its classified Ministry status. Bill also mentions how he may drop by because of what was in store for the bunch, Molly hinting some rule having been amended and the kids confused by their statements, the train then leaving. As they settle in their booth and Ron wonders aloud what everyone was referring, Hermione quiets him for hearing Malfoy next door speaking of another school called Durmstrang, she sharing how wizarding schools tended to keep their location secret, but she thinking the school was in the North due to the uniforms including fur. As they travel and chat, other buddies of the three come by to greet them and talk of the World Cup, Malfoy of course dripping in, noticing the dress robe Ron had draped over Pig’s cage, and he also mentioning the secret at Hogwarts, but once discovering they didn’t know, stops speaking of it so he could make fun of how they were in the dark. Ron’s bad mood over this stuck with him through the rest of their ride, Harry greeting Hagrid once they’d arrived at the station, and the trio, with Neville board a carriage to the castle.

As they were driven closer to the door, the storm became worse, everyone rushed for the door when the carriages stopped and were glad to get out of the windy rain, but Ron was first marked with a water balloon, Peeves aiming and reloading at others. McGonagall was first to take notice and attempt to end the balloon raid, but Peeves lets loose the last of them before flying off giggling like a loon. McGonagall urges the now more soaked students to continue forward to the Great Hall where Harry was interested in finally seeing the Sorting, but also hoping it was quick for being famished, he then greeted by his most persistent fan, Colin. After learning Colin’s brother would be Sorted today, he consulted Hermione and Ron on the likelihood he could end up in Gryffindor with his big brother, Hermione informing it wasn’t a guarantee. They then realize some professors were missing from the table, including whomever would take over Defense Against the Dark Arts, whilst Ron also hoped the ceremony would be brief for hunger.

McGonagall leads the first years in, and Colin’s brother, Dennis is drenched and wrapped in Hagrid’s coat, he mouthing to Colin of having fallen in the lake, but looking positively giddy. After this, the hat is brought out and set on a stool going straight into a song of how it had come to be, Gryffindor himself being its origination. When the hat finishes, Harry notices how the song had changed, Ron supplying it was new each year and thought the hat used its twelve months to hatch up the new one. When Dennis gets in to Gryffindor, he immediately tells Colin of what happened on the lake, Colin thinking the giant squid must have pushed him out, the two quite abuzz over this, then Colin getting Dennis to notice Harry, whom attempts to ignore them and watch the rest of the Sorting. Finally, once it ended, Dumbledore gives the go ahead to begin the feast, whilst Nearly Headless Nick tells of how Peeves had almost ruined the feast due to being banned from coming tonight. When Nick mentions the use of house-elves at Hogwarts, Hermione stops eating with shock, Nick informing the house had the largest number in use in Britain, Hermione ending her meal in the middle of the first course.

After meals were through, Dumbledore makes his speech, which included the canceling of Quidditch for something he couldn’t mention for being interrupted by a heavily-scarred man, his one blue eye moving independently from the other, Dumbledore speaking to the man quietly, then introducing him as he sat and begun to eat, this being Professor Moody, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, the usual applauding response only taken up by Hagrid and he, everyone else distracted by Moody’s manner. Harry then mentions to Ron of recognizing the name since Arthur had gone to help him earlier, he also noting Moody’s wooden leg. Dumbledore then gets back on track by announcing the school hosting the Triwizard Tournament which consisted of the best wizards from Durmstrang, Beauxbatons, and Hogwarts to test their skills with magical competitions, but had been stopped due to the death toll during the tourneys in the past, two departments deciding to revive it with rules to keep students safe, he then sharing the glory and prize money bestowed upon the victor. As the students mulled this over eagerly, Dumbledore dashes some of their hopes with the age restriction excluding all under seventeen, he also relating how the other school champs would be joining them for much of the semester, and to be hospitable to their foreign guests, then sending them all to bed. Fred and George debate how to get through since their birthday wasn’t until six months after the tourney was over, asking Harry if he’d want to join if they figured a way around the age cap, Neville even considering, what with his gran making him feel like a failure to his family. Ron mentions of possibly going in on it as well, before they went to sleep, Harry imagining getting in and winning Cho’s favor.

The next morning the storm had passed, the trio studying their new schedules as Fred, George, and their buddy Lee thought of ways to accomplish looking older. As Harry dreaded his double dose of Divinations today, the owls come in for deliveries, he worrying about Hedwig when she wasn’t among them, his distraction only broken with Sprout’s class and showing them what they’d be doing with a plant’s pus, afterward Gryffindor off to Hagrid’s where he would have them raise weird-looking creatures resembling lobsters without shells, Hagrid expecting the students to test out what the creature would eat as their behinds exploded periodically. When they got back to the castle for lunch, Hermione double-timed eating so she could hit the library, afterward Ron and Harry going to their Transfiguration class, Harry getting another reading of the danger he expected coming true when Trelawney comes in.

Harry debates whether her premonition was bullshit and had completely been in his own head when Ron had him come to with everyone staring, Trelawney annoyed, and Ron’s next comment having Harry sense Trelawney had given the class extra homework due to overhearing him. When they’d gotten to the doors of the Great Hall, Malfoy calls Ron out to gloat of Arthur being in the news, making fun of his parents’ picture, Harry coming to Ron’s defense by talking smack of Malfoy’s mother in return, Malfoy firing his wand at Harry, but only barely touching him, and before he could retaliate, Moody transforms Malfoy into a ferret, he then bouncing him on the floor when he attempted to flee, McGonagall finally noticing and putting a stop to it, informing him of the proper course of action for penalizing students. Malfoy was speaking under his breath of his father, and Moody responded with knowing Lucius and giving him a message for him, and also wanting to speak with Snape since he’d known him for a long time, as well, he leading Malfoy away. When they sit, Hermione again double-times her meal to get to the library as Ron ‘framed’ the special memory of ferret Malfoy. Fred, George, and Lee sit next to them and praise Moody on his class, Ron let down in learning they had to wait until Thursday.

The couple days to follow were fairly uneventful, other than Neville liquefying six cauldrons in Potions, Snape developing his retaliation options, Neville assigned a detention involving horny toads posteriors. Ron and Hermione discuss Snape’s moodiness stemming from Moody, Snape’s conduct when in range of the man being to keep his eyes off him. Harry believed Snape was intimidated, whilst Ron became glossy over the re-imagining of Malfoy’s situation as a ferret, but with Snape as a different creature. Harry and classmates were so ready for their first lesson, they had begun waiting before the bell had run for classes, Hermione not showing until right before the class began, Harry sensing her reason involving the library, the three securing seats at the front of class. When Moody arrives, he declares the books weren’t necessary, roll call an unnerving experience as his magic eye located each student as they replied.

Moody starts by sharing of their focus this year being on curses, he confessing he, like the other professors, would only remain for a year, having signed up for the benefit of Dumbledore. He then gets straight into explaining how Dumbledore had given permission for Moody to demonstrate Dark curses, despite the norm being for the earliest year allowed grade 6, and when asking for names of the more frowned upon, Ron answers with the Imperious Curse, Moody showing on a spider he kept in a jar in his desk, it acting like it was in a circus act, the class enjoying it until he reminded them of he able to make the spider do anything he chose. Moody then inquires for another suggestion, Neville giving the answer which was the Cruciatus Curse, Neville uncomfortable for speaking out, Moody starting the curse, another spider he at first makes bigger for easier viewing, this spider contorting with obvious pain, making Hermione yell out for Moody to end it, watching Neville’s scared reaction, Moody shrinking the spider and adding it back to the jar, asking for more call outs. Hermione gets her chance, and reluctantly names “the Killing Curse”, Avada Kedavra, the last spider showing the results, and Harry unnerved, this obviously the one which had been attempted on him.

Moody goes on to explain the three curses shown were considered Unforgivable Curses and would be a one way trip for anyone caught, the rest of the lesson filled with note-taking on the three curses, and when class was done, Hermione leading the two to meet Neville in the hall, he looking traumatized, Moody approaching them all, and kindly offering Neville tea where he’d also be giving him some books to borrow, the trio watching on as Neville seemed to want them to speak on his behalf or join them, but he gets led off alone. The trio were baffled by all this, Ron then chatting about the Avada Kedavra curse until seeing the look Harry had on his face, not speaking anymore until at the Great Hall, changing the subject to beginning their predictions what with how long they’d need to finish. Hermione again rushes off after quickly eating, and as Ron and Harry return to the common room, Harry wonders whether the Ministry would reprimand Dumbledore and Moody for showing the curses to the class, Ron considering how the two usually did as they pleased regardless of rules, so if they were hassled it wouldn’t bother them.

As the boys retrieve their Divination homework, they discover Neville perusing a book Moody had lent him, it on his best subject, plants. When the two return to the common area to start, after an hour, they still hadn’t made a dent, Ron finally changing tactics to making them up, knowing they fared pretty well with this choice before. When most of Gryffindor had left for the dorms, Harry noticed Fred and George quietly working on a parchment, he thinking it could be in regards to the Triwizard Tourney, then hearing George state under his breath, but not enough, which made it seem they would be attempting to talk someone into something, George becoming aware of Harry noticing and the two withdrawing soon after. Hermione comes in a few minutes later sharing how she’d finished her project and wanted them to join her cause called, S.P.E.W., she designating them secretary and treasurer, no one saying a word, what with the baffling news she’d made a club to campaign for the well being of elves. The topic is waylaid by Hedwig’s returning with a reply, but Harry reacting badly since Sirius was on the move, presumably to be near enough to aid him, Harry feeling angry guilt, he going to bed and thinking about how he’d messed up.

 Harry was conscious, early in the morning, of having organized a complete plan overnight, he implementing the first step by writing to Sirius of he having made up his scar bothering him, so he could cancel his trip to Hogwarts, he then going to the owlery and coaxing Hedwig to deliver it, Hermione stating her disapproval over breakfast, Ron convincing her to leave it alone, Harry’s mind already preoccupied and his nerves not any less eased. The usual outlet for Harry’s issues, Quidditch, not being available, was partially replaced by the intensity of classes, Defense Against the Dark Arts taking a turn, what with Moody planning on putting each student under the Imperious Curse, Dumbledore having agreed the students should know how it felt, Hermione speaking up about it being against the law, and Moody excusing her, but she embarrassedly back-pedaling. Harry eventually got his turn, and was almost able to resist, Moody impressed with his strength, planning a second demonstration with him, and not stopping until Harry had been able to throw the curse off.

When class ended and Transfiguration had added to their already bulky amount of assignments, McGonagall reveals it was because their O.W.L.s, whilst not this year, would be coming soon enough, and they needed much more practice if they planned on passing. Harry and Ron had gotten exemplary grades for their homework, but now would have to rack their brains for more, their new task being to list a month’s worth. Their other professor’s assigned similarly cumbersome assignments. After Hagrid’s class let out, Malfoy getting put in his place when Hagrid had told them they’d be coming to see their pet projects on assigned nights, the trio pleased with how Hagrid had handled the brat, Ron and crew noticed a sign regarding the Triwizard Tourney and their classes ending early with the new students’ arrival. This happening in a week kept it a hot topic of conversation, everyone, including teachers on edge over their guests impending visit.

The morning of the new students being expected, the Great Hall was thoroughly decorated (now elves entering my mind whenever menial tasks are mentioned), the trio invading Fred and George’s quiet chat to talk of the Triwizard Tourney, Hermione offering some insight into who would be on the panel of judges due to reading about the history, Ron first to throw her off by having her rant about house-elves, she staying vigilant to her cause, harassing fellow Gryffindors in the common room for donations and memberships. As Ron and Fred ignored her, George reveals how he and Fred had been to the kitchens, and the elves were massively content, Hermione pushing this off of they not being aware of their basic rights, Harry noticing Hedwig had returned, Sirius not having bought his lie, he now hiding in the country and to keep him updated by using different owls. The trio get ready to meet the other students along with the rest of the school, after Potions class, they debating how they’d travel there, Dumbledore first to spot the Beauxbatons flying in first on a giant winged-horse drawn carriage, a large lady the size of Hagrid stepping down, Dumbledore leading the students with applause, her students following, quite cold due to only wearing silk robes, their headmistress leading them indoors. Minutes later the headmaster of Durmstrang had arrived by ship, popping out of the lake, again Dumbledore is greeted kindly, Ron then stating the obvious when Krum steps forward.

Ron is still in awe of Krum being at Hogwarts, having forgotten he was still a student, but he not being the only starstruck kid, girls scrambling for anything to write with for an autograph. The trio get to their table, watching as Beauxbatons sat with Hufflepuffs and still acting chilled which exasperated Hermione, whilst Krum along with fellow Durmstrang students sat at Slytherins table, Malfoy chatting Krum up and agitating Ron. Meanwhile, four seats at the Professors table were being added, Harry wondering who else was expected. When the rest of the students and teachers had entered, Dumbledore made a speech, welcoming them and announcing the tourney opening upon the feast’s end.

When the meal appears, the options are more plentiful, some obviously to the comfort of their guests. Ron is rendered temporarily incomprehensible when a Beauxbatons girl came to inquire if they wanted their French dish, he certain she was a veela, and whilst they ogled, Hermione states the two extra seats at the Professors table had been taken, Crouch and Bagman now present, and when dessert was served, again with a few extra choices, and finished, Dumbledore makes a second speech, introducing the two as judges and organizers, he then calling forward for the bejeweled box, he explaining how Crouch and Bagman had already picked out the students’ tasks which would be implemented throughout the year, the choice for champions being chosen by the Goblet of Fire, which was inside the box. He then describes the time-frame and where it could be located for students to apply, and those not within age range, wouldn’t be able to approach for a spell, after this dismissing the students for curfew.

Fred and George discuss it being possible to hack, and as Harry debates whether he’d join them in attempting to age himself, the trio leaves at the same time as the headmaster of Durmstrang was walking for the Hall exit, Harry allowing the headmaster to pass first, he not at first recognizing him, but has a double-take, having the same reaction as usual. Moody gets him to move along after the headmaster places him as well, with intimidation and distaste, he having blocked the doorway and moving along when Moody brings this to his attention. The next morning, the three wake early, seeing the crowd around the Goblet, Fred, George, and Lee soon turning up to confide having taken their aging potion and about to test it, Fred going first, and when seeing nothing happen, George rushing in after him, but the two then being flung out, their beards sprouting upon landing, everyone including them cracking up. Dumbledore makes himself known and states of they not being the first to attempt this, complimenting their beards and sending them to the Infirmary. When the three get to the Great Hall, they join Seamus and Dean who were discussing possible entrants from Hogwarts, not impressed with the choices, until a Gryffindor girl whom played Quidditch announces to then she’d entered.

After breakfast, Harry suggests they visit Hagrid, Hermione excitedly remembering she hadn’t offered him a S.P.E.W. membership yet, having the boys wait whilst she retrieved her badge box, and after getting to his hut, they see him sporting quite an unaccustomed style, he making tea for them all. Hagrid was also looking forward to the games, he almost revealing the first task, then only stating it’d be fantastic. They spend lunch with him as well, discussing different possibilities for what the tasks could be and which students would be chosen as champions. Hermione didn’t have luck getting Hagrid to join her cause, he explaining the nature of elves and how it wouldn’t help them. When evening set, they readied to join the Halloween feast and hear the choosing of champions, Hagrid tagging along, but when the trio smell his cologne, he quickly washing off, the headmistress of the Beauxbatons along with students, heading to the castle, Hagrid intercepting and then walking with her, leaving them behind, they now understanding why he’d gussied up so oddly. When the feast had started, no one seemed as interested, many anxious to have the drawing begin, and when the time finally came, Dumbledore gives instruction to those who were chosen having to go to another room when their name was called. The first name on parchment was then blown out of the Goblet, Krum first, then the veela-looking girl, Fleur Delacour, lastly Cedric is called, and as he joins the others, Dumbledore is speaking of supporting their champions when another parchment flies out, he calling Harry’s name.

