Author: DollyDaydreamer PM
Sweeney Todd returned to Fleet Street to find everything changed, especially one thing, Mrs. Lovett's 15 year old daughter. In this girl, Mrs. Lovett holds an unknown secret, one which could change everything if she could only find the courage to reveal it.Rated: Fiction T - English - Mystery/Romance - Sweeney T. & Eleanor L. - Chapters: 13 - Words: 80,483 - Reviews: 66 - Favs: 19 - Follows: 16 - Updated: 11-04-12 - Published: 06-30-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8271231
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Sorry for the wait on these chapter guys, I'll try and speed up a bit :) As always, thanks to my reviewers EleKat, Noodlemantra, BlogBird, dionne dance, saw-kitti and Helen Young and as always to Bellatrix Nellie Le-Lovett for being my lovely beta.
Hope you enjoy and don't forget to review!
Chapter 9 – Sapphires and Peridots
Nellie downed the glass of gin in one gulp before slamming it down on the table and reaching for the bottle to pour herself another. Sweeney stared across the table at her, his vision slightly blurred due to the amount of gin he'd already drunk.
"Haven't you had enough already?" He asked, frowning as she swilled the glass around between her finger and her thumb.
Clearing her throat, she looked down into her glass and shook her head, "Not after a busy day love." She said taking a large gulp from the glass.
Sweeney shrugged and took a sip from his own glass, raising an eyebrow as he watched Nellie top up her already nearly full glass.
"Pies are goin' down well. No one's clocked on yet. Thank God. Caddie were pokin' round the other day but I jus' told 'er it was a new recipe an' a different meat." Nellie said suddenly before taking another gulp of her gin.
Sweeney looked up from his glass and frowned. They'd been sat there for coming up an hour in almost silence and Sweeney wondered why it was only when she could barely talk without a slur in her voice that she had decided to bring up the subject. "What did Caroline say?" he asked placing his glass down on the table.
Nellie glanced up at him, her smile slightly lopsided, "Nought much love." She said, blinking heavily, "Jus' wondered why we were gettin' customers all of a sudden." She added slowly.
Sweeney nodded and downed his remaining gin. Silence hung over the pair as Sweeney sat staring into his glass and Nellie sat staring at Sweeney with a slight dreamy look on her face.
This was the third night that Sweeney had joined Nellie down in the shop for a drink after they'd both closed up. Not much conversation was ever made, the pair happy enough just to sit in each other's company.
Another glass of gin later, Nellie stood slowly and reached for the bottle. "I'm goin' ter bed." She said quietly after realizing yet again that plying Sweeney with alcohol would not turn him more affectionate towards her. Walking towards the parlour, she did not turn back to acknowledge his grunt in reply, simply deposited the bottle in the cabinet on her way through into her bedroom, trying to be as quiet as possible so as not to wake a sleeping Toby on the parlour floor in front of the dying fire.
It was only now Sweeney realized that retrieving Nellie's gin bottle and staying to finish it before heading up to bed was a bad idea, not least because of the ear bashing he'd received from the woman herself that morning about leaving her no gin and her now having to go out and buy some more. Resting his elbows on his knees, he buried his head in his hands, rubbing his temples to try and alleviate the throbbing caused by the drink and Nellie's telling off.
The sound of the shop door opening and closing was the last thing he wanted to hear. Taking a deep breath, he stood up using the armrest of the barber's chair and turned to see not a customer, but a nervously smiling Caroline. Briefly nodding in her direction, Sweeney turned away from her, having avoided her as much as possible since that day when he'd opened up his shop.
"I brough' up yer lunch Mr. Todd." The girl said quietly. Turning slightly, he watched her reflection in the window as she turned from the door and placed the tray on the vanity, pausing to run her thumb over the picture of Lucy and Joanna. Sweeney frowned slightly, wondering what the girl's fascination with his family was. Her voice brought him back from his thoughts. "She 'as yer eyes."
