Confectionary Secret

This is an attempt to write a Wonka fanfic in which he is romantically involved with an original character. It is designed to test my ability to write a woman that isn't a Mary Sue. You, the reader, may judge whether or not I have accomplished the goal. I own nothing and for the sake of the story, we're going to assume that everything invented in this fanfic is being invented for the first time, ok? Suspend your disbelief for me. This fic assumes that the Willy Wonka movie takes place around 1999 and I'm placing the Willy Wonka factory in Northern England.

Chapter 1

The long corridors of Derringer Incorporated were tastefully decorated in cheery colors. Potted flowering plants were placed under every window, large murals enlivened the more public areas, and each employee was encouraged to be creative with their workspace. No dress code was enforced and the break rooms were stocked with gourmet coffee as well as top of the line appliances. Everything was arranged for optimum comfort, it seemed; all but one room, at least.

Lauren Derringer specially designed the war room, as many of the workers referred to it, to make an impression. Just as she had made the rest of her company appear welcoming and pleasant, she devoted her skills to making the war room intimidating and cold. The walls were steel plated, the floor, black tile, and the long conference table was of dark-stained oak. Each black leather chair was identical to the rest, save for the chair at the head. Set noticeably higher than the others, it was the only chair that did not move in any way. This subtly suggested a feeling of permanency, while the other wheeled, swiveling chairs gave the impression of transience. Nothing in the room was colorful; chrome, black, and gray almost overwhelmed all who entered and the room was always set at a chilly sixty degrees. That was how Lauren preferred it.

"Ladies, gentlemen, if you'll have a seat we can get started," Lauren announced in the general direction of the chrome sideboard where suited employees were busily pouring coffee from metallic pots. She gave them five minutes maximum to doctor their coffee, another small inconvenience to distract and annoy the men and women before her. When they were all seated she gave an arctic smile and leaned back in the high-backed gray armchair. "Sales are down." There was a low murmur of worried denials which subsided at her sharp look. "There's no point in denying it. They have been down since the Wonka ticket fiasco and we need to bring them back up. Suggestions?"

"We could have a contest of our own," Horace Kellman suggested, not meeting her eyes.

"We have nothing to offer that the public wants enough to really improve sales," Lauren replied, having expected that option would be raised. "Even if we offered a substantial cash reward, which I'm not sure we could afford, it simply isn't exotic enough to inspire the true spike that we need."

"Perhaps we could invest in a new advertising campaign?" Joyce Hagger said, looking up from a folder.

Lauren shook her head. "With as much publicity as we are already getting, we couldn't be more visible."

"Actually, it was only our advertising campaign that kept our head above water during the Wonka Rush," Warren Burg added, sounding almost proud. As the public liaison, advertising fell under his purview.

The rather rotund Derrik Atherton took umbrage, as he usually did when anyone younger than thirty took credit for anything. "You're exaggerating," he sputtered, but he also studiously avoided the CEO's eyes.

"Sadly, he is not," Lauren interrupted, standing with a swiftness that was almost menacing. "During the month in which Wonka delivered his announcement sales dropped ninety percent. The next month we were asked not to deliver our next shipment because nothing but Wonka bars were selling. We have lost millions of dollars and it is only through our relentless commercials, billboards, and ads that we have managed to stay afloat. Two of Wonka's largest competitors, Eros and Fickleberry, have gone under because they were unprepared for the sudden slump and it is only through grace and my foresight that our cushion was available to keep this place running. Prodnose and Slugworth have had to merge in order to keep in the black." By the end of her little speech the chairmen were shifting uncomfortably, thinking they knew what was coming. Layoffs almost always proceeded rants like these; this would be no different.

"So, how many workers should we let go?" Pricilla Franklin asked, shuffling some papers that appeared to be an expense report. The emblem of Derringer's Chocolates emblazoned across the letterhead.

Lauren smirked and sat down, crossing her legs in an entirely satisfied way. "None." She let this sink into the heads of her board, watching confusion settle in. "We shall take a page out of Mr. Wonka's book. We must do something unexpected, take a chance. We need to come up with new candy. It must be delicious and completely different from anything we've ever had before. Unfortunately, to make this candy we're going to need something that has been sadly lacking in this company so far, inspiration."

"Which department will this fall under, Miss Derringer?" Joyce queried.

"None of you shall have to worry about it. I'm overseeing this personally." A shark-like smile spread across her face, an expression that would have worried even old President Derringer himself, had he been alive to see it. It spoke of bad things to come for the competition and at the same time, of bonuses for Christmas if all went well. Needless to say, it made the chairmen uneasy. They listened in tense silence as she outlined her plan in cold, logical steps. She invited them to comment, they politely declined, and filed out. Unbeknownst to the others, all were secretly wondering just how ironclad their confidentiality agreement really was.