Harry is dumbstruck, unmoving, and disbelieving what he’d heard, no one reacting happily, voices sounding mad gathering in volume. McGonagall speaks with Dumbledore quickly in undertone, Harry finally stating to his shocked table of not having put his name in, but Dumbledore again calls him up, directing him to go through to the next room, none of the adults looking pleased, either. When he’d joined the other champions, he found them standing near a fireplace with witches and wizard portraits surrounding the room, soon all the teachers following Bagman inside, he breaking the news of Harry competing. Soon the professors are discussing how Hogwarts now had two champions being unfair, Dumbledore asking Harry if he’d entered or had gotten an older student to do so for him, Harry denying he’d applied, most everyone not taking his word, and after getting Bagman and Crouch’s opinion, they following the rule book, Harry was meant to compete with the others.

When Karkaroff insists the other school and he were owed one extra champion, Bagman explains the Goblet wouldn’t reignite again until the next tourney. Moody finally makes himself known when Karkaroff threatens to leave, reminding him the magic contract made his suggestion impossible to carry out, then supposing whomever had entered Harry’s name, may have been betting on he not surviving, the two visiting schools not convinced by Moody’s theory of someone most likely having entered Harry’s name under a different school so he’d be chosen regardless, along with a powerful charm to make certain it would work. Once they were out of arguments though, and no one had any acceptable other choices to offer, Crouch, whom looked sick, came closer to deliver their first task, it being about gauging their courage, he stating the date it would happen, and the champions being excused from their tests concluding the year.

Dumbledore then invites Crouch for a drink before he insists on going back to the Ministry, Dumbledore nor Bagman successful in convincing him to stay. The two heads of houses leave with their students first, Harry and Cedric being told to rejoin their houses, Cedric also not believing when Harry insisted he hadn’t entered, granted more lightheartedly than Harry had been experiencing thus far, and when they separate, Harry considers if whomever had added his name was truly attempting to get him killed, how Voldemort could’ve done this whilst being in hiding and waning strength. When Harry gets to the common room, everyone is celebrating and excited, Fred and George first to give props and jealous Harry had succeeded, Ron and Hermione nowhere to be seen in the room, and no one allowing him to retreat upstairs until he insisted after half an hour. When he locates Ron in their room on his bed, Harry realizes he was holding a grudge against him not confiding of entering, making him mad his best friend didn’t even believe him.

Harry had a sense of foreboding upon waking, forgetting temporarily why this could be, then realizing he’d wanted to convince Ron of his innocence, but having missed him, already at breakfast, Harry still getting applause from those in the common area when he came down, and since not wanting the scene he’d get in the Great Hall, but choosing to go there over dealing with the Creevey brothers, heads out, and Hermione waiting right outside the portrait hole. She got them both some toast and offers some whilst they chat, Harry agreeing, the two going outside and Hermione letting him know she had deduced he hadn’t entered, she explaining why Ron was taking this so hard, Harry needing to speak with him, but also having to write Sirius, she convincing him it was best. When Hedwig comes after Harry finishes writing, he having done so in the owlery, he has to tell her he can’t use her, she reacting angrily and Harry affected once more by how those close to him didn’t understand his side. Classes with th other Houses proved difficult, everyone certain Harry had gotten himself in, Hufflepuff ignoring him, and Malfoy having his usual fun, up until Hagrid busied them all with walking the skrewts by leash. Harry then gets called over as everyone else reluctantly goes through with their task, Hagrid stating who he also believed Harry had been set up, this somewhat of a comfort.

The next days to come topped Harry’s second worst during his second year when he was accused of being behind the assaults on other kids, but he at least having Ron’s support back then. Harry resigns himself to Ron taking the situation out on him, but it definitely being isolating. Double Potions wasn’t making life any easier, especially after getting extra homework in Charms, Slytherin youth showing off their pins in support of Cedric and the hidden message of Harry sucking, an hour and a half of this not a happy prospect, and when Malfoy insults Hermione in the process, Harry loses it, grabs his want, and the two set off spells at the same time, Malfoy’s hitting Hermione and Harry’s hitting Goyle, and when Snape shows up, he sends Goyle to the Infirmary and states of seeing no change in Hermione, her teeth having gotten larger, she leaving quickly, even more upset. Snape then takes fifty points from Gryffindor and gives Harry and Ron detention. Harry sits and Ron joins Seamus and Dean, Colin saving Harry when informing Snape he was sent for by Bagman, all champions being called, Snape not at all pleased, but dismissing him.

When he’d arrived at the room, there was a camera, but Bagman relays of this being the wand weighing ceremony, Rita Skeeter, the journalist for the Daily Prophet also in attendance, she taking a moment with Harry alone in a broom cupboard, she setting up her magic quill to embellish anything spoken, she firing off questions and ignoring his response of not entering, Harry looking at the quill as it wrote of him crying when she’d asked about his parents, he raising his voice in protest, Dumbledore then opening the door to have Harry return to the others for the ceremony being ready to begin. Ollivander is present to test the wands, Fleur first, Harry learning she was part veela, and wanting to inform Ron of being correct, but remembering he wasn’t on speaking terms with him, then Cedric is up, Ollivander having made his wand, Krum after, Ollivander not particularly commending the wand-maker’s work, but passing it, and then Harry’s turn arrives. He hopes Ollivander doesn’t mention the relation to Voldemort’s wand (Rowling providing a semi –no pun intended– joke of the quill exploding “with excitement”), Ollivander not saying a word of this, but lingering longest with the wand, then pictures being taken, Harry going to the Great Hall afterward to eat alone, Hermione not present. When returning to the dorms, Ron informs him of an owl having come and when their detention was, quickly exiting. Harry wants to stop him, but instead reads the letter, Sirius wanting to meet on November 22, and to give reply quickly, otherwise trusting Dumbledore and Moody to help with Harry’s situation.

Harry held on by his nails during the next two weeks before the time he’d see Sirius, this the only way he’d been able to cope the hellish days. The first task’s possible magnitude also filled him with nerves due to the waiting, even Quidditch matches hadn’t affected him this way, he feeling the task could be the end of him. He wasn’t relying on Sirius to rid him of anxiety, but the support would help. Harry sends his reply of where he’d wait for him, he and Hermione making certain the spot would be empty for the night planned, even having a back-up idea which would get them in trouble with Filch, but would leave Harry isolated. What was worse came in the form of Rita Skeeter’s piece, she focusing on Harry, the other champions, except Cedric, barely getting mention, and their names not even spelled correctly. Harry was incapable of thinking about the article without being physically ill, Skeeter even stating Harry and Hermione were an item due to speaking with Colin. Harry wasn’t spared after everyone had read the paper, his patience run into the ground for all the heckling he suffered. Harry also had wrongly thought his and Ron’s detention together would bond them back, but it was the same day the article had been printed, so the idea went bust. Hermione attempted to get both boys speaking to each other, but they wouldn’t agree.

On Saturday, three days before the first task, the third years were allowed to go to Hogsmeade, Hermione suggesting they go, but Harry declining to accompany her without his Invisible Cloak when she mentions meeting Ron. Upon getting to town, Hermione tries to convince him to de-cloak, he pointing out, verbally, Rita Skeeter plus photographer were walking away from the Three Broomsticks, Hermione deciding they should go in, Harry grabbing a table and seeing Ron with the twins and Lee. When Hermione returns with drinks and reading material involving S.P.E.W. and whether she wanted to see if villagers would be interested in joining, Harry considers how his life would be so much more tolerable if he wasn’t a champion. Hermione then spots Hagrid with Moody, the two speaking and the latter drinking from his own flask, too paranoid of wizards poisoning his drink to use public mugs. When the two were on their way out, Harry forgets he’s invisible for a moment and waves at Hagrid, Moody stopping their progress, saying something, and they then bee-lining for his and Hermione’s table, Hagrid greeting Hermione at shouting level, Moody leaning over the table and commending Harry on his cloak, his wandering magic eye able to see through it, Hagrid also leaning over to inform Harry to meet him at 12 A.M., then bidding Hermione farewell, both leaving.

Harry and Hermione discuss what Hagrid could want to meet so late for, she debating whether Harry shouldn’t send a note of declining since his going could affect his set time with Sirius, but Harry was too curious, planning to see them both. Harry gets ready by wearing his cloak at 11:30 P.M., Hermione and he setting it up so he could get out as she opens the portrait hole for herself, Harry meeting Hagrid, whom was dressed up a bit and shares he’d planned on showing Harry something outside, Harry attempting to relay his tight schedule, and Hagrid too excited to notice, he stopping them at Madame Maxime’s door, she also wondering what the surprise was. Hagrid has her vow to tell no one, since she wasn’t supposed to be aware, he leading them out of view of the castle, Harry then hearing shouts, and a terrible roar, seeing dragons in a pen, the wizards struggling to control them. When they stupefy them, Hagrid walks them closer, Harry seeing Charlie, whom approaches and chats with Hagrid about the breeds and which one was most dangerous, but when it turns to Molly’s reaction to the article on Harry, he moves off, not wanting to hear about it, running and slamming straight into Karkaroff, he moving toward the dragons were when seeing nothing of what had hit him.

Harry reaches the castle thinking of how Cedric was now the only champion in the dark about the first task, he getting to the common area in time to see Sirius’ head pop out from the fireplace, Harry hardly recognizing him, since he’d cleaned himself up and gained some weight. Harry asks after him, but Sirius turns the question on him (Sirius serious, tsk Rowling for going with such a typical phrase), Harry letting out all his troubles. Sirius then confides he was using a fireplace without the permission of the owner, warning Harry of Karkaroff having been a Death Eater, had been in Azkaban, released for tattling on others, and had probably put Harry’s name in the Goblet, which was why Moody had been called for and threatened before starting at Hogwarts. Sirius then mentions the missing witch Bertha Jorkins having been in Albania last, the same perceived area Voldemort was hiding. Sirius reveals he’d been attending Hogwarts the same time as Bertha, she a moron and easily led into harms way. Besides this though, Sirius believed Harry being in the tourney would make his death seem more accidental, he then about to advise how to handle the dragons when Harry heard footsteps and had Sirius disappear, annoyed to see it was Ron, asking who he was speaking with, and then leaving when Harry asks him why he was up, but Harry’s comment of Ron not helping his wanting to butt in eliciting a response which Harry seethed over, and then throws one of the “Potter Really Sucks” badges at his head and states of if he was fortunate he’d get a scar, like his, Ron not coming back upstairs whilst Harry was aware.

On Sunday, Harry is quite distracted, discovering Hermione in the Great Hall with Ginny, he waiting until she’d finished breakfast before taking a walk and confiding all he’d learned the night before. Hermione has them focus on the dragon issue before Karkaroff, and when thinking of a proper spell to use, the two going to the library for ideas. They still didn’t uncover the right sort of information, though and Harry didn’t sleep well. What ends up helping his nerves is knowing he’d still prefer Hogwarts despite facing a dragon over staying with Dudley. Harry then decides to speak with Cedric as the bell was about to ring, he charming his bag so he could chat with him on his own, he interrupting Cedric as he spoke of his new torn bag and confiding what their first task was, Cedric suspicious of his motives, but they then being joined by Moody, whom has Harry come to his office, regardless of his current class in Herbology having begun. Harry notes the differences of the office from each previous professor, Moody’s including objects from what Harry believed was from his Auror days, all about the office, Moody explaining a few before getting to how he commended Harry on revealing the task to Cedric and not following the rules being a tradition of the tourney.

Moody then gives Harry advice, the first of which being to rely on his talents, the second being a spell to retrieve any item he may require, Harry then getting to class where he asks Hermione to teach him a Summoning Charm, they dedicating their lunch time to it, Harry not happy to stop for his Divination class, Ron almost laughing at an outburst from Harry in regard to another of Trelawney’s hints to Harry’s death, he practicing the charm in class. After a short dinner, they continue his practice until Peeves turns up at midnight, the two returning to an empty common area. By two a.m., Harry had started to improve, he worrying about the distance he’d be summoning from, but Hermione certain it wouldn’t matter as long as he maintained concentration. His nerves abated temporarily until morning came, classes ending early so they could attend the task, the day having a clipped affect as Harry dazedly attended classes until McGonagall informed him it was time to go prepare for the task. She wishes him luck and leaves him at the tent which had been erected, Bagman greeting him and instructing them all of how they would choose the type of task they’d face, they attempting to retrieve a gold egg, Bagman then having Fleur draw first, Harry last and getting the doubly dangerous one, Cedric being first to carry out the task and succeeding.

Bagman’s commentary doesn’t ease Harry’s nerves, and when Krum has his turn and seems to succeed the quickest, Harry goes out when hearing the whistle, and hoping his charm worked which fortunately, it does, Harry’s fear subsiding with the ground, he dodging the dragon and getting grazed by its tail, but securing the egg with the quickest time. McGonagall, Moody, and Hagrid waving him over happily, giving him their approval, he then sent to Pomfrey for medical aid, Hermione and Ron coming in as Harry was exiting, Ron finally allowing Harry’d been set up, Harry stopping him before he apologized, and Hermione getting weepy, hugging the two and running off. They walk out to see his score, Ron detailing how the other’s had passed, Harry mostly getting good marks, but for Karkaroff’s low score, Charlie then informing Harry he was off to relay the news to his mother and Bagman requesting Harry meet him in the tent. Bagman informs them of the eggs eluding to what their next task would be which would occur February 24th, Ron and Harry chatting as they returned to the castle, Harry responding to Rita Skeeter when she accosted them by only bidding her farewell.

The trio go to locate Pig so Harry could update Sirius on his first task being a success, Harry taking the time to fill Ron in on Karkaroff and his past, Ron surprised at first and then relating how much sense it made, what with Malfoy’s statements regarding his father and Karkaroff’s friendship, then helping Harry attach the letter to a constantly moving Pig. Ron continues by believing the other tasks must be a breeze compared to the first, Harry’s chances of winning quite possible, Harry thinking Ron was attempting to show extra support for the time he’d been pissed at him, but happy with his words, Hermione not seeming pleased with his overt positivity. Ron then confides of the twins having put together a surprise party and should’ve had time by now to get everything set up, the three being greeted by thunderous, happy shouts, butterbeer and cake on every table, banners on the ceiling. Lee Jordan picks up the egg clue and he, along with the others began urging Harry to see what the clue was, and upon acquiescing, everyone hears a loud, terrible screeching. When Harry does as Fred requests and closes it, a few of them give their idea of what it could be, the latter then suggesting a tart to Hermione, whom nonchalantly asks how to locate the kitchens, he describing how, then wondering why she wanted to know. Hermione giving no reason. George takes a guess which elicits a laugh from most in the room, Hermione not replying, Neville then taking the attention when transforming into a bird momentarily after eating one of the twins’ appetizers, Fred sharing of the price they charged for them. After, Harry had been getting ready to sleep, he considering how Hagrid was correct in his opinion of the dragons.

The last moment of the year brought hard weather, the Beauxbatons and Durmstrang’s living quarters visibly showing how possible it was for the terrible cold to be an effect to their comfort. Hagrid kept Madame Maxime’s horses well liquored, but the students finding the stench affecting their ability to stay intent on the skrewts. Hagrid suggests in the next class, they attempt to learn if the skrewts slept through the winter, offering crates to the creatures. Ten skrewts remained, and their blood lust in taking each other out hadn’t lessened as they grew longer, the appearance of them not getting better with time, they soon learning the skrewts didn’t bed down for the winter, Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle taking refuge in Hagrid’s home whilst the others were able to capture nine out of ten with much difficulty. Harry and Ron attempt to capture the tenth with Hagrid’s supportive advice, Rita Skeeter turning up, Hagrid taking over restraining the skrewt and then inquiring whom she was.