Whipping round to face her he almost lost his balance, forgetting his body was still feeling the effects of last night's late night. "What der yer mean?" He asked, wondering if his slowness was another side effect of the drinking.
Caroline turned to him and frowned, "Yer daughter, yer Joanna. She's got yer eyes." She said, her own brown eyes locking onto his.
Sweeney swallowed and tried to tear his gaze away from hers, cursing himself for getting lost in her eyes again. A shiver ran down his spine as those two words came drifting tauntingly back into his mind."Benjamin Barker." He whispered before he could stop himself.
Caroline frowned, her eyes narrowing as she tilted her head to the side slightly, "What did yer say?" She asked as she brought one hand up to rest on her hip.
Sweeney panicked and turned back to the window, "Nothing." He grunted, hoping she would be unlike her mother in that she could tell when someone wanted to be alone. Unfortunately for him, it wasn't the sound of the shop door opening and closing that broke the silence, but her voice.
"Yes yer did. Yer said a name." She said, taking a step towards him, "Benjamin Barker." She said quietly, "Who's he?"
Unable to stop himself, he span round, wide eyed and angry, "Get out." He roared, regretting it immediately as he saw the girl's eyes grow in fear. Before he could say anything to stop her, Caroline turned and ran out the shop, leaving the door swinging open in the September wind.
Placing the book she was only half reading down on her lap, Nellie looked up at her daughter and sighed deeply. She'd been quiet and distracted all day and no matter how much she said she was fine, she could hardly deny it now; she'd been on the same page of her novel for the last half an hour.
"Caddie love, come on, what's wrong?" Nellie finally asked, making Caroline jump slightly as if she'd forgotten where she was. Looking up at her mother Caroline shook her head before flipping the page of her book and turning her gaze unseeingly back to it.
Wiping her hand across her face, Nellie hauled herself up from her chair and wondered over to sit next to Caroline on the couch. Slowly, she reached out and took the novel from her unresisting hands and closed it, placing it on the table. "Caddie, what's wrong wi' yer?" she asked again, "Yer been in another world all day love." She said, taking her daughter's cold hands in her own.
Finally, Caroline turned to face her mother, a strange expression on her face. She opened her mouth a few times as if to speak before closing it again, not quite finding the words. After a few minutes of silence, she finally spoke, a question that made Nellie's whole body go numb.
"Who's Benjamin Barker?"
Nellie swallowed, only to find her throat as dry as saw dust. "Why d'yer ask love?" she asked, her voice coming out slightly hoarse.
"Mr. Todd said it. 'E got angry when I asked who it were." She explained, frowning at her mother who seemed to be turning paler and paler by the minute.
"Why did 'e say it?" She all but whispered.
Caroline looked away from Nellie and down at their still clasped hands. "I told 'im Joanna had 'is eyes and then 'e said it. Well, whispered it. When I asked 'im who it where 'e went mad an' threw me out." Caroline said.
Nellie swallowed again and wondered why he was bringing up Benjamin Barker when talking with her daughter. Could it be that he was starting to realize? Could she allow herself to get her hopes up? Or was it just the mention of Joanna that had brought about the outburst? Surely it had to be that. There was no way that he could be getting suspicious; she'd given him no reason to be.
"So who is 'e?" Caroline repeated, making Nellie jump slightly.
"An old friend of ours. 'E lived down the road when Mr. T lived above with 'is wife an' yer father were still alive." She lied, removing her hands from her daughter's grasp. "'E used ter dote on the girl an' spoil 'er rotten. Always used ter comment on 'er eyes." She said, standing up and wondering back over to her chair, "Yer mentionin' 'er eyes must o' brought back memories is all." She said, thinking about how good a liar she'd become since Sweeney Todd had returned.
"Thanks love." Nellie said as a gentleman walked out the shop, handing her a small pile of coins on his way out. Slipping them in the pocket on the front of her apron, she wondered back behind the counter and began rolling out the pastry she'd made earlier. Glancing up, she frowned at Sweeney who had been sat at the closest table sipping her new bottle of gin for the past half an hour. "Is business really that slow that yer have ter spend all yer time down 'ere drinkin' me gin?" She asked, sprinkling flour over the pastry.
