[He thinks for a moment and then frowns]
I suppose some might think so. But I find it rather comforting.
[Blaise nods, chewing his lip. He doesn't understand how someone could not get lonely with no one on their own level to associate with - and he's a largely solitary person. He finishes off his second cup of tea and asks wryly,] Do you think Dumbledore will say yes or are you only going to ask himso you don't have to be the one to tell me no? [He knows that Severus wouldn't do any such thing, knows that he's perfectly capable of saying no himelf - did say no for that matter - but Blaise doesn't want to seem over-eager and his question will, hopefully, get answered anyway.]
[Severus arches an eyebrow]
There is a possibility that the headmaster will acquiesce. I would not taunt you with false hope if I thought otherwise.
[Severus sets his cup down]
I think he would be relieved that there is a Slytherin with an interest outside of the Dark Arts.
[Blaise snorts,] I suppose that does seem to be a rather rare thing these days.
Indeed it is.
[Severus wonders, not for the first time, if he has been hoping too much. The Slytherin children are, after all, children, and it's only second nature to follow in their parents footsteps.
Abruptly,] When would you care to begin your trial apprenticeship?
[Blaise blinks in surprise, tilting his head to look at Severus and trying not to smile too widely.] Whenever you'd like me too.
[Severus nods once, briefly] Very well. You will need to catch up on some reading.
[Severus goes to his desk and scribbles something on a scrap of paper. He goes back to Blaise and gives him the note.]
Here's a pass--Madam Pince will let you get whatever you need. I'd start with Moste Potente Potions, Potions and the Effects of Substitution, The Nature of Magical Theory, and Potion Breakthroughs of the 20th Century. If you've read them once before, it can't hurt to read them all again.
[Severus sits in his chair and takes a deep breath, consciously slowing down his speeding thoughts before looking intently back at Blaise.]
I intend to save Slytherin, Blaise. Are you up to the task in assisting me?
[Blaise looks over the list, softly, as if he's afraid to tell the truth,] I actually own copies of all of these, practically know them by heart. And. Well, [He ponders the last bit of what Severus said,] I'm up to the task, I'm just not sure it's... doable.
[There is an unmistakable glint of surprised pride in Severus' eyes, and he nods toward the note in Blaise's hand. His voice is slow and careful when he speaks.]
I've given you access to the Restricted Section. Take what you need.
[Severus leans closer to Blaise, his voice going softer as his eyes darken]
Perhaps saving our House isn't possible--I admit fully that it will be a difficult task. However, I cannot sit idly by and watch our fall. If I don't care about them, no one else will.
[Severus pauses thoughtfully and leans back into his chair]
I am allowing my...ah...anxiety to flavor my perceptions. I have no right to ask your assistance in this matter. I have burdened you with my expectations as it is. I forget at times that you are still a child.
[Blaise smiles at Severus, though it's not a happy expression] I am no more a child than you were at my age. [After a moment] I do believe that there are those who could be saved, those who would choose differently if they knew that another option truly is open to them. But there are others who will not hear reason, who think they know better. And a number of them hold quiet a lot of sway - especially in relation to myself.
[A pause,] And thank you, for this. [He indicates the note before slipping it into a pocket.] I won't disappoint you.
[Severus mouth twists] I was far more a child then than I care to remember. Thusly, I am not a good model for comparison. As for the Slytherins, if I could I would simply force them to a side and be done with it...
[He tilts his head and files that thought away for now] As for the pass, if I did not believe you could manage the responsibility, you would not have it.
[Blaise's lips twist into a hollow smirk,] If only you held as much sway over them as their parent's and Voldemort's empty promise's do it might be an easier task. Perhaps we can just poison the lot of them? [He asks hopefully, only half joking.]
[He smiles again at Severus, a real smile and shakes his head,] I know, but I still wanted to let you know I won't disappoint.
[Severus smirks] Perhaps. [He stands] However, it's getting late, and we both have much to do.
[Blaise blinks in surprise, turning to look at the clock behind them.] Oh. So it has. [He stands reluctantly, setting his cup and saucer on the table. Turning to Severus, shyly,] I can. Come back next Friday, right?
Unfortunately, the headmaster has requested my presence next week, but if you wish, I shall make time for you the week after?