When learning, Hagrid asks about her being told to stay off the grounds by Dumbledore, she ignoring this inquiry to speak of how interesting the skrewts were, Hagrid sharing what they were called, she replying how she hadn’t been aware of them, and what their origin was, Hermione distracting her with how fascinating they found the species, prompting Harry’s opinion, Rita noting how the kids had sustained minor injuries and many were cowering within Hagrid’s hut. Rita then spices up the deal of an interview with Hagrid about his class by mentioning a column dedicated to animals, Hagrid then all for it. Harry refrains from warning him of going through with his upcoming interview, since he didn’t have an opportunity to do so privately, the end of class then arriving. The three discuss the worst and best case scenario which could come from Hagrid speaking with Rita, and if it meant no longer dealing with the skrewts and Hagrid staying teacher, all the better.

Harry and Ron then had a much better time with double Divination, since they were good again, Trelawney the only one to suffer. So, as she’s professing the ever-lingering footsteps of death, Ron and Harry make light of it whilst her best students, Parvati and Lavender take it dreadfully seriously. Harry considers how many times he’d have lost his life according to Trelawney’s predictions. Ron and Harry then notice Hermione’s absence from her usual haunts at lunch, Ron put off from his getting an autograph from Krum in the library when noticing a bunch of girls deliberating the same. As they’d returned to Gryffindor tower’s common area, Hermione overtaking them, she insisting Harry follow her, and when Ron showed interest, Harry agrees, the Fat Lady annoyed they’d bothered her for nothing. As Hermione led them past a particular painting, Harry figured out what she was so pleased about, pointing out the painting to Ron, he thinking Hermione was on to “spew” affairs again, she insisting otherwise and desperate to get Harry to come see for himself. When Hermione had managed to strong arm him through the passageway, it wasn’t long before an elf tackled his middle with a hug. Harry recognizes Dobby with surprise, the elf overjoyed and Harry noting the odd assortment of clothing he wore, including his sock which had set him free, among his new outfit.

Harry learns Dobby and Winky had both been hired, the former leading Harry past each table of food was sent up. Dobby leads them to Winky, whom becomes quite distraught when Harry greets her, Hermione pleading with her to calm down, Dobby so happy he offers Harry tea, and upon accepting, six elves brought tea accompanying biscuits, hastily, Ron stating his being pleased with their quickness. Dobby then explains how long he’d been there and the hardship of being an unemployed elf, Winky getting louder with anguish. Dobby continues about how no wizard was willing to employ an elf wanting payment, Winky crying harder as Hermione announced her support, Dobby continuing his story over her ever-increasing wails, getting to how the two could secure work at Hogwarts. Dobby then proudly states how he was getting paid and even got time off, Hermione not happy with the terms he’d accepted, but Dobby revealing of having turned down higher pay and more time off.

Hermione then asks if Winky had gotten paid, the elf ceasing her terrible cries to state how she hadn’t gotten quite so desperate, Hermione attempting to note the brighter side of Winky being correct with how she’d been acting with Crouch, Winky unwilling to accept her negative words and insisting he’d been fine and she was terrible. Dobby confesses Winky’s issues with getting used to their new environment, and how Dumbledore was lenient on how they wished to speak of him, but Dobby assuring he thought he was wonderful, Harry then asking whether Dobby could speak of the Malfoy’s comfortably, he hesitatingly confiding they were horrible “dark wizards”. Dobby not quite used to this freedom, punishes himself with a good banging to the head until Harry stops him, Dobby grateful and sticking up for himself when Winky announces he should be feeling guilty. Winky then returns to how terribly she’d shamed the generations of her family before her to have worked for the Crouches.

Hermione then confesses how she believed he was doing fairly well, since being seen at Hogwarts, Winky surprised and then getting mad when learning Bagman was there, as well, she stating how Crouch didn’t like him at all and how shit he was, but she not revealing Crouch’s “secrets”. After this, Winky is incomprehensible, so as they drank tea, Dobby speaks of his goals, a sweater on his list of to-dos. Ron offers the one he expected from his mother, Dobby quite pleased. When the trio readied to leave, the elves offered going-away snacks, Harry and Ron taking advantage but Hermione looking uncomfortable with their subservient behavior, Harry giving permission to Dobby to visit him sometime, and as they return to the dorms, Hermione confessing how Dobby’s presence had potential as a good influence on the others, they all then moving on to how they still viewed Bagman as a better sort than Crouch, and Ron stating how Percy wouldn’t prefer the lighter spirit over seriousness if it did a jig in front of him in the buff.

McGonagall is shouting at Harry and Ron to stay focused, the class almost over, they having finished their assignments and written down their homework, but were sword fighting with two of Fred and George’s fake wands, they instantly stopping, and McGonagall making an announcement about the Yule Ball coming up and fourth years and up were allowed to go. The required uniforms are mentioned, she then detailing how the party was to encourage a more relaxed atmosphere, but making sure they were aware, she’d be looking out for improper conduct. When the bell sounded, McGonagall calls to Harry and informs him of requiring a dance partner, since the tradition had champions starting off the Ball, Harry is dumbfounded and resistant, but McGonagall makes certain he knew he didn’t have a choice. Harry despaired over whom he’d need to ask to be his partner, despairingly inquiring of Ron how he would ever be able to choose and invite a girl when none ever seemed to travel alone, the answer he received not helpful, Ron wondering if he knew someone he’d want to invite, Harry thinking of Cho, and Ron then trying to ease his mind by stating how most girls would definitely be interested, no truer words having been spoken, since the proof occurred by the next day, girls approaching Harry and asking him, fortunately most not hassling him anymore about being a champion or the news article, Hagrid also lucky not to have been covered in the paper.

Hagrid mentions how Rita hadn’t focused her questioning on the magical creatures, their last class having them in safe distance from the skrewts, now. The four discuss how Rita had been after dirt on Harry, and wasn’t satisfied with Hagrid’s praise of him, he then asking if Harry had found a date, but doesn’t push the subject when told he was still on the search. As the last week of school progressed, rumors of what was in store for the party escalated, a well-known group supposedly being hired, Dumbledore buying hundreds of mead barrels, some teachers even allowing free time during class. Others, like their ghostly history teacher, McGonagall, Moody, and Snape, keeping them well busy. Snape gave them a test to study for, Ron and Harry entertaining themselves in other interests when returning to the common area, Hermione giving them shit for it, she thinking Harry should at least be attempting to figure out the puzzle of the egg. Ron defends him though, knowing how much he deserved a rest from everything, George and Fred then walk up and ask if Ron could let them borrow Pig for a letter, but when learning he was already loose, turn to the topic of dates, Fred even showing how it was done by asking a girl whilst she was on the other side of the room, Ron realizing they should probably get to it, themselves. Hermione’s feathers get ruffled when Ron speaks of girls’ looks insensitively, leaving them early.

The Hogwarts employees go to great lengths to bedeck the place with the most fancy decorations for their foreign guests, Peeves even getting a kick out of empty armor partially singing carols and filling in with his own insulting words. Harry and Ron were feeling more pressure by still being dateless, Ron deciding Friday night would find them both with dates upon returning to the common area, Harry stressing about seeing Cho always amongst her buddies. He makes a rush job of it though, and gets her away from her entourage for a moment, learning she was already going with Cedric. When returning, he sees Ron being consoled by Ginny, he looking haunted, and confessing he’d asked Fleur, Harry making him feel a little better when informing him of her roots with the veela, Ron then sharing of Neville having asked Hermione, but she already going with someone, Ron thinking it was an excuse, but then Hermione coming in, Ginny updating her, and she ribbing Ron for his previous statements. Ron then decides to announce Hermione should go with one of them, she stating of already gotten a date, Ron refusing to believe her, pissing her off, and Ginny refusing to confide in them whom it was, so Harry does the last desperate move, and asks Parvati, Harry having her inquire if her sister, Padma would go with Ron.

Regardless of the workload given over the holidays, Harry gave this a backseat and had a blast with his classmates, the twins’ Canary Creams a popular pastime for the Gryffindors for awhile, Harry attempting to be wary of any food offered by them from then on. Hogwarts is soon chilled to freezing levels, Ron still attempting to get out of Hermione the boy whom had invited her, this time being overheard by Malfoy, snotty insult ensuing. Hermione takes care of this one by pretending Moody was behind him, Ron then bringing up how her teeth looked different, Hermione confiding when she’d gotten them shrunken by Pomfrey, she’d let her take a bit more size, then she sees Pig return. They go to the common room and Harry reads them the letter, Hermione still thinking Harry should be trying to solve the second task clue, when Sirius had mentioned he should keep on his toes, but because of the noise in the place, relented, watching he and Ron play wizard’s chess, and the next morning Harry is startled awake by Dobby, he so shocked, he’d wakened everyone else in the room, but they opting to open presents than sleep more, Dobby giving Harry a pair of different colored socks he’d made, Harry returning the sentiment with a pair of socks for Dobby, and Ron giving Dobby not only a pair of socks, but the sweater he’d promised, the elf completely overwhelmed with joy. Harry’s other presents were much more exciting to him, the bunch then going to a exquisite lunch, and the boys having a snowball fight, after which they found the Fat Lady with a buddy buzzed on liqueurs. The boys ready for the Ball, Harry meeting Parvati in the common room, she informing Ron where Padma would meet him, soon McGonagall gathering the champions together.

Harry notices Hermione with Krum after surveying the other champions dates, completely blow away by her different look. When they enter the Great Hall and go toward the professors table, Percy is where Crouch should be, he informing Harry he was now Crouch’s personal assistant, when he’d indicated to Harry to sit next to him. Percy blathers on fairly arrogantly ignorant about how he’d perceived Crouch’s troubles since the World Cup, he proud to be his support. Besides this, Harry watches how Dumbledore orders his food from the menu, he seeing Krum animatedly chatting with Hermione about the Durmstrang castle, Karkaroff cutting him off with feigned lightheartedness due to the specifications he overheard. Dumbledore relates with an amusing story about a mystery room with chamber pots everywhere, Fleur meanwhile dazzling her date, whilst Hermione corrected Krum’s pronunciation of her name. Soon after, the feast ends, tables are magicked away, the Weird Sisters come out, and Harry had to be reminded by Parvati of they needing to get ready to dance.

It goes by without too much trouble and Harry immediately locates Ron and sits, Parvati off with another boy to dance after she realizes Harry wasn’t going to dance with her anymore, Hermione joins them later and Ron gives her a hard time for coming with Krum, he piling on different possibilities why Krum would ask her, she eventually huffing off, Krum returning and asking where she was, and Ron playing dumb, Percy strolling up and giving him props for making friends with the international students, this being good tactics and strengthening relationships between countries. Percy sits with them and then notices the twins bothering Bagman for a moment, until the man spots Harry and comes over. Percy takes the opportunity to inquire whether his brothers had been annoying him, Bagman denying this and sharing how they’d been discussing marketing plans with his assistance, Percy not pleased, and when Bagman was readying to speak with Harry, Percy continues about the status of the tourney after the hiccup regarding Harry, he trapping Bagman with talk of his varying duties, Ron suggesting they escape on the pretense of drinks, they going outside to walk the rosebush paths, overhearing Snape and Karkaroff as the latter speaks of receiving troubling signs and Snape declaring he should leave then and he’d supply an excuse for him when asked, the two walking in the boys direction.

Snape uncovers students in the bushes as he passed, then demanding to know why the two were standing around, the men leaving in serious spirits after getting the general reply of walking, Ron first to voice curiosity, they then hearing a snippet of conversation from Hagrid, they having no interest busting up, Harry pointing toward Fleur, whom was also busy, but Ron deciding cover by rock reindeer a better choice, they overhearing Hagrid speak of his mother and how she’d left him after he had only been a few years old, not knowing if she was still alive. He then sharing a story about his father and how helpful Dumbledore had been after he’d died, then inquiring about her lineage, she taking offense when he presumed she was part giant (ahh! Why, Rowling? Stop hoping against hope, already!), she walking off in a rage, Hagrid moving back toward his hut. Ron is stymied by this new fact about Hagrid, he stating he’d elaborate once having returned indoors, he informing Harry giants were usually a blood-thirsty sort, most now out of Britain, Harry happy when the dance ended at midnight. Cedric calls to him before he’d gotten upstairs, he advising him how to get the egg’s secret out, he even giving him the password to the prefects bathroom, Harry suspicious and thinking up some highly unlikely reasons he’d set him up, and when getting back to the common area, Ron and Hermione were seen having an extreme shouting match, she making clear if Ron wanted to ask her to a dance, he’d better think of her first next time if it was so important to him, she exiting and Ron perplexed and still in denial, Harry not helping him, since he didn’t want to irritate him more.

The kids were having a kickback day, Hermione and Ron acting oddly nice to each other, Harry and Ron updating her on Hagrid’s genetic background, she taking it indifferently what with considering how giants were most likely in the same boat as werewolves in this case, not all of them could be terrible. Since Christmas week had passed, they now had to consider the homework they’d all put off, Harry picking up the nerves which had left him briefly. He was still stressing over the golden egg, he now periodically listening to it, and actively ignoring Cedric’s advice due to jealousy, so started classes with apprehension, their Care of Magical Creatures teacher surprising the trio, due to it being an old witch whom refused to share her reasons she’d replaced Hagrid, but Malfoy soon helping by supplying the news article as the professor and girls approached a tethered unicorn.

The article, written of course by Rita Skeeter, details Hagrid’s shortcomings as a professor, how he’d gotten the job somehow, with so many more qualified people available, and Malfoy even supplying a quote. She goes on to describe how Hagrid had been going against policy and breeding animals, as well, she then outing him as part giant, and after giving some history on giants to end with, Ron wonders aloud how Rita could have learned of this, Harry focusing on Malfoy’s quote, the urchin of course acknowledging how helpful it would be in getting Hagrid permanently replaced, and when the class ended, how Parvati was even warming to the new teacher. Hermione was about to state similarly when Harry shows her the article, he then deciding they’d go speak with him after class to make sure he knew they wanted him to return, but Hagrid didn’t see them, nor for the rest of the week, Malfoy continually rubbing it in. Then the Hogsmeade visit was coming up, Harry straight up saying to Hermione he’d figured out the egg more or less, he wanting to see if he’d locate Hagrid in town.

As the three set off, they see Krum dive into the lake, Ron surprised due to the frigid chill and commenting rather brightly about the huge squid which lived there, Hermione noting how he’d said it and speaking on Krum’s behalf of he being a good person. When Harry determines Hagrid wasn’t in any shops and also sees he hadn’t been to the Three Broomsticks, he’s disappointed he’d come at all. Hermione then detects Bagman, whom was speaking with intimidating looking goblins, she wondering if the man ever made appearances at work. When Bagman sees Harry, his countenance changes to happiness and comes over to ask after him, the requesting a moment alone, he first complimenting Harry on his success with the first task as the goblins watched them in silence at their table, Bagman then confiding how they were searching for Crouch, whom had gone missing for about two weeks, Harry then inquiring after Bertha Jorkins, which Bagman informs how little they knew of where she’d ended up after getting to her destination, he then arriving at his point which was to make sure Harry was doing okay with the hint, he giving the idea he’d help him if needed, since he knew it hadn’t been Harry’s fault he’d gotten picked.

Harry was a little suspicious and didn’t like the idea of asking, so politely declines, Bagman looking insulted, but Fred and George then turning up and offering Bagman a drink, he declining to Fred and George’s obvious let down, Bagman mirroring their look at Harry as he left the bar with the goblins tailing him. Harry goes to sit with Hermione and Ron, he stating why Bagman had spoken with him when Ron asks, Hermione surprised, and he then sharing what he’d said about the goblins and Crouch, Rita Skeeter then walking in and getting a table near them as she spoke of Bagman, Harry questioning her motives so many around could hear. Hermione backs him up, but then furiously suggests they leave, she fuming as Ron warned her to be careful when it came to Rita, but Hermione now on an angry roll, deciding to boost Hagrid to not be effected by a troll like Skeeter.

