Harry and the Chocolate Factory, Chapter 1, The Announcement
Disclaimer: The Harry Potter Universe belongs to JKRowling. The Willy Wonka Universe belongs to Roald Dahl.
A/N: You might have read this already, as it's the third chapter in 100 Ways Harry DIDN'T Find Out He Was a Wizard. Well, my betas, sassyfrass and rosiekatriona, refused to let me just let this story end where it did. So, I'm breaking it out into chapters, and will continue work on it. I'm not sure how long it will end up being, but it should be a fun ride. Note that I've made a few changes in this version compared to the one in 100 Ways—rewriting small portions. Any major typos I find as I do this will be propagated back, at least, so that 100 Ways will be as mistake-proof as possible.
The whole neighborhood of Little Whinging was in an uproar. This might have been cause for alarm, except for the fact that its uproar was somewhat lost in the uproar that engulfed Surrey itself. But then, that wasn't a surprise, because the entirety of England was caught up in the same hysterical excitement, and not just England either. Excited childish cries could be heard from a very large white house in Washington, District of Columbia, United States of America. In the President's palace in Namibia were to be heard exclamations of joy and happiness for the same reasons. In small huts in the upper Amazon, where the only modern convenience was a radio, children danced around their parents singing about chocolate. In a ramshackle house outside of a little village in Devon, a family full of redheads, mostly boys, but also including one small girl, formed a conga line and danced through the kitchen laughing and joking about the wonderful news. In short, the celebration seemed to be common throughout the whole world.
It is, perhaps, incorrect to say that the whole world was in the same tizzy. There were some people in deepest Africa who didn't have a television, hadn't read the newspaper, and weren't prone to visiting larger towns to get the latest gossip. There were a few people living in a religious commune in the Yucatan peninsula who had sworn off any contact with the outside world, and had happened to be in a self-imposed indoors isolation retreat when the skywriting was visible in that region. And of course, there was a certain young boy, who lived in a cupboard, who had been trained from infancy that nothing good would ever happen to him, and who didn't see the need to get himself into a frenzy over something that wouldn't ever affect him.
The strident tones of Dudley Dursley's bellow echoed throughout #4 Privet Drive. In his cupboard, Harry took note. In his years with the Dursleys, Harry had learned how to recognize certain situations, based on the tenor of the voice. He recognized the "Harry's done something wrong come punish him!" tone. He, of course, knew very well the "Let's go beat up Harry!" cadences, which were usually said in a leering chuckle to Dudley's so-called friends. And then there was the "I've got my parents wrapped around my finger" whine, which was employed whenever Dudley wanted to ask for something that he knew he probably shouldn't have, but lusted for anyway.
This most recent yell held a note that Harry wasn't accustomed to hearing. It was more of a genuine surprise and excitement than anything else, and Harry immediately pressed himself up against the grate in the cupboard door to hear what was going on. He didn't do this in the hope of something good happening to him. He supposed that it was possible, but didn't have a lot of experience with that type of occurrence. No, he just had a forlorn hope that whatever was causing Dudley's current excitement would be something interesting to hear about.
The sound of Aunt Petunia's hurried footsteps came from overhead, followed by the rapid patter of her feet on the stairs, with accompanying dustfalls and spider scurryings, as Dudley's doting mother raced to the side of her poor boy.
"What is it, Duddy-kins? What's the matter?"
Harry was happy not to see this part of the conversation, knowing that his aunt's face would be showing the anxiety that she always felt whenever anything out of the ordinary happened, and it would be an unwelcome reminder of how often he had been the cause of these extraordinary happenings.
"Mother, the telly just announced the most amazing thing!!! You know that Wonky fellow, that makes all the great chocolates and sweets?"
"Wonka, dear, his name is Willy Wonka," Petunia gently corrected him.
