The fire crackle-pops. ‘Floo call!’ says Luna, looking up. She’s sitting cross-legged in the big creaky rocking chair, wearing a rainbow-hued patchwork dress and threading equally bright beads onto a string.
Draco untangles his legs from the end of the leather couch and sits up, putting down his book. ‘Hogwarts,’ he observes. ‘Blue popping sparks.’
‘I hope Scorpius is all right,’ says Luna. ‘Oh, here comes someone.’
It’s the head of Neville Longbottom that has appeared in the flames, looking slightly frazzled. ‘Hi Luna… Draco,’ he says, regarding Draco, as always, with a wary eye. ‘It’s Scorpius – he’s a little upset, and nothing would do but that he spoke to you himself.’
‘Thanks, Neville,’ says Luna, and he disappears. There’s a few seconds of crackling and blue sparks, and then Scorpius’ head appears. His face is white and – Draco clenches his hands – there are traces of tears on his cheeks.
‘Oh, darling,’ says Luna softly. ‘What happened?’
’How could you?’ says Scorpius, low and fierce.
‘How could we what?’ Luna asks. She climbs out of the rocking chair and comes to the fire, plumping down on her knees before it. Draco sinks onto one knee beside her.
A tear trickles from Scorpius’ face into the fire with a little sizzling sound. He sniffs, and Draco reaches forward to touch his cheek. ‘Tell us,’ he coaxes.
Scorpius sniffles again, and says desolately, ‘Pizza.’
It is to Draco’s credit, and symptomatic of his long association with Luna, that no surprise shows on his face. He was not sure what he had suspected, but it was not pizza.
‘Pizza?’ probes Luna gently.
‘We eat it the WRONG WAY. And everyone laughed… and I tried to hex James Potter but it didn’t work, only some sparks came out, and everyone laughed more and I hate them all!’
‘Why was James Potter there?’ Luna wonders. ‘Isn’t he a Gryffindor?’
’Yes, but he always comes past the Ravenclaw table and he calls me Malfoy and I hate it!’ More tears trickle down Scorpius’ face and into the fire.
‘Typical,’ Draco mutters.
‘Oh, darling,’ Luna murmurs. Scorpius gulps.
’But how do we eat pizza the ‘wrong way’?’ asks Draco, puzzled.
‘Crust first!’ Scorpius wails. ’No-one does that! They all hold the crust and eat the point first, the proper way!’
Luna strokes his cheek softly. ‘I see,’ she says. ‘That must have been hard.’
‘It was,’ says Scorpius desolately.
‘But what about Molly? You wrote and said she was nice.’
Scorpius’ face brightens a very little bit, a ray of sunshine through rain. ‘Molly didn’t laugh,’ he says. ‘And she told James to go and drown himself in the Great Lake. She’s here now, waiting for me.’
‘That’s good,’ says Luna, and smiles at him warmly. ‘But you don’t have to eat your pizza the same way as everyone does, just because they do.’
‘Mum,’ says Scorpius, ’You don’t understand! The crust is supposed to be like a handle, because it isn’t so gooey! Why do we always have to be so weird and different?’
From the corner of his eye, Draco sees a tiny, hurt expression touch Luna’s face. But it passes over and is gone in an instant. Then she leans forward, bending right down low, and kisses her son’s cheek, touching his face softly with her knuckle.
Her eyes are closed, and as Draco saves one of her long tresses of hair from incineration, he feels her take a long slow breath. The boy’s eyes close, too, and he breathes with her, quietly, past a little hitch in his throat.
‘Love you, Mum,’ he says suddenly, a little chokily. ‘And Dad. And, and thanks.’