Chapter 30: One More Sleep Till Christmas

It had just turned light when Veruca woke up, tousle-haired and bleary-eyed, on the twenty-fourth of December. She rolled over, enveloped in pink floral bedsheets. Now facing the window, she noticed that she had accidentally left the curtains open last night.

"Oh!"

She threw the covers back, disturbing a snoozing Victoria, and scrambled out of bed. Running over to the window, she tugged at the latch and flung it open. A mound of fresh snow sprinkled off the window ledge onto the driveway below. At last, snow!

"Veruca!" There was a crash as Veruca's bedroom door flew open and Dory came flying in, an overexcited blur in yellow pyjamas with yellow daisies on them. "It's snowed!"

"I know!" Veruca cried. Dory joined her at the window, and they spent a contemplative moment staring out at the early morning indigo sky.

"Do you think the pond will have frozen over?" Veruca said, resting her chin on her hand.

"Maybe. It wasn't yesterday. Then again, it seems to have become so much colder overnight. Oh, I hope it stays cold so the snow lasts! It's pretty deep, I can't see why it won't."

Dory continued chattering. Veruca tuned out slightly, a smile on her lips. It was wonderful to have her best friend to stay for Christmas. One of the first things she had done after arriving home was call Dory. This turned into a daily habit, and as such by the time December had arrived, it only seemed natural to have her to stay over the holidays. But Christmas was a time for family. So of course Dory's family came to stay too. It wasn't like there wasn't enough room at Veruca's house, and now family was rather thin on the ground.

Aunt Katharine was here too, of course, Martin and Ollie in tow. It only seemed natural after all she'd done for Veruca. Angina hadn't been too keen. She didn't get on all too well with her sister. The Little Talk they had had once Veruca had been brought home had been... uncomfortable, to say the least. It had mostly involved Aunt Katharine talking about Veruca's future in this household, Angina objecting and/or crying, and Veruca staring at the table in silence.

But the result of The Little Talk had undoubtedly been good. Veruca had started at a new school; the only other school nearby, Ashfield Crescent High School. Of course it hadn't been easy at first. There were always bitchy gangs of girls like Dannii and her friends, and of course everyone had enquired about the Golden Ticket incident. But now she had settled in somewhat, she had a nice little group of friends, a mix of boys and girls, all of whom seemed to genuinely like her. But Dory was her best friend. Nothing would change that.

And she could never forget about Violet either. She had received an email the evening before, brief but excited:

Hey Veruca! How are you doing?:)

My run in the West End is over, but you'll never guess what! I'm performing on Broadway after the New Year! I auditioned for 'Annie', and I got the lead! (Though they rotate the parts because kids can't work full-time, so I share the role with two other girls. They're really nice, rehearsals are a blast!) If you're in New York some time, you should totally stop by and see me! It'd be great to hang out again. I'm gonna audition for a movie two, my mom got sent a script (she's kinda my agent haha... I make sure she doesn't work me too hard though!). Audition's on the 27th, fingers crossed huh?

Write me back ASAP and tell me all about how you've been!

Love, Violet xxxxxxx

p.s. click the link! Thought you might be interested. x

Attached had been a link to some news website. Veruca had clicked it, curious. The article that opened up had made her blink in surprise – then smile.

WONKA COMPANY ANNOUNCES FACTORY TO OPEN FOR TOURS

The factory, it seemed, was going to open up its doors permanently, for anyone to visit at any time. It was not a long article, but it did include an interesting quote:

Mr. Willy Wonka, CEO of the company, was unavailable for comment, but his apprentice, Charlie Bucket, has stated: "This was a natural decision for us. The factory has done so much for me and for my family – and I believe it has done so much for the others who visited it with me, too. We want to spread that good to as many families as possible."

Veruca found herself smiling as she had never done before. He was right, really. It hadn't been easy and she may have hated it at times, but... where would she be if that trip hadn't happened? Where would Violet be? She wondered briefly about Mike and Augustus. Maybe she should try and contact them and find out. Hopefully life was going well for them, too.

"Let's go sledging," Veruca said to Dory. Dory looked at her.

"Right now? Before breakfast?"

"Sure!" Veruca closed the window. "We can have porridge when we get back. And hot chocolate, the one with caramel in it."

Dory grinned. "Sounds good! I'll go and put my thermals on."

Just then there was a buzz. Dory started, and pulled her phone out of her pyjama pocket.

"Do you always keep your phone in your pyjamas?" Veruca asked.

"Yeah! Well, not when I'm not wearing them. But what if I get a text in the night?"

"Who's it from?" Veruca asked as Dory checked her phone.

"It's George," Dory said. She read her text, smiled, then snapped her phone shut.

"George? What on earth does he want at 6am on Christmas Eve?"

"Oh...nothing," Dory said airily. Her relative silence spoke volumes. Veruca raised her eyebrows and smirked.

"Oh, shut up," Dory said, swatting at Veruca's shoulder.

"I didn't say anything!"

"You were thinking it!"

Veruca knew Dory had hung out with George at school now Veruca had left. That was pretty much all Dory had told her. But Veruca could fill in the gaps.

"He likes claymation," Dory told her. "That's a very unusual quality in a person! Once you find that, Veruca, you've got to hold on to it."

"Of course," Veruca said with a smile. "Whatever. But enough about him; let's go sledging!"

They pulled coats and woollens on over their night things and went out in the snow, just like that. It was still barely light, but this only added to the wonder of the scene. Snow everywhere like icing sugar, just waiting for someone to dive into it. It was perfect. Maybe this would be her very first perfect Christmas.

"Do you think you'll get what you asked for this Christmas?" Dory asked as they dragged their sledges to the top of the hill. From here, you could see the whole estate. It was really quite beautiful. The sun, a low bronze disc, was just visible over the forest in the distance.

"I... I don't know," Veruca said. For the first time, she meant it. She laid her sledge on the ground, and smiled at her best friend. "I'll just have to wait and see."


A/N: So … that's it. This is kind of surreal.

When I started writing this story it was 2008 and I was a dorky, awkward 14-year-old who hadn't sat a single exam and was hanging out with all the wrong people. Now I'm a less awkward but just as dorky 18-year-old, at university and meeting all the right people. I know you don't care about me or my life, but this story has occupied a really good period of it. It had its ups and downs – times when I was on top of the world, and times when I was lonely and depressed and plagued with writer's block. I don't know if I'm actually going to write fanfiction again; probably not any time soon. I want to work on my original stuff. Next logical step: finish book I am currently working on, publish, PROFIT. Thank you so, so much for reading, reviewing, favouriting – it really does mean the world to me. Any response to my work, be it love or hate, is an absolute gift. Wishing you all well. :) If you have any questions feel free to PM me.

p.s. the chapter title is, of course, from the song from 'A Muppet Christmas Carol', my favourite Christmas song and film. As it's Christmas I command you to go and watch it. Go on. Right now. ;)