here for EvS, team emerald!
oh god, why would dolores torture herself with clipping out a picture of crouch’s wedding announcement and putting it on her dresser? wouldn’t it be better for her to just forget about him? i actually laughed at her trying to discern whether crouch was happy from looking at a photograph…i mean, really, she’s gone over to the ‘slightly obsessed’ level but it’s sort of funny and i don’t think it will last long. umbridge doesn’t seem like she would waste much time on a failed endeavour, judging by her personality. she might be infatuated by mr.crouch but i bet she’ll soon find something else to occupy her.
her dream was really creepy and i sincerely hope that she stops this obsession soon or finds a less creepy one. but oh no, ‘clearly a prophetic dream’? why would she think that :/
okay, regardless of how outlandish her dream and the conclusions she drew from it are, the whole thing still made me laugh and feel sorry for her at the same time.
i wonder what she’s going to do to nudge things along and if she’s really going to contact someone about her dream? i mean…the lengths she’d go to truly fascinate me!
Hi, kris. Thanks for reviewing another chapter of this story. Team emerald is going to win!
I love your line "I sincerely hope that she stops this obsession...but oh no..." Well, this is Dolores we're talking about... Readers of this story typically laugh at her and feel sorry for her at the same time, and it makes me wonder if the people around her, the people she worked with, felt that way about her also, in the beginning, until she began to work her way up the ladder and became more capable of being dangerous to peole whom she didn't like.
But right now she's just fascinating in a train-wreck sort of way. When a person doesn't behave in a logical, common-sense manner, anything is possible. I hope you enjoy the remaining chapters.
here for EvS, team emerald!
i honestly can't say i feel sorry for dolores in this chapter. she's become obsessed with crouch for...no apparent reason? besides the fact that he's good at his ministry job. and she constructed this whole story about him liking her/thinking about her in the same way that gave me such creepy vibes. she didn't even bother trying to find out anything about him besides his job or to talk to him properly, i'm not sure why she expected anything to come from their interaction which was obviously strictly polite/business-like from crouch's point of view.
obviously, i shouldn't have expected anything more from dolores, she just seems like someone who has no idea about relationships (be they romantic or friendly ones) - she only thinks about how to use people to her own advantage and i'm kind of glad it came back to bite her (i'm a little bit evil, i know!). she absolutely lacks people skills :I
when i did feel sorry for her was when her supervisor told her che can't go on home visits because she's a young, short woman - this is so unfair, especially in the world of magic when the only thing that matters is how good you are with your wand...
Thank you for your review, kris. I think we all quickly came to hate Dolores Umbridge when we encountered her in The Order of the Phoenix as a fifty-something toady of a corrupt Ministry, seemingly bent on mistreating children. So it was a challenge for me to depict her as an eighteen-year-old trying to make her way in the adult world without having much going for her. Yes, she had a crush on the tall, dark, handsome young litigator Mr. Crouch, as teenaged girls are wont to do, and he embodied everything she wanted. I think it's common for young girls/women to fantasize about some man whom they see at their university or workplace or wherever, expanding the briefest polite conversation into a romantic daydream. But most of us (who were young once ourselves) recognize a daydream as just that; Dolores did not.
You're right -- she does lack people skills. Her family background, in the milieu of a classist society, makes her perpetually feel inferior and disadvantaged. She cannot relax and just let things be; she feels compelled to struggle her way to the top, lacking the advantages of beauty, brilliance, or family standing. Compare her with the woman that Barty Crouch did marry -- a member of an old, probably well-off family, who did not need to find a job after finishing school but simply lived at her parents' home, moving in respected social circles until until her intended bridegroom, Barty Crouch, the up-and-coming lawyer, was in a position to establish his own household. Dolores could never compete with a woman like the future Mrs. Crouch.
