I don't own any of it(Nichols glares are me now and Valtteri just shakes his head at my lapse of memory.) OK Ok, I own them and my pitiful plot but honestly Rowlong owns most of it! Even Severus though I'd really like to own him!

AC. What can I say… I couldn't be any more sorry than I am now for the delay I've given with this story. Is it any excuse that I had my first few chapters re-betaed as they really needed it? Denise, what would I do without you? You've done so perfect job with my story lately! Now humbly I offer my newest chapter as a repay for all the time it took to get this updated!

Severus snapped out of his reverie when he heard the door to the Hospital wing open, revealing Nichols. Suddenly, Severus' Potions text was the most interesting thing in the world…

X X X

Severus retreated behind the shield of his formality as soon as Nichols entered the room. Of course his professor would come and see him! He knew that Nichols had some questions for him, and Severus was far from ready to reveal the truth like that. He knew that the moment he would begin to tell Nichols, that his artificial calmness would be shattered. Severus told himself that he could persuade himself one more time that everything was fine.

He hoped he looked relaxed—though he was anything but—as he read the entry on the Concussius Unction. He pretended that he only now noticed his professor walking up to him, and glanced up, managing a weak smile.

His teacher greeted him warmly, but that didn't fool Severus at all; it could only mean that Nichols wanted something. He put the still-open book face down on the bed, and looked up at his teacher's eyes, and became even more determined not to tell the man anything. In the worst case scenario, he couldn't live with his father any longer if he let the wrong information slip, but even a small slip had a tendency to grow bigger and bigger until there was no way to hid the truth. No, he had to be smart and keep his mouth shut no matter how friendly and trustworthy the man seemed to be. After all, he had seen people try to help him, but they had only made things worse for him with their actions.

Their eyes met and the dreaded talk began.

X X X

"Nice to see that you are feeling better already Mr. Snape. Quite a difference from when I found you in the corridor down in the dungeons," Nichols stated calmly, knowing what he was doing. As Head of Slytherin, he knew that sometimes being brutally honest got better results than simply beating around the bush. For that reason it got a rise out of Severus, when he didn't realize that it was clearly bait.

"Well, it's not like I planned to stumble and hit my head down there," Severus blurted out, accidentally dropping his mask of indifference. That turned out to be a mistake as Sir Nichols seemed to begin look at his way closer. He berated himself for so stupid slip up that quickly and kept his look on his professor as that sat down next to his bed.

"How did it actually happen?" Nichols inquired. He was unsure if he would receive an honest answer but it was worth a shot. After all, he had no proof to back what he believed had happened. Still, the series of accidents was suspicious enough, with or without proof.

"I wasn't looking where I was going and I stumbled," Severus explained. "There was, um, something in the floor and I tripped," Severus said looking as nonchalant as he could look.

However, Nichols didn't quite buy that explanation. The boy was responding much too casually, but explaining far too much to being telling the truth—Nichols smelled a rat. The fact that confirmed this was that he knew for a fact that Severus had lied about at least one thing. He certainly knew that the dungeon's floor was spelled to be clear of anything that might trip people, as it really was very dark down there. The way that the young boy was offering up so much information was very Slytherinesque, and a tell tale sign that he had used the technique often. This told Nichols that he had to get to the truth in a round-about way.

"I believe you. I see you've noticed what potion you got," Nichols stated and Severus was startled by the change in topic. That wasn't exactly what he was waiting for after the last question. "Care to tell me what have you learned so far?" Nichols inquired.

Severus was happy that his explanation was accepted without question, but it was certainly a surprising turn of events. He rolled his eyes at the last question; of course Nichols might ask that as he was a Potions professor. Severus shook his head and tried to answer.

"Ah… it's used for treating a head injuries and brain traumas. Um… and it's supposed to be rubbed into the scalp around the place that got hit." He glanced up hesitantly and saw the slight smile on Nichols face, and a nod that clearly meant for him to go on. "It contains a bit Datura stramonium, one petal of Achimenes hybrida um…. Carnations…" He checked the last ingredient from the book before checking how his teacher was taking his explanation.

