A/N- Based on the 2005 movie, but set way before- when Charlie was about five. So please excuse his terrible grammar. ;0
Dislaimer- If I owned any of this, I'd be a very rich gal. :(
The night was cool and calm; some clouds littered the sky, but most of it remained a clear canvas, stars shining like little light bulbs far away. London was silent, not a sound to be heard but the hooting of a single owl and chirping of several crickets. Peace abounded, and for once all was still.
From the Bucket household, a cry broke out into the night.
A five-year-old Charlie jumped into his parents' bed, crawling up in between his parents, "Mummy! Daddy! I had scary dream!" He latched on to his mother's arm, crying hard into her nightdress.
Mrs Bucket mumbled in her sleep, trying to shake her son off. "Mm… go back to sleep Charlie…" she said, Mr Bucket pulled a pillow over his ears.
"But- but I dreamt there was a big bad scary werewolf in my room and it wanted to eat me all up!" Said Charlie in an upset voice, he tugged at his sleeping mother's arm even more, desperate for her to wake up, however, she only swatted his hand away and rolled over to the other side of the bed, obviously still sleeping deeply.
Pouting miserably, Charlie hopped out of their bed, realizing there was no hope of waking them. He looked up to his bedroom upstairs and held back a scared sob. The werewolf could still be up there, waiting for him to return so he could eat him. Clutching his hands to his chest, his eyes moved over to where his four grandparents slept peacefully, with the exception of Grandpa George, who was snoring. He thought for a moment of waking them, but knew from his five long years of ancient wisdom that this would only produce results similar to that of his parents.
As a last resort, he looked to the door. If the werewolf was inside the house, then he should go outside to escape right away, especially if his parents weren't there to rescue him. He wandered over to it, his overlarge sheep pyjamas dragging on the ground. He stared up at the door which stretched so high that it seemed to go to infinity- the handle was a very long way away. For a moment he thought it might be too much effort and that he should go back to bed, but the thought of the werewolf quickly changed that. He stood at the rather battered door and thought hard about how to deal with the current situation and –struck by sudden inspiration- he headed back towards his grandparents. To others it might have seemed that he had given up, but the reality was that he was getting collection of big hardback Shakespeare plays that his Grandma Georgina had kept for eons, and which lived under the grandparents' bed. Picking them up with great difficulty, he struggled over to the door again and stacked them up by it, his parents and their seniors blissfully unaware of the mischief their son (and grandson) was getting up too. Smiling at his own smart idea, he climbed onto them and pulled the handle.
The cold air outside wasn't much different to the inside of the ramshackle house which Charlie lived, so the chill did not faze him, the thought of going outside alone at night might have- but werewolves were far scarier. He walked down his garden path through the rows of cabbages, wondering where he should go to. All at once, the night became an adventure, he could go anywhere he wanted and his parents would never know. He smiled and pulled open the gate, stepping through it without hesitation. Most lights in houses had gone out many hours before and only the streetlights lit up the empty city, however, there was still one light left on- and it was in the Wonka factory on the top of the hill. One single light was lit up in a room somewhere in the top of it, and Charlie was instantly intrigued. It was far too late for anyone to be working there, so the only person there could be Willy Wonka himself.
Charlie slowly made his way up the street towards the factory, putting his thumb in his mouth part of the way there. Sucking on it, he daydreamed about the prospect of meeting Willy Wonka, maybe he could fit in between the bars of the gate at the factory? But then again, his parents had said sneaking into places wasn't a very nice thing to do, and he didn't want to get in trouble with them. Maybe there'd be a doorbell, he thought.
When he crossed the road, he remembered what his mother had said about holding hands while crossing the street, but since no one was with him, he clasped his hands together and walked happily across. He kept his eyes on the light in the building that was slowly getting closer when, abruptly, it disappeared. His smile faded and he stopped, feeling cheated. He'd walked all this way and the light had run away from him when he was almost there. Saddened by this fact, he looked down at the part of the city below him and wondered if there was anything else fun to do. He wasn't feeling tired at all and wasn't very keen on going back to his house to get eaten up. "I'm bored!" he lamented to himself and the empty city, and put the thumb back in his mouth.