"That's what I said! Anyway, it said that he was going to allow some kids to come visit his chocolate factory! He's putting these golden thingies into the candy and you have to eat the candy and find the gold and if you do then you get to visit!!" Dudley was hardly able to get the words out in the proper order, he was so excited.
Harry was grateful, once again, to not be there to have to see the disgusting spectacle of his cousin slobbering and spitting pieces of food all over the place—after all, Dudley usually ate while he was watching TV, and had never yet felt the need to stop eating while talking.
"Duddy, what are you talking about? Mr. Wonka hasn't let anyone into his factory in just about forever, ever since that one boy, Bucket, I think was his name, disappeared inside and never came out. I'm sure he wouldn't try this silly golden ticket thing again!" Petunia had not even been born yet when the Bucket Scandal had taken over the consciousness of the world. All she could recall was hearing her parents talk about a group of children visiting the factory and having all sorts of problems, then one child never being seen again.
"But Ma, I heard it—they said that this was starting to happen right now!! Ma, I want to go buy some Wonka candy! Please take me! I want to find a Golden Ticket! I want to go to the chocolate place! Take me now!!!"
Dudley's pleas almost went unheeded—Petunia certainly didn't want to be party to any sort of irregular occurrence. But at that moment, the television broadcast repeated what Dudley must have heard earlier. At that proof that Dudley wasn't making it up, Petunia's maternal instincts (well, she labeled them "maternal" even though in other women they would have been labeled "coddling", and other less-than-flattering words) awoke, and she gave in to Dudley's demands.
"Okay Duddy-kins, let me get my handbag, and we'll walk down to the candy store and get you some chocolate. After all, you didn't eat very much for breakfast—". At this, Harry snorted. He had, as always, cooked breakfast that morning, and couldn't help but notice that, while true that Dudley hadn't eaten as much as normal, he had still gone through three plates of eggs, 7 slices of toast with marmalade, and a whole side of bacon.
Later that day, after Harry had finished his afternoon chores, he went for a walk. While this was not, strictly, allowed, he knew that since Uncle Vernon wasn't home yet, his aunt wouldn't make a fuss about him being gone for awhile.
As the young 10-year old was wandering through Laurel Place, he noticed a piece of paper fluttering in the gutter. He usually scanned the surroundings as he walked. It, of course, was a necessity, having grown up with "Harry Hunting" being the national sport, or at least the neighborhood pastime. But, self-preservational habits aside, he found it occasionally very interesting, as there was no telling what kinds of objects would wind up in the gutter, or trapped under bushes, or hidden behind trash bins. This time it proved to be a five-pound note. He had never seen one before, at least up close, but it said so, right on the front. It looked to be a rather new one, not dirty, or ragged, or wet, or faded, or anything else that would have explained it being left where it was. It looked as if someone had just decided to put a new, clean banknote in the one place that Harry would be sure to find it, and even more, that this strange thing had happened just moments before.
Slightly nervous at the thought that this might be a prank, and glancing all around him to see if he could perhaps find the supposed pranksters, Harry slowly bent down and picked up the money. As he did so, he heard a slight 'pop' from the bushes to his side, but his quick glance over there showed nothing.
Harry now found himself at a loss as to what to do. He had never had money before, and wasn't quite sure what was "allowed". He supposed that he should probably make some effort to find the previous owner of the money, but didn't quite know how to go about it. The brief thought of asking Aunt Petunia for help crossed his mind, only to leave as soon as it entered. He had no doubts that she would confiscate the banknote, box his ears for having "stolen Vernon's hard-earned money", and thrown him into his closet with more force than usual. This would, of course, not lead, by any stretch of the imagination, to his being able to return the money.
After further thought, Harry decided that he'd look for the candy store that Dudley had previously visited. He hoped that maybe the candy store owner would be sympathetic to his plight, since Harry had never been there before and might not have been told about Harry's supposed "delinquent" status, and would at least be able to tell him if there were other stores nearby. He hoped that it would still be open, although with the amount of chocolate that Dudley had brought home, and subsequently consumed, it was possible that it had closed, due to having no more merchandise.
