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The Twenty Two by CharlieDay
Chapter 1 : Scotch Bonnets, Cakes and Buses
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 18

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Number Twenty-Two

I really, really liked buses. I don’t mean in an uncool way, more in a teenager-boy-stalking kind of way.

For a Witch, I’ve taken the normal bus an unusual amount of times. I mean, most magical people of my grandparents’ generation have trouble doing Muggle money right, so it’s unusual for someone (even of my age) to be so well versed in what is probably one of the dullest and least reliable methods of Muggle transport, even if they are half Muggle. It really all began because I fell in love. Well, maybe not love, but I definitely fancied this boy a lot. The first time I saw him, I was shacked up towards the back of the number twenty two bus, my face buried in a packet of crisps because I was trying to rid my nose of the cigarette-extra-strong-mint smell that the old biddies that generally frequented the bus carried with them.

Anyway, he got on the bus and I instantly dropped my packet of crisps, because he truly was as hot as a Scotch Bonnet. Hastily retrieving my snack, I proceeded to gawp at him from a few rows behind. Looking back on it, I thank god he sat in front of me, otherwise I would’ve looked like a right idiot. That bus journey was reasonably enjoyable for me, mainly because I spent it envisioning my marriage to ‘Elbow Patch Boy’ as I had mentally christened him. I thought about trying to strike up a conversation with him or something, but then I realised I probably had a crisp stuck up my nose or something. No, I decided, best leave it for another time.

I didn’t expect to see Elbow Patch again after that encounter (did it even count as an encounter? Really I’d just stared at him. Nah, it totally counted), however, the next day I ended up taking the same bus into town and there he was again. This time, I hadn’t tried the crisp anti-scent method, but I was still reasonably unsure of my fitness for viewing. I mean, I was wearing my school jumper and a pair of running shorts. I’m not sure why I was wearing running shorts, seeing as I don’t run, but maybe I couldn’t find anything else clean. Keeping this in mind, I stuck to my spot towards the back of the bus, and watched him carefully.

I subsequently took to riding on the bus on a reasonably regular basis, in the hope of catching him on his trip into town. Well, not really catching, more like stalking. See? I do know it was a bit on the creepy side, but it was the summer before my OWLs and the stress was getting to me. Kathy Bones had a panic attack in Charms, and I engaged in a bit of light-weight stalking. I pretty quickly worked out that he took the bus that passed through my village at three-twenty-five every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. I often wondered what he got up to on a Wednesday, but that was immaterial, really; I got to see him four days a week.

I’d hop on the bus then, at three-twenty-five, with a sketchbook in my hand and an excuse directed at my mum. Then I’d sit in my spot and wait for Elbow Patch to get on, and after the initial ‘wow he’s still as fit as he was yesterday,’ I’d get down to producing another drawing of him. Unfortunately, these drawings were all of the back of his head. I couldn’t really draw his face, firstly because it was a lot easier to tell that someone was drawing you if they were drawing your face (ie they were looking at your face a lot), and secondly because, my eyesight being in the state that it is, I would’ve had to go right up to him to get a close enough look. A badly angled collar or a misplaced hair was one thing, but a wonky set of ears and eyebrows that looked like caterpillars were an entirely different matter.

Of course this wouldn’t have been a problem if I just wore my glasses, but I was trying to catch a boy, and glasses really weren’t a good look on me- they made my nose look really funny, like some sort of triangle that had been jammed into my face. I didn’t think looking like I had a triangle jammed into my face would help my chances of catching Elbow Patch. Sure, I couldn’t see where I was going that well, but sacrifices had to be made.

I had, of course, considered the possibility of me failing to ensnare Elbow Patch. I mean, all in all it was quite the most likely scenario, especially considering the fact that I had yet to pluck up the courage to talk to him. Even beyond that there were a multitude of issues. I was not particularly ugly or anything, but I was by no means pretty. I mean, in general I was proud of the nickname ‘Knobbly Knees,’ because by god I’d earned it (most people may not consider having knobbly knees a talent, but when your knees were the knobbliest in the year, and probably in the school too, one simply had to take some pride in them), but with a boy in the equation, there was much less room for my red and exceedingly, well, knobbly knees. Similarly, I was very small, not particularly well dressed, and certainly not very eloquent. None of this really added up to a high success rate with boys, and to say that I wasn’t much around them was the understatement of the century.

