No, I didn't get a request for a CATCF fanfiction… I just felt like doing one! The main purpose of this story is to make Veruca more likeable, and I feel up to the challenge! Whoo!
Disclaimer: I do not own Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, or anything related to it.
"Unavailable in Stores"
Chapter One: Unfeeling
Veruca Salt didn't cry at her father's funeral. Well, sure, she had choked up a few blubbery, completely false tears, but she hadn't really cried. She hadn't even felt the tiniest twinge of remorse. The only thing that bothered her was that she would now be in charge of her father's estate, at the young age of eighteen.
Yes, what you're probably thinking is, "Where is her mother?" Well, the answer to that question is; not really there at all. The blonde woman would just stare blankly whenever consulted or greeted in a friendly manner. Sometimes she would go as far as to nod, or occasionally down a shot of imported drink, but nothing much more.
Veruca wasn't stupid. She could tell her mother wouldn't be able to continue being the wealthy, competent heiress of Salt Peanut Co. like she once was. And Veruca was obviously the next in line.
She had stood silently at the funeral, her round, ocean-colored eyes fixed on the shining, black lacquer case that held her late father. A slight breeze blew through as the elderly minister droned on about nothing of relevance, and it stirred Veruca's long, caramel-colored curls, which had always been held back with a velvet hairband. But now they hung freely around her slender shoulders, ruffled by the wind.
A tiny frown creased Veruca's mouth, and she delicately reached up to tuck a stray ringlet back behind her ear, which held a very expensive diamond stud. Personally, she hated the extra weight of the earrings, but her mother had said they made her look important. And a Salt must always look her best.
The hem of her elegant, black mourning dress moved slightly with the wind, causing the young woman to twitch uncomfortably. She felt no angst that her father was now gone… the only emotion she really held at the moment was guilt that she felt nothing in the first place.
She was supposed to feel sad, wasn't she? Wasn't it the proper thing to do to sob and wail at the death of someone you held dear? After all, it was her father who had always spoiled her rotten as a child; bought her everything her heart desired, dressed her nicely… that's what a father was supposed to do, right? Right?
When the minister had finished his last prayer, it was time for Mr. Salt's mourners to pay their last respects.
Veruca's mother collapsed onto the cover of the coffin, bawling her eyes out. Veruca shifted a bit. Was that what she herself was expected to do when she reached the coffin? Have a nervous breakdown?
After the first few people had laid flowers down in front of the grave and softly murmured various messages, Veruca felt herself pushed in front of the case, her hands clenched around a few random flowers tightly.
"Well… I'm going to miss you, Daddy. I love you. Thank you for always being there…" as she placed her small bouquet on the ground in front of her, Veruca felt the oddest sensation. It was the same feeling she got when she told a lie to get out of trouble when she was younger. Why was she experiencing it now?
As she slid back into the leather backseat of her family's rather expensive car (who was she kidding; it was the nicest money could buy), one of her mother's friends from the Country Club informed her that Mrs. Salt would be staying with her tonight, for emotional support, and Veruca was welcome to come if she wished. The blue-eyed girl declined politely, as she had been taught, and shut the door, as the chauffeur drove her off quietly.
Veruca leaned back in the seat, careful not to wrinkle her new dress. Then she decided to throw caution to the wind, and slumped back anyway, her eyes gazing upwards, at the roof of the car. It felt good to slump. And after all, if permanent damage was done to her spinal cord, as she was always warned would be to consequence of slouching, the Salt family practically owned the best doctor in Buckinghamshire, so there were no problems there.
Soon they arrived at the sprawling mansion she called home. Veruca could see her two beloved horses (her father had caved in to buying her another when Veruca turned twelve…) galloping over the acres of green hills she owned, and it made Veruca's worry lift slightly. Her horses made her feel better. They represented freedom.
Veruca walked through the marble halls of the mansion, as butlers and maids bowed or curtsied with a "Good afternoon, Miss Salt", as she passed them. Veruca didn't even know the names of half of them.
She stepped into her room, taking a moment to remove her black funeral gown and fold it neatly, laying it in the laundry basket labeled "Dry Cleaning". Veruca didn't know why it needed the label; all of her clothes were dry-cleaned anyway.
She fell back onto her huge, perfectly made bed, now only in her undergarments, and felt pleased at the feeling of sinking into the feathery mattress. She felt like sleeping…
A knock sounded on her door.
Veruca frowned, but nonetheless heaved a sigh and walked over to her door and opening to see a furiously blushing butler.
