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"Are you certain it's not the amount of sunlight?" Hermione asked yet again. "They could simply be getting too much sun. You know Mediterranean tangleweed likes dark places…"

Neville closed his eyes, hands tightening briefly against the work table's rough surface before turning and facing his lab partner and fiancée. "I'm well aware of that, Hermione," he said. "It's been taken into account."

Something wasn't quite right with the cross-breeding of Mediterranean tangleweed and Venomous Tentacula they had struggled to perfect for the past several weeks. There was nothing wrong with the crossbreed's binding or attacking abilities. The plants themselves were turning yellow, then brown before dying. Long, careful reviews of both Neville's meticulous notes and the crossbreed's behaviour had led to the eventual conclusion that the main problem lay in the soil itself. Mediterranean tangleweed preferred damp, extremely acidic soil, whilst most species of Tentaculae grew best in drier, sandier, more alkaline ground. Clearly, if Neville's hypothesis was correct, the new plant would thrive in a more pH-balanced soil medium. The trick lay in finding that balance between too acidic and too alkaline.

Hermione twirled a strand of curling brown hair around one finger, watching as Neville mixed more wood ash into one of the planting trays to increase alkalinity. There was no doubt he knew what he was about, she thought. It wasn't like Potions class during their school days. Herbology had always been his area of expertise, the one subject in school where fellow students had come to him for help and advice.

Still, from his sour expression, one might think he'd been the only student in his year to receive top marks in Herbology. Hermione knew better. She had ideas to help the project along. If she could only make Neville stop long enough to listen, surely he'd see the wisdom of her suggestions.

"I still think…" Hermione began, frowning when Neville interrupted.

"They're doing fine in partial shade," Neville explained again, a distinct edge to his tone now. "I'm perfectly aware that Mediterranean tangleweed prefers the dark, just as I know that Tentaculae grows best in sunnier places. Hence, partial shade for the crossbreed made sense. I think I know what I'm doing, thanks."

Neville finished mixing the wood ash into the soil, notating the amount used and carefully transplanting a seedling into the new soil mixture. Brushing the excess ash and dirt from his gloves, Neville watered the seedling thoroughly and labelled it before moving on to the next tray.

"If you'd only…" Hermione tried again, huffing.

"What?" Neville looked up from the wood ash he was measuring. "If I'd only, what? Listen to you? Do whatever you told me to do? You were assigned to this project to assist me, if I remember correctly, not the other way around!"

Hermione opened her mouth, intending to retort with some scathing reply, but he had already turned away. He had work to do, she thought resentfully. He listened to her in everything else, why not now?

She moved in front of the seedling Neville had just transplanted, tapping her finger against her lips. He looked up from the ash he was mixing into the soil, eyes narrowing. She felt her own expression harden into mulish lines.

"I don't think you watered this one enough," she said.

Neville slammed his hand down on the work table, making quills jump and the inkbottle quiver from the force. Hermione stared at him, wide-eyed, stunned into silence at the overt display of irritability. She hadn't known it was even possible for Neville to become nettled, much less lose his temper.



"You think you know everything," he said hotly, stripping off the gardening gloves and taking a step forward. "You think that just because you've memorised every bloody book ever written it automatically makes you an authority on every bloody subject. I know what I'm doing, Hermione. I don't need you constantly hovering over my bloody shoulder telling me what to do!"

Lifting her chin at a haughty angle, Hermione retorted, "There's no need to take that tone with me."

Something sparked in Neville's brown eyes as he strode toward her, something it took her a moment to recognise as authority. His hands closed around her upper arms, pulling her to him before his mouth crashed down upon hers, ravaging, devouring, possessing, making her senses swim first in startlement and then arousal.

Breaking the kiss, Neville's lips travelled along her jaw until his teeth found her earlobe, nipping lightly. His breath stirred strands of her hair as he whispered in her ear, "Someone needs to take that tone with you more often, Hermione."

She whimpered at the dark promise she heard in his voice. This was a facet of Neville she had never seen before, a facet that she found oddly compelling even as she pressed against the solid strength of his chest, her arms stealing around his neck so she could draw his lips back to hers.

He reached behind him, fingers closing over her wrists and tugging her arms back down to her sides. "I don't think so," he said, bending his head and grazing her bottom lip between his. "You shouldn't always be the one ordering others about, telling them what they ought to do and how they should do it."