Even with all this considered, I decided that Elbow Patch was worth a go. After all, even if it went terribly, it would be an amusing story to tell my friends when I got back to school. Tibbie fails again, oh yes. So, on the last Tuesday of the holidays, I plucked up all my courage and prepared to get off a stop earlier than usual- Elbow Patch’s stop. As I stood shakily next to him (I was still rubbish at standing on buses), I forced my mouth to speak.

“Hello!” I squeaked a bit, but for me I hadn’t done badly. Really, I was doing quite well. I’d buy myself a slice of cake- that was, if I didn’t succeed in gaining a date with Elbow Patch.

“Yah, I’ve like totally already got a girlfriend,” he answered hardly moving from his initial position, save for a sarcastic raise of the eyebrow. He then retrieved his mobile phone from his pocket and proceeding to bury himself in what was probably a very inane game. He didn’t stop there, either; he proceeded to put in a pair of (probably overpriced headphones) and started listening to music so loudly that I could tell it was that awful twangy-banjo stuff.

All in all, it turned out that Elbow Patch wasn’t very nice. Really, he’d been very disappointing; he’d been so cute when I’d just been stalking him and drawing the back of his head, but when I actually talked to him it turned out that he was, well, a bit of a prat. I’d buy myself a cake anyway, though, because cheering-up cake was generally almost as enjoyable as congratulatory cake.

Elbow Patch sat back down again, because the traffic was particularly bad and we were stuck about a street away from his stop. I, however, stayed standing up. I was strong, and I did not need to sit down. Sourly, I leant against that bit of glass that told you not to lean on it, and sighed. After a moment, a voice which a suspiciously quiet voice reached me. It belonged to a boy, and I was pretty sure I was the only one who could hear him, particularly as Elbow Patch was now sitting a few metres away, still listening to his twangy music

“Well, he’s a prick.” I turned round and saw a boy who was quite a lot taller than me, and was obviously talking to me. Jesus. A boy was talking to me. That was unusual. It wasn’t that boys didn’t like me (except Elbow Patch, apparently), it was more that I seemed to have some sort of boy specific invisibility cloak around me. This boy wasn’t any boy, either. He was a Scotch Bonnet, and a much Scotch-ier Scotch Bonnet than Elbow Patch. Elbow Patch was like soggy lettuce in comparison, and I didn’t like lettuce in the normal way.

“All I said was hello,” I answered, feeling uncharacteristically calm. I was talking to a boy, and I was feeling not terrified. Weird. “Prick,” I then added. That was really just for effect. I didn’t swear a huge amount, but prick described Elbow Patch exceptionally well. Who had patches on their elbows, anyway?

“He goes to my school- right show off. I’m Henry, by the way,” Henry said, offering his hand out for shaking. He really was a lot taller than me, I had to tilt my head up a bit to talk to him.

“I’m Tibbie,” I said, and surprised myself with a genuine smile. I really wasn’t nervous, and I knew just what to say next. “Would you like to get some cake, Henry?”

“Yes, Tibbie, I most certainly would. But first, answer me this: what is your favourite way to travel?” We had got off the bus by this point, and were walking briskly towards the teashop, in search of cake.

“Asking questions are we?” I asked, attempting to tease him. It was a bit weak, but it was my first go. “I like buses. They’re great for meeting people, in my experience.” This time Henry laughed, and then winked. A boy winked at me! A boy who wasn’t Elbow Patch, because he was in fact about a hundred per cent nicer than Elbow Patch! “I have a question too, and it’s a very important question, so answer carefully- what is your favourite type of cake?”

“Any cake except fruit cake.” That was when I realised he was perfect. He was the only person ever to have got the right answer- any cake except fruit cake. Who knew that travelling on a bus could help me find a boy with a perfect taste in cakes?

I really, really liked buses. I mean that in the most uncool way possible, because if I wasn’t infinitely uncool, I probably wouldn’t have got on so well with Henry.

this is a bit on the -erm- unfinished side, but it's for the HC so what will be will be and all that. I wanted to play around with the awkward-girl/super-hot-boy cliche without making it too, well, cliche, so I hope I did okay. Other than that, I am VERY SORRY I was rude about Twangy Banjo music. Unfortunately, it fitted Elbow Patch's character to like it, and I can be mean about it in the main because I'm pretty ambivalent about it- if he listened to something I really hated, I would end up going into a whole rant about how terrible it is, so yeah. Finally, I'd like to thank Charlotte/maskedmuggle for being REALLY incredible! I can't thank her enough for taking a look over this for me, and without her time and help this'd be dodgy at best. Anyway, thank you so much for reading, and please have a go at reviewing! ♥ ♥ ♥

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