Willy kept his word and kept in touch. Charlie knew how Willy felt about his aunt. Just the sight of a letter from her in the daily mail and Willy would snatch it, tell everyone he was not to be disturbed, and dash off to the office.
One day after one of these letters Willy seemed sad when he finally came out. Charlie looked at him, "Bad news?" he asked.
"What?" Willy said, "Oh…uh…yeah." He started to walk along the hall, seeming distracted.
"Something you want to talk about?" Charlie asked, falling into step with his friend.
"No," Willy said.
Willy was quieter than usual for the rest of the day. Charlie didn't know what was up with him.
That evening Willy went to his room and sat in a chair. He pulled the most recent letter from his pockets and looked at it again. His aunt had found out that his uncle had lost his job a few months before he died. To pay for monthly bills and other necessary expenses, he had run them hopelessly into debt. Now the government was giving his aunt time to make up the difference. If she didn't, all her possessions would be taken and sold to pay off the debt. She had been struggling financially after Uncle Jacob had died, and now this. She didn't know what to do.
Suddenly the solution came to him. He could invite her to come and live at the factory. He jumped up and snatched at pen and paper. Then he sat down and wrote his invitation to her. He sealed it and immediately sent it out. Time was critical here.
A few days later a letter came back. Aunt Lauren happily accepted the invitation to come and live in the factory. She had given him her phone number, so he called and they finalized the details.
Finally the big day arrived. Willy got into the elevator and off he flew. In what seemed minutes, he could see what once was his aunt's home. Nearby he could see a familiar figure.
Aunt Lauren was standing at the edge of her driveway, a suitcase at her feet. She had been allowed to take some things that had personal value to her and some clothes. Now she stood, scanning the sky for her nephew. Suddenly she was startled by a call of, "Hey Auntie!"
"Where are you?" Aunt Lauren asked, looking around.
"To your left," came the answer.
She looked, and there he was, hovering in the air. She grinned, "Get yourself down here, silly." She watched as he landed and opened the door for her before grabbing her suitcase and running over. Remembering how he had crashed into it during his visit, and she herself not entirely sure where it stood, she slowed down.
In a moment she was inside and Willy pressed a button to close the doors. Willy smiled at her, "Welcome aboard, Auntie," he said.
"Thank you, Willy," she said. "I'm so glad you offered to take me in."
"You're welcome," Willy said, pressing another button. Off they flew, back to the factory. The rest of that day Aunt Lauren spent settling into her new room.
The next morning Willy knocked on Aunt Lauren's door. "Yes?" she said, opening it. Willy stared. She was dressed in a dark blue long sleeved velvet gown that went beautifully with the color of her eyes. Her hair was pulled up in back in a bun except for a few strands that framed her face. On her hands she wore white lace gloves and on her feet were black leather high heeled shoes.
"Auntie," he breathed, "you're beautiful."
"Thank you," Aunt Lauren said, "I had the oompa-loompa tailors make the dress and gloves up yesterday afternoon."
"They did a wonderful job," Willy said. "I'll have to make sure they get a little something extra next payday." Then he smiled. "I came by to invite you to come with me to breakfast with the Buckets. After all, I figure they should meet you and learn that you're staying here."
Aunt Lauren backed up, a twinkle dancing in her eyes, "You didn't…" she said.
Willy grinned at her and answered, "I did."
"So they don't even know I was going to move in…" Aunt Lauren said. Then she grinned. "I would be happy to accompany you," she said.
They headed down to the elevator and got in. "Hold on tight," Willy said, pressing the button for the Chocolate Room.
"Whoa!" Aunt Lauren said once the elevator stopped, staggering out. "That was a wild ride." Then she grinned. "It was fantastic!"
"Wasn't it?" Willy asked. Then he started to wave. "Hey! Charlie! Over here, M'boy!"
"Willy!" Charlie ran over to his friend, slowing as he got close. "Mom just sent me to come find you. Where were you?" Then he noticed Aunt Lauren. "Who's your friend?" he asked.
Aunt Lauren smiled and held her hand out, which Charlie shook. "You are just as I imagined you, Charlie. Willy's told me all about you and your family. I'm Willy's Aunt Lauren," she said.
"The one who taught me about horses," Willy added.
The three of them walked to the Bucket house where Aunt Lauren was introduced to the family and they settled down to breakfast.
Aunt Lauren talked easily with the Buckets. She was one of those people who had the gift of putting people at ease by simply being herself. Willy had always noticed this about his aunt. He was pleased to see that everybody loved her almost instantly.
At the end of the meal, Mr. Bucket stood up. He tapped his glass and silence instantly fell. "As you know," he said. "There is a new person in this factory this morning. Willy Wonka's Aunt Lauren. I also know, and I hope you agree with me, that ever since we came to live here Willy has become like part of our family to me." Every head nodded in agreement. "So, I hope you will join me in saying," and here Mr. Bucket raised his glass to where Aunt Lauren sat next to Willy, "Welcome to the family, Lauren." Everybody clapped.
"Thank you," Aunt Lauren said, blushing ever so slightly. "You're all so kind. I felt from the moment I arrived the other day that I belonged here, and you have only increased that feeling."
Willy smiled at his aunt. At last, the one member of Willy's family he ever cared for was with him again. He had Cocoa, his aunt, Charlie, and an adopted family in Charlie's parents and grandparents. Life could not have been any sweeter.