Sweeney looked up and shrugged, "It's not working." He said, swirling the gin round in the glass.
Nellie frowned and straightened up, placing her floury hands on her hips, "What's not workin' dear?" she asked.
"The judge, he hasn't come." Sweeney grunted.
Nellie gasped slightly and dashed from behind the counter and over to the table where he was sat. "Keep yer voice down. We got customers!" She whispered loudly as she sat down opposite him, "An' anyway, don't be so negative. The Beadle came in didn't 'e. 'E's bound ter recommend yer sooner or later."
Sweeney grunted and took another sip of his gin. Sighing, Nellie stood up and wondered back round to the other side of the counter. Picking up her rolling pin, she glanced around the shop. It was nearly empty.
"No Miss Lovett terday?" The last customer in the shop asked as he wondered up to the counter to pay. Nellie glanced up and shook her head.
"She's gone ter the market fer me this afternoon." She said with a polite smile.
The man nodded and pulled out a few coins from his pocket which he placed on the counter. Nellie smiled again before gathering them up and pocketing them along with the rest.
"I hope she's not gone on her own." Sweeney said, his voice making Nellie jump slightly.
"Who love?" she asked, placing the rolling pin down and resting her elbows on the counter.
"Caroline. I know what happens to young women in that place. Even when they're not alone." He said grimly.
Nellie sighed, "That were a long time ago love." She said softly, "But no, she's gone wi' Toby if that puts yer mind at rest."
"Oh well that's alright then." He replied sarcastically. Nellie rolled her eyes before setting back to rolling out the pastry. Just as she thought she would get no more distractions, the shop door opened. Glancing up, the smile fell from her face as she saw Harry Ramsgate closing the door behind him. Her change in expression didn't go unnoticed on Sweeney and he turned his head to follow her gaze.
"Master Ramsgate. Wha' can we do fer yer terday?" she asked, straightening up and placing her hands back on the floury hand prints on her hips.
"I came in to see Miss Lovett Ma'am. Is she around?" He asked, standing a few steps in from the door with an annoying self assured but shy look on his face that made Nellie's blood boil.
"No. Sorry, she ain't in at the moment." Nellie said, hoping Caroline and Toby didn't choose now to arrive back again.
"Oh. Well do you know what time she'll return?" He asked, taking a further couple of steps into the shop.
Nellie shook her head, "No, sorry love, I don't."
Harry sniffed and scuffed his shoe along the floor, his eyes on the ground, "Well what time would be best for me to come back do you think?" He asked, raising his gaze to meet hers.
Nellie sighed heavily before planting her hands on the counter, "I don't know Master Ramsgate." She said, trying to keep her voice calmer than she felt.
"Well you must have some idea?" He said, frowning at Nellie disapprovingly.
Nellie set her teeth, who did he think he was coming into her shop and making her out to be the bad person. Before she had chance to say anything, Sweeney was on his feet and across the room in three purposeful strides, his hand hovering over his holster.
"Look Sir." He almost spat, "The Lady said she doesn't know. What part of that don't you understand?" Nellie bit her lip to suppress her smile; she was enjoying seeing Harry's cocky exterior falling away to reveal the shy little boy she knew he really was. She watched, a smile still playing on her lips as Sweeney backed him straight up to the door where he leant over and opened it before backing him out of the shop and slamming the door in his face.
A giggle escaped her lips as soon as the door closed. Harry, still looking shocked, glanced into the shop at Nellie. Noticing this, she waved at him as he turned away and almost ran down Fleet Street in the direction of his home.
Sweeney turned to face Nellie, something that looked incredibly like a smile on his face. "Thanks love." She said, still giggling slightly. Sweeney grunted and slumped back down on the bench.