I think that Mrs. Comer was correct; Dolores was overreaching when she asked for a promotion in her duties so soon after beginning her job. We, looking at Dolores from a distance, can recognize her immaturity and lack of experience in a way that Dolores cannot. Dolores is eager and impatient, but she does do the right things in her self-education activities regarding the law, and as we know, she did rise in the bureaucracy of the Ministry over the years, but, alas, never captured the handsome husband that she wanted.
Thank you so much for reading my story. I hope that you will continue, although, as another reviewer said, it's like watching a train wreck. :)
hey, i'm here for EvS, team emerald!
first of all - i absolutely hated umbridge! she's atrocious and awful and i hated her more than voldemort and all of his death eaters combined! so when i saw this on your AP and the summary, i was intrigued.
young dolores must've been a difficult character to write, how did you come up with the idea to write about her? and her first job at the ministry is so boring, i can't even imagine how she stays so diligent and is so proud of sending all these letters of dress code violation! i mean...it's very in character for her and i'm in awe at how well you've managed to capture her personality.
all the planning she puts into her appearance (and her obvious complex about her height) and the way (and with whom!) she'll eat lunch actually made me giggle a little bit even though it's not intended in a funny way but it speaks volumes about her as a person. the wish for a life partner just for power is such a strange concept for me, i can't imagine it, but i love to read about it and i think you did a great job in portraying that!
i never thought i'd say this about a fic featuring umbridge, but i'm looking forward to read more about her!
Thank you for choosing this story to read. I'll bet a lot of readers pass over it because they dislike Dolores so much, and when I first encountered her in Book 5, I was certainly irritated by everything she did, starting from day one. Her behavior just became worse and worse as the chapters went on, as if she actually enjoyed tormenting children and any faculty members who appeared vulnerable to bullying. So when I took her back to her very first job, just out of school, when she didn't have the power or position to bully anyone, I saw her as an insecure young lady from a humble background, determined to claw her way to the top and leave that background behind.
She reminds me of the young Percy in her dedication to bureaucratic procedures and desire for status, but I think that the loss of her mother and grandmother deprived her of a stronger backing in values and ethics. I view her father as not a forceful personality in molding her life. If the Ministry of her early employment was bureaucratic and inflexible but not absolutely corrupt, I can see her rising in the ranks by dint of effort but not by dint of smarts or personality. But when the corruption set in, she willingly went along with it, not having a strong moral compass and always watching out for her own self-interest.
She knew, deep down inside, that she would never become Minister of Magic or be anybody's favorite person, and she took pleasure in taking out her frustrations on people whom she was in a position to bully. The various torments to which she subjected the students of Hogwarts were her way of saying, "See? I matter. You can't ignore me. I will make you care, one way or another. I am not 'nobody'." She was not bothered by the thought of what her Muggle-born Registration Commission was doing to Muggle-borns because oppressing them would further cement her position as one of the elites.
I can usually remember why I chose to write certain topics or characters, or what challenge prompt was the inspiration, but I really can't remember that in the case of this story. Someone in their first job? Just don't remember. But actually she wasn't that hard to write. Someone young, foolish, naive, and ethically rudderless...
Thank you so much for the review.
I almost didn’t want to read this chapter. I didn’t want to see poor Dolores be completely humiliated.
She’s worked so hard. She has a short encounter with Mr. Crouch and Mrs. Crouch seems like a perfect lady with her prompt thank you note.
I loved how you dragged out what we knew would happen. How she’s waiting for news and expecting everything to turn out her way.
When she finally hears that her plans have been dashed from the office gossip, I feel bad for her. Her whole plan was so ridiculous, but she worked so hard at it. And she knows she’s been humiliated. I’m sure she is glad that really no one knows what she’s done (except for the Crouches, who I’m sure are too polite to laugh at her), but she’s so alone. She’s been so alone through this whole story. It’s a shame that she doesn’t have her mother’s shoulder to cry on. (I loved the tease earlier in the story about how her mother and brother went back to the Muggle world).
The final scene with her in the Atrium contemplating the fountain of the Magical Brethren was excellent. I loved how she manages to blame everything on half-breeds and non-humans. I love how you have her crystalizing her prejudice at this tender age. The last line “None of these inferior creatures would ever harm her again.”—brilliant!