Hermione is shouting for Hagrid to open up, and when the door opens, is surprised to be confronted with a smiling Dumbledore, whom offers the group to join them, Hagrid quite a mess, and after Dumbledore supplies the tea, he puts a point on how the trio obviously still loved him, adding how he still received mail from parents who supported Hagrid fully. After Harry and Dumbledore both relate to how family members acted absurdly or like barbarians after Hagrid can’t get over how he’d be perceived because of his blood, Hermione states how they all wished he’d return, Dumbledore stating he wouldn’t accept Hagrid quitting and expected him on the start of the week, then leaving. Hagrid, still upset, attempts to turn his spirits around, sharing how his father wouldn’t have appreciated how Hagrid had been acting, then showing them a photo of an eleven-year-old Hagrid with his pop sitting atop his shoulder, he announcing how he also wouldn’t be thinking of “her” anymore with the nonsense of “big bones”. Hagrid then relates to how he and Harry had the loss of parents in common and he truly hoped Harry would be victorious, Harry lying about his progress with the hint, but the look of pure joy finally putting Harry on the idea to attempt Cedric’s advice.

Harry waited to try Cedric’s advice, Ron letting him out as he came in due to being cloaked, and when he reached the bathroom, was impressed by how nice it was. When he’d readied the enormous tub and opened the egg, the same result occurred, Moaning Myrtle startling him when suggesting he dunk the egg. He was embarrassed and annoyed, regardless of the dense bubbles, Moaning Myrtle mentions how he hadn’t been around her toilet lately, Harry realizing he hadn’t needed the privacy. She accepts his reason when mentioning having gotten an earful last time he’d been seen coming out, he then getting the egg and dunking it, memorizing the poem, he struggling to figure out the riddle as Moaning Myrtle watched, happily. When Harry finally realized what the task meant, he worried about going into the huge lake to locate merpeople especially when he wasn’t the strongest swimmer. When he worried aloud though, Moaning Myrtle becomes a bit upset, since she couldn’t breathe at all, Harry apologizing, but annoyed since he couldn’t understand her sensitivity compared with other ghosts.

She goes on to pout about how no one thought of her, even the girl whom had discovered her body, the reason she was still living at the school explained, but Harry not listening due to attempting to learn what would be taken from him. He then readies to go and half agrees he’d visit her sometime, he at least thanking her. On his way back, he notices on the Marauder’s Map, Crouch was in Snape’s office. Harry decides to snoop on him, heading for the office, but the shortcut he takes having a trick step which Harry wasn’t thinking of, slipping and dropping the egg, which falls open down the stairs, the map not going quite as far, but Harry covering himself again before Filch turns up. When the man discovers the egg, he thinks Pus had stolen it, he coming up the stairs, and Snap answering him, he distracted by someone having been in his office, and he wanting Filch to accompany him, Filch reluctant, but the two then interrupted by Moody, he seeing what was happening much more fully.

He turns his attention to Snape, inquiring about his breaking and entering, Snape blowing it off as more than likely another student being the culprit. Moody then hints whether it’d be due to improper items Snape would have hidden, he not taking kindly to the suggestion and stating how Moody would already know for having already searched, Moody revealing Dumbledore had given the OK. Snape denies how Dumbledore would do so for trusting him, Moody going on to not only agree, but mentioning how some choices don’t get forgotten, Snape clenching his own arm, and Moody offering he return to his quarters, Snape again taking offense. Then, as they had a little face off, Moody mentions the Marauder’s Map he believed at first Snape dropped, but Harry signing to him it was his, Moody working fast and magicking it into his own hands, but Snape could see through the suspicious circumstances which Harry could deduce.

Snape declares his thought being Harry related and starts up the stairs, Moody again mentioning how he’d let Dumbledore know Snape’s immediate reaction, which stops him. Snape reluctantly back-pedals and decides to return to bed and when Moody requests the egg from, Filch, the man resisting at first, wanting the evidence to prove Peeves’ guilt, but gives it up when Moody insists it was first property to a champion. When they’re alone, Moody marvels at the map, then helps Harry out of the step, Harry then revealing whom he’d seen in the office, Moody surprised. After, Harry inquires what he supposed Crouch was searching for, Crouch eventually choosing to reply in regard to how dedicated he was on hunting dark wizards. Moody ends their meeting by borrowing the Marauder’s Map and mentioning how Harry had potential as an Auror. Harry didn’t know if he liked the idea depending on the scar-amount of other Aurors (smart).

Hermione is assuming Harry is about to share with them the egg riddle, the 3 in Charms class, Neville magicking Flitwick across the room instead of a designated cushion. Harry is clarifying what his news concerned being about Moody and Snape. For a half hour Harry was able to quietly relate his story, since this class was action-filled and fun. Ron then suggests perhaps Moody thought Snape had put Harry’s name in the Goblet, Hermione not convinced, but Ron wondering why dark wizards would raid Snape’s office, otherwise. Harry next writes to Sirius of this weirdness, also worrying about the water task. Hermione and Ron are helping him come up with ideas, Hermione thinking a charm was the way to go. Harry already acting like a dunce in his belief he’d come to his cap of tolerance to library time, goes to research applicable charms.

No one could come up with anything and now his mind and eyes keep getting drawn to the lake and what could lay waiting. Two days before the task, Harry gets a letter back form Sirius requesting the next date to Hogsmeade. Harry spends the night at the library still attempting to find information which could help, Dobby waking him ten minutes before the task and Harry scrambling. Fortunately for non-thankful Harry, Dobby had learned whom had been taken for Harry to rescue and the magical food he’d need to consume to breathe underwater, he biffing off and Dobby wishing him luck, since he was late to be in the kitchens, Harry barrels past a couple students in his haste to being just in the nick, he seeing Percy sitting in for Crouch. The champs are placed along the lake and would have an hour to recover what had been stolen. Harry eats the gillyweed and wades in waiting for a change, he hearing Slytherin cat-calling and laughing from the stands. Then, pain when he tries to breathe, which upon feeling both sides of his neck, there were gills. Once submerging, he also saw his webbed hands and toes, the water not feeling as frigid, either. As he swims farther and deeper, he doesn’t come across anyone, but grindylows being the 1st to grab at him. Harry fights them off with boiling water jets from his wand and swims quickly away.

When he stops again, Moaning Myrtle scares him by asking for updates, she giggles as he makes bubbles when attempting to say her name minus the “Moaning”, she also giving him a hint in which direction he should go, he responding with a grateful-seeming thumbs up, he soon hearing a mersong, seeing a painting with the people chasing the giant squid. What he saw of the merpeople, wasn’t the usual vision of merpeople: dark green hair, grey skin, and jagged teeth. Harry was unharassed, but stared at, he swimming past their homes. Everyone stares, Harry reaching a spot like a “village square”. Harry reaches to an area where merpeople were beckoning to the champs, four people tied up to the statue with a tail. The four people were asleep with constant bubbles streaming from their mouths. Harry attempts to ask for one of the fishmen’s spears, but he is told they wouldn’t help him, Harry then attempting to forcefully take it, but only being met with resistance and a laugh. Harry, getting smart, locates a sharp rock and hacks at Ron’s bindings, they soon coming apart, he only finding resistance when he tries to save the others, merpeople explaining he could only rescue his own.

They then motion to where Cedric, with a bubble around his head, was swimming toward them. As he passes he tells Harry to leave, the other 2 coming soon, first Krum, looking like a shark-head with man legs, but as he waits for Fleur, the merpeople start collecting Ron and Fleur’s sister, but Harry has them back off by brandishing his wand. He tells them they had until, “1,2,3”, he grabbing Fleur’s sister while he could, but as he moves, he gets tired with the 2 dead weights. As he goes, he feels the change of going back to normal, fortunately also near the surface, and upon breaking out to air, Ron and Fleur’s little sister wake. They help the little girl to shore, the merpeople swimming with them and singing. Fleur is frantically looking for her sister from shore. Everyone is reunited and wrapped tightly in thick blankets, hot potions being ingested. Harry feels truly stupid for thinking any of the hostages would’ve come to harm, he seeing Dumbledore speaking with a female chief merperson. Fleur confirms how Harry and Ron had both helped in the saving of her sister, giving each a Euro-kiss, Hermione looking bent about Ron’s reaction. Then, the announcement for the point system and scores, Harry surprising both Ron and Hermione when he gets 45/50 points, tying with Cedric. They also learn the next test was June 24th and the champs would learn more a month before. Harry also decides, as he and the group of hostages and champs walked back, he was going to buy Dobby 365 pairs of socks.

Ron was madly capitalizing off of  his status as hostage, first stating the truth and then turning it into a beat down of him by many merpeople, but Hermione poked a sensitive hole in his story, so he stuck with the real one after. Harry receives a letter from Sirius by March, he specifying where they’d meet and to bring tons of food, if possible. The trio is a bit surprised Sirius would make the trip, but they also didn’t have dementors running all over. Harry’s spirits were bolstered with the news, he and the bunch going to Potions and being waylaid by Malfoy and Pansy Parkinson, she holding Witch Weekly, throwing it to Hermione, then everyone being ushered in. Hermione locates the small article titled: Harry Potter’s Heartaches. Ron gives her an, I told you so with having pissed the moronic journalist off, but also provides a good laugh for Hermione when he labels her a, “scarlet woman”, she then giving an indifferent smile at Pansy.

Unfortunately, as Hermione is wondering aloud how Rita had learnt some of her accurate information, Ron gets angry, Snape catches them, and takes 20 points from them, reading the article to the class. On top of it, upon finishing, he separates the 3, seating Harry in front of his desk. Snape speaks to him under his breath, accusing he had taken the gillyweed from his office, Harry denies it and Snape states Harry would regret it next time. Snape warns him with having a truth potion he being able to “accidentally” use it on him, so he should watch himself. Karkaroff interrupts this exchange, wanting to speak with Snape, since he’d been dodging him. He waits until class ends, Harry snooping by hiding behind his cauldron, Karkaroff showing Snape his forearm, and he breaking off the conversation to call Harry out, Karkaroff leaving and Harry quickly following, straight to tell his buddies what he’d seen. The day of Hogsmeade was a pleasant one, not as cold, and Harry had been able to scrounge a dozen chicken legs, bread, and pumpkin juice. The 3 first hit a clothing store for some socks for Dobby, they then heading for the exit to the town. Harry greets Sirius in dog form, he leading them toward the foot of the mountain, and once getting there, sees an opening and goes into a cave with Buckbeak standing around.

When Sirius changes back and begins eating the chicken, Harry questions him about his safety, Sirius motioning to some papers with strange happenings to people around Harry and he feeling he needed to stay closer. Soon, Sirius is asking about Crouch’s house elf and when Harry had lost his wand at the tourney, they also speaking of Bagman, but Sirius focused on Crouch, he revealing he’d been responsible for sending him to Azkaban without a trial. Sirius is ready to leave out the convoluted details why Crouch wasn’t a Dark Arts supporter, until Ron has him at least give them a chance, Sirius starting with how fear was felt from magical and Muggle sides, Crouch being ruthless back then, but so effective people wanted him to become the Minister of Magic, then his son gets in trouble, he a Voldemort supporter, and Crouch sends him to Azkaban. Sirius begins to get a far off look recalling when they’d brought the young man in, he ending like everyone there. Screams his first night, silent after, unless screaming whilst unconscious.

Sirius admits the boy had died a year later, his mother following. Crouch never comes to collect his son’s body, the dementors burying him outside. The public doesn’t look kindly upon this, Fudge receiving the position and Crouch going into the Department of International Magical Cooperation. Harry states how Moody mentioned Crouch’s obsession in catching Dark wizards, Sirius confirming it was manic for him. He also supports both Hermione and Ron’s opinions of Snape due to his history when they were young, he also noting if Dumbledore trusts Snape, he’d be pretty clean from having worked for Voldemort. Sirius thinks about Crouch’s possible intentions and whether he was truly ill, Ron willing to see if Percy had heard from Crouch lately, as well as news on Bertha still missing or progress. As Sirius ends their visit, he allows only written communication from them and would be happy when this tournament ended. The three get back to Hogwarts and endless hot food, wondering if Percy would be as ruthless to family as Crouch had been, Ron uncertain.

The 3 send Hedwig to deliver a letter to Percy, they then off to gift the socks to Dobby. Ron requesting some more eclairs, Hermione being pointed to where Winky was sitting and she being drunk and sad, hoping Crouch would return for her. Harry attempts to get her to spill on whether she knew anything she’d be willing to share about Crouch, she not having it and Dobby getting defensive when she declared Harry was being nosy. She passes out soon after and Hermione is defending Winky’s unhappy feelings, she roping Dobby in, but he wanting to remain out of it, the elves quickly giving them food and ushering them out, Ron fully placing blame on Hermione for making them all uncomfy with her feminist and race rights for the elves. Harry ditches the 2 with their continued tiffs through the day, he sending more of the food by owl.

The next day at breakies, Hermione receives multiple letters, she soon realizing it was hate mail regarding Harry, she getting boils from one, and Ron reading another threatening to do the same. After Hermione misses 2 classes for being tended to, Ron getting sad about being skint all the time, Hermione and Harry not sure how to lift his spirits. Hermione is having trouble moving her hands, she vengeful toward Skeeter for it. After a Defense Against the Dark Arts class, Hermione speaks with Moody, whom helps her deduce Skeeter wasn’t getting her information by Invisibility cloak, she sharing with the boys, but not expecting them to help after Ron responds whinily about they having to now wage war upon Skeeter. Harry made sure to send food to Sirius regularly and updates with no updates, yet. When Easter arrives is when the letter comes with prezzies.

Percy relates he hadn’t seen Crouch, but received handwritten letters with his instructions from him. Finally, Harry is told by McGonagall where and when to meet Bagman for their next task details When Harry and Cedric walk to the Quidditch field, they see hedges were planted all over, Bagman relating how the Cup would be in the middle and they’d use magic to break spells, the two highest pointed champs being first to enter. After, Krum speaks with Harry, leading him close to the forest so as not to get eavesdropped on, he wanting Harry to explain the type of friendship he and Hermione had, Harry surprised it wasn’t more serious. Krum requires a little convincing, but after believing him, compliments Harry on his flying skills, Harry flattered, then hearing movement in the forest, which is revealed to be Crouch, whom was acting and looking like a crazed hobo. When Harry attempts to get his attention, he sees Crouch talking at a tree, calling it “Weatherby”, then Crouch grabs at Harry’s robe desperately wanting to speak to Dumbledore.

After, Harry is let go again as Crouch continues speaking to a tree about a time when his wife and son were alive. When Harry tries to leave, Crouch catches him again, talking brokenly of Voldemort’s power becoming greater. Harry gets loose, Krum stays with Crouch and Harry runs to locate Dumbledore, he being stopped by Snape, whom wasted his time until Dumbledore appears, Harry leading him back to Crouch, but he no longer waiting and Krum unconscious. Dumbledore wands him awake, Hagrid and Moody soon joining them. Karkaroff is brought and was pissed and accuses Dumbledore of cheating, so Hagrid calms him by placing him against a tree. Dumbledore distracting him with the task of returning Harry to his tower, and Hagrid talking mad smack about “foreigners”. Harry lets him go with this, instead glad to now be sharing with Hermione and Ron what he’d been through.

Hermione deduces Crouch and Krum could’ve both been attacked or Crouch was responsible, Ron and Harry try to see if Krum not doing it made sense, it not so they going to the owlery to send a letter to Sirius. When Ron asks for another recap on the details, Harry could remember about Crouch, he gets annoyed by Snape being a time wasting nuisance. Hermione reminding them they should speak with Moody to see if he’d used the Marauder’s Map, but then Fred and George are arguing loudly on their way up to them, about whether the note they were sending was blackmail and if they felt guilty enough, this not lasting long when Ron calls them out on it, George setting an owl off with the letter in the end.