"Who is he?" He asked, folding his arms across his chest.
"The tailor's son. 'E's got a bit of a thing fer Caddie." She replied, "Becomin' a bit of a nuisance really."
Sweeney grunted and sniffed, "Does he need getting rid of?" He asked, glancing up at Nellie.
Nellie paused and looked down at her hands, "No I don't think so love. Just frightenin' every now an' then." She said, picking up her rolling pin and setting to work again on the pastry.
There was a pause for a moment before Sweeney spoke again, "What does Caroline think of this Ramsgate fellow?" he asked.
Nellie looked up, the rolling pin still working on the pastry, "She don't like 'im." She said, wishing she'd never let him take her to the fair and then maybe it wouldn't have spiralled out of control.
Sweeney nodded and unfolded his arms, pulling the glass of gin along the table and raising it to his lips. Just as he took a sip, the door sounded. Sweeney almost growled, thinking it was Harry again. However, it was not his voice that rang through the room, but that of Caroline.
"Bit early ter be drinkin' ain't it?" she asked, wondering straight across the shop and unpinning her hat as she went.
"S'never too early pet." He replied, taking another sip. Caroline rolled her eyes before continuing through into the parlour. Toby picked up the bags Caroline had carried home and the ones he had carried and struggled with them through into the kitchen.
Sweeney waited until the boy was out of ear shot before he spoke. "Will you tell her?" He asked, making Nellie frown.
"Tell who what love?" Nellie asked, pausing her rolling.
"Caroline about Harry." He said, huffing in irritation.
Nellie shook her head and turned back to the pastry, "No love. She don't need ter know. 'E'll be back later anyway so she'll find out then."
Nellie was up unusually early on the morning of the 12th of September. She had decided the night before that everything had to be perfect that day. Not because she thought they were going to busy, or that she thought that would be the day when the judge would come. No, it was really because it was Caroline's sixteenth birthday.
Just as Nellie was finishing off the cake she'd made earlier that morning, she heard the kitchen door open. Spinning round, Nellie tried to shield the cake, thinking it would be Caroline. However, when she looked up into the doorway, she saw it was the barber, and not her daughter.
"Ahh Mr. T. Yer gave me a fright yer did." She said, letting out a breath she'd been holding.
Sweeney stepped into the room and frowned, "What are you hiding behind your back." He asked, stepping further into the room.
Nellie stepped aside to reveal the cake. Sweeney frowned and stepped up to the table. "I didn't know we were starting a bakery as well." He said.
Nellie shook her head and pushed the barber aside, "It's for Caroline, a birthday cake. I've never been able to afford to make 'er one before but seein' as it's 'er sixteenth an' I 'ad the money I thought it'd be nice." She said, sprinkling icing sugar over the top of the sponge.
"I didn't know it was her birthday today." He said, burying his hands in his pockets.
Nellie looked up at him, was that regret she saw in his eyes? "I never thought ter tell yer. Sorry." She said, turning back to the cake. Sweeney grunted before turning and sweeping out the shop. Nellie turned to face the door and frowned. Why did it bother him so much that she hadn't told him it was Caroline's birthday?
Caroline opened the shop door and wondered in, knocking not even crossing her mind. It was only when she'd closed the door that she realised the shop was empty and the barber was nowhere to be seen. Sighing, she placed the tray down on the vanity and turned back to the door. Just as she reached out for the door handle, it turned on its own and the door swung open. Caroline stepped back against the sharp gust of wind allowing Sweeney to step inside. He frowned at her as he shrugged off his coat an unwound his scarf from around his neck. Caroline bit her lip nervously, feeling like she was intruding on him.
"I brought up yer lunch." She explained, waving her hand behind her in the direction of the vanity.
Sweeney grunted and turned to face her, his coat and scarf dumped on the stool inside the door. "Why didn't you tell me it was your birthday today?" he asked, burying his hands in his trouser pockets.