Though he usually got shy during class, seeing how eager his professor he was listening to him, he allowed himself to launch into an exact explanation of how to brew that special potion, and only checked his book every once in a while. "And the newt toes act as a catalyst to get the ingredients to react to one another more powerfully. The brewing process is…" He kept on explaining about the brewing process for a moment more and Nichol's smile was getting wider and wider the longer the explaining took.

Eventually Severus explained the last phase already.

"You are a natural at Potions," Nichols said. "From the beginning, I noticed how you were completing everything correctly, and now you are explaining quite well how to brew a second year's potion, though we've just gotten started with simplest potions in class!" Nichols exclaimed enthusiastically.

That got the shy boy to blush, which made Nichols smirk. He wasn't head of Slytherin House for nothing, and he knew better than to think that Mr. Snape would volunteer the answers he sought. He would ask again eventually, but for now it was better to follow the situation from afar, and build trust between himself and his student. The boy was already grinning slyly in front of him, and Nichols congratulated himself for a succeeding in his plan.

Eventually, the truth would come out; he just needed to have a bit of patience. Besides, he thought that a bit praising would really do the boy good. Nichols decided that he would try and encourage Mr. Snape; even without praise he was doing well in class, but Nichols was sure that he could do even better.

"I'm glad you're getting better so quickly. I expect to see you return to my class soon enough! If you keep working that way you'll be a Potions Master before you notice." Nichols patted Severus on the back got up to leave.

X X X

As soon as Severus was alone, a big smile broke through on his face. He wasn't certain if it was because of the praise, or if it was because he got away with lying to his Head of House, but he certainly felt good at the moment. Even the nurse entering the room didn't dissipate is feeling, despite all of her bustling about.

The nurse checked him once over from head to toe, and was convinced that he would be fine after one more night. She left, and Severus felt free to check himself out.

He was surprised that there were still no scars on his arms. He took a Charms book from his bag and tried to find some explanation for that strange, but useful, occurrence. After a bit of researching he had to give up; the book had no mention of anything close to what he wanted.

However, one thing was sure. The scars still existed, as he could feel a bit a twinge when he touched the place that he accidentally cut too deep. He figured that it had to be some type of protection spell—a wandless one at that, as he certainly hadn't cast anything. How could he if he didn't even know the spell? Besides he realized that it wasn't exactly the first time it had happened, either. Now that he thought about it, he remembered that when he had gone to check ups at his previous school, he may have had bruising the day before, but the very next day he would appear totally healthy until the examination was over. Quite a useful little defence mechanism, he'd say. He certainly wasn't sorry about the charm, whatever it was. He needed a plan, good one at that.

Severus needed to get away. He knew he hadn't gotten permission to leave the Hospital Wing, but hell with that tigress' opinion, for now. After listening for any sign of someone nearby, he got up and flew from the room. He was feeling smothered with all the attention he had been getting so recently, and he was not that used of being so… remembered. He couldn't think clearly and he just wanted to get away from it all.

He knew better than to run; that was bound to catch notice and that was far from what he wanted. He had learned from experience that if you just walked as if you did any other day, he'd get away without anyone really noticing him.

So that was he did. He wandered down the stairs and finally he reached the front doors. Now away from the castle, he hurried his steps and went to his regular place at the lake. He was glad that hardly anyone knew that he liked it here. The ones that knew he couldn't imagine them telling the teachers.

He sat down beside the stones and immediately closed his eyes. He heard only the slapping of the water against the shore, and he let his thoughts settle back of his mind as he relaxed.

Severus didn't know how long he had been sitting when he had heard a noise from somewhere behind him. He heard faint footsteps coming across the grounds, and came to full alert. He didn't let it on that he was aware of their presence, but pretended that he was still half dozing and watched through lidded eyes. Severus appeared completely relaxed— until he saw the beautiful face of Lily. 'Beautiful? Where did that one come from' he wondered. He raised his eyelids curiously as she sat down beside him. He was flabbergasted when Lily laughed at him, and he became suspicious of her motives. He was almost convinced that she was making fun of him, but as she smiled he tried to convince himself otherwise. He just didn't want to believe that she was that type of person. When she raised her eyebrows in question, Severus just sighed and closed his eyes.