When the twins leave, the 3 discuss how serious they could be with this unknown plan, Ron confiding how his brothers were focused on quickly making cash for their joke ship business. They leave it alone until they can speak with Moody at break, upon doing so, learning the Marauder’s Map hadn’t shown where Crouch had gone, Moody focusing them on Harry training for the 3rd task with his buddies help, since Dumbledore had notified the Ministry about Crouch. The next day, they get a letter from Sirius having him swear not to stray outside after hours and to have his buddies with him, since someone was after Harry. He took it like a brat, so Hermione attempts to set him straight, he resistant to the very end, but Hermione attempting to keep him focused. Harry follows instructions accordingly for the next few days, training with his friends. Ron has gotten to his limit of being stunned by Harry, since he’d started getting an ache everywhere.

Hermione testily advises Ron to fall back onto the cushions and it wouldn’t be so bad, Ron spouting about this not being an option when stunned, he offering she try it. Hermione quickly turns the subject to Harry having gotten the hang of it enough, and they should practice a hex next time, they ending for today. In Divination, Harry falls asleep and dreams of Voldemort, he excusing himself to the hospital wing to Trelawney’s disappointment. Harry goes to find Dumbledore instead, Sirius having instructed him to do this. He guesses the password to Dumbledore’s office, Cockroach Cluster, and hears a conversation as he gets closer. Fudge, Moody, and Dumbledore discussing Bertha’s disappearance and whether Crouch not being found was due to the same reason. Moody is first to notice and mention Harry waiting to talk with Dumbledore.

Fudge attempts to push Harry back out by advising he return to class, but Harry reiterates his need to speak with Dumbledore, whom has him wait there until he returns from their grounds look-see. After a short time waiting in a chair, Harry sees a slightly open cabinet with something shining, he taking a look. What he discovers is a liquid substance in a bowl, poking it with his wand and looking inside to see a room from above. Harry gets too nosy and falls in when his nose touches the liquid and he finds himself seated on a bench next to Dumbledore, he deducing he must be in a memory. Soon, dementors enter with Karkaroff, whom looks much younger. He’d been brought to reveal information about Voldemort’s supporters, Moody, pre-magic eye, voiced his insulting opinion of Karkaroff. Crouch has him go through the names he had, only one being useful. Harry is then transported to a different memory with Rita Skeeter and Bagman, he quite fit and being charged for passing information to Voldemort supporters, Crouch getting negative feedback from those present when readying to send him to Azkaban.

This day, Bagman is let go on his popularity, a new memory beginning. Dumbledore sits with Crouch and a crying woman, four prisoners brought in, one being his son. The boy was scared out of his mind, pleading with his parents, his mother of course, unable to do anything and Crouch shouting over him, this time receiving the votes for life in Azkaban. Crouch denounces being related to the boy any longer, Dumbledore rousing Harry from this scene. Harry tries to explain and apologizes reluctantly, Dumbledore being quite understanding. Harry then relates his dream, Dumbledore confessing he’d told Sirius about the cave. Harry inquires Dumbledore’s opinion on why his scar kept bothering him, he considering it was fueled by Voldemort’s surge of anger and or proximity to Harry. He asks after Bagman’s innocence, and why he believed Snape was clean, Dumbledore dodging by saying it would stay between himself and Snape. They end with Dumbledore wishing him luck and not to mention what he’d learned of Neville’s parents.

Harry sends another letter and thoroughly discusses most of what he’d seen, Ron not convinced of Snape’s innocence and Hermione thinking of Rita Skeeter’s egotistical talk of  what she knew about Bagman, they calling it a night, since they’d have to buckle down and help Harry practice the next day. As they reach June, Harry is much more at ease with this task what with his history thus far with similar experiences. Hermione attempts to focus them back on practice when Ron sees Malfoy acting oddly outside below their window. Meanwhile, his now daily letters from Sirius supports Hermione in Harry focusing on the third task before bothering with anything else. The morning of the task brings more fluff news on Harry being crazy, Malfoy even being quoted in the article, and Hermione then coming up with a possibility which she’s off to research in the library straightaway.

McGonagall then informs Harry the champs would be meeting after breakies. She clarifies it’s so the families of the champions could be greeted, he bewildered. Cedric announces to Harry of his guests waiting, he surprised to see Bill and Mrs. Weasley. As he escorts them about the place, Mrs. Weasley mentions how Percy was being questioned about Crouch’s letters and Fudge being judge in his place. During the latter of evening meal, Dumbledore announces the start o f the task approaching, having the champs head for the Quidditch field. When everyone is seated, it’s noted they’d have patrollers along the outside of the maze for assistance when red sparks were sent into the sky, Harry and Cedric being first to enter. Not long in, the 2 separate, Harry hearing the whistle for Krum’s start, and further on Fleur’s, Harry doesn’t run into any obstacles, oddly. After turning a few times without any issue, Cedric meets up with him again, his robes scorched by a skrewt, hurrying off, Harry then confronting a boggart-dementor, and after this goes through suspicious mist.

Rightly, since it made up, down, but he only having to lift his foot to fix it. After 10 minutes, he confronts the skrewt and successfully stuns it. A little further on, Harry hears Cedric being attacked by Krum, he making a hole in the hedge and stunning Krum, they sending sparks up for him to receive aid, the 2 splitting up again and Harry coming across a sphinx next. Harry’s guess of a spider does the trick and he gets directly to the Cup without trouble. He then sees Cedric belting toward it, Harry knowing he didn’t have a chance with his longer stride, but he did warn him of a huge ass spider coming up on his side, he barely dodging. Cedric loses his wand and Harry tries a spell, it failing, as well as the next few, they getting the spider’s attention and he getting a bitten leg, until getting to a spell which works.

After, Cedric tries to give the Cup to Harry, after he’d told him to grab it already. Harry continues to be agitated by Cedric’s decision, the 2 listing how the other had helped him at different times. Harry gets down on himself when Cedric mentions trying to save all the hostages, dumbly in Harry’s opinion, the poem not meant to be take so seriously. Cedric has made up his mind, though standing by Harry, whom takes a minute to fantasize the win, but getting his moment to say, selflessly, for them both to get it together, and have it be a Hogwarts victory! Cedric acts like he couldn’t believe his luck Harry’d want to, the two walking together and grasping the Cup at the same time, being whisked somewhere. When they look about, they are nowhere near Hogwarts, Cedric not realizing the Cup was a Portkey. They be-wand themselves, the graveyard silently spooky.

Then, they notice a small man carrying a bundle in robes, and upon getting about “6” (feet under) from them, Harry’s scar killing him with pain, losing sight, a voice commanding to kill the other, and when his scar pain lightens, sees Cedric killed. Harry’s then dragged to Tom Riddle’s grave and tied to it full body so he couldn’t move his head, he recognizing Wormtail. He left him for a moment, he  seeing the bundle moving at the grave, Cedric’s body nearby and Harry’s scar piercing him as he hoped he didn’t get a look of whatever was in those robes. Wormtail comes back with a man-fitting cauldron filled with water, a snake around Harry and the gravestone for a mo.

The cauldron is lit and the bundle demands he hurry up, upon being prepared, Harry seeing a flat-faced snake-looking red baby, he being chucked into the cauldron, Wormtail fearfully cutting off a limb for this renewal ceremony, then getting to Harry, some blood drawn and it going in with the arm. A mist develops and Harry is terrified to see a skeletal man emerge, Wormtail robing him and Harry seeing Voldemort up close for the first time in years. and Voldemort was reveling in his renewed body, throwing Wormtail against the grave, laughing, Wormtail reluctantly gets the stamp on his arm turned from red to black. Harry’s mark flares a searing pain, Voldemort wondering who would come first when they felt ‘the call’ and who would be dumb enough to stay away. Voldemort then confides to Harry, the grave was his father’s and both he and Harry’s mother had their uses in the scheme.

After a short wait, wizards, the Death Eaters, were apparating to the graveyard. Voldemort goes into a speech of how he felt those present had betrayed him by not coming to his aid before and how they’d denied being a supporter to the community, instead. He tortures one Death Eater who grovels on behalf of himself and the others. After, Voldemort gives Wormtail a sparkly fake hand which worked magically. Lucius has to explain why he’d run from the call the last time, Voldemort letting him go with a warning. Crabbe and Goyle are also called out, he going through the Death Eater’s who were missing whether it be due to imprisonment, cowardess, or death. Lucius is first to ask how Voldemort had obtained his new form, he calling out Harry as the start and finish of the tale. This new form allowing him to lay hands on Harry, he getting blinding pain from barely a finger touch.

Voldemort speaks of how he’d waited uselessly for one of his Death Eaters to come find him, instead getting lucky when a Hogwarts professor happened upon his side of the forest in Albania, but Voldemort’s plan to immortalize himself through the sorcerer’s stone thwarted by this meddling kid, Harry. So, his next reprieve comes in the form of Wormtail. He tells how Wormtail had run into Bertha at an inn, he getting her to Voldemort so he could obtain facts, he breaking her beyond repair, so gets rid of her. He goes on to state this night, Harry would die, he first putting him through the “worst pain” Harry’s ever felt, then having Wormtail release him so they could fight square before Voldemort took Harry down. Wormtail quickly manages to set Harry loose what with his pretty hand, and flippantly gives Harry’s wand back, collected next to Cedric’s body, f.y.i…

Voldemort asks Harry if he’s experience with dueling, his quite brief, and mostly useless lesson those years ago. Voldemort forces Harry to bow magically, per tradition, they then starting, Voldemort cursing him again. When Voldemort’s ready to give the death blow, Harry does the disarming spell, their wands creating a gold connection and encircling the 2 after taking them to a different part of the graveyard, inexplicably. Then, phoenix song is heard, Harry keeps the connection between them open, Harry forcing liquid balls which formed along the gold strand to go back to Voldemort’s wand, once it had, all the magic he’d recently done, seemed to be getting released, like Cedric and Wormtail’s hand. All the other’s who’d died recently voice support similar to Cedric’s, Harry’s mother and father soon emerging, as well. His father instructs him what’d happen and he needing to get the Portkey. Per request, Harry takes Cedric with him as he runs for the Portkey, Death Eaters firing curses and missing, Voldemort also not getting to him in time, even though he’d gained by a single grave away.

They’re transported to the entrance to the maze, a crowd coming with Dumbledore and Harry escorted away by Moody. Harry answers Moody’s questions about what had happened Moody then confessing he’d put Harry’s name in the Goblet and also had to orchestrate many angles, as well, since Harry was too prideful in certain ways. Harry was dumbfounded by this revelation, Moody readying to kill him, but Dumbledore, Snape, and McGonagall having witnessed the last few minutes of this and saving Harry. Dumbledore then reveals, this Moody was an impostor, the 2 waiting to see if the knocked out fella would turn. He turns into Crouch’s son, Dumbledore reviving him after giving him a truth potion.

Boy Crouch confesses how his mother had, in the end saved him. She’d had Crouch help and his mother and he took poly-juice potions to have it succeed. Crouch had kept his son hidden with Invisibility cloak, Winky helping him. Bertha had gotten in the way, so Crouch had put too powerful memory charm on her and she didn’t recover. Bertha had been the one to convince Crouch to let his son go to the Quidditch Cup, the reason for the empty seat. After, Crouch had fired Winky, Voldemort having found Crouch’s son back at his home. Voldemort curses Crouch and sets up the plan with his son to be Moody’s double. When Harry meets Krum, Crouch’s son watches from the forest and underneath his invisibility cloak, stunning Krum and popping his pop, then burying the body in front of Hagrid’s hut.

Dumbledore makes sure Crouch’s son can’t escape, then has McGonagall take Harry upstairs, Dumbledore telling him Sirius was waiting for them in his office. When Sirius sees the state of Harry, he demands to be told what’d happened, Dumbledore taking the reins, Harry becoming a perch for Fawkes, then Dumbledore asking him to tell them what he’d seen, explaining it’d be easier to get it over with than wait. Dumbledore also reveals, Fawkes was the donor of he phoenix feather in his wand. From here, Dumbledore guesses the reversal which occurs because the wands weren’t performing against each other. He asks what the apparitions did upon getting out, after which he has Harry spend the night in hospital wing, Sirius welcome to stay with him. They see the Weasley’s with Hermione prompting Pomfrey for answers, Dumbledore having everyone calm down, also stating how Harry would have the dog stay with him awhile. Pomfrey sets him up with pj’s and sleep potion, he passing out promptly.

Next, Harry is woken by talk from Mrs. Weasley and how McGonagall was arguing with Fudge. When they enter the room loudly, Dumbledore soon follows, they learning Fudge had brought a dementor with him and Crouch got the fatal kiss, so he wouldn’t be tried or be able to testify why he’d done all of this. Fudge stays immovable on his skeptical opinion of what Dumbledore had learned from Harry and Crouch’s son, and the dementors being ousted from Azkaban on the chance they’d help Voldemort only making him livid. Dumbledore goes on to advise he’d also do well to make peace with the giants or Voldemort would sway them, as well. A last ditch effort to at least persuade Fudge to believe Voldemort had been reborn came from Snape when he shows his Dark mark and this being why Karkaroff biffed off. Dumbledore then readies to get Mr. Weasley’s help from those who were still on the side of reason, before Fudge had left Harry receiving the thousand galleon winnings for the Cup. Next, Dumbledore asks Sirius to transform, he having Snape and he make temporary peace, he sending both on missions, Harry being told to finish his sleeping drought, right before taking it, wanting anyone or Cedric to have gotten the prize money when Mrs. Weasley mentions it, he breaking down, Hermione then coming in with the sleeping potion.

After a moment, Harry recalls little of what occurred after, a harsh one being when he met Cedric’s parents. He offers them the prize money, but it’s declined with a daze due to mourning. No one at school bothered him about his ordeal, also since Skeeter’s article made Harry sound nuts, he was able to kick back with his buddies. Ron also relates how he’d found out from his mother from Dumbledore of Harry first starting his summer at the Dursleys, then would go to Ron’s. They visit Hagrid and he confesses of  knowing Voldemort had been priming to come back for years (yeah, ya think?) and as long as Dumbledore was there to fight, he felt safer. They learn he also would be on a mission for Dumbledore possibly with Madame Maxime and maybe in relation to Voldemort, since he refused to give detail.

At the Leaving Feast, Dumbledore decides to reveal some of the details of Cedric’s murder and then recognizes Harry’s bravery for confronting and escaping Voldemort. Some Slytherin students refused to partake in honoring Harry, though; After which, Dumbledore goes on to support everyone sticking together against Voldemort. When everyone’s going home, Fleur makes sure to bid farewell to Harry, Krum doing the same, having a private chat with Hermione whilst Ron tries to keep track of them, in the end asking for Krum’s autograph. When they’re on the train back, Hermione mentions at lunch, how Rita hadn’t been writing anything since the end of the last task due to what she’d had on her. They then learn Hermione had Rita still in beetle form in a jar, she an unregistered Animagus. Hermione lists her terms to beetley Rita and would set her free in London. Fred and George help them hex Crabbe, Goyle, and Malfoy when they come to bother the trio, Harry then offering the twins his winnings, since they wouldn’t be getting paid out by Bagman, whom was in a shit ton of debt. His only request being for them to buy Ron some dress robes and take the credit. They end with Harry resigned to his summer with the Dursleys and preparing for whatever was ahead.

A decent end, and I’ll be happy to continue to the brickiest looking Year 5 of the bunch.