Caroline blinked slightly disbelievingly, although she wasn't quite sure whether it was due to the fact that he knew it was her birthday or whether he sounded like he cared. "I didn't think yer'd 'ave any interest in knowin'." She said, trying to read the barber's expression. It was blank.
Sweeney shrugged and fingered the box in his pocket, his hand grasping it before releasing it again.
"Well I'd better be gettin' back down stairs." She said before slipping past him and out the door into the wind.
Sweeney pulled the box out of his pocket and slowly opened the lid revealing the gift he'd gone out and bought Nellie's daughter. He didn't know why he'd done it; he'd tried to stop himself but didn't seem to be able to.
Looking down into the box he wished it was Joanna the gift was for. As soon as his daughter was born, he'd sworn that on her sixteenth birthday he would buy her a necklace with peridot on, her birthstone. However, it was past his daughter's sixteenth birthday and that was why he was now sat in his barber's chair with a sapphire necklace in his hands.
Still confused, he ran his thumb over the large blue stone in the centre and felt the corner of his lip twitch slightly. He tried to image Caroline's face as he gave her the box. He felt stupid for not doing it earlier but he hadn't had the courage. The girl was starting to feel more and more like what he thought it should feel like to have a daughter and he didn't want to mess that up. If he couldn't be a father to Joanna then he'd be a father to Caroline; she deserved one, he decided.
Sighing, he closed the box and slipped it back into his pocket; he was bound to see her again before the day was out.
Before she could stop herself, Caroline found that she was knocking on the barber's shop door. Frowning, she twisted the door handle and pushed it open, wondering why she'd knocked; he never answered anyway.
When she stepped in, she realised the barber was nowhere to be seen again. Sighing slightly, she wondered where he went all the time. Shrugging she strode over to the vanity and placed the tray down, picking up the empty one and turning back to the door. Just as she reached out for the handle, someone clearing their throat behind her made her jump. Slipping round, she gasped quietly when she saw the barber standing behind his chair.
"Mr. Todd. Yer frightened me." She said, lowering her hand from the door handle.
Sweeney stepped out from behind the chair and cleared his throat again, "Happy birthday." He said quietly, "Didn't say it earlier."
Caroline couldn't help the smile that spread across her lips, "Thank yer." She said looking down at the floor to hide how genuinely pleased she felt that he seemed to care. She watched as his feet began to make their way slowly towards her.
"I bought you this." He said, his voice still low and barely audible.
Caroline looked up, wide eyed and slightly confused before her eyes landed on the small black box in his hand. Slowly reaching out, she took it off of him and opened the lid slowly. What she saw inside made her gasp loudly. Lying on a black velvet cushion was the most beautiful necklace she'd ever seen I her life. A large dark blue sapphire set in silver was hanging off a silver chain, a small diamond set each side of the sapphire. Caroline covered her mouth with one hand and looked up at Sweeney.
His eyes looked almost sad but his lips showed the opposite emotion; both corners turned up in an attempt at a smile.
"I can't accept this." She managed, her eyes flicking from his to the necklace and back again. Sweeney frowned and looked slightly hurt making Caroline feel terrible. Looking back down at the necklace, she shook her head slightly. "It's beautiful. Far too good for me." She said, watching as Sweeney's expression softened slightly.
Stepping forward, he reached across and pulled the necklace out of its box and unclasped it.
"Turn around." He ordered, his voice still quiet.
Caroline did as she was told, shivering as she felt his freezing cold hands on the back of her neck. When the necklace was fastened, he stepped back and wondered over to the vanity. Caroline followed, stopping in front of it so she could look at herself in the mirror.
When she saw her reflection, she gasped. The deep blue of the stone stood out in contrast to her sheet white skin making it look even more impressive than it had in the box.
"It's your birthstone." He said as he watched her in the mirror.
"I didn't know that." She said reaching up and running her thumb over the stone. She turned her head to Sweeney and smiled broadly, "Thank yer so much. It's the nicest thing anyone's ever bought me." She said, turning back to the mirror again to admire the way the diamonds shone in the fading light of the evening.