I loved this story. Th`!
Well, you did it! You read an entire multi-chapter story about Dolores Umbridge. Probably not many people can say that. I have other stories about minor characters, but none quite like Dolores. I was afraid that this chapter would not finish off her story with as big a bang as perhaps it needed, not as dramatic as some of the other chapters, so I was glad that you thought that the ending (and yes, we all knew what was coming) was good. Her final disappointment was inevitable (a wasted year), so I tried to punctuate it by suggesting that this traumatic year was a big influence in solidifying the attitudes that characterized her later life. And she never did get a husband, much less a powerful one.
Thank you so much for sticking with Dolores and her story to the end and for writing all the lovely reviews. They are very much appreciated.
Ah, Chapter six. Oh my goodness! The contrast between sweet Dolores knitting her blanket with the revelation of Madame’s ‘gift’ at the end of the chapter—wonderful! I loved your description of Dolores knitting and having a hard time keeping track of the stitches. I feel that every time I crochet something, I spend as much time pulling out and starting over as I do actually crocheting; so this part really spoke to me. “There was a prodigious number of stitches to cast onto the needles…” I particularly liked how you put this. I also, again, felt sorry for Dolores when she spent her last knut at the knitting shop and would be eating out of her cupboards until pay day. Oh the poor dear!
The mention of how she starts having dinner with her father twice a week to save money is a nice touch. It’s sad that she’s using her poor father, but he’s probably happy to see his daughter whatever the reason. And he’d probably give her money if she asked. It’s too bad she feels like he is an impediment to her future.
Oh my, how horrifying the reveal is about what the gifted herb actually does. I’m so glad that Dolores steps away from buying it. It seems like at least some of her making the right decision is because she thinks she’d be too likely to be caught, but she also seems so horrified at the idea of killing Mrs. Crouch herself. I wonder if her older self would make the same decision.
On to the end! Great job!
Thank you so much for continuing to read and review! This was also a fun chapter to write. I had to look up on the internet to find a family of plants that has blood-thinning properties, found the peonies, and made up a species name (exsanguinica) to indicate a peony that was particularly potent. Dolores starts by trying to make herself seem more important, telling the apothcary clerk that she's a Ministry employee, not a mere student, and ends up looking like an incompetent who doesn't know what it is that she's trying to buy. She ends up so confused about the nature of prophecies and what makes them come true or not, that she finally decides to stop trying to controi it; she will just let things happen as they may. I too am confused about the nature of prophecies and have no answers to the questions she tortured herself with. I think she began to realize that she was getting out of her league.
A very good question you pose: would her older self have made the same decision? By 1995 she was so much a toady of the corrupt Ministry that I doubt that she even questioned her actions and decisions anymore. She must have known that no good was happening to the people picked up by the Muggle Registration Commission, but as long as she was not actively killing them herself, she must have justified it to herself, or just put it out of her mind. What would Grandmother have said?
On to chapter five. Whew. Dolores has taken a moment to breath. She even knows that what she is contemplating doing—namely stealing one of Mr. Crouch’s hairs for a divination of the gender of his wife’s baby is total insanity. Her stormy thoughts are so nicely contrasted with the cheerful, sunny, Diagon Alley. I love the picture of her sitting there, having such wild thoughts, and no one around her is the wiser.
But then, she doesn’t stay with her realization that what she is about to attempt is insane. She immediately starts talking herself into it. She goes through her problems, step by step, and figures out a way to solve them. She’s amazing. And terrifying. And then she feels calm again. She feels in control. So much so, that she rewards herself with ice cream. Perfect. And she uses the time to come up with a plan.
I can picture her so clearly, scoping out Mr. Crouch’s lunch schedule, distracting the secretary, sneaking into his office and using tape to steal his hair off his cloak. She’s so silly and yet so determined.
