Hermione stepped through the Floo and came face-to-face with her husband's fierce scowl and thunderous expression. Automatically, she glanced behind her as she exited the Floo to see if someone had followed her through. Seeing no one else, Hermione frowned, vaguely alarmed.
"What's wrong?" she asked, setting her briefcase on the table next to the fireplace, mentally cursing that she'd chosen to stay late to work on the Gatesbury petition to the Wizengamot.
Since their marriage, she'd learned to judge the various incarnations of Snape scowls. This particular version was a step above the "He's going to fume for hours" scowl, but just below the "He's considering killing someone, and no, that's not an exaggeration" scowl.
"Our son will no longer be staying with your mother during the day," he snapped.
Hermione's alarm instantly ratcheted to new heights. "What's happened? Is everyone all right?"
Julian Snape was a precocious three-year-old, and his magical control was minimal. He also had his father's infamous temper, and on one occasion had shattered all the glass in the house during a spectacularly destructive temper tantrum. Hermione's parents' home now had more wards on it than the Ministry of Magic.
"Nothing's happened, but it was a near thing." Severus ground his teeth for a moment before continuing. "When I arrived to take Julian home, your mother was singing along with the radio and attempting to teach our son an inappropriate song."
"An inappropriate song?" Hermione echoed, confused. "What song?"
""Puff, the Magic Dragon"." Severus' scowl slid a fraction closer to murderous.
Hermione blinked and then bit down on the inside of her cheek hard enough to draw blood. Laughing now could lead to a divorce.
""Puff, the Magic Dragon"," she repeated. "I'm not sure I understand why it would be considered inappropriate. I thought it was a fairly innocuous song."
"Have you listened to it?" Severus asked, glaring.
Hermione shrugged, still bewildered by Severus' venomous attitude. "I've heard it, but I'm not sure I remember it well. It's about friendship, isn't it?"
"It's about abandonment," Severus snarled. "The dragon befriends the boy and then is heartbroken when the boy abandons him. Our child will not be taught that it's acceptable to discard a friend for no better reason than he's found new, more attractive friends."
Hermione was fairly certain that last part wasn't actually in the song, but it went a long way toward explaining why Severus was so upset. Lily Evans had left a lengthy shadow, and the pain from that failed friendship still popped up at the oddest times.
"I'm sure my mother didn't mean any harm," Hermione said gently, but when her husband's brows lowered, she hastened to add, "However, I'll speak to her about it. I don't think it's necessary that we ban her from looking after Julian while we're at work." She reached out and rubbed her husband's arm softly with one hand.
Severus relaxed at her touch, and Hermione knew the crisis had been averted.
He walked to the drinks cabinet and poured out two small firewhiskys. He handed Hermione her glass and attempted to explain.
"I realize that it may seem that I'm overreacting, but we're at a point where Julian will begin to remember things later in life," he said. "I don't want to risk that the first song our son remembers learning is a song about betrayal. We must be very careful for the next year or so to make certain that his first long-term memories are good ones."
Hermione smiled – no one was more determined that their child have good memories of his home life than Severus – then she winced.
"Well..." Hermione hesitated then forged ahead. "I didn't mention it at the time, as the damage was already done, but three weeks ago when we visited Harry and Ginny for dinner, I walked in on James Sirius teaching Julian and Albus Severus to sing "A Wizard's Wand has a Knob on the End"."
Severus choked on his firewhisky.
Hermione smiled. "So it's entirely possible we're too late."
Author's Note: I couldn't resist the small tribute to the late Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary. For those who haven't actually heard "Puff, the Magic Dragon", various versions can be found on Youtube.
Apologies to to Terry Pratchett and all the filkers out there, but for the purposes of this story, I changed Staff to Wand in the title of that particular song. ;)
Written as a birthday gift for Annietalbot.