Though Kokiden is seriously ill, she's still very angry that she hasn't crushed Genji yet. Suzaku feels as though he's paying for going against the Emperor's wishes. His health is better now that Genji is back and the two become fast friends. As the date of his abdication approaches, he worries for Oborozukiyo. He tells her one evening that he knows she prefers Genji, but he doubts that Genji will love her as much as he does. Oborozukiyo is embarrassed, especially when Suzaku points out that it's sad she hasn't had a child yet and if she becomes pregnant by Genji, their baby will be a commoner.
Suzaku's mention that a baby fathered by Genji would be a commoner is a way for him to point out that in order to improve her position, Oborozukiyo will need to choose the father of any children very carefully—and as ineffective of an emperor as he may be, his status will provide her more power than Genji would as the father of her child.
In February, eleven-year-old Reizei comes of age. Suzaku abdicates suddenly a few weeks later and makes one of his sons crown prince. Genji tries to refuse an appointment to be a minister and The Minister of the Left also tries to refuse an appointment to be a regent; both, however, must ultimately accept their roles. Tō no Chūjō is also promoted and hopes to send his twelve-year-old daughter, the Kokiden girl, to court.
Suzaku's powerlessness is reinforced again here, as his abdication very much mirrors how women can gain power by becoming nuns and removing themselves from court life. Appointing the Minister of the Left to be a regent shows that the power is returning to Genji and the Emperor's favor.
Genji begins to remodel an inherited house for his "neglected favorites" such as the Lady of the Orange Blossoms. The Akashi Lady gives birth to Genji's first daughter, which delights him. He wonders why he hasn't brought the lady and her daughter to the city and thinks about a fortuneteller's prediction that two of Genji's children will become emperor and empress, while the third will be a chancellor. With Reizei's ascension to the throne, Genji feels as though all of this is coming true.
Though Genji never goes on to answer the question he poses here, it's possible that he recognizes that the Akashi Lady would be treated in much the same way that his mother was, given her country origins and the fact that her mother seems relatively powerless—like Genji, she'd be without powerful female relatives at court.
Genji dedicates himself to finding an appropriate nurse for his daughter. He finds one poor woman who had one child through an "untrustworthy liaison" and has few other prospects. He finds her beautiful and charming and even jokes that he should keep her in the city. Though the nurse privately agrees she'd rather stay, she leaves for Akashi right away. The former governor is thrilled with his granddaughter and is very happy that Genji wants to care for her. The Akashi lady also feels more secure and sends a poem to Genji, telling him his "blossom" awaits him.
Though the Akashi Lady doesn't specify what kind of blossom she means in reference to their daughter, the blossom here acts as a symbol for growth and renewal just like the cherry blossoms regardless. This shows that Genji is once again truly on the way back up to power, as his children are now in a place where they can begin to help him become more powerful.
Finally, Genji tells Murasaki about his daughter, lamenting that he doesn't have children where he actually wants them. He promises to bring the baby to the city and instructs Murasaki to not be jealous. She finds this insulting and thinks of Genji telling her about the Akashi Lady. She's annoyed that Genji was able to amuse himself during his exile while she spent her time crying. Murasaki suggests that she'll die first in retaliation. Though Genji finds this rude, he also thinks that Murasaki's anger is delightful and interesting.
Though Genji is the one who is vocally upset about (presumably) not having children with Murasaki, it's also important to recognize that Murasaki is also disadvantaged by not having children, given how children help adults to do better in their adult lives.
Genji begins to regret that he didn't bring the Akashi Lady to the city to give birth, as it will seriously disadvantage his daughter to be born far away. He sends messengers with gifts for her fiftieth-day celebrations and a note promising to bring the lady and her baby to the city. The nurse finds that she likes Akashi a lot and as she tells her lady about the city and Genji, the Akashi Lady begins to feel important for giving birth to Genji's daughter. She returns Genji's poem, asking him to send for her soon. Murasaki continues to be jealous.
Given the way that the supernatural world helped Genji return to the city and the fact that there's a prophecy about how successful Genji's children will be, his fears about his daughter seem a bit out of place here. His fears may have more to do with a sense of guilt for not properly caring for the Akashi Lady than anything else.
Because Genji is now so important, he has little time to visit his other lovers. When the summer rains begin, he goes to visit Reikeiden and the Lady of the Orange Blossoms. The lady is beautiful, and Genji wishes that his lovers had something wrong with them so that his life could be less complicated. As they discuss Genji's time away, Genji comforts her with his usual speeches. When Genji hears from the Gosechi dancer again, he decides that she'll live in his remodeled house with the Lady of the Orange Blossoms. He also writes to Oborozukiyo professing his love for her, but she refuses to communicate with him.
