If I Fall

By Sybl Angelkat

Willy finds a woman from the streets. She's never trusted anyone, much like Willy. They overcome their terrible pasts with each other's help-together...

It was a rainy morning at the factory. Mist hung low to the ground outside, but this didn't affect all that went on in the factory. The oompa loompas continued to keep the factory running. Candy bars were made in phenomenal numbers, and new projects were being worked on every day. The funny little orange-faced men took their work very seriously, and never was a mistake made.

Meanwhile, Mr. Wonka was still fast asleep in his bed as the rain pattered against the windows. He was having a dream, and for once, it wasn't about candy.

He was in a beautiful meadow full of sunshine. He hadn't seen the outside world in a very long time. Flowers bloomed everywhere, and butterflies would occasionally land on his coat. He realized that his big top hat was missing, leaving his straight dark brown hair to dance with the soft breeze that was blowing.

Then, she was there.

William ventured towards her. She was sitting in the grass, strumming a guitar. Her long dark hair fell gracefully down her back, and her blue eyes shone at him.

"Hello. Care for a song?" she asked.

William stretched out on the grass beside her. She began to strum a soft melody, and her voice was equally soft when she sang. William felt his heart begin to tremble. It occurred to him that in all his years of trying to make everyone else happy (mostly children), he had neglected his own needs. He needed some female company with him in the huge factory.

Willy awoke with a warm blush on his cheeks, though it was quite cold outside. He rolled over on his back and examined his surroundings. The bed was enormous, and he felt small in the middle of it. Everything was in bright colors, but Willy wasn't feeling as cheerful as his rainbow-hued room was. He was grateful for the dream, but sad that it was over.

Willy stretched, then hauled himself out of bed. He looked out the window and shook his head at the moody clouds, then headed for the bathroom.

The radio played a nice, bouncy tune while he was in the shower, and as he lathered up his glossy brown hair, he danced and hummed along. The warm water revived him a little, and he was feeling a little like himself again. The song ended and the DJ came on.

"It is rumored that Mr. Willy Wonka, the owner of the famous chocolate factory will give out five golden tickets for children to come and take a tour of the factory. One of them will win a lifetime supply of chocolate. This should be interesting, eh? No one's ever seen anyone go in or out of that factory except the delivery trucks."

Willy felt irritated at this. It seemed like everyone was trying to hurry him up when he wanted to do things at his own pace. He finished toweling his hair and wandered over to the closet to get his clothes.

No sooner had he gotten dressed, there was a distressed chaos downstairs. He grabbed his big hat and took off running.

Outside, the oompa loompas were attempting to capture someone. Upon getting closer, Willy realized that it was a girl with an armful of Wonka bars.

He watched as she vaulted over a pair of oompa loompas who tried to grab her arms, and she didn't drop a single chocolate bar.

"All this for a few bars of chocolate!" she muttered, imediately scrambling up the fence as though she were a squirrel. She would have succeeded, but slipped and fell off the stone fence. There was a nasty cracking sound, and she was completely still.

The oompa loompas looked over at Willy, silently asking him what to do.

"Take her inside," he said, hoping that she had only been knocked out. The little men did as they were told and picked up the unconsious girl. They placed her in a spare bedroom next to Willy's that had never been used.

Willy felt compelled to check her for broken bones. He ran his fingers down her spine, felt her neck, her head. Everything looked okay. Just as he was about to breathe a sigh of relief, the girl woke up and had him in a headlock within a split second.

Willy didn't dare move. She'd definitely had the advantage of surprise.

"Who're you?" the girl inquired coldly.

"I own this factory-" Willy said, wishing she would loosen her hold. He couldn't breathe very well in this position.

The girl released him. She backed away, not daring to look at him again.

"Who are you?" Willy asked.

"I'm just a peasant." the girl said dejectedly.

Willy took this opportunity to examine her. He'd remembered that her backbones had been poking out fiercely when he'd checked to see if she was okay. She looked small in the patched messy-gray dress she was wearing, and it was frayed at the sleeves. The hem was undone and frayed, and the dress was very threadbare. She wore no shoes, and her long legs were scarred. In fact, everywhere that her skin showed, there were scars. There were even a few on the right side of her face. Her hair was very long, and he was sure it was gold, but it was hard to tell. Her eyes were very dark-not just in color, but in emotion as well. There was a rip in the dress material below her left arm, and through the hole, he could see her ribs jutting out.

"I suppose you'll want to call the police on me, then." the girl said.

"What for?" Willy said, forgetting that she'd had half a dozen bars of chocolate tucked under her arm a minute ago.

"I broke in...I was trying to steal... If your little friends hadn't caught me, then I'd really be guilty."

She was nothing like the girl in Willy's dream, but he felt a stab of sympathy for her.

Observing her rather shabby state, Willy cleared his throat and tossed her a candy bar. She tore into it and it was gone in a few bites.

"Would you like a job here?" he asked.

For the first time, he saw a glimmer of hope in her stormy gaze.

"Please?" she asked.

Willy shook her hand.

The first thing he did was send someone out to get her some clean clothes and whatever else she needed. The girl gratefully accepted and hurried into the bathroom to shower.

Willy laughed as she hurried away, examining her new things. It was clear that she hadn't owned anything other than her shabby dress for a long time. Willy went back to checking on everything else in the factory, then went through all the mail. The bills he tossed into a box-one of the oompa loompas was extremely gifted with math and handled the money issues. The junk mail went to the wastebasket beside the desk. The letters from children, he opened and read. He loved looking at their suggestions and he particularly enjoyed the praise he received for them. This took him a long time, and by the time he was finished with the mail, it was dark outside.

The factory began to shut down for the night. Willy was a little sleepy himself. He was also kind of hungry: He hadn't had anything to eat all day.

Being in a candy factory, it was impossible to starve to death, but Willy knew that it was unhealthy to live on sugar alone. He had hired a staff of oompa loompas to cook his meals.

He wondered where the girl was. Just as his dinner was brought out to him, she wandered past the door.

"Join me?" he asked. She came in.

Willy did a double take. His blue eyes widened in shock.

The girl's hair was clean and brushed out, and it was most definitely gold. It fell in long curls down her back. Her complexion was creamy with little blush patches on her cheeks. She was wearing a red dress with long sleeves but a short skirt with white tights and black, shiny Mary-jane shoes.

"I'm guessing this is a big improvement?" the girl asked.

Willy nodded, not quite able to speak.

"Well, thanks. I haven't had clean clothes in years. " she said.

Willy got his voice back.

"What's your name, anyway?" he asked.

"My name's Anastasia. I don't have a last name." she said. A twinge of pain flashed across her face, but disappeared before it registered in Willy's mind.

"Where did you come from, Anastasia?"

"I don't really have much of a home. I just go wherever the wind takes me. I get by stealing food or working for food and sleeping alleyways. I just got by with whatever I could." Anastasia said.

"You can stay here." Willy said, watching her creamy hands handle her knife and fork. She had good manners for a street kid.

Anastasia's grateful smile lit a fire in his heart.

Willy walked with her on the way to their rooms, explaining some of the projects that the factory was working on. All too soon, their doors appeared.

"Mr. Wonka, thank you for everything." Anastasia gave him a grateful peck on the cheek before she stepped into the room and closed the door behind her.

Willy's face became flushed and his heart began to pound. As he got into bed that night, he felt as though some hungry monster had awakened inside him. He wasn't quite sure what would pacify this monster yet, and it was roaring at him.

The next morning, he found Anastasia already in the kitchen, shoveling down a large quantity of bacon and eggs. She paused to wipe her mouth.

"I can't tell you how good it feels to have a full stomach."

She was dressed in some tight-fitting blue jeans and a pink blouse with black stripes. Her hair was done up in a bun and her bangs were braided and pinned back. The monster in Willy longed for all that long, curly hair to cascade down her shoulders again. Oh, if he could touch it...

Willy snapped back to life when Anastasia got up.

"Do you want to see the rest of the factory?" he asked.

Anastasia nodded.

He showed her the chocolate room first. Even though Anastasia had just had breakfast, she couldn't help but nibble on things. She was fascinated by the chocolate waterfall.

"It's a kid's dream! I bet there are kids all over the world who'd give their life just to come in here and cram." Anastasia said, dipping a candy leaf into the river and taking a bite.

The childish innocence on her face as she stood with both hands full of candy, nibbling each one slowly, made Willy smile. A warmth filled his heart like a candleflame.

When she had tried at least a lick of everything in the room, they explored the rest of the factory. By the time they were done, Anastasia was clutching her stomach.

"I haven't eaten like this in years. " she laughed.

Willy allowed himself a secret smile. He hadn't had this much fun. To believe that another adult could have fun like this was beautiful to him.