X X X

"So, you made tracks from the hospital wing!" Lily commented as she laughed.

"If you were under that insufferable nurse's wings you would have, too. I just had to get away for a moment. She's so smothering…doesn't even know what personal space means." He answered angrily and snorted. "Wait, how did you know about that?" He wondered aloud.

"Ah, I just happened to go up there, waiting to see you, but all I found was a horrified nurse with a scary gleam in her eyes. You must have given her quite a scare." She pointed out, looking at him significantly.

"There it is—you see why I couldn't do anything else but leave. I could hardly breathe with everyone bothering me with stupid questions. I felt like I had to get a moment's peace in order to make it…just a moment's peace," he said almost pleadingly.

"I have a feeling you're going to pay, what with the way Madam Pomfrey was acting up there. She was quite annoyed at your disappearance was quite annoyed at your disappearance" She told him, smirking at his horrified expression. "I'm happy I'm not in your shoes at the moment."

He muttered something incoherent at that.

"I wish I weren't either!" Now both of them laughed at that.

"Honestly, you all right?" She asked, looking concerned, which caused him to once again mumble under his breath.

"Really, I'm fine already! She should have already let me go, if you ask me." She raised her eyebrows at that.

"About what happened…" she started, but Severus rudely interrupted her.

"It was just an accident. I just tripped over something that was on the floor." He said defensively.

"Have you ever read Hogwart's, A History?" she questioned him.

"That boring-looking book? I know everything I need to know about Hogwarts without reading some instruction book about it," he told her, shaking his head at her comment. What did that book have to do with anything?

"You should have known that it states that the Dungeons have a charm that prevents any normal stumbling, as its way too dark down there," she informed him briskly as she looked calculatingly at her friend. Said friend in question went pale and swore aloud.

"Merlin! If she's after me, I'd better go back... Who knows what she'll do if I don't go back and soon," he hastily informed Lilly, as his heart pounded in worry over what would happen to him. If it was true about that spell in the Dungeons, then Nichols must have known that he'd lied to him… With whatever it was the girl thought happened earlier… he just didn't want go on with this discussion any longer. Luckily, he had a valid excuse ready for when the confrontation would occur.

Severus began to walk back to the castle, his heart racing once again. Well, that was a nice break, he thought. At least now he knew how he had botched up with Nichols, if nothing else. He was not sure if he wanted to see Lily for a while. Whatever she thought about him now… he didn't even want to know how much she had guessed.

He made his way back to the Hospital Wing, and nearer he got, the slower he went. He had seen the school nurse disappointed with him before, but he could only imagine how angry she was now. He'd take it well; after all, he knew how to calm down certain people, at least adults. A school nurse wouldn't be nearly so harsh at reprimanding as his father would, no matter how hot-blooded she was.

Finally, he reached the Hospital Wing, and in spite of how the look on her face frightened him… he bravely met her glare. She was adult, right? He could trust her to behave, even if only a bit.

He re-entered the Hospital Wing under the nurse's disapproving glare.

To be continued!

Now, Kendra- the hyper one, shafa and Lily Elizabeth Snape, Thanks for reviewing! Lily, I know what you mean though I admit I didn't want to believe it at first! But I'll be slowly getting my chapters corrected but sure I'll be updating story at the same time! Now I have really qualified beta and she's doing certainly exact job and that should get this story going a bit better. I've been realizing one thing now… I'm going way too slow! The way I've been going now I'll be getting myself in a trap only and I'll try get time going a bit faster from now on! And my betareader blames me too wordy, can you believe it: ) Threatens to call me chatty-catti even, lol I do realize that my style is more on narration but still I should get this story moving a bit quicker but honestly I should be able to do that! Lastly, I'm still sorry for the delay and I hope I still deserve your review ; )