The contrast of her sneaking into Mr. Crouch’s office with her at home with her knitting is beautiful. She’s so proud of what she’s accomplished with her knitting and it takes her into a reminiscence about her Grandmother. “She never spoke of her grandmother….before she had known the difference, she had loved her grandmother.” This line was so poignant and lovely.
I feel so sorry for Dolores when she goes back to the Madame’s shop. It seems like Madame is cheating her a bit, and I wish that Dolores would just leave. The detail about how she is counting out her sickles and trying not to let Madame know how much money she has is very effective. I also loved how the hairs puffed up during the divination process. It sounded so creepy! Also, “…swirled pattern that reminded Dolores of marble cake batter in a pan before it was baked.” Great image.
I really don’t trust Madame’s ‘gift’ to Dolores at the end of the chapter. I’m looking forward to finding out what it is (in the sort of way that you can’t stop watching a train wreck.)
Oh, I love the way you analyze this chapter. Some of your paragraphs have me laughing. I love where you say "...she doesn't stay with her realization that what she is about to attempt is insane. She immediately starts talking herself into it." So true! :D Yes, she's amazing in her skulduggery and determination, but as you say, she's terrifying at the same time because she puts so much effort into something that's so ill-advised. I suppose that could be thought of as a predictor of her behavior in later life -- applying herself with all her efforts to programs that are just plain wrong.
I have a special affinity for the line you quoted about her grandmother. My grandmother taught me the rudiments of knitting when I was a child, and now that I have a granddaughter I cherish the love that is between us. The idea of cutting off contact with a grandmother, to the point of not even knowing anymore whether she is alive or dead, just to further your own ambition and desire for social standing, is heartbreaking.
Yes, I think that Madame Leogane is suckering Dolores for as much money as she can get out of her. Madam L. can doubtless gauge how desperate Dolores is, and charge her accordingly. But Dolores is belatedly beginning to question how much she can trust the seer by taking the precaution of hiding her money sack. But I don't think that Dolores has any doubts about the genuine skill of the seer or the legitimacy of her showmanship. At least, not yet.
Thank you so much for reading and reviewing. I love your comments and insights.
I’m back for chapter four. I still can’t believe I’ve gotten this into a story about Dolores Umbridge. I like how you start this chapter out with dear Dolores acting chipper. I also liked the crack by one of her older co-workers ‘ah youth.’ Of course, the fact that Dolores is chipper about the possible demise of Mr. Crouch’s wife gives one pause, but she’s so young and foolish I forgive her. Again, her tenacity simply needed to be directed towards a worthy goal.
I feel embarrassed for her that she is still trying to get Mr. Crouch’s attention. This conversation she has over lunch about the perfect baby gift is charming and so sad. The idea of Dolores knitting a baby blanket is too precious—and ridiculous—for words. I love the scene in the knitting shop in Diagon Alley. I could picture the shop very well, and I would really like one of those learn to knit books with moving pictures (as an aside, I crochet, but never learned to knit). I think the touch of putting in how much she is spending keeps reminding the reader of how modest her means are as well.
Speaking of knitting, the idea of using making a baby blanket as a way to get Dolores into the Dark Arts is so perfect. Knitting is something so mundane and so sweet that I simply adore how that is what leads her down into Knockturn Alley. Of course she has to figure out what the perfect color is. Of course she has to find a Seer to help her. I liked how you described Dolores’s trepidation and also how you set the scene in Knockturn Alley with the descriptions of the shop windows and the two gentlemen who embolden her to head down it in the first place. I really want to know what they were talking about.
Madame Leogane certainly seems to have Dolores’s number. I’m a bit creeped out by her too, although I think it is interesting that Dolores immediately wonders if Madame is a hag. I guess her prejudices are in place even then.
Just a little note; near the beginning of this chapter, I think that there is a paragraph that got duplicated. It starts after “Here’s one that will give you a laugh…” and ends at “She walked rapidly through the corridors to the Wizengamot Administrative Services and let the note with the receptionist.”
Also, in the dialogue between Dolores and Millie, one of the ‘I’s is lower case. “i don’t know,” Dolores reflected. “Caps and booties are sort of little.”