They had made their way to Anastasia's room. She stretched out across the bed, listening to Willy talk. Without realizing it, he also sat down on the bed beside her. Little by little, they became quiet. Anastasia eventually fell asleep, and Willy became worn out himself.

Ever so carefully, Willy lay down on the bed beside her. He slid over until Anastasia's head was touching his shoulder. After laying very still for a long time, Anastasia started to roll over. Her head landed on Willy's chest and one arm flung itself across his stomach. She felt so warm.

The monster awakened itself once again, but it was purring. Willy wrapped his arms around her and drifted off to sleep.

Upon waking, Willy realized that Anastasia must be awake. He heard splashing coming from the bathroom. The image of Anastasia having a bubble bath made him tremble.

Anastasia came out dressed in a pair of black leather flare pants and a white top. Her long blonde hair was braided today.

"Would you like to see the outside world today?" she asked.

Willy didn't know what to say.

"I've seen everything here, so now I want to show you some of my secrets." Anastasia said, straightening his funny-looking hat.

"First things first, everyone will recognize you in those clothes. You might want to change into something less conspicuous. "

Willy dug through his closet and found a faded pair of blue jeans and a black T-shirt. Anastasia left the room so he could get dressed. Once he had, Anastasia got him by the wrist and hauled him outside. They hadn't even had breakfast yet.

"All right. First thing you have to know is do what I do. In order to survive in my world, you have to act just like me. The real world isn't all cozy and colorful like your factory. There are some good people, and there are some real trouble makers. There is one rule: do whatever you have to do to survive. Now, we do this my way." Anastasia said. She wedged one foot into a crack in the fence. Her fingers searched around for another crevice, and they found their mark. She pulled herself up, then used her free hand to find another crack. She put both hands in it and hauled herself up. Her foot went into the other crack, and quickly as a cat, she had scaled the wall.

"Now, you try."

Willy had some problems. Anastasia patiently gave him instructions from the top of the wall. When he was close enough, she grabbed his arms and swung him up to the top as effortlessly as if he'd been a sack of flour.

"You're strong," he observed, his hair starting to stick to his face. A few beads of sweat had inched their way to the surface from his straining.

"Now then, once you've caught your breath, we'll go down. "

Anastasia crawled around on top of the fence until she found a tree, then she motioned for Willy to follow. He did.

"Now. Down is always easier than up if you know how. First, get on the strongest branch you can find."

Anastasia demonstrated, then motioned to him.

"Come on, we haven't got all day!" she said.

Willy reluctantly inched to the branch.

"Now, you just slide off like this."

Anastasia landed on both feet. Willy would have landed on his butt if she hadn't caught him.

"Now, this way. "

The first thing Anastasia decided to do was watch a movie.

"Now, wait until a big crowd comes through and go."

"I must say, I've never snuck into a movie before." Willy whispered when they sat down.

"Shh!" Anastasia hissed. The movie started.

Willy was paying more attention to Anastasia than the movie, but he was quite surprised when Anastasia placed her hand on his. Before he knew it, Anastasia was reminding him that the movie was over.

"Now, the next lesson in outside life: how to get food so you don't starve."

Anastasia situated herself behind a food stand. When the seller wasn't looking, she snatched a few things and they took off.

"It's easy, but I hate doing it most of the time." Anastasia said as they ate their lunch on a grassy hill. The sun was shining brightly and the butterflies gathered there under the tree with them.

Willy remembered his dream. As if by magic, Anastasia spotted a little boy nearby with a guitar.

"Can I borrow this?" Anastasia asked.

The little boy appeared to be mute. He just smiled and handed the guitar over, then settled against the tree and ate a green apple.

Anastasia began to sing a love song.

Willy was entranced by her voice immediately. It seemed to fill Willy from the inside out and echo all around him. The magical notes on the guitar harmonized with her and he felt the same magically alive way that had been in his dreams.

A few more months went by and Anastasia had begun working in her new office. Things were running so smoothly that they often had a lot of leisure time. Anastasia would often write songs or short stories in a black notebook that she carried around with her, and Willy would check on the "new inventions". He had invented a gum that would give you a whole meal, but he was having difficulty working out the kinks. A few oompa loompas had tested it, and they always would swell up and take on a deep bluish-purple hue.

"I have those children coming tomorrow." Willy said, sounding more concerned than he meant.

Anastasia understood. Willy had gotten his hair trimmed yesterday and the haircutter had found another gray hair.

"Don't worry. You'll find someone." Anastasia said, putting her arms around him.

Willy's stomach jumped. His heart began to pound. Ever so carefully, as though Anastasia was

made of glass, he wrapped his arms around her and rested his cheek against her hair. She felt so warm and solid in his arms. It was a feeling he couldn't ever remember having before. Willy wasn't used to being touched or hugged or anything, so it was quite strange to him.

The next morning, Willy dressed himself up. He didn't eat any breakfast-his stomach had too many butterflies. Anastasia, however, was as calm and collected as ever. She had put on her red dress, the one with long sleeves and a short skirt. She had on white tights, black Mary-jane shoes, and a black beret over her long blonde hair.

"So, are you ready for this?" she asked.

Willy tried to talk, but nothing came out. She gave him a kiss on the cheek.

Willy blushed rather red. He suddenly became dizzy and started to tingle all over.

"Well, it's time. Let's go." Anastasia said, taking his hand.

Willy and Anastasia went outside. The gate opened for the five children who had won the golden

tickets and their parents. Cameras flashed everywhere and microphones were jammed everywhere to catch a piece of the action.

"I love your chocolate," a boy named Augustus said.

"I can see that," Willy said, eyeing the boy's impressive gut. Anastasia didn't see how he could possibly walk.

A little girl ran up to Willy and gave him a big hug. WIlly cringed, clearly unfamiliar with a child's touch.

"I'm Violet Beauregard." she said affectionately.

Willy was as rigid as a stone.

"I don't care." he said with a strange expression on his face. Anastasia was attempting to stifle a

giggle. Apparently, she was the only one who could touch him.

The day was absolutely crazy. Once inside, the children seemed to be disapearing right and left

because they were being greedy. The first one out was Augustus.

They were in the chocolate room when Augustus started trying to drink out of the chocolate river. Willy became a little upset and started asking him to leave it alone when Augustus fell in. Everyone else became quite worried.

"The suction's got him." Willy said, disgusted at the idea of a very fat boy swimming in his chocolate.

"Please take Mrs. Goop to the fudge room." he told an oompa loompa.

"I'll go check on him. I'll get back here as soon as I can." Anastasia said, patting him on the shoulder.

She and the oompa loompas rushed to the fudge room where Augustus was plugging up one of the pipes. Anastasia pulled a hairclip out of her hair that held back her stray bangs and unscrewed part of the pipe.

"Take my hands." Anastasia told him. She had put on an apron to keep the chocolate from getting her.

He did. Anastasia (with the help of some oompa loompas) pulled him out of the pipe with a loud POP! Then, she screwed the pipe back together.

"You stay here and clean up. I have to go back to the other kids." Anastasia said.

The next disaster was when Violet Beauregarde got a piece of the gum that Willy had been working on. The oompa loompas rolled her into the juicing room.

"All right. At least now we'll have enough blueberry flavoring to last us a couple of months." Anastasia said. The oompa loompas put Violet into what looked like a giant waffle iron. Anastasia closed the lid and jumped on top of it.

A jet of blue juice spurted out and the oompa loompas collected it in buckets. Violet was okay except for being covered in sticky, purple stuff.

The next disaster was Veruka trying to get a squirrel and falling down the garbage chute. Some oompa loompas held Anastasia's feet as she reached down into the tube to pull Veruka and her father out.

"Whoa!" Anastasia complained, taking a handkerchief and putting it over her nose while the oompa loompas escorted them to a bathroom to get cleaned up.

The next thing that happened was that Mike Teavee decided to try out Willy's Wonkavision device and sent himself by television. They had to take him to the taffy-pulling room and stretch him back out to normal size.

The winner turned out to be a boy named Charlie Bucket. He was to move into the factory with his family and start to learn how to run it.

"See?" Anastasia asked as she sat at the end of Willy's bed. Willy had his head in her lap and she was rubbing it gently because Willy claimed he had a headache.

"I told you it would work out."

For the first time in his life, Willy realized that he needed her.

"I thought it was really hilarious how you nearly got sick every time you tried to say 'parents'. " Anastasia said with a giggle. As though she were thinking of something, she pressed her hand to her stomach.

Willy raised up to look at her. She had filled out a lot since she'd been here, but he'd been assuming that it was because she'd been getting enough to eat. He also noticed that the weight was all on her stomach and nowhere else.