"I don't give orders…" Hermione sighed, her head falling back as Neville nuzzled her throat. "I only make suggestions."

"Are you arguing with me?" Neville drew back, one eyebrow quirking upward. "That won't do, love. That won't do at all."

Releasing her, he walked over to one of the benches and sat down, crooking his finger. Licking lips suddenly gone dry, Hermione actually took a step forward before balking. Crossing her arms over her breasts, she made one final appeal. "I didn't mean…"

Neville crooked his finger again. "Yes you did."

She edged forward, acutely aware of her hardening nipples beneath her folded arms and the growing liquid ache between her thighs. A few more steps brought her to stand before him, gazing down at her shoes, her bottom lip tucked between her teeth like a reprimanded student. When he didn't speak she risked a quick, furtive glance. "Very well, I'm here. What else do you want?" She immediately regretted the sulkiness of her tone when Neville tsked and patted his lap.

"I think you know."

Shock made Hermione's eyes widen. He couldn't possibly mean…he had to be joking, he wasn't suggesting… "Neville, now really…" she prevaricated, shaking her head in disbelief.

He simply looked at her, his face impassive, and patted his lap again.

Oh Merlin, he's serious.

He absolutely meant it; and Hermione had never dreamt this could be so exciting. Her nipples stood at taut attention beneath her blouse, the space between her legs pulsing with heat. Nibbling at her bottom lip again, she crawled onto his lap, spreading her body over his knees and biting back a moan when she felt his erection hard against her belly. The rod of correction, she thought wildly; and had to stifle a mad giggle.

Closing her eyes, Hermione rested her forehead against one arm, feeling Neville's work-roughened fingers brush lightly along the curve of her buttocks and over the backs of her thighs, sliding beneath the hem of her sensible skirt and pushing the material up until it bunched around her hips. She nearly bit through her lip when those same gentle fingers hooked under her knickers, tugging them down around her ankles, baring her to his gaze.

"White," he murmured appreciatively. "So white. They need a bit of colour, don't you think?"

She jumped, squealing involuntarily at the first crack as the flat of Neville's hand connected with her arse, followed quickly by another hard smack, and then a third. The initial pain was rapidly succeeded by deepening warmth that seemed to go straight to her pussy, fuelling the swelling ache already coiling deep inside of her.

Neville's hand caressed her arse-cheek, pausing long enough for Hermione to catch her breath until the next crack as he swatted her again. She mewled helplessly as he rained blows upon her backside, the tops of her thighs, and the tender crease separating the two, her hips rising and falling beneath his hand, stinging heat and throbbing burn spreading, sinking into her. She could feel his cock pressing into her belly as she rocked against him, rubbing frantically. His other hand rested against her nape, holding her in place. She gasped at each impact, moaning whenever he paused to caress her reddening flesh.

His hand slipped between her legs, his fingers coming away slick with her own moisture. He rubbed it over her smarting backside, dragging his fingers over her cleft and through her folds, wetting them again.

"God, Hermione, you're soaking," Neville breathed, sounding momentarily awestruck before his voice hardened. "I want you on your knees. Now."

Hermione complied, rolling from his lap and kneeling between his legs, her face scarlet as Neville indicated with a curt nod that she should unfasten his trousers. Her fingers trembled slightly as she undid the flies, freeing his cock. She leaned in before he could ask, her tongue darting out to lick along the tip, silently pleased at his indrawn hiss.

His hands wound through her hair, bringing her mouth back to his cock. She closed her lips around his length, feeling his smooth hardness along her tongue, tasting the musk and salt of him as she took as much of him as she could, relaxing her jaw when he surged forward, clutching her hair in an almost painfully tight grip. Her palms rested on his thighs, fingers stroking his skin in lazy circular patterns, hearing his groan of pleasure.

"Oh yeah, that's good," Neville said thickly. "You like that, don't you? You want to suck me, you want me fucking your mouth; you want me to tell you how I like it done…"

Hermione moaned in wordless assent, her lips and tongue sliding up and down along his shaft, swallowing him as deeply as possible without gagging. Her pussy pulsed with inner heat, responding to Neville's muffled gasps and moans and whispered demands. She thought that if his hands clenched around her hair any more tightly he'd pull it out as he thrust into her mouth, slowly at first, then faster as his breathing stuttered and grew more uneven.