A sharp tapping of shoes echoed and Charlie looked around in the half-darkness, wondering where it was coming from, when something bumped against him, letting out a muffled scream and jumping back. Charlie span around from the opposite direction he was looking and saw that it was a very strange looking man who had bumped into him. He had a top hat on and longish brown hair which he had tied back smartly behind his head. He wore a long black soft looking coat with trousers and held a cane in his hand- which was held rather defensively in front of him. His eyes darted in front of him, looking for what he had bumped into and finally came to rest quite a way below him on Charlie. "…Uh… hello!" He cried, his voice squeaky and tense.
Charlie eyed the man before him who looked as though he'd walked out of the Victorian era curiously, "Hewo," he said finally.
The man seemed to calm a little bit then, and lowered his cane from in front of him. "Sorry I bumped into you," he said, grinning nervously, and looking at an empty space next to the boy, "wasn't looking where I was going, and you're very short you know."
"I'm not short! I'm five!" Charlie cried indignantly.
"Oh… well…. you're still rather short for a three year old." The man said, refusing to give way on the subject.
"I'm not short! You're mean!"
The man scratched the back of his head, "I was only telling the truth," he said awkwardly, and he dug around in his pocket, fumbling a bit, "here ya are, an apology present, for bumping into you… and being mean. I guess." Still not looking the little boy in his eyes, he offered him a Wonka bar, which the boy studied intently.
The five-year-old looked at the chocolate, wanting more than anything to take it, "Sowwy," He said at last, sadness in his eyes, "Mummy and Daddy said not to take candy from strangers."
The man put the chocolate back in his pocket, looking slightly dejected, "…Smart idea, it is very dangerous to take things from strangers, I suppose." He looked at Charlie heavily, finally taking in his appearance, "What are you doing here anyway at this time of night, where is your p-p… Mum and Dad?"
"They're at home," said Charlie absently, he seemed to thinking over something. Finally he smiled and held out his hand. "I'm Charlie, and my birthday is the twenty-eighth of January. What's your name mister?"
Taken aback from the boy's sudden change in conversation, the man stuttered out "Oh… I'm Willy." He reached out carefully and shook the boys hand very lightly and quickly.
Charlie looked at the man expectantly and held out his other hand, palm upturned. "What?" said Willy, confused.
"Can I have my chocolate now?" The boy said.
"I thought you said you didn't take candy from strangers?"
"We're not strangers silly, I know your name and you know mine." Charlie said in a matter-of-fact kind of voice, like he was the adult and Willy the child.
"Yes, that makes sense," Said Willy after a moment of thought, and he pulled out the chocolate bar and handed it to the boy, who pulled open carefully- not wanting to rip it.
"It's not made of gold you know," said Willy, staring at him with curiosity, he was used to seeing boys who ripped the paper open and attacked the chocolate as fast as they could.
"I only get one bar a year for my birthday," said Charlie slowly, still peeling the wrapper delicately. "When's your birthday?"
"Mine...? It's the seventh of July…Why do you want to know?"
"Cuz sometime you get birthdays on the same day. But yours is a long long time after mine." He carefully broke off one square of the bar and popped it in his mouth, smiling at the taste. When he had swallowed it, he announced "Wonka bars are my favourite, what's your favourite?"
"Of chocolate? …Well, Wonka's of course, they are the best." He smiled at something unknown to the boy, and then said, "You know, you ask a lot of questions, don't ya?"
"Where are you going?" Charlie asked, seeming not to have heard what Willy said, "Can I come with you? I like you, you look funny."
"I don't look funny." Said Willy, affronted.
"Not bad funny, good funny." Charlie paused for a moment, "so can I come with you?"
"You really do ask a lot of questions," Said Willy, leaning on his cane, "but you can come with me, I guess. I'm just going on a short walk."
"Yay!" Shouted Charlie, smiling, as the strange man he had just met started walking forward. He walked with him, back along the street he had come.
"Why are you outside anyway?" Asked Willy as they walked, "Shouldn't you be in bed?"
"You not in bed neither."
"But I'm far older than you, and much taller."
"Stop being mean!" Said Charlie in a hurt tone, "I only went outside because I had to run away from the scary werewolf."
"It wanted to eat me all up so I had to go outside to escape."
Willy smiled, trying to constrain his laughter; Charlie seemed very serious about this after all. "Come sit down with me Charlie," he said, "tell me all about it." So they took a seat on a bench in the grassy common they were walking on and Charlie proceeded to tell Willy everything.
