Chapter 25 - "How the Procurator Tried to Save Yehudah of Kerioth"
This chapter exists as the Master's novel as Margarita reads it, having been returned to the basement apartment with her beloved. A hurricane has overtaken Yershalayim, and Pilate is reclining on a couch; he has smashed a jug of wine while yelling at a servant, and the wine is spreading at his feet. The mysterious cowled man, Aphranius, arrives, soaking wet from the downpour. As they drink wine, Pilate talks about how much he hates Yershlayim and his wish to return to Caesarea.
When Pilate asks to hear about the execution, Aphranius reports that Ha-Nozri refused the sponge to drink from on the cross; Pilate calls him a madman. Next Aphranius tells Pilate about Yehudah of Kerioth, and how he was bribed to turn Yeshua in to the police. Pilate tells Aphranius that he has heard that there is a plot to kill Yehudah that night, and that the money paid him will be returned to the High Priest who paid it with a note. He tells Aphranius to "take every precaution for the safety of Yehudah of Kerioth," although he actually intends the opposite: he is instructing Aphranius to arrange for the man's murder. He will wait for news that the bodies of the three prisoners have been taken down, and that Yehudah has been killed.
Chapter 26 - "The Burial"
Twilight falls as Pilate lies next to his beloved dog, Banga. Meanwhile, Aphranius begins his errands. He goes to the barracks and instructs the removal of the executed bodies from the hill. Then he goes to the home of a rug merchant and briefly meets with the wife of the household, Niza. She leaves the house soon after he does.
Yehudah hurries through the city. He recognizes Niza and approaches her, asking where she is going since he was supposed to come by later that evening; it is clear she is unfaithful to her husband with both Yehudah and Aphranius. She tells Yehudah that she is taking a walk out of town, and agrees to let Yehudah come with her when he begs. She whispers that he must "go to the olive grove... to Gethsemane," walking behind her.
Yehudah obeys, and makes the journey all the way to Gethsemane. But when he arrives, instead of Niza he is greeted by "a stocky masculine figure" who demands how much money he received from the High Priest. He gives up the thirty tetradrachmas he received, but is killed by another man from behind. Aphranius appears, and makes his way to the bank of the Kidron river. He is met by a man with two horses; he climbs onto one and they ride to the city gates, where the other man leaves Aphranius alone.
Meanwhile, Pilate is finally able to fall asleep. He dreams that he is walking toward the moon with Banga, along with Yeshua Ha-Nozri, with whom he has a philosophical discussion. Yeshua tells him, "Now we shall always be together," and Pilate begs him to remember him. He wakes up to Mark Rat-Killer standing before him, and mumbles in his sleep, "Even at night in the moonlight I have no rest! ...Oh, gods..." Mark merely reports that Aphranius is there.
Aphranius confirms that he was unable to protect Yehudah; really, he means that he was successful in the murder. Aphranius reports the details of the murder: that it took place in the olive grove, and that the assassins threw the bag with the blood money over the fence of the High Priest's palace, in a round about way that avoids admitting his involvement. He also reports that Matthu Levi had taken Yeshua's body and hid with it in a cave. They then let him participate in the body's burial; now, he is there in the palace.
Aphranius leaves the Procurator and Matthu appears. He sits on the floor and refuses to eat. Pilate asks to see the parchment on which Levi scribbles as he follows Yeshua around, but he cannot make sense of the words written on it. Pilate offers him money, but he refuses it, and declares that he intends to kill Yehudah of Kerioth. When Pilate tells him that he himself has already killed Yehudah, he becomes upset, but then merely asks for a clean piece of parchment and leaves.
The title of Chapter 25 is revealed as ironic, since the reader discovers that the Procurator actually orders Yehudah's death, though does not directly say so. He tells Aphranius that he has heard that there is a plot to kill Yehudah that night, and that the money paid him will be returned to the High Priest who paid it with a note. When Aphranius returns, having successfully carried out Yehudah's assassination, he reports that "I did not succeed in protecting Yehudah of Kerioth."
Pilate tells Aphranius to "take every precaution for the safety of Yehudah of Kerioth," although he actually intends the opposite: he is instructing Aphranius to arrange for the man's murder. He tells Aphranius that he has had a premonition; premonitions always come true in this story, from Woland's premonition about Berlioz's death to Margarita's premonition that something is about to happen when she wakes up the day she becomes a witch.
The theme of nature mirroring the characters' moods is prevalent in Chapter 25; in fact, the weather is personifed in the case of the "strange cloud," which is described as having a "belly." After the storm breaks out, it too is personified: "The hurricane was tormenting the garden."
Music accompanies the action of Chapter 26: after Yehudah is murdered, "the Gethsemane garden thundered with nightingale song." Then, as Aphranius rides his horse through the streets of Yershalayim, "hymns were heard from all directions, merging into a discordant chorus." He himself whistles "a quiet tune" as he rides.
When Pilate wakes up from the dream in which he is conversing with Yeshua, he mumbles in his sleep, "Even at night in the moonlight I Have no rest! ...Oh, gods..." This phrase references the moonlight, which is a symbol connected to Pilate and his unrest; in fact, he will not have peace until thousands of years later when Margarita sees him finally set free on his path to the moon. "Oh, gods..." is a leitmotif that appears throughout the novel, and is also tied to Pilate.
Pilate's dream is an allusion to the Bible and Yeshua's immortality. As he walks beside Yeshua, arguing about philosophy, Pilate thinks, "Needless to say, today's execution turned out ohave been a sheer misunderstanding, for the philosopher, who had invented the incredibly absurd idea that all men were good, walked by his side; hence, he was alive." This realization also clarifies Pilate's suspicion that something was special about Yeshua, and explains why Yeshua was able to read his mind during the hearing.