"Mum!" Caroline called into the shop, "Mum!" She shouted again when she received no answer. It was the short closed period between the lunch rush and the dinner rush and Caroline was outside in the courtyard enjoying the chilly September sun. She wrapped her shawl tighter round her shoulders and bent down to look under the table. "MUM!" she shouted, dashing across the courtyard and into the shop.
Rushed footsteps came from the parlour as Nellie emerged looking flustered, "What is it love?" she asked, a look of worry crossing her face.
"Its Ginger mum, I can't find 'im anywhere." She said, frowning as she watched her mother's face relax slightly.
"Oh thank God." She breathed quietly.
"What der yer mean?" Caroline asked, worry still evident behind the confusion in her voice.
"I thought somethin' 'ad 'appened ter you or Toby the way yer was shoutin' out there." She said, making Caroline look down at the floor slightly embarrassed.
"No, nothin' like that. But I can't find Ginger anywhere!" she said, looking back up at her mum at the end of the sentence.
Nellie shook her head and frowned, "'E's gone missin' before love. E'll come back when e's 'ungry. 'E always does." She said with a reassuring smile.
Caroline huffed frustratedly, "Yes but usually 'e's only been gone a few hours, this time 'e's been gone since last night." She said.
Nellie frowned and looked out the window behind her daughter, "That is weird. Where's Toby?" she asked, looking back at Caroline.
"Gone out lookin' fer 'im."
"Well at least that explains 'is no show at lunch. We really could'a done with an extra pair of hands." Nellie said with a slight frown.
"We're gettin' away from the point!" Caroline exclaimed a bit too loudly.
Nellie sighed, "'Ave yer looked everywhere?" She asked. Caroline nodded. "Even upstairs in Mr. T's shop? I've found 'im up there on several occasions." Caroline nodded again. "What about in Mr. T's private quarters. 'Ave yer asked 'im if 'e's seen the cat in there?" Caroline paused and shook her head. "Well yer know where ter go then don't yer." She said, turning and making her way back into the parlour.
Caroline span round on her heel and dashed quickly from the shop and up the stairs to the barber's shop. Ignoring the courtesy of knocking, she barged straight in, her eyes immediately searching the room to see if the cat had decided to put in an appearance here since she last checked. When she realised he still wasn't here, she sighed heavily and glanced around the shop again, this time however looking for the barber. He was nowhere to be seen. Swallowing, she took a few cautious steps towards the door that led into his parlour. Pausing, she wondered whether it was such a good idea. Surely she could just blame it on her mother if she got caught; he wouldn't be cross with her.
With a renewed determination, Caroline strode across the shop and pushed the door open just a crack. Slowly, she peered round to check he wasn't in there. When she was sure the room was empty, she opened the door fully and stepped in, straining her eyes to see in the gloomy darkness.
"Ginger?" she called quietly, her eyes flicking over the minimally furnished room quickly, "Ginger? Ginge?" she called again. Sighing, she turned to leave again, giving up on the cat being there until something on a small table in the corner of the room caught her eye.
Turning to the corner of the room, she slowly made her way over to the table where she reached out and lifted the silver photo frame, holding it up to what little light there was so she could see better. In the picture was a younger Sweeney Todd stood proudly with a baby Joanna on his hip. Caroline couldn't help but smile; even in pictures his smile was infectious. Slowly she reached up and cupped the sapphire necklace he'd bought her in her fingers. She hadn't taken it off since he'd bought it for her.
Seeing the two like this in the same picture showed Caroline how right she was about their eyes being the same. Chocolate brown, warm and inviting. Caroline frowned, she recognised those eyes from somewhere else. The unsettling feeling of recognition that she felt when the barber first arrived washed over her once more making her shiver. Even now she couldn't work out where she'd seen those eyes before, all she knew was that she knew them well.