She fell back awkwardly when he pushed her away without warning and stood, using one hand to catch herself before she could collapse in an inelegant sprawl. "Turn around. No, don't get up," he growled when she started to rise. "I want you on your hands and knees."

She obeyed, nearly sobbing when she felt Neville kneel behind her, his hand dipping between her legs, stroking the wetness there and shuddering when his fingers grazed against her clit.

"Please," she whimpered, crying out when Neville smacked her arse. "Oh, please…"

"Please?" Neville repeated, overriding her tiny moan. His cock brushed against her slick folds and she pushed her hips back in a wordless plea. "You're enjoying this, aren't you? You like being told what to do; you like it when I take you in hand." She quivered as said hand cracked again on one arse-cheek. "Admit it, Hermione. Admit it, and maybe I'll give you what you want."

"Yesss…" she replied in a choked whisper. "Yes, please, take me in hand, do whatever you like, oh God!"

Neville slid into her, penetrating deep, fingers curling into her hips as she pushed back against him. He withdrew only to plunge into her again, bending over her, one hand sliding around and down to her clit, flicking his fingers against it roughly, his mouth covering her shoulders and the back of her neck with hard kisses, teeth nipping at her skin through her blouse.

She moaned at the loss when Neville's fingers left her clit well before she could climax, feeling him straighten once more behind her, thrusting hard and fast, punctuating a stroke here and there with another slap against her arse. Hermione leaned back into each one, welcoming every thrust, every smack, whimpering when his hands tightened over her hips, fingers sinking into flesh.

"Touch yourself, Hermione," Neville ordered, his breathing harsh. "Touch yourself while I'm fucking you. I want to feel you come around my cock, I want to hear you scream when you do." He thrust into her even more deeply; she could hear their flesh slapping together as he drove into her.

Bracing herself, Hermione raised one hand from the floor to a swaying breast, pinching and twisting hard at her nipple, feeling the shock and pleasure shoot directly to her needy cunt. She slid her hand over her belly and over her drenched pubis, dipping her fingers into her juices, wetting them thoroughly. She could feel Neville's hard length against the side of her hand as he slid in and out of her pussy. She found her swollen clit, pressing against it and crying out at the fresh surge of pleasure.

"That's it," Neville breathed behind her. "Come for me…come for me…"

She stroked and circled her clit with her fingers, wanting nothing more to please this man who was fucking her so hard and so thoroughly, filling her completely, driving her to heights she'd never anticipated. He urged her on, his hips slamming against her, his nails scraping against her hips and buttocks as he closed in on his own climax.

A final flick of her fingers sent her orgasm crashing through her, pleasure wracking her in wave upon shuddering wave of release. Hermione screamed Neville's name as she came, even now doing as instructed, no longer questioning her obedience or his mastery over her. She convulsed around his cock, her cunt tightening and loosening, hearing Neville's panting breaths change into a deep groan. His fingers dug into her as he stiffened over her with a hoarse shout, spilling into her depths, her pussy milking his cock for everything she could get.

Neville relaxed, hands sliding beneath her blouse and around to cup her breasts, squeezing gently before rolling to one side, bringing her with him. Lowering his head, he licked at the shell of her ear, his palms warm as they skimmed over her flesh, soothing and gentling while she shook from the quivering aftershocks following release.

"Are you all right?" he murmured anxiously, reminding Hermione that he was as unfamiliar with giving command as she was in submitting to them. "I didn't hurt you, did I?"

She tilted her head back, shifting so she could meet his eyes. "My knees feel a bit bruised," she admitted, reaching up and placing a finger against his lips before he could apologise. "Consider it a lesson learned, love."

Neville drew her finger into his mouth, suckling gently for a moment before letting the digit slide free. "What sort of lesson?"

Hermione smiled, drawing Neville's head down and brushing her lips over his. "I learned the next time I deserve to be taken in hand I should have a softer surface nearby."

"You think there'll be a next time?" Neville began undoing her blouse, kissing the exposed skin with each button that came undone.

Hermione stretched beneath his ministrations, her fingers weaving through his hair as his lips closed over one still-hard nipple. "I can almost guarantee it. Think of it as…a new area of research."

She felt Neville smile against her breast. "Can't wait to get started."

Neither could she.