In theory, it should have been easy.
Viddie knew pumpkins. He’d grown up eating pumpkin pie from scratch, and he knew all of the ins and outs of what made a pumpkin a pumpkin.
He had a book with diagrams and a list of the appropriate – or close enough to appropriate – Greek and Old Tongue Words.
And he was in the grotto, kneeling in front of a little patch of dirt, alternately muttering words and spitting out curses his mother probably didn’t know he knew.
The vines were growing, sure. They were even putting out little flowers. But there wasn’t – right. He needed to pollinate them. He couldn’t remember if this sort of plant was self-pollinating, so he started another one.
They weren’t growing fast enough, though. He had to have pumpkins by this weekend if he was going to make pie for everyone. He had his mother’s recipe and Hrothgar’s favorite secret additions, and everyone was going to love it – if he could get the pumpkins to grow.
He glared at the dirt and threw Workings at it until it was the most fertile earth imaginable, well-drained and happy and just about bursting with everything a nice pumpkin needed. And then he muttered some more Workings at the pumpkin vines, dipped some pollen from one flower onto another, and walked away. Part of growing plants was patience, even when you were using magic for it.
He didn’t have to go check in on it. It came looking for him the next day.
He was walking to class and he found a crowd of people around the door to the grotto. The invisible door to the grotto. The invisible door that was open because it was jammed full of vines. Vines were growing out into the hall, up onto the ceiling, and had wrapped around one slow-moving classmate with a sloth Change. There was a 2-foot-diameter pumpkin hanging off the side of the sloth, and one almost as wide as the hallways a few feet away.
There was murmuring, but Viddie didn’t really hear it. He was too busy picking out the best pie pumpkins. Color, size, there.
He looked up at a particular obnoxious classmate who was swearing at the giant pumpkin. “Hey,” he offered, “I hear you can make soup right in the big ones. Think about that! You could feed the whole school.”
“And where are you going?” That growl was one of his “cousins;” Viddie wasn’t bothered at all. He grinned cheerfully.
“I’m going to go make pie. Come on, it’s the good recipe.”
Behind him, the pumpkin vine wrapped around a dryad’s ankle and started working upwards. Viddie was going to have to remember that dirt Working.