Rose Madder

 https://2aughlikecrazy.wordpress.com/2016/08/28/rose-madder/

A woman, Rose, is having trouble breathing as she sees her husband, Norman after he gets home. She’s pregnant and not having felt a pain similar to this in her life, she hoping nothing is wrong, but feeling like there might be, since it is hinted of Norman having punched her a few times in the stomach. She’s close to miscarrying and he’s on the phone, she thinking of his status as a cop, and in the process of calling an ambulance. She wants to scream in pain, but Norman didn’t allow such noise, and when he ends the call, he regards the mess around them, she showing her bloody fingers in response as he picks up the shredded paperback she’d been reading and placing blame on his temper to it, she knowing he would’ve done the same with anything she could’ve been doing, he prickly because some woman was hassling him. As he dumps the trashed novel, she starts cramping and having thoughts of loathing of him without truly registering them.

When Norman returns, he has such a look and demeanor, she thinks he means to murder her, but instead, handsome Norman approaches to pick her up, after having told the emergency dispatcher he wouldn’t, but he needing the story he gave to stick, so places her at the foot of the stairs. She begins bleeding more profusely as he checks the spot in the corner for blood, then goes to the kitchen and comes out with a sandwich and rag, cleaning up the spot in the corner. When they hear the ambulance approach, he makes certain she knows the story and then has her say what would happen if she mentioned anything else. Before he walks away to get the door, she stops him to ask why he’d done it, he looking scared for a moment, then claiming it was an accident and she’d be able to have another baby. The EMT give her something to make her sleep and she drifts into a dream where she’s running away from something she knew would catch her (Rose doesn’t seem quite strong, she wanting a baby by this numbskull). It’s told she stays in Norman’s crazy world for nine more years.

Rose spends fourteen years with him, in all, she able to ignore most of it since she usually only received four beatings per year, but the Wendy Yarrow year brought twelve, Rose having to be taken to the hospital after the miscarriage for coughing up blood, learning her lung was being poked by a broken rib, and even though the staff didn’t seem to believe her “falling” story, they only patch her up and let her go, it being 1985. Norman knew he skirted getting in trouble though, so intended to be more tactful. It’s then shared of what Rose had gone through with Norman and what finally gets her attention being a spot of blood. She debates whether to change the sheets, she wanting to save some work by moving the pillow over it, most anything to do with how she kept house being under scrutiny for a physical reprimand, he normally careful not to clock her in the face, but when his temper flared, she still having to be careful not to make a mess or be loud in any way. After one of the unruly temper flares, he gauges the damage done to her nose, gets her an ice-filled wash cloth to minimize swelling and bleeding, she noting the next morning it had done the job for the most part, with the exception of this errant drop on the sheet. Rose didn’t look forward to remaking the entire bed since Norman’s favorite spot to punch her was her back, which after fourteen years had begun to leave noticeable signs of her kidney’s being hit. She considers how if she kept allowing this, Norman could kill her, but the worst thought being he may not.

To Rose’s surprise, she began to feel rage and considered leaving, but at the same time attempting to abate the feeling and talk herself out of it for Norman being a decent provider, regardless of being a smidgen temperamental. Rose couldn’t let it go though, since not being able to stop staring at the blood, considering how her life would be after fourteen more years, the damage she could live through, she then walking out of the bedroom, grabbing her bag and struggling to open the door, then deciding to grab their ATM card even whilst her beaten side begged her not to, but the drop of blood giving her drive, then hesitating no longer, walking outside, she ready to get the hell out of there. As she passes the store, she thought of how Norman claimed to have developed his sixth sense and whether she needed to be more careful in being seen, she then noticing his car coming down the street, she thinking of a believable reason for being out, but not needing to for having scared herself needlessly, she determined to turn onto the next street so as to avoid his driving route. She walks along a residential neighborhood, she desperately needing a bathroom and was lucky to choose a home of someone who had been away for a couple of days already, relieving herself in the backyard, she lightening physically and mentally by her actions.

Rosie, as she prefers to be called, walks for almost two hours before locating a pay phone and calling a cab, she buys sunglasses and a kerchief for her hair before it comes, she requesting an ATM and bus depot, meanwhile deciding she’d return to her maiden name, only when necessary using Norman’s. When getting to the ATM, she then struggles with the amount to withdraw, she ending up going for a few bills since she may as well, she in for trouble either way by now. She makes it to the bus depot, again having to work up her motivation to continue, she entering the building and trashing the card, it being noticed and fished, after she’d moved on, and once getting to the ticket window, contemplates a name to give, she flubbing up and saying the fake name rather than where she wanted to go, feeling quite out of place for not having socialized outdoors for fourteen years. She gets her ticket, though and once on the bus and out of sight of the police station, she relaxing to the point of dozing and seems to enter the Territories, at first sight tranquil, but then sensing wild creatures, and what ends up jerking her awake is the thought of Norman’s fist coming at her, and whilst relieved to be away from him, she knew she couldn’t slip up from covering her tracks, she not certain he wouldn’t still detect her whereabouts, but ready for whatever she found ahead.

Rosie’s first few weeks were tough, but she didn’t have second thoughts, regardless of being fear-stricken. When she’d gotten to the second bus terminal, she didn’t entertain the thought of walking outside so early in the morning, thinking the worst if she did, so heads for a seat as two cops pass, she hoping they’d leave her alone until dawn broke in a few hours. At four, she gets some cereal and coffee at the cafeteria, she then spotting a customer service desk, and debating whether to ask for assistance, she deciding to go for it, and the man attentive enough to ask about her vague plans, nothing coming of it, and she asking for his opinion, he offering her his card where he wrote the address of a battered women’s shelter on the back, then giving her directions so she could go at daylight. When she walks off the bus in the morning, to continue on foot, she loses her way and the people around didn’t look friendly to ask for directions, she walking in the wrong direction for three hours, then regaining some familiarity when recognizing where she’d started. The first person she asks about directions isn’t accommodating, but at least solidifies the truth of the place being known and when seeing a shop, is told how she was sixteen to eighteen blocks away. When she finally gets to the right street, her second encounter with a citizen in regards to whether she was close to the cross street she was looking for again began badly, she learning nothing, but does eventually get there, turning the wrong way, but righting herself, and reaching the house. When buzzing the door, she is instructed to show the business card given, she finally allowed inside.

As Norman contemplates his first move to locating Rosie, she was being led to Anna, the proprietress, when first arriving, given a meal, allowed to sleep, then another meal before seeing her, whom upon getting Rosie’s name, asks for the details of how she’d left. Anna then informs Rosie how long she could stay, if needed and how Providence had led her there like in a Charles Dickens novel, then she asks about Rosie’s skills which makes her break down for not knowing or able to do much, but Anna taking it lightly and offering her a job at a partnering hotel. She assigns her a counselor to shadow, then making clear Rosie is getting the chance to free herself from Norman, officially welcoming her. Three weeks later, Norman gets a lead from the guy, Ramon, whom Rosie passes in the bus station rummaging for the bank card, he now confronting Norman in the park as he relayed how he’d been instructed to meet him out there, the man having been arrested on a drug charge and the ATM card found on him.

The man was now sensing the trouble he was in with Norman, but getting offered being let go for his help, Norman doing a fairly odd thing after noting Ramon being gay, he feeling him up and talking about how he was going to be his good buddy since being laughed about by some cops he knew and then began squeezing Ramon’s boner in a vice grip. Ramon was glad he was able to answer Norman’s questions of what window and time she was in the station, not saving himself much pain. Norman then plans his next move of tracking her on weekends until he was free, he certain he’d detect her whereabouts easily enough and how he was going to teach her a severe lesson when he did. After being away for a month Rosie was noticing her physical changes for the better, working at the Whitestone Hotel. She liked how she knew what would happen throughout her day, she taking a banana break in the room she was finishing turning down, Pam sticking her head in and scaring Rosie, but asking if she wanted to join forces on the last two rooms, she taking her up on it and treating her to coffee and pie after. Rosie is content with her current set up, but expecting soon not having Norman around will be enough, she readying for the time it’ll be her turn to vacate the shelter as she drifts to sleep at night.

The next Wednesday, Pam leaves Rosie after work for not feeling well, she denying Rosie should accompany her in preference of she going to get coffee independently. Rosie then notices her wedding band, having forgotten she could get rid of it if she chose, but after seeing Pam off, walks to the cafe, but passing it as she became distracted by her memory of the pervert whilst she’d been lost her first day in the city. A young man stops her before she mindlessly walked into a busy street, she then aware how far past the cafe she’d gone, but as she approached the coffee shop, she decides to return home instead, then noticing the pawn shop, carefully deciding to see what her ring would fetch since she had no fond memories nor reservations holding her back, instead thinking about paying for her time at Daughters and Sisters hopefully having enough for herself after. When she guesses it actually wasn’t worth much, her thoughts confirmed by the young man behind the counter, she keeps it as a reminder to not be gullible again. As she makes her way out, a picture seems to grab her attention, of a woman on a hill, which she gravitated to for the new place she was going to get.

Rosie walks back with the painting and asks the young man if he’d be willing to trade for the ring as an older man watched, and when he agrees, Rosie is ecstatic, the two men discussing the odd qualities of the painting, she thinking about when she’d be able to hang it. Then, Rosie wished to complete the transaction so she could leave, the young man agreeable and wrapping it up. The older man follows her outside, introducing himself and asking she read a couple passages from a book, she at first guarded, but after the first paragraph, curious. When she had finished, Rob was delighted with her reading, she shocked when he gave her a job offer. Meanwhile, Norman had cleaned his desk of all unnecessary trash, he having specific thoughts on black people’s abilities when it came to work ethic, which he’d learned from his pappy. His home had switched roles, it looking bomb-blasted with trash whilst is desk at work was clean as a whistle. Norman had apparently been promoted, getting a real office, his bust going perfectly, he considering how his desk being this clean would have only come about if he’d been fired.

Norman then recalls how his assumption Rosie wouldn’t go far from her childhood town had set him back, he unable to know for certain which bus she’d taken, and whilst his job had taken a turn for the better, he was obsessed with the idea it canceled out with Rosie still missing, he having been blind by thinking she wouldn’t leave, the amount she took meaning nothing, only concerned with she having taken something of his, and he owing retribution. He also thought back to the women he’d had sex with since Rosie left, one in particular not living through it, he choking her when she resembled Rosie for a moment, but not being concerned after she’d died since he’d taken care of murders committed before. He then considered if Rosie knew of this, but shrugging it off, instead going through the meticulous process of tracking her down. He enlisted help from a neighboring city’s police station on false pretenses, nothing coming of it. As he readied to move his office belongings to his new office, he gets a call from the bus cashier, he remembering the odd way Rosie had asked for a ticket, Norman now feeling the upper hand returning, and easing him.

Rosie saw Pam sitting whilst watching an overweight, but muscle-y Gert with a punk-looking Cynthia, Gert teaching her self-defense, which she did for anyone who wanted to learn, Rosie having been taught some moves she didn’t expect to use, but appreciating Gert’s kindness and interest in her mentoring. As Rosie sat with Pam and relayed her time after Pam had gone home, Gert flipped Cynthia, whom squealed upon the take-down giddily, bouncing back quickly, Pam wanting to hear more about the younger guy than giving her opinion on the painting Rosie tried to focus her on. Gert was encouraging Cynthia to help flip her in return, Cynthia exhilarated once succeeding, Anna then walking in and sobering her victory with how she had only aided Gert’s body to follow it’s own inertia. Rosie then asked her opinion of the picture when she’d shown interest, there now seven ladies staring and not saying a word until Rosie prompts a response, feeling awkward, receiving the similar opinion of it being strange. Soon, Cynthia is relating a story where she’d had a similar experience to Rosie’s in regards to a picture her mother owned, drawing her in, she not knowing what happened to the painting, but guessing her mother had trashed it. Anna then states Rosie needed to come to the office with her after she told them all about her new job offer, she admitting it may regard what Rosie had been waiting for.

Anna describes the studio Rosie would be getting being one of their better ones, Rosie overcome with happiness in moving forward. Anna then asks after how Rosie was feeling in regards to Norman attempting to locate her, Daughters and Sisters policy being to not discuss where anyone relocated to, with outsiders. Anna prompts Rosie to go through how she’d deal with the possibility he did find her, they moving on to her financial stability to maintain the apartment and her new job’s unknown stability as of yet, until she started, she not knowing, but believing it will pan out, she also knowing she had back ups on the off chance it fell through. Anna lets her know she could move in the next day if she chose and hoped she would attend the upcoming picnic, she continuing to study the painting and noting how the painter hadn’t signed it and the printing of ‘Rose Madder’ on the back seemed much newer than the picture, it looking 40 years or older.

Norman leaves by bus, the day before Rosie begins her new position, he ignoring how much her ditching him had affected him, and needing to infiltrate her mind once more, quickly. He allows himself to blind himself to the fact it was about how he hadn’t sensed her movements and less about the card theft. He attempts to track when she could’ve decided her escape and how long she planned it out. Once on the bus though, trying to sense which seat she’d have chosen, he then going over how much effort telepathy took in practice. As he traveled, he attempts to retrace her steps at the rest stops as well, he repeating his new mantra and eager in imagining he was underneath her bed so he could stab her. When arriving at the final stop, he gauges what her next step would’ve been, distracting himself for a moment with the thought some low-life could’ve killed her before he could, but then getting back on track and after doing a step-for-step of Rosie’s movements, learns the information desk man’s name, then goes to a cab where he’s taken to The Whitestone. Meanwhile, Rosie is slowly becoming overwhelmed by the actual doing of her new job, fear setting in when sitting in the recording booth. Thoughts breaking her self-worth returning as she starts talking herself out of succeeding, worse case scenarios in how she’d survive crashing on her, as well. Then, thought’s of her picture motivated her to sit down as asked, gaining courage by thinking of the woman in the picture, and once talking to allow the sound engineer to level the console, everyone looking pleased with Rosie’s speaking voice. She has one more thought of insecurity before action, but begins her lines like a champ.

When finished for the day, Rosie goes to Daughters and Sisters to update them of her day, she still riding the buzz and even agreeing to ask shop owners in her area  to post their fliers to sell tickets for the picnic and concert, also to remember to mention they weren’t gay and didn’t harbor underage runaways, a couple of the reasons sales were low. Rosie knew she wouldn’t be putting it in those terms, but would talk them up as best she could, she again reveling in being on her own.  She then thinks for a moment, in the painting, the woman’s toga’s creases had changed, but deciding she’d tricked herself, now talking aloud to her like she would a good buddy about how she sensed she had needed to prove to the director she could do the work. When she looked outside, the car she saw pull up didn’t bother her like it normally would, she then distracted by seeing more of one of the two “gods'” faces, thinking then the painting had expanded, but realizing it actually seemed more like she’d gotten a widescreen view and this helped her discovery of new statues in the picture. Rose froze when the light, rapid knocking began, she kicking herself for not locking the door and putting off buying a phone for a better deal, but does remember her groceries containing some cans, and after grabbing the largest, announces of coming.

Norman is then shown on his hotel bed smoking, back-story of when he’d started and how Rosie’s family had died, following. Norman not having felt bad for them since Rose’s father in particular had tended to ask probing questions Norman didn’t deem viable as he was no longer in charge of his daughter. Then it’s told of Norman picking up his two pack a day habit after eleven years, he planning on quelling his stress with smoke and control over his style of divorce. Norman then readied to leave, he feeling charmed in his chances of detecting Rosie, he taking the bus for anonymity and once getting out, uses his map to guide himself to Information desk man, Peter’s home. When he gets to the door, he thinks about how his plan involved the man not speaking to anyone after he was finished, so he not bothering with a face mask, and when Peter answers the door, he senses Norman was bad news, but couldn’t shut his door in time, Norman kicking it closed behind him and similarly threatening to assault him the way he had Ramon. He proceeds to locate oven mitts, then leads Peter to his cellar, Norman satisfied with his results, but needing to dispose of his shirt and mitts later.