"They ruin their children. They force them to do as they say, and most of them get so spoiled and selfish and-"

Suddenly, Anastasia bolted from the room. Willy took off after her. After a few minutes of frantic searching, he found her on a bridge above the chocolate room. She was curled up in a little ball.

"Did I say something?" Willy asked carefully. Anastasia had her back to him. She stood up, trembling. When she turned to face him, her face was flushed with anger.

"Willy," she said, her voice trembling dangerously, "I'm going to be a mother."

Willy gave her a questioning look.

"Why do you think I've suddenly got huge belly? It's not because of the candy. This," she said, lifting her shirt to reveal the bump, "is my baby. I was pregnant before I got here, which was why I was trying to get the candy. I had nothing else to eat, and I didn't want my baby to die."

Willy didn't know what to say. Anastasia lowered the hem of her shirt and smoothed it back into place.

"I know you had a bad experience with your parents, but at least you had them. I grew up on the streets by myself. I had no one to protect me, no one to tuck me in and tell me a story at night. No one to say they loved me. "

Tears glistened in Anastasia's eyes, but she blinked them back.

"I wasn't fit to raise a baby before I came here. I had too much trouble getting food for myself, but it wasn't my choice. I met someone who I thought really cared about me, so I went to live with him. I told him I wasn't ready for it yet, but-" Anastasia swallowed hard, looking almost as sick as Willy had earlier.

"Well, you get the picture. So, I ran away, knowing that if I stayed there, I'd be leaving myself at risk for more abuse. Then I came here, and I met you. You're the only adult I've ever trusted." Anastasia said, lowering her head.

"But I've made up my mind," she continued bravely, " that my child will have a home, no matter how small or how shabby, and that my child will at least have me. Willy, there are bad parents out there, but there are also good ones. I want my child to grow up knowing I did my best."

Willy felt bad. It occurred to him that he had spoken often of his past, but Anastasia never said anything about it until today.

He vaguely understood the whole "birds and bees" concept, but it scared him. The idea of two people coming together like that sounded very much like it hurt, and it made his stomach sour intensely. He thought that people must really love each other a lot to do something like that. Having a baby seemed to hurt even worse. And the whole "having a life inside of you" thing was so bizarre that he had a hard time accepting that there really was a baby in Anastasia's stomach.

Anastasia seemed to read his thoughts at the moment.

"I really should go to the doctor tomorrow and have it checked on." Anastasia said, running her hands over the bump.

"It really is in there?" Willy asked, something catching in his throat.

Anastasia lifted her shirt again and took his hand. She placed his hand over her stomach and gently pressed it down.

Willy's heart jumped when there was a fluttering motion beneath Anastasia's skin.

"That's the baby moving. In another couple of months, it'll be ready to come out." Anastasia told him.

"You can still stay here-" Willy said, suddenly getting nervous.

"Thanks," Anastasia said gratefully. She wrapped her arms around him again.

The monster inside Willy awoke with a passion. He was starting to understand why people in love were always hugging and holding hands and touching each other's hair. There just wasn't a reason other than it was a nice feeling to have someone so warm and alive next to your heart. He carefully touched Anastasia's hair. It was much softer than it looked. He turned his head ever so slightly and his nose was almost buried in her curls. Her hair smelled like lavender shampoo.

Charlie and his Grandpa Joe rounded the corner.

"Poor Mr. Wonka. He doesn't realize it yet, but he loves that girl." Grandpa Joe whispered to Charlie, giving him a wink. Charlie stifled a laugh, and they passed by unnoticed.

Willy kissed Anastasia on the cheek for the first time. Her skin was so soft and warm. Anastasia turned her head and Willy recieved his first kiss.

The monster in Willy's heart purred in triumph. His arms wrapped around her even more tightly, pressing her flat against him. He could feel Anastasia's heart pounding against his chest, and his own heart was thundering so hard that he thought it would explode. He became very dizzy and was glad that Anastasia was holding onto him. Any thoughts he might have had became a blur.

So, he thought, this is what causes everyone to go so crazy. This is what makes people cry when they don't have it.

Ever so slowly, their lips parted.

"It's late," Anastasia said awkwardly, "I should probably go to bed. Good night, Willy."

With that, she left Willy standing there with a pounding heart and flushed face.

There was a lot of talk amongst the oompa loompas that night that Willy had fallen in love. The next morning, they whispered back and forth while they were working. Willy became increasingly uncomfortable with this. By the time Anastasia came back from the obstetrician's office, his insides were squirming.

Anastasia was glowing. Her cheeks were rosy, and there was a sparkle in her dark eyes that Willy hadn't seen before. She was carrying something.

"How is it?" Willy asked, glancing at her swollen stomach.

"It's a girl. Want to see?" Anastasia asked. She handed Willy a stiff, white piece of paper. Willy examined it.

"This is a picture of her. There's the head, there's an arm, and there's a leg. She's turned sideways. If you look at her little hand, it looks like she's waving at you." Anastasia said.

"You don't suppose that's Wonka's baby, do you?" the grandparents whispered to one another.

"I heard them talking. She got raped before she came here." Charlie's father said.

Charlie walked over to them.

"Yes, but I suppose Mr. Wonka will make a wonderful father just the same."

Everyone looked at Charlie in shock. Then they all looked over at Anastasia and Willy. Willy was holding the picture to Anastasia's stomach.

"Yeah, they're the same size." Anastasia was telling him. She let out a shriek of laughter when Willy tickled her.

"You're right." they all agreed as Willy and Anastasia went out of sight.

The next night, Willy couldn't sleep. He paced about his factory, occasionally hearing a snoring oompa loompa. He saw a figure sitting on the bridge when he came to the chocolate room.

It was Anastasia. As though his chocolate river had exhaled a magical mist, she stood up. Her figure was smoky and surrealistic in the dark.

"You couldn't sleep either, huh?" Anastasia asked.

"I guess not." Willy whispered.

"I could sleep just fine, but the baby's a little restless tonight." Anastasia said, giving her belly a gentle pat.

Willy gazed at her as she looked down at her stomach. It occurred to him that she might leave after the baby was born. He had paid her very well to work for him, and she'd accumulated a bank account with lots of zeros at the end.

"You're not going to leave, are you?" Willy asked.

Anastasia looked up, puzzled.

"Leave? In the middle of the night? No." Anastasia said, giggling.

"No, I meant-" Willy started to say, but the words caught in his throat.

"Do you want me to stay?" Anastasia asked, her expression not giving anything away.

"Yes."

It was silent except for the chocolate waterfall for a moment.

"Okay. I'll stay." Anastasia said carefully.

This time, Willy was the one to grab her and hug her tightly. Anastasia smiled a warm smile at him. Then, her expression became very serious.

"Willy, if I'm going to stay, there are some things you really should know out of fairness. I've got someone after me. And he doesn't care who gets in the way."

"Was it the man who gave you your baby?" Willy asked.

"Yeah. That's the one. He doesn't want me, but he wants to take my baby away just to show who

has the power. If he finds me here, some really bad things could happen." Anastasia said, looking slightly ashamed.

"He can't get you-" Willy started to say.

"Yes, he can. He has friends, and he has guns." Anastasia said, feeling frustrated.

"I won't let him." Willy finished.

Anastasia couldn't bring herself to argue. She liked Willy entirely too much at this point, and she knew it.

"I don't want anything to happen to you. You're the first person that ever liked me. " she said, tears glistening in her dark eyes.

Willy placed his hand on Anastasia's cheek and turned her head.

"Trust me." he whispered before he kissed her.

For the first time, she did.

There was a loud bang sound, like a gunshot. Willy and Anastasia jumped apart.

"What was that?" she whispered.

Suddenly, an oompa loompa came running in chattering excitedly. Willy leaned down and the oompa loompa said something very loudly in his ear.

"Someone's trying to break in?" he asked the oompa loompa. It nodded furiously.

Before Willy could say another word, Anastasia was gone.

"WAIT!" he yelled. He didn't stop to wonder when his job had ever been to take care of Anastasia. It came naturally, as though it had always been an instinct.

Willy, Charlie, his parents, and his grandparents, followed by lots of oompa loompas ran outside. Anastasia was crouched low on one of the walls.

"Tear the place apart if you have to. I just want that pitiful excuse of a human being that I created a life with!" said a husky, ugly man with a gun. Anastasia pounced on him and knocked the gun out of his hand. She hit him repeatedly, but his cronies were already moving in. The oompa loompas really liked Anastasia and didn't want anything to happen to her. She frequently cooked for them and had taught some of them how to play guitar.

Willy was so surprised that he couldn't move at first. Then, he rushed towards Anastasia and her exboyfriend. He pulled the man off of her.