"You see," he said, sitting up straight in preparation of his tale, "I was sleeping and this werewolf jumped out from the window and growled at me, which was really really scary, and I went down the ladder to get Mummy and Daddy but they were sleepin'. So I climbed the books and go outside and I go'd to factory cuz the light was on."
"It's gone now." Charlie said in a sad small voice.
"Well my dear boy, I better get you home then. I'm afraid you are far more likely to meet scary things out here than inside your house." Willy said, gesturing all around him.
"But I don't want to go home! The werewolf is waiting for me!"
"But don't you know about what guards werewolves against you?"
"No," Charlie said.
"Why! I can't believe you don't know! It's chocolate of course, so since got some, you'll be perfectly safe."
Charlie looked down at his bar of chocolate, or, what was his bar of chocolate. There was nothing left on his hands except a coating of sticky chocolate- he semed to have even eaten the wrapper. "It's all gone," He said, frowning. "I don't have it anymore, it must have varnished."
Varnished? Wonka thought, but he shook his head and said; "Are you sure you didn't' eat it, my lil' shorty?" Willy pointed to the chocolate around the boy's mouth.
"Oh, whoops. I guess I did," He looked at Willy hard, "Can I have some more?" he remembered his manners. "Please."
Willy put a finger to his chin thoughtfully, "Well since you asked so politely, I guess you can," He pulled another—slightly smaller—bar and gave it to Charlie.
"Hooray!" Said Charlie, taking the bar from the man's hands with his much smaller chubby ones. "You look funny but you're really nice mister."
Not sure whether to take that as an insult or a complicated, Willy gave an unsure half-smile.
"Why do you have so much candy?" Asked Charlie, tilting his head. "Do you have super magic pockets that fill up? Is that why you have so much?"
"No no, I just have very deep pockets."
"Your name is Willy isn't it? You have lots of candy too…" Charlie thought hard, putting these two facts together, "Are you Willy Wonka?" he asked at last.
Willy looked surprised at Charlie's realization, but then that emotion faded and he took off his hat to the boy, bending into a bow. "Bingo!" he said when I stood up again, "You win!"
"Wow!" Cried Charlie, his cheeks flushed with excitement. He became so animated that he dropped his chocolate and had to stoop down to pick it up again. "That's so cool! Nice to meet you Mr Wonka!"
This time Willy laughed, "But we've already met Charlie, you've just figured out who I am."
"I guess so," Said Charlie, appearing confused. "But I definitely don't want to go back home now! I wanna talk with you more Mr Wonka!"
Willy stood from where he was sitting on the rough wooden bench and gestured for Charlie to do the same, "We can talk on the way back, now, where do you live?"
Deciding this was fair enough, the little boy pointed back down the hill, "At the end of the road," he said, "Grandpa Joe calls it the little crooked house."
Willy looked down to the end of the road and found the house Charlie was pointing to. It wasn't hard to miss. It had a massive hole in the roof and seemed to be leaning to one side. Willy frowned. "Did your house drink too much whisky and fall into the bar or something?"
"I think it likes juice better. Probably orange juice, that's my favourite." Charlie said, taking a few steps forward.
"Why orange juice? Ya can't get drunk on orange juice."
"You could if you drank lots and lots and lots of it. I don't see why not."
Willy stopped; he seemed to be having an idea. Charlie looked back, but he broke out of his trance and carried on forward, though from his expression it was clear he was thinking very quickly. Indeed, why not? He thought, and looked back to his new muse, who was still talking.
"-and I 'spect you could get drunk on anything if you drink enough of it. That's why it's called drunk when you drank too much."
He's right, Willy decided, it makes perfect sense.
The time they took to reach the garden gate seemed to take no time at all, the boy was so full of good ideas Willy was saturated with plans and designs for new products. He was quite sad to be rid of him, truth be told, and he hadn't been sad about saying goodbye to anybody for a very long time.
"You've got a key… ain't ya?" Willy asked when they got to the front door. But he thought he knew the answer already, after all, how many five-year-olds carried front door keys, and especially in their pyjamas?
Charlie checked his pockets just to make sure they hadn't sneaked in there, and shook his head.
"…Well, is there a window you can climb in?" Willy asked.
Thinking about his for a moment, Charlie suddenly smiled. "The one near the sink is broken, Dad hit it too hard cuz it didn't open good."
So they walked round the side of the building till they came to a window which was hanging off its hinges and Charlie unnecessarily said; "This one." Willy, putting aside his neuroses, gave the boy a lift up and Charlie clambered in through the window onto the sink, until they faced each other, from either sides of the window, saying their goodbyes.