Harry looked around, trying to find the aforementioned store. Not seeing any sign or indication that there was a candy store in the immediate vicinity, he finally stopped a nice-looking older man to ask for some guidance. He was somewhat worried about bothering a normal person with his "freakish" presence, but reasoned that the old man in question probably wouldn't be able to hit him before he could escape, so he probably wouldn't get into trouble. He had never seen this old man before, so it was unlikely that Aunt Petunia or Uncle Vernon knew him, although, to be truthful, it was more this old man's eccentric appearance that led him to that conclusion than any knowledge of his relatives' circle of acquaintances.
"Excuse me, sir, could you please point me to the nearest candy store?" Harry had, of course, been taught to be very respectful when approaching one's betters, and it had been drilled into his head that just about everyone he was likely to meet was his better, although on the subject of tramps and hobos he still wasn't one-hundred percent clear.
"Hello there, young Harry," the old man said. "Why would you need to go to the candy store?"
Harry was astounded. This old man knew his name! Was Harry wrong? Did his relatives already know this man? Had they told him the normal story, that Harry was a criminal? His shock came very close to freezing him in his tracks, although there was some part of him that readied his body for an accelerated escape should one become necessary.
After a moment, when it looked as if he weren't going to be accosted, he realized that, no matter how his name was already known, he needed to answer the question posed—another of the lessons that he had been forced to learn at quite a young age was to always answer when adults were talking.
"Yes sir. I found this money—" and here Harry showed the banknote to the old man, hoping against hope that his reaction wouldn't be the same as his aunt's would have been, or worse, his uncle's.
The old man interrupted, "—and you wanted to go buy candy with it, I understand."
"No sir," Harry responded immediately. "I was going to ask the owner if he'd lost it, or knew someone who had. I know it's not mine, and wanted to return it to its owner."
The old man seemed to be unable to formulate a response to this completely unexpected statement of Harry's. He stood there, staring at the young boy, with his mouth open in amazement. The silence grew to be somewhat off-putting, until he finally shook himself, closed his mouth, then opened it again.
"Harry, that sounds like a great idea! It's wonderful that you would take the time to try to return someone's missing money to them. Tell you what, I'd like to walk with you to the candy store, if I may?"
Harry was a little taken aback by this strange man's request. He didn't think he knew this man, although it seemed apparent that the reverse wasn't quite true, and knew that he wasn't worth someone's time to escort him to a store when they could just as easily tell him the directions. But he hadn't been hit in the entire time they had been talking, and he was starting to think that maybe this person might be someone he'd like to get to know.
"Well sir, I'm sure you don't have to. I'll be fine with directions, and I certainly wouldn't want to take up your valuable time. And I've been told not to go off with strangers, and while you seem to know who I am, I don't think my aunt and uncle would be happy if I left with you."
The old man seemed somewhat saddened by Harry's not recognizing him. But then a sneaky smile crept onto his face. "Well Harry, you and I have met before, although it was a long time ago, and it's not surprising that you wouldn't remember me. But as for who I am, you can just call me Charlie. I have to agree that your aunt and uncle wouldn't necessarily approve of me, but I promise that I won't do anything to hurt you."
Harry thought about the man's words for a bit. He thought about his limited interactions with him, taking note especially of the fact that he hadn't once felt threatened by the man, in either actions or words. The fact that his relatives wouldn't approve of him didn't put him off especially—there were a very large number of people that Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia didn't approve of, most notably Harry himself, so that wasn't exactly a scathing condemnation. Upon reaching this point, he made his decision.
"Okay," Harry said, "but I need to get home soon after this, because my uncle will be returning from work."
With this agreement forged, the two men, taller leading shorter, made a sharp right-hand turn down Fescue Boulevard, and headed towards Bon-Bons 'n' Things, the local candy store.