[Severus arches an eyebrow in inquiry]
[Blaise blushes, looking into his tea cup.] I was wondering if. [He looks up at Severus,] If you'd given any thought to taking on an apprentice.
[Severus looks curiously at Blaise]
It is hardly feasible for me to think about accepting an apprentice while I am a professor at this school, Blaise.
[Blaise flushes darker, ducking his head again and nodding.] Of course, that was silly of me. [He chews his lip, debating with himself for a moment before asking,] Do you know anyone who. might be? Later, after graduation? Or even for a summer internship? [He doesn't really want to study under anyone else, but he has to do something once he leaves Hogwarts.]
[Severus tilts his head thoughtfully]
Several come to mind. Is there any particular place you wish to be?
[Without really thinking,] Here, [softer] with you.
[Severus goes completely still.]
I'm, ah. Flattered that you hold me in such high esteem.
[Slightly softer] There are several potion professors in my aquaintance whom I believe you will get along with quite well.
[Blaise frowns in a manner that could be considered pouting.] But you're the best and I know you and you know me and I'm sa -- I like it at Hogwarts. And I could do all the little things for you and it would. give you more free time to. to write scathing comments on first year Hufflepuff essays or. whatever.
[Severus arches an eyebrow and smirks]
I do not need any time for scathing comments. I make it a substantial part of my daily routine.
[Blaise chuckles, though their's still a decidedly disappointed tilt to his mouth,] Of course, how silly of me.
[Severus' smirk deepens]
I am accustomed to dealing with silly children.
[Blaise flinches slightly, flushing, and takes a drink of his tea. He looks away from Severus, into the fire and says,] It's no wonder then, that you don't want to take on an apprentice.
[Severus ponders his next comment]
It isn't that I have no wish to take you, it is simply that I do not have the time to adequately consider your tutelage.
[Blaise shrugs, still looking into the fire,] It's okay, I knew that you wouldn't want -- be able to. I just. wanted to ask, I guess.
[Severus strokes the side of his tea cup unconsciously again]
[He looks at Blaise speculatively]
We might test your knowledge and abilities for a short period of time, and see if we suit each other. Albus might reduce my professorial duties if I had more important matters to attend.
[The corners of Blaise's lips twitch and he looks back at Severus, softly,] Is that a maybe?
It is a trial, if you will. If your performance is not adequate, we will consider it a failed experiment.
[Blaise smirks,] Have my performance ever been less than stellar?
[Severus smirks again]
In potions? No.
[Blaise smiles softly, knowing that, from Severus, it's a compliment.] I'll still work extra hard though, [he says, trying to clamp down on his excitment and leaning forward a bit,] and I'll make sure none of my other marks drop and really, you wouldn't regret it, I promise.
[Indulgently] I have always expected a great deal from you, Blaise, and you have not failed me yet. I don't expect you to now.
[Blaise flushes from the praise.] And you wonder why I don't want to study under anyone else.
[Severus refills his teacup]
I am curious, actually. I'm not precisely the easiest taskmaster, and it could be quite stressful for you to retain appropriate marks in your other classes and satisfy my exacting demands.
[Blaise laughs,] I'm actually looking forward to it. And my schoolwork is easy, I'm not worried about it.
[Severus arches his eyebrow]
N.E.W.T. courses are easy, are they? Perhaps I should speak to your other professors, as they are obviously not challenging you.