“So you get your own garden?” Gernot walked around Pihla’s room slowly. “This is pretty nice. But – no bed?”
“There was one, but I talked them into giving me more dirt instead,” Phila admitted. “I sleep in this part, here.” She toed the dirt as she watched the upperclassman and his assessing looks.
“You were raised down here, in the Village?”
“Sort of? I was sprouted in the Meadow. But when I was old enough to go walking, my… parent took me and we explored the world until it was time to come here.”
“Sprouted. Parent.” Gernot took a step backwards towards the door. Pihla found herself smiling, although she was a little sad, too.
“Yeah. Unless you’re a tree, too-”
“You haven’t Changed yet, you can’t have!”
“I haven’t, that’s the very strange part. I don’t know what my Change will be like. But, ah. One of my aunts managed to fertilize with a Tree Change.”
“How do you know all of this?” He looked at the door and then glared at her.
Pihla sighed. She flopped down on one of the few chairs in her room-slash-garden and gestured at another one. “You have to know what not to say fast, when you spent your first ten years of life as a sapling. So I know a lot more than a lot of people coming here.”
Gernot sat down slowly. “Were you, were you leading me on?” He sounded less angry and more confused.
“No. No, not really. I mean – Unless you’re a Tree Change, like I said, we probably aren’t cross-fertile?”
“I’m a siren.” He watched her carefully. “Not a tree, not even seaweed. So-”
“So you have a very, very tempting voice. I noticed that.” She winked at him. She was smiling, not angry. “And I thought you were cute. Handsome. And I’ve waited a while to come here, to learn about this whole – this whole school thing. Trees grow up slower,” she explained carefully.
“So you’re – you’re-” Gernot huffed and tried to gather his thoughts. “You were – you wanted – you -”
“I probably can’t give you your child. And I don’t really have a bed here, or anything like that.” Her smile was patient but, more than that, interested. “But, if you want to, say, roll around in the dirt with me…”
Gernot’s eyes went to the place she’d said she slept. “I, ah. I-”
“Or, if you’d rather, I hear there’s a pool.” Now, now she was grinning. “Just maybe don’t sing while we’re at it, okay?”
He had no idea what was going on. On the other hand, he thought maybe that might be all right. And he had to admit – “Maybe. Maybe, uh. After you show me your garden?”
Pihla giggled. “It’s a deal. Come on, here, I’ll show you my favorite plant.”
Although not really referenced. Pihlas grandparent/parent and aunt are found here:
Year Nine Chapter 31
Year Nine Outtake: Kheper & Curry
Hiatus Fic 5: Sprouting