Again, when Genji wishes his lovers would help him make the decision to not see them by having faults, he passes a lot of the blame on to them and is able to think of himself as helpless and a victim of his emotions. Oborozukiyo's refusal to communicate suggests that she believes she now has enough power to stand up to even Genji, despite the fact that her family is now on the outs at court.
At the palace, everyone is happy. Suzaku enjoys his retirement, Genji has moved into his mother the Paulownia Lady's old rooms, and Fujitsubo is treated with the respect of a retired empress. She's able to see Reizei again and now, Kokiden is on the outs. Genji is cold towards Prince Hyōbu because of his support for the old regime, and as such stops him from bringing one of his daughters to court.
The rift between Genji and Prince Hyōbu is the first time that the novel really gets into questions of male politics and how those rivalries play out when they're more serious than, say, Tō no Chūjō and Genji's rivalry for Naishi. This suggests that Genji is becoming more calculating as he ages.
In the fall, Genji makes a pilgrimage to the Sumiyoshi shrine. By chance, the Akashi Lady travels there on the same day. She arrives after Genji and when she sees his elaborate offerings arranged everywhere, she feels inferior and sad. She feels as though her daughter is insignificant and prays fervently. Finally, she cries that the gods wouldn't even take note of her "miserable" offerings with Genji's right there, so she suggests her party go to a different shrine.
For the Akashi Lady, this sighting is proof that Genji will never come for her or follow through on his promises. She can see that he absolutely has the wealth and the wherewithal to bring her to court, which makes it clear that he's simply choosing to not bring her for other unknown reasons.
Genji has no idea about any of this, but he's very upset when he learns the Akashi Lady turned away from the shrine. He sends her a note from the Naniwa shrine and the note makes her cry. They exchange several notes as Genji and his party travel to different shrines. Genji continues to promise to bring her to the city, but neither the Akashi Lady or the former governor really believe him.
Genji does recognize that he needs to keep the Akashi Lady reasonably happy in order to keep control of his daughter, who will presumably one day give him political capital to spend. This means that he must continue to communicate with her, even if she's not buying it.
A new high priestess is appointed to the Ise shrine, so the Rokujō Lady and Akikonomu return to the city. The Rokujō Lady decides not to call on Genji and he believes he has no time to pursue her anyway, though he is still interested in Akikonomu. Suddenly, weeks after returning, the Rokujō Lady becomes very ill. Genji rushes to her side. She's touched he still cares for Akikonomu and asks him to care for her if she dies. Genji promises he will, though the Rokujō Lady asks him to not take Akikonomu as a lover. Genji peeks behind her curtains and sees both the lady and Akikonomu looking extremely beautiful, but promises to think of Akikonomu as a sister.
The Rokujō Lady's final request shows that she's one of the only women who understands what happens when a woman becomes involved with Genji: it leads to jealousy, neglect, and unhappiness for all parties. Her final hope is to be able to save her daughter from the fate that she herself suffered, illustrating again the power of the bond between mothers and their children. When Genji accepts these terms, it implies that he's now willing to respect the Rokujō Lady.
A week later, the Rokujō Lady dies. Genji arranges the funeral and writes several notes to Akikonomu. The relationship makes her wary, but her ladies encourage her to write. Genji finds her handwriting pleasant and considers taking her as a lover, but he decides it will be better to bring her to the court for Reizei. Genji makes sure that Akikonomu's other suitors are all turned away, and he learns that Suzaku still nurses feelings for Akikonomu.
Once again, the actions of Akikonomu's ladies show that serving women will benefit from these relationships to powerful men, and their loyalties lie almost more with the men than with the women who employ them. Genji's decision to give Akikonomu to Reizei shows that he recognizes it's time to position the next generation for success.
Genji consults Fujitsubo in the matter, and she suggests that Genji pretend to not know that Suzaku loves Akikonomu. When she accepts Akikonomu as a candidate for Reizei's hand, Genji makes plans to bring Akikonomu to his mansion to keep Murasaki company. Fujitsubo is worried, about Prince Hyōbu's desire to have Reizei marry his young daughter instead, and as such is thrilled that Akikonomu could be an older wife for her son.
The prospective relationship dynamics that the narrator suggests between Reizei and Akikonomu mimics the one between Genji and Aoi, which suggests that the parents here aren't willing to look to and learn from the past even as they make plans for their children's futures.