Another great chapter!
Thanks a lot for the heads-up concerning those spots that needed to be corrected. I fixed them up right away.
Yes, it was kind of fun to see Dolores happy again, even over such a outlandish thing. If only she hadn't had that ridiculous dream, she would have given up on Mr. Crouch, tall, dark and handsome though he may be, and would have gone on to potentially more fruitful pursuits.
Money is tight for her because she earns little in her starting-salary job and wants so much to spend it on things that will impress Mr. Crouch (a beautiful party dress, her law classes and conference, even the baby gift), so money is on her mind all the time. I think we can all identify.
Writing the venture into Knockturn Alley was fun. I envision how it looks in my mind's eye and then write what I see. Like Dolores, I am a newcomer to this creepy place, so I would stop to look at the creepy and dangerous stuff in the shop windows. There is certainly a contrast berween the way she almost tiptoes into this place, looking all around her, and the way the two businessmen stride down the street as if they've been here countless times (probably have) and feel right at home. Yes, I also wondered about the business matter that they were discussing.
I am sure that Madame Leogane can spot an easy mark when she sees one. Can she really tell the future for anyone, or is the seer business just mumbo-jumbo for the gullible, as Harry, Ron, and Hermione believed? In real life there are plenty of psychics and fortune tellers who still siphon money from the gullible, and she is an expert in the practice. If I were Dolores, I would have just gone with the green or yellow yarn, and would not have gone to such great lengths to get just the right color, but of course the man of my dreams would not have been at stake!
Thank you so much for reading and reviewing!
On to chapter three. Again, I never thought I’d feel sorry for Dolores, but I do. The detail about her torturing herself with Crouch’s wedding announcement made me so sad. She’s obsessing about it, and then trying to throw it away, and then obsessing again. And she’s so alone, who can she talk to about her silly dream without looking like a loser? The line “She played the scenes over and over…with a knife plunged into her heart.”—was simply golden.
I also appreciated how she is trying to get herself together, but she can’t quite give up on the idea of marrying Crouch. One minute she’s berating herself for still thinking about him, the next she’s imagining him divorcing his wife and hooking up with her. And then, of course, she finds out that the Crouches are expecting and is suitably upset. I almost wanted to give her a hug again. Almost.
I was not expecting the twist of the “prophetic” dream, but I can imagine it is going to go nowhere good for poor Dolores. I love how she wakes from the dream and throws herself into research about its possible meaning. She just can’t let it go! If only her tenacity were directed towards a more noble goal.
Ah, you're right, because Dolores can't seem to help driving her cart in the wrong direction. It occurs to me that her experiences as outlined in these events contribute to her actions, much later in life, of trying to sack the Divination Professor, Sybil Trelawney, at Hogwarts.
You say, "Who can she talk to about her siliy dream..?" I'm not sure she has any true friends right now (maybe she did at school). It looks as though Millie would like to be her friend, but Dolore is too fixated with her ambitions to respond. Thus she assumes that the series of dreams was prophetic because she wants that to be true, and her schooling has encouraged her to believe it. Aren't we luckky that our own dreams are not prophetic!
Thank you again for continuing to read and review this story about a character that everyone loves to hate.
I’m back for chapter two. So poor Dolores has her cap set for Mr. Crouch. I love how you set the scene with him sitting next to her at a lecture and how she blows that into a wild fantasy about how she is going to hook him. Since we know that he marries someone else, it makes me feel sad for Dolores that she’s making such a fool of herself.
I really enjoyed how you revealed her mental state after the lecture; how she is fantasizing about the Christmas party and all her preparations. She has to have the perfect clothes and hairstyle and makeup and perfume—even if she has to spend all her money to do it. I thought your use of the word ‘harmonize’ to describe all the accessories she wanted to go with her outfit was an excellent word choice.
Unfortunately, Dolores does not seem ready for home visits. I wonder how much of that is due to her being a short woman, and how much is due to her lacking people skills.