Anastasia was fighting with all she could, being careful not to let her stomach get hit in any way. She kicked, punched, elbowed, and would occasionally grab something else to use as a weapon. The expression of madness on her normally beautiful face scared Willy, and the swearwords that she was snarling out scared him even more. He hated to hear people talk like that and he'd never said anything like that.

So far, they were winning. But something terrible happened. Anastasia's ex wasn't giving up. He chased her when she suddenly vaulted into the air and scrambled up the wall. She was almost to the top when he leapt after her, grabbed her, and pulled her down.

The horror of the situation had just registered on Anastasia's face as she was yanked downward. Out of instinct, she curled into a ball just as she hit the hard concrete ground.

CRUNCH!

Anastasia was still alive, though. And she was angrier than ever.

"YOU!" she yelled angrilly, snatching him up by the shirt.

"You come here and bother us," she said, giving him a sharp blow to the jaw (Whack!)

"You try to hurt me (Whack!)"

"And you could have killed my baby! (SMACK!)"

"How dare you show your ugly, undeserving face around here!" (SMACK! SMACK!)

The ex aimed his gun at her. They fought back and forth, and the gun was pointed at him. She was trying to wrench it away from him, but he made her squeeze the trigger. He fell back, blood pouring everywhere.

"Oh, my God!" was the last thing Anastasia said before she went unconsious.

Willy was filled with an ungodly fear and the fiercest anger that had ever hit him. An ambulance drove through the factory gates.

Willy lifted Anastasia's head.

"Don't leave me...please!" he gasped, the tears starting to fall.

The ambulance people carefully put Anastasia on the stretcher and started the IV drip. Willy knew that her arm was broken: it was bent in an unnatural way and starting to bruise. He rode in the ambulance, unable to speak. He wanted to hold her, but the doctors were already starting to work on her.

Willy's thoughts went to the baby in Anastasia's body. His mind flashed back to when he had asked her what she wanted to name it. Anastasia had noticed a red candy rose in the chocolate room that looked very much like a real one.

"Rose."

Willy placed a hand ever so carefully on her swollen stomach. The baby was completely still.

By the time they reached the hospital, all color had drained from Anastasia's face. Her ruby-pink lips were even a dull shade, and her hair seemed to have lost its shine. But, she was still alive. For how long, no one could say. Willy was on the edge of hysterics. When they told him he had to wait outside, he collapsed in a chair, crying silently. He thought bitterly of how she was the first adult he had ever liked, trusted, and loved.

That last thought startled him and warmed on the inside. He began to formulate a vague plan in his mind about the two of them getting married and raising Rose together to have his father's unusual gift with sugar and his mother's singing voice.

The doctor came outside.

"Are you here to see Anastasia?" he asked. Willy nodded, wiping his face dry with a handkerchief.

"Well, it's very serious. Her left ankle has a slight sprain, she has three broken ribs, and a severely fractured left arm, but she's going to make it once she wakes up."

"What about the baby?" Willy asked.

"Oh, yes! I had to deliver it early because the trauma on Anastasia's body would have affected it. But the baby is a healthy little girl and she's just fine. You may see Anastasia."

Willy hurried over to the bed. There was a heavy-looking cast on Anastasia's arm resting in a sling hanging from the ceiling. Although she had on a white hospital gown, Willy could see the outlines of the tight bandages around her rib cage. He also noticed that her stomach had sagged down, empty of its secret.

Willy carefully touched her forehead, then stroked her hair out of her face. He found it hard to believe that through all of this, that she would be okay. He leaned closer and kissed her on the lips.

"Mr. Wonka? There's someone here to see you." A nurse said from behind him. He turned to see her holding a tiny baby in her arms. She let out a muffled cry and reached out her little hands. Willy took the baby into his arms.

"Nice to meet you, Rose," he whispered. The nurse smiled and left them alone.

"I'm Willy, and this," Willy said, holding the baby up to Anastasia's cheek, "is your mother."

The baby made a "uh!" sound. Willy felt his eyes fill up again, but he wasn't sad. It was an overwhelming feeling to have something so small and warm and helpless cradled in his arm that would, in a few years, grow to be anything that her heart desired to be.

Anastasia had woken up.

"Where's my baby!" she moaned, only just aware of being quite sore and with an empty womb.

"Anastasia!" Willy gasped, turning around. She gave him a soft smile.

"Look who came to see you." Willy said, holding the baby down to where she could see it.

Anastasia sat up abruptly, cringing in pain from her ribs. She held out her good arm.

"Are you sure-" Willy started to ask.

"William Wonka, if you don't let me see my baby, you'll sing soprano when I'm not strapped to this bed!" Anastasia threatened. Willy wasn't sure if she was kidding of not. He eased the baby into her good arm, and she kissed Rose on the forehead. Rubbing her cheek against Rose's soft, warm skin, her eyes filled with joyful tears.

"You're okay, thank God! Little baby girl, do you know how long I've waited for this?" She continued talking to the baby. What surprised Willy was that she could still be loving and happy and still talk like an adult to the baby. It wasn't like mother and child: it was like they were equal.

"I was afraid you girls weren't going to make it," Willy said, trembling.

Anastasia's cooing over Rose stopped abruptly.

"You were?" she asked, her expression very serious.

"I love you." Willy blurted out before he had a chance to think about it.

Anastasia looked mildly surprised.

"Anastasia, I'm quite serious."

Anastasia tried to say something, but the words didn't come.

Just as Willy's heart began to crumble, Anastasia took in a sharp breath.

"I'm glad. I love you, too Willy. And unless you want me to, I'm not leaving. "

Willy's lips were glued to her instantly, but it wasn't just a light kiss like usual. Anastasia deepened the kiss. He needed to hold her.

He needed...something.

Anastasia spent about three months in the hospital, and Willy didn't leave her side. He helped her with everything, and he even listened to the nurses while they instructed him on how to feed and change the baby. Before Anastasia was allowed to leave, they had to X-ray her ribs and give her a sling for her arm. Willy had to carry the baby because Anastasia didn't want to risk dropping her.

When they arrived back at the factory, there was a great uproar. Apparently, the whole world had found out about Willy Wonka's pregnant girlfriend and there was a torrent of camera flashes when they reached the factory. Willy and Anastasia pushed their way through the crowd and hurried through the gates.

"Just when I thought I'd get some peace and quiet." Anastasia muttered, chucking a snowball at a nosy reporter. The snowball exploded all over his camera and stuck to his face. She let out a slightly evil-sounding laugh and they went inside.

Anastasia was delighted to learn that Willy had purchased a crib and everything else needed for the baby and a room had been redecorated for her.

"I also found this, remembering what you named her." Willy said, giving Anastasia a small box.

Anastasia opened it. Inside there was a beautiful red dress with gold roses embroidered richly into it. The sleeves had lace, and so did the hem of the skirt. Anastasia slipped off the romper that the baby was currently wearing and put it on her.

She wouldn't be able to wear it until she was a little older, but it looked beautiful just the same. Anastasia's arms were around Willy the second she had changed Rose's clothes and placed her in the crib for a nap.

Willy kissed her again. She deepened the kiss and ran her fingers through his hair.

It was storming loudly outside, but that was nothing compared to what Willy felt. He pulled her closer, needing...something. He was uncertain of why he felt it was necessary to press flat against her.

Without thinking, he guided Anastasia through the door and closed it behind her. He ran his hands down her body, vaguely wondering what made him do it. He half expected Anastasia to make him stop, but Anastasia didn't. Anastasia, was in fact, doing it to him, too.

He lowered her to the bed, taking care not to hurt her ribs. He felt a sharp awareness of just how close they were and where they were touching. What was happening?

A bolt of thunder crashed loudly outside and the room was lost in a blinding flash of light. But that wasn't the only thing that happened.

All around Willy, inside and out, some strange explosion had taken place. A cry of surprise rushed from his throat and his head was thrown back. What felt like a major electrical shock surged through his body. Anastasia also let out a gasp, then suddenly, the power went out.

Willy suddenly realized he was laying on top of Anastasia. The cold air chilled his skin, and he turned scarlet when he realized that his clothes, along with Anastasia's, were in a pile beside the bed. His and Anastasia's hearts were pounding against each other, and he and Anastasia were breathing so hard that it made it even more obvious how much they were touching.

Willy didn't realize what had just happened until then.

Anastasia opened her eyes and looked up at him. Her face was flushed, her hair fanned out across the pillows.

"There you go, Willy. That's how it happens. That's how I should have gotten Rose."

Willy found himself at a loss for words. He rolled off of Anastasia and lay down beside her. Anastasia drew the covers over them.

Willy still did not know what to say, but there wasn't a need for words. Anastasia cuddled up closer, and the two of them promptly went to sleep.