"You've got that chocolate, right?" Willy said, quietly so he wouldn't wake Charlie's family.
"Yes," the boy said, as quietly as the man. He was sitting on the kitchen sink, it was uncomfortable since the tap was jabbing into his leg, but that didn't bother him. He wanted to say goodbye to his new friend.
But a powerful silence welled up between the two; neither really knew what to say. Willy just looked awkward, and glanced down to his shoes. He hadn't had to say a goodbye for a long time. Mostly because he hadn't had to say a hello for a long time either. But Charlie was looking at him like he expected Willy to say something. "So…" He said at last, "I'll… uh, see you then."
"Really?" Charlie said, hope sparkling in his eyes.
"Uh well, probably. Maybe. Most likely not…."
"Oh, okay then," he said, his eyes dimming a little, he looked sadly at Willy and blinked back some tears clouding his vision before they could fall, "bye Mr Wonka."
"Bye then kiddo." Willy gave Charlie a quick smile, and set off up the garden path. Charlie watched his silhouette all the way up the street back to the factory, his figure lit by the street lights. Just before he was out of sight Charlie saw him turn around, the boy waved furiously to him, and he thought he might have waved back before he carried on up the path, and away.
Clambering off the sink Charlie took the chocolate bar out of his pocket and hugged it to his chest. Like a talisman, he carried it with him up the stairs, knowing that no werewolves would ever bother him again.
There was noise, and quite a lot of it, coming from the house. Sitting on swuldge meadow underneath the shade of a lollipop tree Charlie sighed, and shut his homework book with a snap. It was no use trying to concentrate with such a noise, especially on homework. He stood up, grabbing his book and wondered what could be causing such a commotion inside. There was lots of excited talking, laughter and even hoots.
He walked over to his house curiously, the sound getting louder as he got nearer. It sounds as though they might even be having a party! He thought incredulously, pressing his ear to the door. As he did, the door opened inwards and he fell sideways into someone.
"Whoah!" Willy cried as he fell onto the floor with the boy, "Jibbering japes Charlie! What happened there?"
"Sorry Mr Wonka!" Gasped Charlie, pulling himself up to his feet, "I was-I mean-" he stopped, and his mouth fell open. In front of him was the cause of all the commotion. It was his grandparents, all four of them, out of bed, and dancing. He looked over to his mother, who was standing by the counter as if for support, looking as shocked as Charlie was.
Willy stepped up behind Charlie and tapped the boy on the shoulder, "I gotta hand it to ya Charlie," he said, "only your first idea and it's gone down a storm."
Charlie spluttered, "What? The candy kites did this?"
"No, no! I said your first idea."
"But… I thought this was my first idea," Charlie thought about it hard, as Grandpa George swung Grandpa Joe round and round in some kind of wild waltz, "yes, I'm sure it was."
Willy looked at him with a knowing twinkle in his eye and bend down to say quietly to him. "Don't tell me you've forgotten." But he wasn't angry, if anything, he looked quite amused.
Charlie gave him a blank look.
Straightening up again, Willy gestured to four glasses of something orange on the empty bed. "Plain orange juice that gets you drunk! Brilliant, totally brilliant! You're completely right Charlie, why shouldn't you get drunk on it just because it's not alcoholic? It's not candy, but still a great idea, why, I had you down as a creative genius, even then!"
"Hang on Mr Wonka… I don't know what you mean. 'even then?' when was that?"
Willy took his heir's arm and led him outside away from the noise and shut the door. He twisted sideways so his mouth was right by Charlie's ear, and only then, and softly, did he speak. "Did that werewolf ever bother you again, shorty?"
The last word touched something in his memory, and it stretched and fluttered- before it finally broke free. Everything came rushing back and Charlie brought a hand up to cover his shock. "That- I- I mean… I thought that was a dream…I mean, there was that chocolate bar, but I convinced myself that it must have been a present from Mum or Dad, and they were just pretending not to know, I told myself good stuff like that never happened to real people." He said, his eyes shining with memory and happiness, "I never stopped thinking about you after that, I always, always thought about meeting you. But I- I never thought it was real! So it really happened and-?"
Willy put a finger up to cover Charlie's lips, quietening him, and smiled. "You haven't changed one bit."
And with that, he swept up the friend he hadn't seen in five long years into an embrace.