"What do you need?" asked Veruca. But she suddenly remembered she was in her bra and panties, and let out a fearful squeak, rapidly snatching the telegram from the startled butler's hand and slamming her door, retreating back to her bed and opening it.
It was another letter from her penpal in China. Veruca had several penpals all over the world, and it made her feel better to correspond with them. Perhaps it was for the foreign language practice, or maybe she just took pleasure in informing less fortunate people exactly how wealthy she was. Either way, they just wouldn't stop writing back, so she responded as well, as she had been taught it was rude not to.
She skimmed over the Mandarin Chinese script, sitting down on her bed. She immediately hopped back up, as she had sat on her fluffy, pampered white Persian cat, Treasure. The feline had been a gift for her sixteenth birthday, as all of her other cats had died a while ago.
Veruca quickly wrote out a response in her neat, looping cursive, and then decided it was time to put some clothes on.
Don't take that in the wrong way; Veruca didn't believe she was much of an eyeful in the first place. She was petite, and what a nice person would call "slender", while a cruel person would correct with, "shapeless and flat-chested".
Veruca loathed the fact that she hadn't quite received her mother's figure. And yet… she still had suitors come by quite often, wanting to "get to know her better". Yeah, right. Veruca was well aware that the young men of Buckinghamshire wouldn't look twice at her if her last name wasn't Salt.
After quickly pulling on her freshly-laundered and pressed gray pants, along with her black collared blouse, Veruca stepped back outside her room, pausing to check her makeup (it was perfect, as always), and to slip on her pointed-toe, black heels. Veruca felt that pumps were her best friend. They made her taller, and she didn't look like a scrawny teenage girl in them.
"Miss Salt, would you like me to give you a ride somewhere?" questioned her personal driver, who had been waited to open the front door for her.
"No thank you, I'm just taking a walk, Frances", she responded briskly, exiting the house.
The mansion was relatively close to a lovely park, scattered with trees and laughing children. Trees… that meant squirrels.
As Veruca passed one of the furry, nut-gathering creatures, she couldn't help but glare and aim a kick at it, which was easily dodged. Veruca caught herself before she stumbled, which probably would've looked very silly.
The squirrel chattered happily and scurried off, an acorn in its mouth. Veruca scowled. "I hope he chokes on it…" she muttered to herself, before continuing to walk.
After a few minutes, she seriously questioned herself on why she had thought it a good idea to wear heels on a walk. Maybe it's because I don't own sneakers… she thought wearily. She made a mental note to buy a tennis shoe manufacturer later.
Veruca passed by a pair of children, no older than ten. They were sitting in the grass, and one of them was unwrapping something, while they other watched in anticipation.
The first child wadded the foil up and tossed it behind him, before breaking the chocolate bar in half and handing part to his friend. Veruca, feeling very foolish for her hammering heart, leaned down to pick up the discarded foil.
She shakily unwrapped it, and stared at the bright purple lettering. "Willy Wonka" the wrapper cheerfully read, and Veruca felt queasy at the mention of the name. It was that psycho who had started her hatred of squirrels, or any small mammal at all.
"From the geniuses at Willy Wonka Manufacturing" it read at the bottom in a yellow, scrawling font. Geniuses my arse… she couldn't help but think, a tiny tint of pink spreading over her pale cheeks at the thought of the swear word. Oh, her parents would've scolded her for that… yeah, maybe three years ago… she added mentally.
Veruca suddenly wondered why she was still holding the wrapper, and hastily tossed it into the nearest trash receptacle, hurrying along her way, until she reached the market square, where various peddlers were calling out their wares, and the signs above stores reflected the three 'o clock sun brightly.
She bit her lip at the sight of the bright red delivery truck pulled up next to the supermarket. She had forgotten that chocolate was always shipped in at this time of day…
As usual, she saw the small figures handing labeled cardboard boxes over to the storeowner, their faces covered in masks. Veruca smirked at the thought of what the man would think if the Oompah-Loompahs removed their masks to reveal that they all looked exactly the same.
And then someone caught her eye. "Be careful with those", he was saying in a scratchy sort of voice that still seemed to be in the process of changing, "New products, right there. Straight off the drawing board."
Veruca felt the need to walk away quickly, as chocolate only brought bad memories, but something kept her glued to the spot, her blue eyes fixed on the tall figure.
The young woman found herself subconsciously moving a bit closer, to get a good look at the man. He was indeed a bit taller than herself, but something in the back of her mind told her he was younger than she by a year or two. And he had obviously not quite finished going through puberty, as he was a little on the lanky side, but, Veruca had to admit, good-looking, nonetheless.