The next morning, Willy awoke to find that it hadn't been a dream. He and Anastasia were both laying on their sides facing each other, their legs intertwined. Their arms were wrapped around each other.

This is the woman I'm going to marry someday. We'll wake up together every day and we'll take care of the baby together, and we'll be together a lot more, Willy thought, watching Anastasia sleep.

A change in Anastasia's breathing told him that she had woken up. He ran his hands down her back. The stiff bandage around Anastasia's ribs was still there, but it would be gone in a short time. The cast on Anastasia's arm had been replaced with one of those stiff bandages also.

"Good morning, Starshine. The earth says hello." he whispered, as Anastasia opened her eyes.

"I thought you saved that line for the kids." Anastasia laughed.

Rose started crying.

"Be right back."

Anastasia slid out from under the covers, and Willy got to look at her for the first time. Her stomach was flat again, now that she'd had her baby. Her hips were curvy, which had enabled her to cradle Rose. Her long blonde hair fell down her back and cascaded down her shoulders. Her body had the leanness of someone who was always on the move.

Anastasia stretched, then hurried to her room to get a robe. She went to Rose's crib and picked her up.

Willy came in behind her, his hair slightly mussed. Anastasia giggled and ran her fingers through it to straighten it out. Rose, happy and fed and freshly changed, cooed at Willy.

"Want to hold her?" Anastasia asked.

Willy held out his arms, and Anastasia gave him the baby. For the last three months, Willy had helped to take care of Rose, and he'd become rather attatched.

Anastasia and Willy went to the kitchen to get something to eat. On their way, Charlie and Grandpa Joe passed them.

"Didn't take him long, did it?" Grandpa Joe asked Charlie. Anastasia heard them.

"No. He loves that kid just like it was his." Anastasia said, watching Willy bounce the baby up and down and making her laugh.

The two lovers went to the kitchen and had breakfast. When the food was all gone, Willy began to wonder how he would ask Anastasia to marry him. It occurred to him that he hadn't bought a ring yet.

While Anastasia had Rose down for a nap and was working, Willy slipped off to the village to try and find her a ring. He came across a small shop that sold jewelry. The woman behind the counter did a double take when she realized who was there.

"I'm looking for an engagement ring," Willy said, his stomach full of butterflies.

The woman's expression became one of understanding.

"Oh, I see. Well, we have some very nice rings, here, " she pulled a few boxes out of the case and Willy examined them.

The rings were very valuable. Most of them were heavily frosted with diamonds. He suspected, though, that Anastasia would want something simple. Despite her large accumulation of cash, Anastasia never bought expensive things.

He finally chose a ring that had three diamond chips set in a gold band.

"Excellent choice, Mr. Wonka. Good luck," the woman said, giving him the box along with a slight smile. Willy pocketed the ring and hurried back to the factory.

Anastasia was hanging out with Charlie and his family. Charlie's mother was having a great time playing with Rose, and Anastasia was telling them about some adventures she'd had before she'd come to live in the factory.

Willy was starting to get dizzy watching her. She looked over at him and he felt as though he would pass out.

"Where have you been?" Anastasia asked, taking his hand in hers. Suddenly, Willy felt as though it was all going to be okay.

"I was thinking about you and Rose, and,"

The grandparents all whispered to one another. Charlie gave Willy a knowing smile as Willy bent

down on one knee. The realization struck Anastasia and she became breathless.

"...I was wondering if you would marry me."

The room burst forth into cheers as Anastasia flung herself into Willy's arms, yelling "YES!

YES!YES!"

It didn't take long for the engagement to get around. Reporters clumped outside the gates, hoping to catch a glimpse of the lovers. Anastasia used her new computer (her one and only splurge) to print off wedding invitations. She had been taking college courses in the evening and was going to get a major in psychology and a minor in computer science. Willy never questioned her: he knew it was nice to have a degree just in case.

Anastasia and Willy sat down together in the chocolate room, deciding who to send invitations out to. Willy noticed Anastasia tucking a few in her pocket. He vaguely wondered why, but decided against saying anything.

It also didn't take Willy long to find out. One evening, there was somebody at the gate. Willy and Anastasia went to see who it was.

As soon as he'd opened the gate, he wished he hadn't. He recognized the old man instantly, and his face soured.

"What's he doing here?" Willy asked, his voice loaded with dislike. He looked over at Anastasia who gave him a small, lopsided smile.

"You had something to do with it, didn't you?" Willy asked.

Anastasia nodded.

"WHY!" Willy asked in a strangely high-pitched voice.

"Because I- I don't know." Anastasia said.

"I'm not letting him in." Willy said, sticking his tongue out at the security system.

"Don't be such a child, Willy. It's freezing out there and this is your father we're talking about."

Willy gave Anastasia a Look, which was strange for Willy. Anastasia got such a case of the giggles that her face colored.

"Willy, think of it this way. If your dad hadn't been so rough on you, you wouldn't be the way you are now. You wouldn't have this big, beautiful factory. You wouldn't have your little oompa loompa buddies, aaaaaannd..." (Willy gave her a questioning look.) "you wouldn't have Rose and I."

Willy groaned and pushed the button to let his father into the factory.

"How can I argue with that?" he gave Anastasia a kiss.

"Now, come on. Let's go see him," Anastasia said, dragging Willy out of the room. Out of

frustration, she picked him up over her shoulders, which surprised Willy.

"You're strong!" he commented.

"It comes from having to lift and climb so much." Anastasia said, back perfectly straight as though Willy were no more than a sack of flour.

"Okay, okay. You can put me down now."

Anastasia put him down.

Willy stuck his tongue out at her and they kept walking.

"You're such a baby." she muttered.

"But I'm yours."

Anastasia cracked up laughing, as did Willy.

"Never did grow up, did you?"

Willy and Anastasia jumped out of surprise. Willy's father stood, watching them.

Willy crossed his arms over his chest and looked at the floor, but Anastasia came up to Willy's father with no shyness.

"Hi. I'm-" she started to say, but he cut her off.

"I know. I saw the two of you on television. Are you really from the streets?" he asked, giving Anastasia a disgusted look.

"Yes." Anastasia said, unabashed by the statement.

"I'm not surprised." the man said, giving her a sneer. Anastasia could see the anger that loaded Willy's face.

"Not all of us are as fortunate to have parents that are so concerned for our health, sir." Anastasia said. Willy was surprised at how casual her tone was: it was as though she thought he was the salt of the earth.

"I suppose not," he said, then clearing his throat, "I got your invitation. Which one of you sent it?"

Willy refused to say anything.

"We did, of course. Why would you go to someone else's wedding?" Anastasia asked.

"Because-" but Anastasia cut him off.

"Well, I suppose you would if it were your own, or a good friend's or a relatives, but why on earth would you miss your only son's? Goodness, that would be so sad. But aren't you thrilled? You get to be a grandpa!"

Anastasia made the oompa loompa call, and one of them, having heard the conversation, went to retrieve Rose. Rose was quite heavy for the poor little oompa loompa, but he was strong. Anastasia thanked him and took Rose.

"Once we're married, Willy will adopt Rose, and and it will be as good as blood." Anastasia said.

Willy's father's glare softened at the sight of this baby, with her round face and tuft of golden hair. Her dark eyes looked up at him curiously.

"Would you like to hold her?" Anastasia asked. Before he could say another word, she handed Rose to him. At first, he looked a little scared, but Rose laughed at him with her sweet baby smile.

Willy felt a stirring of jealousy. Someone else was holding his baby!

HIS BABY!

Anastasia, sensing Willy's hot anger, placed her hand gently on Willy's shoulder.

"Don't be upset. It'll be okay," she whispered.

He gave her a frantic look and she put her arm around his shoulders.

Willy pulled himself together long enough to offer his father a guest bedroom, which his father gratefully took. It was late, so they were all about to go to bed anyway.

"All right, Willy, let it out. If you don't get it out of your system, you'll never be able to move on." Anastasia said as Willy had flashback after flashback in silence.

Willy started to tell his childhood story in a calm fashion, but when he started getting to some bad memories, he started to shake. It wasn't just the memories that were tearing Willy's mind to pieces, it was the powerful amount of emotion that came with it. Willy's tears started to fall. Anastasia didn't try to quiet him with comforting words, in fact, she simply encouraged him. By the time he had told her everything, he had collapsed onto Anastasia's shoulder and was hanging onto her for dear life.

"There," Anastasia said calmly, stroking Willy's back. Willy was trembling, and his face was hot and sticky with tears. Anastasia's shoulder and neck were wet with the tears, but she didn't even notice.

