They were at Ben Nevis. Somehow, he had persuaded @winnie into a hike for the new years. He had meant it for new year's day, only had had woken up four hours past dawn and while he suffered no headache his body felt staunchly sluggish. It became a tea and yes, much later in the day, shortbread and eggnog day, only after a hearty breakfast of bangeres and mash. But now, winds whipping through his mess of curls blooming from beneath an ill-fitting stocking cap and black and yellow striped scarf minding the gap between his sweater and his chin. He had insisted on a partial drive for once, better to see the undulating, jagged hills-come-craggy peaks that erupted from the earth. Staring up at the bluffs, a smudge of wind-washed stone kilometers above, mostly treeless slopes carpeted in soggy green mass of low brush and grass, he wanted for the thrill, magic of a different, heart-racinging sort, that he imagined came with being suspended in the air bug-like. Rock climbing, he wondered at the sport, much in the way he occasionally wondered at the sheer absurdity of tossing balls in the air at faster-than-wind speeds. There must be something to it, and the immensity of the landscape around gave him an inkling of what that might be.
He turned back then to Winnie, rocking on the balls of his feet to contain his excitement.
winnie cuddled into her nordic wool turtleneck sweater and pulled her hat down further on her head as she looked out of the window of the car. how did he convince her to get in here again? she didn't remember. it was probably his irresistible charm, plus the promise of adventure. winnie had the shop closed today, as she'd agreed to only be open only six days a week as opposed to each day. it sort of pained her not to be around her plant babies every day, but she also knew -- as did elan -- that she was very starved for adventure and most social engagements since opening shop. she was quite content with this, for the most part, since she'd spent so long getting where she was currently, but... yes, she would admit it, she was hungry for something that got her heart pumping. as it turned out, she was fortuitous enough to experience that sort of exhilaration even before they made their way to their destination.
winn was curled up in a ball near the window, having had to decide to curl up in a ball closer to elan or near the door, but she wanted something to lean against, and while she'd be perfectly fine with leaning against him with some firewhiskey in her, she had made the smart choice not to drink before riding in an automobile. winnie had a sort of ... 'apprehensive resistance' towards all things muggle. except people of course... well, like, muggleborn witches and wizards. normal muggles still made her wary. she had her reasons and while she was past all that, some old fears die hard. this being one of them. but elan was a muggleborn, so he was perfectly keen on all these things he considered just as normal as magic. it was sort of fascinating, really, that he lived in both worlds so seamlessly. she kind of admired it, but it also scared her, at least, that muggle half that she was so inexperienced in.
while the ride was bumpy and certainly slower than apparating, it was pretty. she was a sucker for the british landscape. the isles as a whole were beautiful. this was no macchu picchu (which was lovely in its own regard), but this was home. well, close to home. wales was home. scotland was close though, geographically. you got the gist. she didn't want to admit that she was somewhat enjoying the car ride, but if he glanced over at her when she wasn't suspecting, elan could be certain to see an inkling of a smile as she peered out the window to the rolling landscape around them.
eventually, he pulled over to a lot near their destination. she looked up to the steep rock face nearby. ben nevis. it was grand, it was intimidating, but imagine the view at the top! the air was crisp, and winn re-affixed her hat on her head once more. she had brought her wand with her, just in case she needed to create some warmth for them, but hopefully they dressed warm enough for the weather. she got out of the car, and looked over at elan, trying to gather his summation of the mountain before them. she shot him a mischievous smile, and asked "you ready? let's get on then." and with a wink, she started for the bluffs.
It was only thirty minutes into the drive that he remembered a story Winnie had told him. He felt a creeping tension that crawled from his mind, down his spine and stung him in his back, from there the chill of poinson spread into his chest, turning his breaths short and tight. There had been a rather violent accidente in Winnie's past, and here, like an adderbrained , he'd persuaded her to go for a car ride of all things, and one that would last for at least two and a half hours.
He glanced over at her, anticipating anger. Anticipating stolid resentment. Quivering fear. Only there was a shadowed smile, tender as new leaves. They were an hour away, and the silence that had bloomed was not disquieting but nourishing, like the quiet after a rainstorm, or the precious stillness of early dawn.
When they arrived, Winnie bounded ahead of him while his back was still turned, soaking in the panorama of rolling hills. "Hey, I brought you here. I'm supposed to lead, aren't I?" The mountain bulged from the earth, it's pocked and craggy slopes dusted with snow on the highest reaches. Even from this distance, specks of color inched up a strip of brown.
Elan bounded beside her, eyeing her set expression. "How long has it been since your last hike? I should have asked. My appetite is sometime bigger than my lungs when it comes to adventure." Their climb wasn't monumental, nor obscene. But it was a day trip, and being the highest peak in Scotland, it offered views and challenge to whatever height they ascended.
Winnie spun around into Elan's direction and said, "Well I'd assume the general direction is up, yeah?" She snickered but let up a bit so that they could walk side by side. Her main go at this was to walk in as direct a path upwards as her legs would allow. But then, as she realized with Elan's inquiry, that she might not be in tip-top shape to take on a mountain directly. Her adrenaline was fueling her now, but what happened when that ran out?
"Well, that depends on what you consider a hike. I used to go traipsing for endemic herbs and plants near Edinburgh all the time when I was an apprentice. I'd say that about 90% of my entire apprentice ship was scavenging. So where that's concerned, in the small chance that we get stranded on the mountain, I can definitely tell you which nuts and mushrooms to avoid. But if you consider hiking to be something more intentional, like what we're doing right here and now, you'd be saddened to know that it's been at least a year or two." Winnie internally cringed when she thought on that. Had she let herself go? Had it really been that long since she'd treated herself to the rough, wild, and unpredictable outdoors? The thought of it made her stomach turn a little bit out of resentment and disappointment in herself. But she didn't let it last, because look! Here she was, out in the wilderness with none other than one of her favorite human beings by her side. "My last large hike up mountains was in Peru. It was rather difficult if I'm being honest, but that view was incredible! Also I've learned that I'm rather favorable towards llamas. Curious creatures, they are."
Winnie let the images of the lush green and deathly steep mountains fill her mind. She smiled as she thought about the legendary post-Hogwarts graduation trip, but she remembered it was a wee bit bittersweet, just based off of who she went with. But that perspective wasn't going to ruin her memories of Peru, the marvelous country that it was. Bygones aside, she turned her attention to Elan's curls, dancing in the wind, and then asked him, "What about you? Are you secretly an avid mountain climber?"