"This was our house," the Hatter said. "You can still see where the walls were… You were to share a room with your sister when you got older, up there."
"With Lomenstra," Willy said, touching the charred wood and looking up at where Tarrant had pointed.
"Yes," said the Hatter. "There is so much here that could have been, so much that never was… But what is never ceases to surprise those who experience it."
Willy nodded. "I try to keep my life full of surprises," he said. "Some surprises are better than others, of course, but it's better than boredom."
"Just that is enough to prove who you truly are," Tarrant said, placing a hand on Willy's shoulder. "Overlanders are very rarely open to a life of surprises."
"All that you have told me today, about who you think I am…" Willy sighed. "It all seems so impossible…"
He turned to face the Hatter and smiled.
"…but I would be willing to believe it… Father."
A wide smile split Tarrant's face, and he wrapped his arms around Willy in a hug.
"My son…" he muttered. "After all these years, my son is alive…!"
Willy slowly returned the hug. It was slightly awkward… He had a father, back in Overland, but he was starting to doubt that that man up there was his blood father. And he had never had a mother, so being adopted made sense… He felt a strange connection to this man, this Tarrant Hightopp, and his world beneath the ground.
The hug was now a lot less awkward.
Charlie paused. Was that Mr. Wonka over there, among the eerie remains of buildings? And who was that man that he was hugging? He glanced at the dodo, who looked just as confused. The dormouse was frowning slightly.
"Is that your friend, Charlie?" Uilleam asked.
The two men pulled apart, and Charlie nodded.
"Yes," he said.
The boy and animals slowly approached the two men. Mr. Wonka, who was facing them, noticed them first.
"We have company," he said. The other man turned around.
"Oh, they're friends of mine," he said. "And… someone else."
"A friend of mine…" said Mr. Wonka. "Charlie! What are you doing here? And why are you so small?"
Charlie shrugged. "I fell in after you," he said. "And I had to get small, to get through the door."
"And who is this, Tarrant?" Uilleam asked.
"This?" The other man—Tarrant—grinned. "Uilleam, this is my son."
"Your son!" the dodo exclaimed.
"Impossible…" Mallymkun muttered.
"Mr. Wonka?" said Charlie. "I don't understand."
"Yes, well, it has been a very interesting morning," said Willy.
"Willmorat was just a baby on the Horunvendush Day," Tarrant said. "My wife and I left him with our daughter… Somehow, miraculously, he must have been sent to Overland in all of the confusion!"
"I believe that I was adopted," said Willy. "I never had a mother, remember, Charlie? Where else could I have come from?"
"I guess that makes sense…" Charlie said.
"And now, the family is reunited once more," said Uilleam. "What a wonderful occurrence!"
"It is, indeed," said Tarrant.
"So, now what?" Mallymkun spoke up. All eyes turned down to where she stood, arms akimbo.
"What do you mean?" Tarrant asked.
"You know what I mean," said the dormouse. "You're together again. Will it stay that way? Are the Overlanders staying here?"
"Mallymkun!" Uilleam began to reproach.
"Oh, shut it, please, Uilleam!" Mallymkun snapped. "It's a serious question!"
"They've hardly had any time together, and you're asking about how it will end?" the dodo continued.
"But she's right…" Tarrant said. He turned to Willy, his eyes questioning.
"I…" Willy hesitated.
Charlie was watching him expectantly. Would Mr. Wonka stay with his newfound father?
Willy sighed. "I have to go back," he said. "There's the factory, and the Oompa-Loompas, and there's still so much to teach Charlie…" His face lit up. "But you could come with me!"
Out of the corner of his eye, Charlie saw Mallymkun stiffen, her face fearful.
She doesn't want him to leave, he thought. Well, I wouldn't want a friend to leave, either…
And so he was actually kind of glad when Tarrant, after a long pause, finally shook his head.
"No," he said. "I belong in Underland, Willy, just as much as you belong in Overland now. You were born here… but you're an Overlander."
"…so we can't be together, Father?" Willy's voice was very soft.
"Oh, we could visit each other, there's no doubt about that," said the Hatter. "But staying… No. I'm sorry, Willmorat."
"No, I understand. Charlie and I have been gone long enough, anyway. It's high time we went home."
Father and son embraced each other again.
"You might want to give the boy some upelkuchen for the road," Mallymkun pointed out.
"Upel-what?" Charlie asked.
"To make you grow again, of course!" said the dormouse.
She has just as much of an attitude, even when she's happy, Charlie thought. Oh, well, I guess that's just how she is.
"Oh! Of course." Tarrant reached into a pocket and took out a small piece of cake, which he broke in two, handing one piece to Charlie.
"You might want to wait until you're in the tunnel before you eat that," he said. "You should get your clothes back then."
"Thank you," said Charlie. "How are we getting back?"
"The hole's still back over there, I think." Tarrant turned and pointed at a large rabbit hole at the base of a tree.
"Thanks for everything," Charlie said to the two animals.
"Not at all, my dear boy," said Uilleam. Mallymkun just shrugged indifferently.
Willy and Charlie walked over to the hole, looking back one last time to wave good-bye to their new companions. Then they grabbed each other's hand, so that they would for sure end up in the same place, and jumped.