"Now, what you have to understand is that you were the first and only child he had. He didn't understand certain things about children, such as the fact that children have to be children. They have to be wild and free some days and stuff themselves sick with sugar and run around like little monsters. Now that you've released all the emotional poison in your system, you have to learn to accept him for what he is, and he has to do the same. Now," Anastasia said, prying him off her shoulder and pulling his head into her lap, "enough psychology for today. I believe we've talked enough."

She stroked Willy's hair, then gently carressed his cheek. He tipped his head forward to kiss her, but the baby started crying.

"Hold that thought," Anastasia said, getting up to tend to Rose. He went with her.

Anastasia changed Rose's diaper. Without even looking at the diaper pail, she aimed the mess at it and made it in a clean shot from across the room.

"Three points!" Anastasia said, powdering Rose's behind. She gave Rose her bottle next, then went to lay her down to sleep in her crib. Before Rose could go to sleep, however, Anastasia had to rock her. She sat down in the rocking chair and cuddled Rose next to her heart.

"Drift, drift away

on a cloud of dreams,

just, just as long

as you're next to me.

Take my hand

and we'll dance across time.

It's so perfect,

I'm yours and you're mine.

Stardust falls everywhere

everywhere like rain.

Every day is full of sunshine

where there is no pain.

Come with me to Heaven,

where the angels play

though we're only dreaming now,

it will be ours someday.

Come, come with me,

hold me close to your heart

even if you can't see me

even if we're so far apart,

Don't, don't be afraid

of monsters or the dark,

cause I'll always be with you

there, there in your heart.

Drift, drift away

on a cloud of dreams

just, just as long

as you can come home to me."

Willy's heart was brimming. Rose was asleep, and Anastasia carefully placed her in her crib. She covered the sleeping baby up and they slipped out of the room.

"Where did you learn to sing?" Willy asked.

"Well, I had a lot of friends on the street when I was younger, one of which included a black blues singer named Joe Blind, called because he was sightless from birth, but he had taught himself to play guitar, and he he had this beat-up old acoustic with him. He'd lay his case open on a street corner and play and people would throw change in it for him. I met him when I was about eleven. We became instant friends and he was like a father to me. He said one day, 'child, iff'n you wanna sing, sing!'. So he started to play, and I didn't sing, and he said, 'c'mon, Annie, I aint'a gettin younga!', so I said, 'Joe, what do I sing?', and Joe says, 'hon, you has to find that out yousself. It's what's in you' heart that count.' So, I started making a bunch of noise because I didn't know what words to sing. Joe was so proud. He just kept playing the same song over and over and I just made noise. Then, he taught me how to rhyme, and I started writing songs about what I saw around me and what it made me feel, and Joe said if we just had the money that we could have been a band. "

Anastasia beamed at the memory.

"Where is Joe now?" Willy asked.

Anastasia's face fell.

"Well, you see, he neglected to tell me that he had cancer, and the reason he'd been put on the street was because he couldn't pay his hospital bills. He got to where he was too tired to play and too short of breath to sing, so he gave me his old guitar and told me that I would have to help him. I did-then Joe just passed away one day right after I sang a song about Heaven. His last words were 'Annie, you has to carry on fo' me. My journey's at it's end, but you just a kid. You gonna be a sta' someday, and I'll be watchin' you to make sho'. I love ya, child,' then he just died. No struggling. I had him taken to the hospital, but they said the only thing they could do for him was give him a proper burial. I got to keep his guitar, and I went from place to place singing for my supper, but when I fled my exboyfriend's house, I stupidly left it there and he sold it. The only thing left of Joe is his beautiful memory." Anastasia said sadly.

By now, they were back in Willy's bedroom.

"Anastasia, if anything ever happened to you, I'm not sure how I'd go on." Willy said, remembering what had almost happened.

"Same here," Anastasia said breathlessly.

Willy felt a stirring in his insides. That monster in his heart was at it again.

But this time, he knew what it wanted.

He bent forward, kissing Anastasia hard. In the few kisses they had shared lately, he'd learned a lot. He was no longer the shy little boy.

Anastasia wrapped her arms around him, pulling him closer. As this was only his second time and that he'd hardly known what was going on before, he was clumsy, but Anastasia didn't seem to mind. In fact, she only seemed to want him more.

They collapsed together, both with a red-hot blush on their cheeks, both weak and breathless. Willy was amazed that this woman made him feel so different.

He smiled to himself as he thought of her having his last name. There were no lights on in the room, and the door was safely locked. Anastasia was stretched out across the enormous bed and the moonlight shone on her skin, giving it a soft, silver sheen. Her curly hair spilled delicately across her shoulders, and the moon gave it silver highlights. Where the moon hit her body, it accentuated her curves. She looked like something out of a fairy tale.

Willy couldn't think of anything to say, but words weren't important right now. Just as he was studying Anastasia, she was studying him.

Willy was facing the side of the room where the moonlight was spilling in. His whole body was bathed in the silver light, intensifying his flawless complexion. He looked so incredibly cute with his brown hair framing his face (and slightly mussed from where she had ran her fingers through it), and the moonlight made it look even glossier than usual. As he smiled at her, the moonlight reflected off his teeth and made his smile literally shine.

But none of this amazed Anastasia as much as his eyes.

Willy's eyes were an unusually bright shade of blue-so bright that there was nothing to compare with the particular color, and the moon gave them a slightly silver tint so that they were the most beautiful blue that Anastasia had ever seen. The brightness and the emotion that reflected from them was enough to render Anastasia thoughtless to everything except their beauty. The best artist in the world wouldn't be able to capture this, Anastasia thought, and it belongs to me. This moment is mine. This beauty is mine. It made her smile and her heart brim with emotion.

They lay there taking in their moment for a long time before sleep began to caress their minds and spread through their bodies like a mist. Willy and Anastasia inched closer to each other and they drew the covers up around their shoulders. Their eyes closed and their breathing deepened. The warmth from each other's bodies, the feelings of their heartbeats slowing down, and the radio in the background was far more effective than any lullaby.

"Now, the time has come for the two of you to forgive and learn to love each other as you were meant to." Anastasia said firmly at the breakfast table the next morning. She and Willy had exchanged several secretive smiles, but no amount of passion could coax Willy out of his stubbornness.

"Pleeeeeaaase?" Anastasia said, getting irritated. She sent Willy a Look that said, you know what will happen if you don't at least try to help me!

Willy sighed, knowing full well she'd slam the door in his face later if he kept it up.

Willy's father, as I'm sure all of you know, is a very intelligent man, and it didn't take him long to figure out what was going on. He chuckled softly as Anastasia went to the other room to get more toast and a bottle for Rose.

"What's so funny?" asked Willy, getting severely irritated.

He laughed harder.

Willy rolled his eyes and sighed.

"I said you wouldn't see me again if you started this factory, but you have an adorable daughter, and a very intelligent wife, and just to see you get in trouble with her was worth the trip!" his father was laughing so hard now that his face had reddened.

Willy was too surprised to say anything.

"You did good, son."

Anastasia poked her head in the door and gave Willy a knowing smile.

Willy was quite impressed. This was the first time he'd ever heard that statement from his father.

When Anastasia finally did come back in, Willy and his father were hugging. She also noticed that in this emotional bond, he had knocked over the strawberry jelly. She giggled to herself and wiped up the sticky intrusion from the white tablecloth, shaking her head all the while.

Willy was so hyper after that situation that he was never in one place for longer than a few seconds. He was rocketing around the factory with Rose in a backpack harness to keep him company. Anastasia watched him jet around and laughed so hard that she was quite red in the face most of the day.

When Willy finally came to a stop (because Rose needed a diaper change, probably from riding in the glass elevator), he was out of breath and panting so hard that he couldn't talk. Anastasia took Rose and the harness off of Willy's back and put her on the changing table. He collapsed in the chair and Anastasia supplied him with a glass of water.

"You silly kid! I didn't think sugar highs were that intense." Anastasia said, snapping up the bottom of Rose's romper.

"It's just that (pant) everything (pant pant) is going so great! (pant pant pant) I'm getting (pant) married, and (pant) my (pant pant) dad (pant) actually cares about me (pant pantpant) and (pant pant) I (pant) have a (pant) baby! (pant pant pant pant)."

Anastasia got the giggles all over again listening to him.

"I'm all for finding ways to stay in shape in the midst of a candy factory, but don't overdo it." Anastasia said, fanning him with her hand.

Willy surprised her by pulling her into his lap.

"Can't (pant) overdo it. (pantpant pant) I'm getting old, remember? (pant pant pant) I want to (pant) run around (pantpant) as long as (pant pant) I can (pant pant pant pant)."

Anastasia dissolved into giggles, wondering how it was possible to breathe better with a grown woman in your lap leaning against your chest. She straightened his collar and combed his mussed hair with her fingers, just as a mother might do. She also straightened his big hat and dabbed his face with a lace handkerchief.