Bill Steiner, from the pawn shop waited outside Rose’s door with flowers, she having made such an impression, he was unnerved by attempting to ask her out, and intrigued as well as smitten as he’d been before holding out the flowers as a peace-offering when she opened the door with her raised can of fruit in the air. Rosie ended up agreeing to the date out of relief for not needing to use the fruit-weapon, as he drove, she now paranoid of Norman catching her, but when seeing the warm atmosphere of the restaurant, it receding temporarily, flaring up again when her ‘Norman voice’ begins talking her out of staying, she then visualizing her picture and calming. Rosie confesses of being fine after Bill inquires, adding she was a bit afraid, which once Rosie elaborates of Bill being the second man she’s been out with, he announcing of feeling similarly, they then led to a booth. They first discussed how he’d gotten Rosie’s address, he automatically calling her Rosie to her delight, they then discussing some important topics about Rosie’s marital status and the two vowing to be up front with the other, Bill to Rosie, and the latter to herself in return to Bill. Their chat turns to lighter interests as their night progressed, thoughts of Norman only invading as Bill walked her to her door. She debates asking him in, but when doing so, is declined, he again mentioning how strongly he was affected by her. When he asks for a second date, Rosie is again flattered, but then remembers the picnic, she passing along this revelation, and he offering to drive her back before her t-shirt selling shift, which still made her first instinct to pass up the offer, but the Rose Madder picture making her want to match the imagined bravery of the figure, so instead consents and also has him agree to stay at the concert with her, Bill all for it and suggesting a coat due to chill in the morning, then leaving on a charged excitement.

After she secures the door, she notices another change in the painting, some trees now visible on one side with the statue and a pony with cart and possible other person on the other. As she readied for bed, she thought only of her date, then dreams between sleep and wakefulness about the little girl she doesn’t have and the man, Richie Bender whom had caused all the issues of 1985 in some way, then going deeper into unconsciousness. Norman was also going to sleep, only three miles from Rosie, he also thinking of Richie Bender, the reason being he the one accused of a shooting in Payless. A clerk pointed him out and gave detailed directions to his motel room where Norman and his partner found Wendy Yarrow, they physically and sexually assaulting her and Norman sustaining scratches the two claim she’d made. They close, but not locating Richie Bender’s room, their official reprimand in regards to the excessive force of her broken fingers. Norman then vows to deal with Rose and proceeds to fall asleep. As Rosie was drifting off (one thing I’m getting annoyed with being these overlapped time-frames, also happening in Firestarter), she thinks of the Wendy Yarrow case after she’d found a lawyer, on the course to making more trouble by filing a civil case. She’s discovered murdered in an obvious crime of passion, multiple stab wounds and cut bosom. When Rosie had heard the story, she puts together what had happened, she going deeper into sleep as her thoughts turn to Bill, smelling grass sleepily and thinking it was from the park, but then when thunder and crickets are heard, realizing she’d closed her window and had seen a clear night earlier.

In the late afternoon of a Wednesday, Rosie was on feeling grand as she got a cup of coffee at the cafe, a bit out of her way now, but comfortable with the spot, she reveling in knowing the fact they wanted her for the readings of the other novels in the series. Then she recalls how she’d been told by Rhoda, the director whilst she snuck a smoke in the bathroom, relaying to Rosie of Robbie planning on offering her a contract, but to watch out for herself and not sign only for gratitude, she attempting to make her realize how much talent she had, Rosie halfway believing, but also becoming annoyed by her attempt to instill caution. Rhoda then makes clear what Rosie should ask for, the number shocking her, Rhoda asking how she’d gotten such vocal control without being a singer, Rosie recalling the times she’d had to manager her breathing for pain. Rob calls to set up a lunch meeting with her, afterwards getting similar advice from Curtis, the sound guy, then thinking about her date and bright future as she finished her pastry. Meanwhile, Pam finished her shift and was heading toward the cafe, Norman waiting for the walk sign with her, she feeling an aversion due to his eyes, and Rosie promptly getting a second tea for no particular reason. Norman was looking at Pam’s butt, glancing inside the cafe she’d walked into, seeing Rosie without knowing, she resembling Rose Madder.

Pam doesn’t recognize her at first, either, but yelps when it hits her, and the two take their drinks to their old table, Rosie sharing her good news and accepting another pastry, even though she planned on keeping off the fifteen pounds she’d lost after getting to the city. Pam was still processing Rosie’s new look in shock, her face looking younger and the blonde hair apparently working on her, seeing how Rosie had copied Rose Madder’s style, and deducing Rosie having met someone, she bursting out laughing in reply. When Rosie’d walked home for her energized happiness, she remembered how she’d dreamed she and Bill were riding his bike in the scenery of the painting, she forgetting the magic word which had made them fly, but then undoing the French braid she’d given herself, she hearing a cricket, catching it, and rationalizing how this is the cricket she must’ve heard last night, her inner voice mentioning how it’d sounded like an orchestra of them, then before dumping it out the window, she realized the cricket couldn’t have hitched a ride on Bill, and when the cricket jumps, she discovers two dead ones along with a pink clover, slowly looking at the painting, the pony now seen grazing. It didn’t taker her long to start thinking the evidence she’d collected came from her picture, and whilst she knew it was a mad way to think, she believed it, the idea most likely receding if other people were present, but currently the fantastic supposition sticking.

Rosie examined the picture closely at her kitchen counter, the back where the paper had writing, crinkling more than before when she had touched it. She reached for a knife as her timid conscience urged her to stop, she hesitating a moment longer before carefully cutting it, some dead and one live cricket falling out with a dead leaf, some more clover flowers, and grass. She then continues to trace the outer edge of the backing with her knife, and with removing the paper, detects more dead insects and some gray hairs she deduced was from the pony. Rosie then thinks matter-of-factly to herself of her obvious loss of common sense once more. She decides to separate picture from frame, she probing the naked canvas until her phone’s ring scares the bejesus out of her. She picks up to hear Anna preparing to deliver some news which may or may not involve her. After hearing what she relays, Rosie hangs up before deciding whether she was going to spend her night at Daughters and Sisters, calling Bill to inform him of not being able to see him, not wanting to explain, and after hanging up, revealing her thoughts of belief it was Norman, and he’d murdered Anna’s ex, Peter. Norman was setting himself up with a mild disguise before heading to Daughters and Sisters. He remembered the aches he’d woken up with which stemmed from his fastly regretted time with Peter, it not in the paper yet, but knowing a man like Peter would be looked for soon enough, and then he seeing the paper a day later to note his thoughts  had been realized, the story covered on the front page. Norman also does his research about the Daughters and Sisters organization, learning Anna’s connection to Peter, he sensing the ladies would be quite careful now. Norman reaches the house, walking on the sidewalk across the street from it, getting a good eyeful in small doses, keeping his pace leisurely. He’s briefly noticed by Cynthia, he having to calm himself before returning her wave, he then moving along. He stays deep in thought as he walks away, soon stress-biting his finger until it bled, he then noticing a sign for fresh rolls, and the Daughters and Sisters flier.

Rosie wasn’t having a productive day at work due to her almost sleepless night, Rhoda calling an early lunch and Rosie attempting to make she and Curtis believe she’d do better at noon. When she gets to the lobby, Bill is waiting for her. She’s at first uncertain and scared, but when he confesses of being unable to do as she’d bid, she is overwhelmed with being in unknown territory, but when he gives her an opening for a hug, she takes it automatically. As they walk, she confides how happy she was he’d come to see her, she beginning to share the fear she’d had about Norman being close, but first has him buy them a couple hot dogs before getting down to the grit. After she had a bite, she has a moment to think he’d stop talking to her after this, but decides to dive in, starting with how they’d met. By the end, she’d shared Anna’s information, the police not having released the killer having bitten Peter over thirty six times, she expecting Bill to ask why she’d put up with him for so long, but instead inquiring whether she thought Norman had killed Wendy Yarrow, she thinking it possible, but then having to get back for being five minutes late. As they go, she explains her worry about Anna thinking Norman could be dealt with like any other abusive husband, and why Rosie wouldn’t go to the police like Bill had suggested, she also explaining how another women’s group had gathered intelligence on Norman, and Daughters and Sisters now knew what he looked like. The conversation winds down as they reach her building and are met by Rhoda and Curt outside. Rosie introduces them to Bill and he takes the opportunity to finalize their plans to go out Saturday, Rosie reluctantly agreeing and he walking off, Rhoda remarking on his charming looks.

On Thursday, Rosie calls Anna to make certain she hadn’t heard anything more about Norman, this being so, and relaying the remembrance for Peter happening on the same day as the picnic, then realistically explaining to Rosie about how common it was for battered women to believe their spouse capable of murder, the two moving on to other topics after. Rosie then attempts to sleep, but is distracted by the noise of a baby’s cry, thunder, crickets, and lightning, finally getting to sleep, but being woken by a bright flash and thunder, when looking at her window, seeing a real scene of the painting, her view of the street replaced. Rosie ignored her conscience as she steps into the picture-no-longer-picture. After stepping through and looking back for her bedroom, it wasn’t there, an easel and painting of Rosie in her outfit for the outing with Bill in front of her, she unnerved as she also sees the pony and a woman with it in front of her now, whilst Rose Madder still looked down at the temples. The young woman reassures the pony didn’t mean to startle her when he’d bumped his head into her, she recognizing the lady as Wendy Yarrow, now certain she was dreaming.

When she hears the baby cry for a moment again, Wendy warns Rosie not to look straight at Rose Madder after hearing her call to her, which Rosie then turns to approach, noting something odd about her hairline, Rosie unaware she was meeting her twinner, but getting the gist when she showed Rosie her scar, which she had on the opposite hand. Rose Madder then relates how she would return whatever Rosie did for her, then requesting she bring her baby to her. Rose Madder bids Rosie go to the temple, Wendy accompanying her only so far, since also having what Rose Madder had, only not as bad, yet. Wendy warns her of the bull, Erinyes whom guarded the temple which hurt Rosie’s eyes to look at, Wendy instructing her to rip two strips of her gown, using one to wrap a rock in as the rain began to fall. Wendy cuts herself and soaks a piece of cloth, then instructs Rosie on what she must do with it as she uses the second cloth to cover her wound.

Rosie is urged to walk through the temple and not to stop until through it, it unable to harm her for only containing spirits. She then relates how Rosie would get to the baby and return to Rose Madder, but to be careful of Erinyes. She walks, uncomfortably naked and cold to the temple, the statue’s face is of the perv outside the bar, when she enters, she’s still quite cold, recognizing the details inside to the church she used to attend and against Wendy’s advice, picks up a book, which smelled terrible upon opening. She walks through to the dead garden to the stream where the stepping stones lay, she considering drinking for the thirst and the possibly upside in forgetting all, but thinking of Bill keeping her moving and across, she entering a forest where the trees looked like they had shrieking faces on the trunks, finally seeing the tree in the clearing with the fruit. She collects quite a few as she’s overwhelmed by the wonderful aroma, saving herself in time, she almost licking her fingers. She then walks toward the tunnel with the word “Maze” above it, the baby’s cries now infrequent. After getting down the over 200 steps, she debates which of the four break-offs from the main tunnel she should take, bringing back her extremely loud cry she’d not used since childhood, the baby screaming and the bull hearing, moving as well, but Rosie deciding on which tunnel and starting through.

When Rosie reaches another spot where she must decide which passage to choose, it dawns on her why she had the seeds, she placing one at the next tunnel she tries, but it being a dead end, so replaces it at a different entrance. Rosie had been doing this for some time when she begins to see a heightened brightness, now having only three seeds left. Finally though, she sees the baby, she wondering whom she truly was and whom had left her there, but letting this go as she picks up the child and is readying to leave when Erinyes detects her, it taking Rosie a few moments to figure out what she must do, unwrapping the rock and tossing it away from the tunnel she needed, streaking for it (no pun intended) as Erinyes charged. Rosie makes it a bit away until Erinyes almost catches up, but Rosie continues on with no real trouble, only scaring herself when not seeing a seed she thought she’d put down at first, eventually locating it and going on. She reaches the steps and gets out with only minor aches, retracing her steps to the stones at the stream, what had previously drawn her to drink, not affecting her at all, then seeing what looked like many vultures perched on the temple, moving away as she stared and once out, being urged by Wendy to return the baby, she now hesitating, but reassured by Wendy to follow through, Rose Madder giving Rosie her armlet and stating of she and Norman divorcing, but to be careful outside her realm.

Rosie goes back to her world, sleeping and when awoken by her alarm, unable to remember why she was naked or where her terrible aches came from. She showers, only half remembering the warning of not to taste her red fingers, she thorough in cleaning them and when seeing the painting again, is surprised to see birds in the sky above the temple and the clouds gone, she not willing to pause on what else was missing and storing the painting, at least temporarily in the closet. When she’d met with Robbie, she gets her contract offer which she decides to think over, and as she goes to the studio, she realizes Rose Madder’s armlet had been missing. When she returns home, she discovers the armlet and the piece of her nightie which carried the seeds, with the three seeds still remaining within, under her bed, Rosie then reminded of Rose Madder’s promise. Before she had been transported to the supposed Territories, Norman had been lying in his bed as well, wondering how Rosie had found the balls to run, he then thinking how she was probably whoring herself out for not having experience doing anything else. When he’d woken from an odd dream-filled night, he sees Rosie walking through the temple (Rosie’s feeling of Norman watching her being closer to the truth than she wanted to admit), he thinks about what he’d do if he found her with a guy. After seeing her walk into the maze, he’s visited by Rose Madder and then wakes, thinking of how he’d keep eyes on the park and sensing Rosie wouldn’t be the only one watching out for him. As he’s in the lobby, Pam passes him again with two other maids, talking about the concert, he praising the luck he’d caught when confirming it was Pam whom knew.

Norman’s next move was in hot-wiring a car in the long-term parking of the airport, after getting the car washed, he stops at an army surplus store and purchases a taser, then goes to a barber to get his hair shaved off, afterwards having trouble recognizing himself. He then drives to a secondhand clothing shop, people staring at his head, which didn’t bother him since they wouldn’t remember his face. He buys a motorcycle jacket and plans on immediately returning to his room to sleep, before doing so though, hitting a gift shop at the Women’s Cultural Center and Museum. Once back at the hotel, he has no further motive then to get to his room for the migraine he’d built up. He falls unconscious, his headache following a ways, but then he getting deep enough to ditch the pain, and upon waking refreshed, thinks of Rosie needing to wake up to view the last sunrise she’ll ever witness. Rosie does as she’s told, waking a little after four A.M., scared Norman was in her room, she calming when seeing she was alone, looking at the armlet, not knowing where she’d come to possess it. Eventually, her thoughts turn to getting ready and once seeing Bill parked, goes down to meet him. He gives her his father’s riding jacket since her sweater was estimated not being warm enough, once getting set up with jacket and helmet, the two setting off.

Rosie gradually started with liking to loving the ride, and once getting to the lake, quite impressed with the deserted tranquility. They move the cooler, then Bill leads her to a spot where a vixen and cubs were resting, the two heading back after watching them for a bit. When Bill began setting out their spread, the amount of food brought, made Rosie giggle hysterically, he letting her know he’d wanted to be certain she’d enjoy her meal, he giving some history on his modest love life and how he’d fallen for her, then suggesting they dig in. Afterward, they sit on a rock and fool around for awhile, Bill insisting they walk it off, he not wanting to be interrupted or have it done in such an unromantic way (either a true gentleman or not having a rubber), then returning to the campsite after seeing some flowers and a woodpecker in a meadow. They get to the park on time, foreshadowing of Rosie looking back on her joy-filled moment upon seeing the sign turning into intense fear later, upon reminiscence.