I particularly liked the sentence: “Towering fir tree, so thickly draped with ornaments that they seemed positively baroque…”
I feel sorry for Dolores again when she is standing alone at the party, wanting to get something to eat, but refusing to because she does not want to advertise the fact that she is alone. The phrase “It would be holding up a sign reading ‘I am nobody.’” hit me.
I was glad when she finally found Mr. Gordon and had a friend to sit with. Her gratitude reminded me of being young and alone at parties.
Even though we know Crouch marries someone else, it still felt like a bomb exploding when Mr. Gordon casually mentions it. Your description of Dolores’s reaction is very effective, particularly how she sees the plate of food given to her “through a gray haze.”
At least she didn't throw herself at his feet and declare her undying love for him. Now that would have been embarrassing! It is so easy to delude yourself on the basis of what you wish to be true, clinging to specks and threads of hope, as if by dint of effort you could force the desired outcome to be true. *big sigh* But she does have a courage and strength of resolve, going to all that trouble to make her appearance at the Christmas Party unescorted and to persevere until she managed to fall in with Mr. Gordon's group. It's all a whirwind of feelings both positive and negative coming in rapid succession. Kind of like in your story too, I suppose.:)
Thank you so much for reading and reviewing.!
I never thought I would say this, but I feel sympathy for Dolores Umbridge. I don’t know how you did it, but reading this chapter and thinking of her as a young lady with ambition and not much else, I feel sorry for her. I take my hat off to you.
I enjoy that the witch breaking the clothing code at the beginning is named Delilah :-). I was snickering through the whole beginning of this chapter, from the letter of complaint, through the “O bosh!” I can see Dolores so clearly in my mind the way you write her. It was particularly funny how Dolores immediately sides with the complainer, who seems to be a kindred spirit.
I started to feel sympathy for Dolores when you described how she was trying to do her low level job well in order to rise later. I also felt for her when you described her background as a half-blood and how she feels that she only has her own ambition to help her. And she’s going to try. Even knowing how she ends up, I almost want her to succeed at this point.
I think it was the scene in the washroom where Dolores is trying to do herself up so that she can land a husband that really got me. We know she’s not pretty, and she’s trying so hard. She knows she’s not pretty, and I found myself really feeling sorry for her at this point. Picturing her trying to go out and land a husband is so pathetic and I almost wanted to give her a hug. Almost.
I loved how you described her carefully curated lunch. She’s trying so hard but seems to miss the point.
This is a great first chapter and I can’t wait to read the rest. I can’t believe that I’m into a story about Dolores Umbridge!
Yes, I feel sorry for Dolores too at this point in her life. As she tries to rise from her quite humble beginnings, with nothing much going for her except her own determination in a very classist society, she is focused on what a lot of young people in that time were focused on -- finding a spouse, getting a good (or better) job, earning the respect and admiration of people around her. Not bad goals, but not based on Values and Ethics or concern for other people, so they will eventually lead to a hollow and unsatisfying existence. She is not a bad person now, but we can see the hints of character erosion in her little lies, her using of Millie, her feeble attempts at manipulation...maybe just the ill-advised stuff that we all occasionally did when we were too young to know a better way to iive. She has a choice of which way to go.
Thank you so much for reading and reviewing. :)
What an incredibly original story! It's the first young-Umbridge fic I've seen, and I feel like you absolutely NAILED her personality and motivations. Given what we know about her future, it'll be pretty hard to warm up to her as a character, but will certainly be interesting to see what happens!
Thank you so much for reading and reviewing my story. We authors who write minor characters don't get so many reads and reviews *sigh*, but there is so much satisfaction in extending the canon out a little farther in directions where it has not gone before. One can hardly be violating canon thereby, just uncovering what might well have been the hidden truth. Thank you for saying that I nailed her personality. Hopefully the story shows little hints of what she became in later decades; she is a fascinating person, slightly challenged in the Values & Ethics department, but as yet more to be pitied than censured. She could have gone either way.