"That's better. " She got up and took Rose off the changing table.

"You keep accusing me of acting like a kid, then you treat me like one!" Willy objected.

"That's what made me like you in the first place, that you're so energetic." Anastasia said.

Willy pulled her back down on his lap.

"But what made you love me?" Willy asked.

"You did." Anastasia said affectionately.

Rose cooed.

"So young to be jealous," Willy joked, giving her a big, noisy kiss on the cheek. She laughed at him.

"Y'know, it'll be Christmas soon. Meaning we'll be getting married soon." Anastasia reminded him, glancing at the calendar on the wall. The snow had already started to fall outside.

Willy looked up at her and swallowed hard. She was dancing around the room with Rose, and for a split second, he envisioned her in a long, flowing wedding gown with a beautiful veil floating over her hair. The thought gave him butterflies in his stomach.

When the day actually did arrive, Willy was hardly able to breathe. He'd been alone that night and unable to sleep because Anastasia hadn't been there. Anastasia claimed it was bad luck to see the bride before the wedding. He was dressed and his hair carefully combed. For once, he didn't wear his big hat or carry his cane. He was too jumpy to worry about that, though. He paced around, hoping he wouldn't forget anything or trip or run into anything-or get sick. Right now, his stomach was turning itself inside out and he hadn't eaten anything.

The time came. All the oompa loompas and his father and some children he'd invited were on one side, and there were some of Anastasia's street friends, whom she'd long-since bought houses for and helped to get jobs, on the other side. Willy also saw two people in the front row that made him keep craning his neck to look at. One of them had Anastasia's puppy-eyes and stocky build. He also had coppery hair, which was only a few shades darker than Anastasia's gold. The woman had dark hair, but it massed around her shoulders in thick, spiraling curls. She had Anastasia's oval-shaped face and fair complexion.

He realized that these must be Anastasia's parents.

Suddenly, the music changed into the wedding march. Willy nearly jumped out of his skin, and he turned his head.

Anastasia came calmly down the aisle, escorted by Grandpa Joe, who was to give her away. Willy's heart began to pound.

It was as though the ordinary Anastasia had been replaced by some rare angel. Her dress was T-shirt sleeve, but off the shoulder, revealing her collarbone and shoulders. The sleeves were one solid band that went across Anastasia's chest and back, and that was made of white satin. The bodice of the dress had iridescent sequins stitched in some sort of pattern up and down it, and the skirt was made of white gauzy material that seemed to be more of a cloud than any sort of earthly material. It was a full skirt that fell just above Anastasia's ankles in the front but slid along the floor in the back. Her shoes were silver ballet flats with silver sequins and little white beads all over. Anastasia's veil was a wreath of white roses around her head. Part of the veil covered her face and came to her waist. The back part of the veil cascaded over the back of the dress and trailed for yards behind her. Charlie was carrying the end of it. Anastasia had kept her makeup and jewelry simple, only wearing small silver hoops and a silver choker-neclace. Her makeup was even simpler: a little silver glitter had been dusted on her eyes and her cheeks, and she had pale pink lipstick on. Willy had always thought she was pretty, but these small changes were overwhelming.

Willy gulped a little too loudly as the angel came nearer. The whiteness of her dress made the snow outside look gray. The candles and the lights around them seemed dim in comparison, as Anastasia seemed to emit her own unearthly glow.

Willy snapped back to reality just as Grandpa Joe placed Anastasia's hands in his. Willy could scarcely remember what it was he was supposed to say. The room started to spin, and Anastasia gave his hand a reassuring squeeze.

"Do you take this woman to have and to hold..." the priest said. Willy snapped back to life again just as the answer was expected.

"I do," he breathed. The room came into focus again and he was tingling all over.

The priest was asking Anastasia the same question.

"I do." she said calmly, though there was a slight shake in her warm hands.

"I now pronounce you husband and wife. You," the priest said with a glint in his eye, "may kiss the bride."

Anastasia handed her boquet of roses and daisies to a friend of hers. Willy lifted the yards of veil that separated them. For a split second, he looked into her dark eyes, which he realized were the color of dark chocolate.

Then, he kissed her.

The spell was broken. Cheers thundered through the room as their lips separated.

"Let's go have some cake!" Anastasia whispered. They hurried back down the aisle, trying to dodge the rice being thrown.

The reception was a big hit. Most of the pictures taken involved people with chocolate cake frosting on their mouths (Anastasia insisted on chocolate cake). Anastasia and Willy took up space on the dance floor quite a bit. As it turned out, Anastasia knew a lot of dance moves and Willy could scarcely keep up with her. By the time the reception was over, he was quite red in the face and quite out of breath. Anastasia giggled and fanned him with a paper plate.

"Whatsa matter, Willy? Can't keep up?" Anastasia teased. Willy didn't answer-he was gulping down some water that some generous soul had passed him.

The time came for them to (GASP!) leave the factory for the honeymoon. Rose was left in the care of Mr. and Mrs. Bucket.

Willy wasn't that comfortable with riding in an airplane. Despite the fact that he could ride the glass elevator without flinching, he was violently airsick after a short time and spent most of the ride with his head buried in Anastasia's lap while she ran her fingers through her hair. He groaned when they got off, knowing he would have to ride it again when the vacation was over.

"Feeling better?" Anastasia asked when she helped him up.

Willy leaned on Anastasia's shoulder to steady himself.

"If I never see another airplane again," Willy said, swallowing hard," it will be entirely too soon."

Anastasia giggled.

Willy looked over at her.

Anastasia's veil was gone, but she was still wearing her dress.

"First things first," Anastasia said, lifting her skirts to avoid dragging it in the dirt, "I need to get out of this dress before I spill something on it or step on it or tear it or something else happens to it."

They checked into their hotel.

"What a room!" Willy exclaimed, seeing a hot tub and a huge bed decorated with rose petals.

"Yeah. I made the reservations." Anastasia said with a smile. She tried to unzip the back of her dress, but couldn't reach it.

"Willy-" Anastasia started to ask.

Willy ran his hand over the soft lace and satin on Anastasia's back, then unzipped the dress. The material fell gracefully, and Anastasia stepped out of it. She changed into a more casual dress, and Willy changed his clothes.

They went sight-seeing the first day. They went to the beach the second day.

"Willy, I swear, you are as bad as I am!" Anastasia giggled when Willy continued to try and hide behind his towel.

"I don't see you taking yours off!" Willy complained.

Anastasia removed her towel, revealing a black two-piece with blue and green flowers.

"Come on, take it off!" Anastasia urged.

Willy took his towel off, and he had plum-colored swimshorts underneath. He was self-consious about how pale his skin was in contrast to everyone else's.

"See? You worry too much." Anastasia said, hurrying towards the water.

"Wait for me!" he yelled. Despite the fact that Willy was very pale, he was naturally lean and had nothing to be ashamed of. He could swim as well as Anastasia could, and they spent a few hours out in the water.

"We have to get back in the shade for a little while before we get burned," Anastasia said, "especially you. "

They went back under the shelter of a large beach umbrella and the warm towels felt good after the chilliness of the water.

"Nice sunset, huh?" Anastasia asked, laying on her stomach and watching the sun sink below the horizon.

"Yeah. " Willy agreed.

They stayed out there for a long time. By the time they returned to their hotel room, it was dark, and they were tired from the exersize and the sun. Willy had gotten a very good tan and so had Anastasia. She stepped into the shower to scrub the salt out of her hair.

Willy, grinning demonically, snuck into the bathroom behind her. Ever so carefully, he moved the curtain aside and grabbed Anastasia around her waist. Anastasia let out a shriek and jumped rather high.

"You bad boy!" Anastasia snapped, hating to be scared like that, but Willy looked so incredibly cute with his wet hair framing his face that she instantly forgave him.

"Nice day, huh?" Anastasia asked when they were cuddled up in bed.

"Yeah." Willy wrapped his arms around her, then started to stroke her back.

"You've come a long way," Anastasia observed.

Willy gave her a questioning look.

"It seems like yesterday that nobody could touch you." Anastasia explained.

Willy pulled her closer and kissed her before she could say another word. Willy felt her body tense for a moment, and he realized that for once, he'd surprised Anastasia.

The gates swung open quickly when Anastasia and Willy returned from their honeymoon.

"Come on, Willy. The plane ride's been over for an hour," Anastasia said, attempting to dislodge Willy's fingers from the seat.

Willy's face had gone very pale. He wobbled out of the taxi, and Charlie and the oompa loompas hurried to get Anastasia and Willy's things.

"You got back just in time for Christmas!" exclaimed Grandpa Joe. Willy was thrilled to be back home.