He was wearing a dark blue shirt, a white collar poking out at the neckline sloppily, and khaki-colored trousers. Nice clothes, though not very fancy.
There was something achingly familiar about the teenage boy. Veruca was no more than ten feet away from where he was unloading boxes now, and could see the details about him now, like how messy and uncombed his dark brown hair was, or the freckles that were scattered across his nose. Veruca was confused. She was sure she knew him from somewhere…
And then she froze, as he turned, and his midnight-colored eyes met her turquoise ones, and he blinked in surprise at the curly-haired young woman that was studying him so intently.
"Mr. Bucket!" cried on of the small men, tugging at his pants urgently, "Mr. Bucket, the clerk wants to talk to you about the new lollipops!"
The young man nodded, and followed the Oompah-Loompah inside the store, leaving Veruca feeling cold inside.
Bucket… Bucket… where do I know that name from?
And then it hit her like a sack full of heavy objects.
"Charlie", she gasped softly. It was the sweet, adorable little boy who had won the contest at the chocolate factory. Veruca remembered him now! Oh, he had been so cute, that if Veruca hadn't had a reputation to keep up at the time, she would've just hugged him and that lovable little British accent to death. But that would've made her father die of shock.
Well, then, I guess there's nothing holding me back from being friendly now… she thought dryly, and entered the shop, the bell at the door chiming at her entrance.
"Be with you in a minute!" called the clerk, who was discussing something with Charlie at the moment. Veruca waited patiently, then lit up as Charlie turned and walked towards the door, where Veruca was standing.
"Charlie, do you remember me?" she asked, smiling at the messy-haired boy.
His stare was blank for a moment, before he remembered his manners and held out his hand. "Um, I'm really sorry, but no. Er… who exactly are you?"
Veruca felt saddened, but understood immensely. She knew very well what a rotten little brat she had been then, or to put it plainly, a bad nut.
She took his hand, her own pale one much smaller, and shook, saying, "I'm Veruca Salt. I was one of the other children in the factory seven years ago. Don't you remember?"
A look of realization overtook his face. "Oh… oh! Weren't you the one who was eaten by the squirrels?"
Veruca's lip twitched with amusement at his blatant but adorable naivety. "I wasn't eaten by the squirrels, of course, silly. But they did throw me down the garbage chute." Silly? Her mind screamed. Oh, how foolish she sounded now!
Charlie laughed. It was a warm, friendly laugh that brought a smile to Veruca's normally unsmiling face. Charlie's laugh could do that sort of thing.
"Oh, yeah, I remember that! Wow, you've changed", he commented happily, his eyes taking in her face, but of course stopping there (Veruca gave him credit, as most boys she met would practically analyze her, then frown at her lack of chest-size), "Normally I'd expect you to insult my clothing or something like that."
Veruca felt her eyes fill with a pained expression. "Charlie… I know first impressions are usually correct, but… I personally feel I've changed since we met all those years ago. Ever since my father died t-"
"I'm so sorry…" Charlie interrupted softly, and he truly looked sincere. Veruca felt her heart melt completely.
"I'm fine", she said, not forgetting that he still held her hand, "I… I'm getting along okay. I've inherited the whole estate now, and I just don't know what to do with the space. How're you doing nowadays?"
Charlie smiled at her good fortune, and said happily, "I'm the heir to the Wonka Chocolate Dynasty", they both chuckled here, and Veruca was personally amazed.
"Really? T-the whole thing?"
"Yeah. I'm still really surprised by it myself. Oh, here", he turned her hand over, and pulled a pen from his pocket, scribbling a number on the back of her palm, "I'm sure Willy wouldn't mind if you visited sometime, since you've already seen the inside of the factory and all, and I'd love to have you."
Veruca blushed again, cursing her complexion faults, and said, "I'd love to visit… the squirrels won't bother me, will they?"
He laughed, releasing her hand and putting the pen back in his pocket. Veruca quickly replaced her hands at her sides, feeling sad at the loss of warmth. "Of course they won't. I'll make sure of it. Anyway, I have to go now. It was great to see you again, Veruca!"
She grinned. "You too, Charlie. I'll call you when I get the chance!" he smiled, and both stood still for a moment, before the younger of the two pulled Veruca into an awkward hug, to which she froze at, unsure of what to do. He released her hurriedly, and hopped back into the truck, which rolled off.
Veruca looked down at the number on her hand, and turned around, beginning the long walk home, and contemplating all that had just happened in her mind.
Wee, first chapter done! Please review!