This is one of those necessary chapters.
It advances the story and characterisation in lots of little ways, does a bit of housekeeping plot-wise and introduces at least one up-coming event (Christmas time and what has Arthur planned for them). Not very much happens otherwise.
Sarah, being the strong will of the pack, gets Danny and James to sort a bit of their s___ out. They do so fairly amicably, I think due to their inherent good natures and the overwhelming threat of Sarah. Maybe also due to the subconscious belief they both have, which is that each thinks they have something over Sarah better than the other does. Danny has her now and to him that trumps any claim James may have. James knows he has her pack loyalty which actually does trump all. I liked the way you put it in your last comments to my last review - James' hold over Sarah is an emotional one not a sexual one.
A little bit of tension between Rose and Scorpius. He tries to force her hand by waving Chelsea in front of her. She calls his bluff and reveals Freddy over aces (to really stretch the card metaphor). Scorpius folds and leaves the table truly defeated.
Unfortunately when Rose wakes next to Freddy she finds that though she may have won she has also lost as well. There will be more battles to come and everyone may loose in the end. She clings to hope though.
Sarah - Rose - James
A very powerful friendship, but also comfortable and relaxed. Again you demonstrate this group has the ability to talk about even the most tender of subjects with honesty.
Nana Weasley's one - Is a good touch-base with Weasleys-around-the-world. OK; Percy and co are in America, Louis is in France; and the kids in Hogwarts write regularly (or semi-regularly at least).
"She's so nice. I love your Nan." Becky said, biting into an orange cake with 'Becky' iced onto it in white.
This is a nice little touch. It communicates so much yet is the soul of brevity. We can extrapolate that the whole pack are loved (and cared for and cherished and etc) by the Weasley clan and the whole pack loves them back.
Aunt Ginny's one - Here we see a bit of the strange relationship that Rose has with her Aunt and her Mother. Hermione loves her daughter, there's no question, but she'll always be ... well Hermione; with her eyes upon the bigger picture. She knows her children. She has done the best to raise them and instill in them the values, attitudes and abilities to see them safely through life. So they can get on with it and live their lives, she'll be there if they need her, but otherwise they can do their own things.
You get the impression that Ginny has been that older sister type for Rose. Rose has probably confided more girly-type secrets with Ginny growing up than she ever has with her own mother. And everybody's fine with their place in the scheme of things, there is no jealousy between any of the three.
Ron's one - Here is the warmth in her parental relationship (not trying to say that her mum is cold). Her dad is the one that rough-houses with her, takes her to Quidditch matches, has fun with her, probably rolls his eyes with her when her mum is lecturing them, etc.
Her dad is fun. He sees her, now and forever, as his little girl. That's why Rose tears up because she knows how much the unplanned/too early nature of the pregnancy will hurt him. Add the Malfoy factor into the mix and it's really going to sting.
Madame Pettifoot's one - just housekeeing.
James' one - just for fun.
The Knight of the Rose tests his bonds with Castle Rose
... he should know it is his fealty to her that must be strongest of the two.
Author's Response: Yes, despite the growing understanding of the characters, very little actually happens in this chapter.
"Inherent good natures and the overwhelming threat of Sarah" - what a brilliant way to put it. Another wonderful observation on your part - both James and Danny think they have a stronger hold over Sarah. At this point though it is unclear who holds the ace.
Rose is always willing to fight fire with fire and it is clear in her blatant flaunting of Freddie in Scorpius' face. In her defence, it is a defensive reaction rather than a nasty action. It seems he is trying to hurt her, knowing that she and Chelsea have a horrible past.
Another great observation - the next morning, Rose is a winner as well as a loser - her triumph turns to ashes in her mouth.
The group dynamic is one of my favourite things to play with, as you well know by now! :)
The pack dynamic is explored further here - as you've said they all love Rose's family and are all loved in return.
Ginny's letter does show the interrelationships between Rose-Hermione-Ginny. As you've said, Ginny is less of an Aunt and more of an older sister. She is bound by blood to protect her, and bound by her heart to love her. Hermione is a parent who understands the individuality of her children, and respects their need for independence. She truly understands the toll of their second-hand fame and reacts as such.
Ron's personality shines through too. He is fun, good natured and generally a supportive, happy dad. He takes an interest in his family (Rose, Hugo, but also James.) I tried to imply James' importance to Ron - he reminds Ron so much of the fun-loving brother that he lost, and in losing him, he lost George a bit as well. He revels in James' antics as well as his humour, madness and general fun.
I wanted it to be shown that, on a higher level, the adults too are a pack. Ginny looks out for Rose, knowing she cannot always turn to her parents and James turns to Ron, knowing that he once felt the pang of apparently unrequited love. It is implied that while Rose leans on Ginny for emotional sisterly support, James does the same with his brotherly uncle Ron.
Nothing ever gets past you, my hawk-eyed reader, no matter how subtle or seemingly insignificant.
The Malfoy factor being added into the mix is an added blow, and yet not entirely a surprise. [SPOILER] Ron reacts less strongly to Scorpius being the father than he does to Freddie, which is very telling. [END SPOILER]
The Knight of the Rose is rebutted. The defences of Castle Rose are stronger than he realised, and her ammunition more painful.