"There's my baby!" Anastasia exclaimed, taking Rose from Mrs. Bucket and giving her a big thank-you hug at the same time. Rose was thrilled to see her mother. Mrs. Bucket had taken excellent care of her, and she was dressed in a red-and-green plaid Christmas dress with a headband that had fake green holly and three red berries on it.

"Hey there, starshine!" Willy said enthusiastically, taking the baby. She cooed at him and made some kind of cute baby noise.

"They're so cute." Anastasia whispered.

The more the days went by, Willy and Rose got to be inseparable. Willy would keep her with him during the day. Anastasia wandered into the inventing room one day as Willy had his goggles and labcoat on and was mixing up some purple goop.

"What's that?" Anastasia asked.

"It's for Rose. She needs something to chew on since she's teething." Willy said, lifting the spoon to test the consistency of the goop.

"It won't get sticky, but it's soft so that the baby can chew on it, but they can't swallow it," Willy said, waiting until it got thick enough. He took a piece and tried it out. Then, he rolled some up in a ball and handed it to Rose. Into her mouth it went. She really liked it.

Willy tossed Anastasia a piece. Anastasia chewed and chewed and chewed, but it never got sticky and it didn't shrink.

"Nice." Anastasia said, "What do you call it?"

Willy shrugged.

"I don't know, Baby Bites, maybe?"

Anastasia shrugged.

"Go for it. "

The Baby Bites were instant successes. Willy made them in different flavors, and the mothers were thrilled that their babies could bite on something other than them. Older children enjoyed them, too, because they didn't shrink.

Willy brought a wave of cash to his factory just in time for Christmas. He bought everyone Christmas presents and doubled what he usually gave the oompa loompas.

The only person he hadn't managed to get a present for was Anastasia. He wandered the shops aimlessly, knowing that she would like anything he gave her, but he didn't want it to be just anything!

Willy finally noticed a music shop that he hadn't tried yet. His memory flashed back to Anastasia playing guitar for him a few months ago. He wrapped his coat more tightly around him to try and shut out the freezing cold wind and went inside.

He was greeted by a man who looked like he'd gotten stuck in the sixties. The man had longer hair and rectangular pale blue sunglasses. He wore a tie-dyed T-shirt, bellbottoms, and a big peace medalion. Willy examined him, thinking you're really wierd.

"Like, hey, man, can I help you?" the guy asked.

"I'm looking for a guitar," Willy said. The sixties man pointed to the numerous guitars behind the counter.

"Well, like, we have a bunch, man. Is there, like, anything special you want?"

Willy wasn't sure.

"What's the best you have?"

Suddenly, Mr. Peace recognized Willy.

"Hey, aren't you, like, that Willy Wonka guy on TV?" he asked, gesturing to a small TV in the corner of the shop.

Willy sighed.

"Yes," he said impatiently.

Mr. Peace smiled, revealing several crooked teeth.

"How goes marriage?"

"Very well." Willy replied, tapping his cane impatiently.

"Is the guitar for that righteous babe at home?" Mr. Peace asked.

Willy nodded.

"Come here."

He followed Mr. Peace into the back room.

"This," said Mr. Peace, picking up a guitar case, "is, like, the jewel of the guitar world, man. Your girl would flip out for this."

He opened the case.

Inside lay the most beautiful guitar that Willy had ever seen. The guitar's body was black with an electric blue pick guard. The neck of the guitar was beautiful cherrywood with its pearly fret counters and silver frets. The strings were beautifully silver and the tuning pegs were snow white. Upon closer examination, he noticed that the pick guard had a marbled appearance and was very shiny. He could only imagine Anastasia's expression.

"This, my man," Mr. Peace said, "is a Stratocaster. This is, like, the man of guitars. Your chic will love this baby."

"I'll take it," Willy said quickly.

"All right! Excellent choice, dude! Now all you have to do is pick out a case and a strap. She gets an amp, free of charge since you're the first one in here for weeks."

Mr. Peace looked a little sheepish as he said this. They went into the front room. Willy chose a plain black case that had a small box in the neck part to hold guitar picks.

"May I make a suggestion," Mr. Peace asked when Willy was trying to decide what color went best with the guitar.

"If I were you, I'd take that one." He pointed to a bright red strap that had small rhinestones sewn onto it. Willy could easily imagine it laying across Anastasia's soft shoulder and took it.

"If you can't, like, carry all this, I can, like, give you a ride back." Mr. Peace said once he'd gotten an amplifier for Anastasia.

Willy had to enlist the help of some oompa loompas to carry everything inside. He hurried up to his room and locked the door, and together, they put the neck strap on the guitar, filled the little box in the case with picks, and put the guitar inside. They wrapped the guitar and the box with the amplifier in it and placed big silver bows on both. Then, he hurried to get them under the massive Christmas tree in the chocolate room before Anastasia found them.

Anastasia had gone to sleep in her own room, he discovered, but he wanted her with him. He picked her up and carried her to his room and closed the door.

Anastasia looked like a picture in a book in her red flannel nightgown with her hair braided in pigtails. She was still asleep.

Willy was okay with that. He was tired, too. He drew the covers over Anastasia and changed into his pajamas. The snow was falling thickly outside, but he was pleasantly warm where he was. He got under the blankets with Anastasia and cuddled up to her. She instinctively wrapped her arms around him, and he fell asleep.

The next morning, there was a loud knock at the door.

"Willy! Wake up! IT'S CHRISTMAS!" yelled Charlie, bounding into the room. He sprang onto the bed, making it jiggle sharply.

"I'm coming," Willy mumbled sleepily. Charlie sped out of the room, eager to get to the presents under the huge Christmas tree.

"What's going on?" Anastasia mumbled, not even opening her eyes.

"Charlie thought we forgot it was Christmas." Willy said with a laugh.

Anastasia opened her eyes.

"As if we could forget! There's holly and wreaths and ribbons and mistletoe everywhere!" Anastasia said.

"Like I need an excuse!" Willy gave her a kiss.

Rose could be heard, laughing at Charlie from her crib in the next room.

"Baby's up." Anastasia said, patting Willy on the back. She got up and put her slippers on.

Anastasia tended to the baby, then got dressed. She put on a red strapless dress that had white fluffy stuff around the top and the skirt. She let her shimmering gold hair fall down her back and put the matching shawl over the dress. She wore her white tights and black mary-jane shoes. Willy couldn't resist grabbing the nearest camera and snapping a picture of her, especially since Rose had on a similar dress.

The two of them came down to the chocolate room. Willy and Charlie were squirming with anticipation of the presents.

"Everybody dig!" Anastasia yelled, diving headfirst into the monstrous pile. Everyone instantly fell to grabbing, checking the tags, and ripping. By the time they were done, they had all accumulated quite a few things.

Willy realized that Anastasia hadn't found the guitar on the other side of the tree yet. He crawled behind it and pulled it out. As Anastasia was trying on her new makeup and examining her new art supplies and new clothes, Willy placed the guitar in her lap.

For a moment, nobody moved or breathed as Anastasia carefully peeled away the silver paper. When she opened the case, happy tears started to flow. Willy couldn't remember Anastasia ever crying, but he was glad that at least they were tears of joy.

"Go on, try it!" Willy urged.

Anastasia opened the box with the amplifier. It was portable, so she didn't have to plug it in. She switched it on, then plugged the guitar into it. She plucked all the strings to make sure it was in tune, then she played "Silent Night". Everyone applauded and Anastasia's smile became even bigger.

Charlie was standing above Anastasia and Willy, holding a sprig of mistletoe. Anastasia gave Willy a loud kiss, making everyone laugh. Someone took a picture.

Christmas dinner was great. They all ate so much that no one was able to move for a long time after that. They all tried out their new presents and tested each others'. By the time it was dark, they were all exhausted.

Anastasia slipped out of her dress and lay it on the back of a chair. She put on a soft, white satin nightgown and slid under the covers. Willy changed, too, and joined her.

"I believe getting married was the easiest decision I ever made. " Anastasia whispered, pulling him close.

"Why?" Willy asked, the moonlight shining into his indigo eyes, making them more intense than ever.

"Because I know I'll always wake up next to you and I'll always go to sleep with you next to me." Anastasia said.

"You taught me to love." Willy told her. The surrealistic glow of the moonlight on his face made him as cute as ever.

Outside, the moon shone on the freshly fallen snow. Stars glistened like silver glitter outside. But their beauty came second to Anastasia. What was beautiful to Anastasia was Willy's heart, which she could feel beating as they held each other. The heart of someone that she could genuinely trust. She loved Willy with every ounce of her existence, and she never thought it was possible. She thought love was only in songs or in stories or in movies.

But they're wrong, she thought, love is here in my arms, and here in my heart.

And with that, she closed her eyes, hoping it would always be like this.