Norman was currently parking the car a good distance away from any traffic which could effect his plans, then preparing the wheelchair he bought with female friendly bumper stickers and his new identity’s back story. He goes over his plan for discovering her and what he’d do when he did (some words not having been caught as the wrong one by a careless editor). Best case scenario, he’d get her after she’d arrived home, he following her, worst, if she spotted him and he ending her on the spot. When he paid his entrance fee and wheeled away, the ticket guy kept calling him back since he’d paid too much, Norman getting on himself for already bringing unwanted attention to himself. He does fairly well after, but gets nervous when not seeing Rosie at noon. Meanwhile, Gert had taken notice of him, but hadn’t placed him, yet. Norman had ridden through the grounds, making himself scarce as the women sat for lunch, his migraine returning with his continual paranoia, his knowledgeable inner voice keeping him calm and supplying a new tactic. Gert was talking herself out of thoughts of whom she’d seen being Norman, but decides to check so she didn’t continue to feel bothered. She attempts to have the ticket guy help her, but he wasn’t feeling particularly welcoming, only getting how the man he’d helped had forgotten what price to pay, she next wanting to locate the ladies she’d seen speaking with him, but none currently within sight.

Norman’s new plan involved staking out the restrooms, he letting himself out of his chair out of view of anyone. He waits for a lady to come to the bathroom by herself, it almost being one of the ladies he’d spoken with earlier, but Gert calling her back, Cynthia now being the target, he catching her before she walked in. Gert’s conversation with Lana shows how she was the first to identify Norman, whilst Cynthia was being sexually assaulted. Gert was then on her way to the restroom when she heard the threat from behind the building. She was readying to knock Norman out when he turned, she catching his face (Grendel being mentioned in regards to Norman’s look). Cynthia doesn’t move for being in shock, Norman now taunting Gert, she estimating her best move was to egg him on, and when she interrupted his constant insults and movement, he goes after her, she gets the upper hand until he is able to wriggle away after she peed on him after having needed to since confronting the ticket guy, Norman charging again, but Cynthia tripping him up. Gert goes after him once he retrieves his taser, she throwing the wheelchair at him to disarm him, Cynthia failing to warn her in time to save her from the taser’s bite, but after, he didn’t have enough time to do much more since security was approaching, he walking toward the rides. Rosie had made her way to the hospital, locating Gert where she updates her of Cynthia being tended to, unaware of the policemen’s presence until Gert introduces her to one. She’s overwhelmed for a moment, then resigns to confiding to the Lieutenant of what she knew.

Norman was struggling to get his head around what Gert had done to him as he walked, remembering his decision to flee having to do with his own pain more than the approach of people, he attempts to quiet his mind as he desperately thought about needing to end her. His mind flitted back and forth between sanity, he noticing the attention he was getting, but after turning between two amusement areas, gets a kid’s mask to cover his face with. After reaching the car again, he begins to hope Gert’s voice won’t be a fixture in his head, now. Once Norman had gotten out of the parking lot, he hears a voice from the mask confide of Rosie’s make out session, he then stating what he planned on doing to her when he found her. He remembers Pam after, and plans on getting the information he wanted this time. Rosie is accompanied by Gert as they are driven by the Lieutenant and his partner to the station, Bill following. Norman has made it back to the parking garage, he deciding on keeping the “lucky” bull mask, the next moment he’s aware, being of getting Pam back into the housekeeping room, but before he can succeed gaining any information, Pam has one helluva nasty accident, Norman finishing her off. After dropping her on a pile of sheets, he notices a key on her bracelet, takes it and looks for her locker, after searching through her purse and detecting her key card and code, he leaves.

Meanwhile, despite the detectives mellow attitudes, Rosie is scared and angry, they repeatedly having Gert go through the events, and once finished, focusing on Rosie. Norman had found himself down the street from Daughters and Sisters, he noticing he’d changed his clothes, still had the mask, but not his gun, then planning what he’d do if coming across residents (which he thinks of handling by shooting with his forgotten revolver…) or police, not thinking about the possibility of all being quiet, which it was. After speaking to Ferdinand the Bull (of whom is shown on the cover), he’s reassured, yet disappointed the ladies hadn’t been more affected by him. Once overcoming his hesitation of it possibly being a set up, he enters, no one bothering him. He looks around and discovers Anna’s office, then seeing a basket of outgoing mail, he sees a letter to Rosie, and whilst he’s reading it, hears the house alarm go off as someone comes in. Anna is then followed before she enters the house, she going over how painstaking the ceremony had been, she having only stayed for knowing her movements would be scrutinized, also not having answered her three pages, deciding to check her answering machine when she got in. She doesn’t notice anything wrong until seeing her door slightly open, and when trying the light and it doesn’t turn on, Norman catches her, biting her after closing the door.

Rosie finishes her interview and the Lieutenant again vows to get Norman, he also informing her of police cars being stationed at and around her home. As Gert was taken back to the park by a police car, Rosie and Bill planned on heading to her place. When they get there and she’s heading for the door, it doesn’t occur to her until she’d unlocked the lobby door, realizing the cop she heard coming up behind them wasn’t the one the Lieutenant had sent. Norman is shown washing off at Daughters and Sisters before his mind jumps ahead again to Rosie’s apartment, he wearing a new coat, and wondering what he’d do about the cops. Once receiving the idea from Ferdinand again, he tricks both cops by getting them to approach after faking a heart attack, taking out the elder one, then the younger, whilst the older cop stumbled off, no one having seen anything, yet. Norman manages to lead the older cop back to the car where he stuffs him in the trunk, then returns to the younger one to strangle him to death before depositing him into the passenger seat. Norman blacks out again and next notes he’d done something to the entrance light, the next time he blacks out, coming to as he’s grasping at Bill, he ready to choke him. As he’s proceeding, Rosie finds courage and strength with the armlet, throwing him off, then attempting to get Bill to her room, Norman stops them with gunshots, which helped him see where they were, then coming at them.

Rosie blocks his way temporarily, getting herself and Bill up the stairs, she even able to kick Norman back down once he’d grabbed her leg. When she gets to her door, Norman catches up and again tries strangling Bill, Rosie turning back to stop him, he biting her hand, but she breaking his jaw. When she gets them both into her apartment, she realizes she hadn’t been wearing the armlet which she thought had lent her strength, but their danger was still close, Norman ramming the door after she’d locked them inside, she pulling Bill to the closet when the painting opened up for them. Norman’s perspective is switched to during his hang up on the stairs with the “coat-tree”, all the way to when Rosie dislocated his jaw, of which he resets. When finally getting into Rosie’s room, he fires twice at the shower before seeing the way they exited. He looks to the other world, he feeling he was seeing through one eye-hole as he wore the mask, and after stepping through, still seeing through a single eye, he realizes he couldn’t remove the mask.

As Bill and she look around, he questions whether what he saw was real, but before being able to answer, Wendy calls to Rosie to bring Bill down to her, informing them how close Norman was and Rosie needing to participate in essential ways. After partially carrying Bill to her, Wendy shares of how much she’d gotten done, which Rosie only half understood, the two then helping Bill move toward the Temple, but around to the back where a similar looking tunic for Rosie hung, she hesitant in dressing, but as Norman closes in, she does as Wendy relays, Rose Madder having made the command for Rosie to fulfill. She knows the part she must play and calls for Norman, Wendy assuring them Rose Madder would handle the rest. Bill is quite confused by their knowing exchange, Rosie leaving him with Wendy as she readied to lure Norman, the two hearing her baiting statements to him, he and Wendy thinking for a moment Norman wouldn’t go through the Temple, but around it, their fears appeased when hearing sounds to prove he was inside. Next, Norman’s perspective shows his terror of being stuck with the mask on his face, but Rosie’s sweater and jacket distracting him from this, especially when hearing her call him. As he follows her voice, it’s shown he’s distracted by the statue outside looking like his father, which Bill and Wendy had been confused by his one-sided statements to, but again, Rosie distracts him, he getting the sensible voice suggesting he go back and await her return at her apartment, Norman ignoring this since anticipating the cops to come and how Rosie was speaking to him with such disrespect; His final decision made once reading the sign above the Temple.

As Norman goes through what looked like Rosie’s hometown church, he kills a bat which comes at him, and Rosie gets his attention by commenting on it, he charging at her as she stood in the dead garden. When Rosie sees him coming, she at first can’t move, but gets herself going by remembering a terrible memory, getting across the stream, but sliding back toward it after she’d made it across. When Norman sees this and her look of panic at getting near the water, he doesn’t think much of it, finding it amusing, but after seeing her make it to the crest of the incline and flip him off, he notes her concern and is careful upon crossing. He sees Rosie watching him and then is caught by the naked boy statue, Norman running to take advantage of his good luck, Rosie becomes angered by the boy’s rude questions and gets him off her by punching him, but now Norman is quite close, he brushing her tunic strap, but Rosie getting a good lead after a short while, and they again meeting at the dead tree, Norman giving her a chance to give in, but she continuing on and when next he hears her, Rosie’s voice sounds slightly different. When she reaches the entrance to the maze, Rose Madder instructs her to go partially down the steps so she didn’t have to witness what would come next, unless she truly wanted.

As Norman neared, he thought he’d heard Rosie speaking, which made him hope Gert were there to be slayed, as well. Rosie currently ached for Norman’s death to come quickly so she could move on with her life, and when Norman sets eyes on Rose Madder, he notices small differences in her body type and attitude, but considers it meant he’d have to refresh her memory of what she needed to act like, her back still turned from him. After he’d commented on the reason she’d dyed her hair and she’d stated of the brown color being the dye job, he is incensed for being opposed, but then wonders where the person she’d spoken to had gone (hopefully, not believing he’d get a rock “chunk”-ed at him). When he demands Rosie turn to him, his gun out, the mask doesn’t feel like a mask anymore and his vision is darkening as Rosie turns and he sees her blackened skin as she states of Erinyes breaking the rule of the bull having exited the maze meaning he’d be put to death. Rosie Madder turns to Norman and what he sees brings terror and shrieking, she biting him (reminding me of American Gods, a bit). Whilst this occurs, Rosie doesn’t watch, but is listening, she not moving until Rose Madder calls for her. She slowly notices the state of Norman’s body lying before her, Rose Madder planting seeds on him and then dumping his body in the maze. Rose Madder then directs her back out where Dorcas/Wendy and Bill waited, she advising Rosie to “Remember the tree”.

Rosie locates them at the top of the hill, Bill meets her to make certain she was okay, the two walking back to Dorcas, Rosie changing her clothes when prompted, then relaying Rose Madder’s message of she having something for her. Dorcas hands her a little corked bottle which Dorcas instructs Rosie to use for Bill when they returned. Afterwards, the three wait silently for Rose Madder, she walks to them in the light of the moon, Dorcas and Rosie instructing Bill to keep his gaze down and not to stop until told, Rosie going along with the idea they were dreaming when he inquires. When Rose Madder stops in front of them, Rosie states of receiving the bottle, Rose Madder then giving her Norman’s police academy ring, she commenting about if she watched Bill’s back, he would do the same for her, Rosie then looking at Rose Madder’s face, it not being the same as what Norman saw, but not wonderful either, she confiding to Rosie she should go back to her natural hair color. Rose Madder then offers her a hug and wishes they’d met sooner, as well as reminding her not to forget the tree, which Rosie asks for clarification to, but not getting an answer. She then inquires whether she was Rose Madder, but not getting confirmation of this either, Rose Madder instead urging them to return home.

Rosie takes Bill’s hands and leads him to the widening view of her apartment. Before they’d gotten through though, Rose Madder starts to lose it, wanting her armlet back, Rosie hastily throwing it near her and getting them both out. When they’d fallen back into reality, Bill noted how it must have all been real, Rosie not attesting this, but apologizing for losing the jacket he’d lent her. They then hear the injured neighbor yelling in pain, Bill off to tend to him, Rosie first calling for an ambulance, then uncorking the tiny bottle, realizing what she’d been given was a few drops of the stream at the Temple of the Bull. She puts one drop in some soda, then calls the police again so she could speak with Detective Hale, whom she informs of Norman having been there and was now gone, Hale planning on meeting her at her place, and she stating she’d wait for him, afterwards Bill coming back, and when coughing, getting him to drink the soda, Bill admitting after a few moments, of having forgotten his own and her name for a second.

As Hale got their stories, he wasn’t sure whether Rosie was withholding some detail, but after he goes over his notes of their confession, Rosie agrees with him. Later, Bill agrees to stay over and passes out quickly, Rosie taking a moment to look at her now, devoid-of-humans painting, this aiding her ability to fall asleep. She awoke them both with her nightmare, but the two moving on to a little fun-time, then much later, when Bill had gone for sustenance, Rosie put away the stream water and discovered Norman’s police academy ring, she ending up placing it with the rediscovered poison seeds, dumping all but one, which she then transfers to her purse. They learn of Anna, and Norman stays in the papers for a week, Rosie deciding to burn the picture in the incinerator and attempting to ignore her memories of Rose Madder’s words.

In October, Bill and she go to the picnic grounds again, and she accepts his proposal, she still wondering about the tree Rose Madder spoke about. After their wedding, Rosie has had to use the ‘forgetful water’ for Bill’s nightmares, the last being used on their honeymoon. In January, Rosie confirms she’s pregnant, she still remembering the tree, but Rose Madder also mentioning to add keeping her temper in check, Rosie unsettled with this thought and demanding Rose Madder leave her alone. When her little girl does arrive, she commemorates her friends instead of the wanted name, Caroline. So, Pamela Gertrude is born, Rosie wanting the middle name to be Anna, but being talked out of it by Bill. When Pamela is two, they move to the suburbs and during their finalizing what house they want, their opinions divert and they begin arguing. When Bill apologizes for raising his voice, Rosie is struggling to suppress her violent anger, which he takes as her not forgiving him, so he withdraws to the other room as she continues preparing dinner. She’s plagued by the disturbing thought of hurting Bill drastically, well into the night as she remembers Rose Madder’s words of, “I repay”.

The next few days bring obsessive awareness to her arms, face, and hands, the latter more so with the unknown idea of whatever she thought would develop would begin there. She takes up going to the batting cages where she develops her skills to the point of impressing all the men and boys with her form: both bodily and technique, who bat there; She even knocks one through the netting due to hitting the ball at such high velocity. A month after, Rosie doesn’t take Rhoda’s suggestion they end early due to Rosie’s voice losing inflection, calmly, she then having a terrible daydream of killing Rhoda, until she’s brought back to reality by Rhoda asking after her. Rosie reminds herself of the tree once more, and agrees to stop for the day, but her rage is masked with difficulty. When she dreams after falling to sleep later at night, she realizes she’d been remembering a different tree, but now knew her next move. She calls out of work the next morning and goes to the picnic grounds alone, to the fallen tree where the fox was, she burying the final seed and Norman’s ring. She dumps everything else out of her purse as well, and on her drive back, chucks the bag out her window. Years pass, Pamela is now a teenager, and Rosie no longer deals with bouts of anger, Bill having sold his bike since he felt he could no longer ride safely. Rosie and he don’t go to the picnic grounds anymore, but Rosie goes alone every year, where a new tree has grown, she believing it has quelled her rage. She worries over the day the tree will start bearing fruit, but doesn’t obsess over the thought, since no signs of people have revealed this spot to be popular, the vixen returns and watches her as she sits and sings Rosie Real.

The ending feels a bit rushed, and whilst I know Gert survived, it seemed odd she decided naming her daughter after those two women, rather than the name she wanted and the middle name to be Anna, it would still sound country, but it seemed like it would have been more true for herself. Otherwise the story moved along nicely, enough, and whilst I have read reviews not interested in the fantasy side of this story, it definitely suits King’s style, and wasn’t clunky compared to the others I’ve read of his, it only not being his strongest and could have done with a bit more fleshing out. Now I’ve read it though, I can continue on to his other Dark Tower-related books.