Carefully, she set the picture back down on the table again being sure to make sure it was in exactly the same place. As she turned back towards the door, the sound of a creaking floorboard out in the shop made her freeze. Was that him back from wherever he'd been all morning? Swallowing, she dashed across the room and positioned herself behind the door so she could hear better and would also be hidden if he came in.
To her horror, after a few minutes of footsteps falling around the shop, they seemed to grow louder as they approached the door into the parlour. Caroline stepped back slightly so the door wouldn't hit her if he opened it. She was just in time. Just as she was still again, she door handle turned and the door swung open. Caroline watched helplessly as Sweeney strode in and closed the door behind him revealing her hiding place. As soon as the door was closed, the barber froze, his back to her before turning round slowly to face her, his expression unreadable but definitely not happy. Caroline swallowed, her throat feeling like sand paper as she took a tiny step forward. She opened her mouth to speak but found no words would come out.
"What are you doing in here?" He asked after a few moments' silence.
"I'm sorry." Caroline whispered, sidestepping a little bit closer to the door.
"That doesn't answer my question." Sweeney growled, seeing what Caroline was trying to do and moving himself in front of the door to block her escape.
"I was looking fer Ginger." Caroline blurted out, finally remembering why she had decided to enter the barber's private quarters, "'E's gone missin'." She added, hoping he would believe her.
The barber narrowed his eyes, "Well then why didn't you leave as soon as you'd discovered he wasn't in here?" he asked.
"I only just got in 'ere." Caroline lied, hoping it wouldn't show.
The barber growled and turned away from the door, striding over to the corner of the room where the photo of him and Joanna was. Caroline realised this was her time to slip away but she couldn't bring herself to leave, her eyes were fixed on the man in the opposite corner as he reached down and picked up the photo frame she'd held only minutes before hand.
"Yer lucky yer know." She said before she could stop herself. The barber span round to face her slowly, a dangerous glint in his eyes that Caroline had not seen before. Realising she had to carry on, she swallowed and took a step forward. "I know yer wife was ill an' died. An' I know the judge took yer little girl away from yer. But at least yer got some 'appy memories before yer moved away. An' the photographs. I ain't got anything like that of my dad. Just a photo of 'im posin' in the parlour and some not so lovin' memories. I don't remember anythin' that proves 'e loved me. Mum's always tellin' me 'e did but I don't reckon 'e did. But at least yer got ter spend some time with yer Joanna. An' I'm sure the judge would let yer 'ave 'er back if 'e knew yer were back an' in better circumstances."
There was a long pause, neither knowing what to say. Eventually, Sweeney's face relaxed slightly and Caroline thought she was off the hook until he threw his head back and let out the most mocking kind of laugh she'd ever heard in her life. Beginning to feel worried again, she took a step back from the barber, only stopping again when he lowered his head and locked his gaze onto hers.
"What on earth has you mother told you girl!" He said, his voice sounding nothing like she'd ever heard it before, "My daughter probably doesn't even know who the bloody hell I am! And if I went to the judge's house to claim her back and tell him I was back in London my stay here would not be long; I'd be shipped off again quicker than you can say 'Joanna Barker is my daughter'. And secondly, my wife was never ill. Not physically anyway. She didn't die from being sick, she poisoned herself." He spat, his eyes almost glowing with anger.
Caroline was almost shaking with fear and confusion now; she didn't think she'd ever seen someone so angry in her life. Just as she went to open her mouth to speak, the barber put his hand up to silence her.
"I haven't finished." He growled, his voice threateningly low. "I wasn't going to tell you this, I didn't think it was any of my business. But I think it's a nice way of rounding off out little chat. You want to know why you have no happy memories of you father? It's because there are none to have. That bastard of a man you call your father is no more related to you than he is to me. You have no father. Your mother probably doesn't even know who he is either the silly little whore." He spat.
Caroline was shaking now, her breathing coming fast and uneven. The pair stood for a few moments in silence, Sweeney showing no sign of regret at what he'd just said.
Finally, Caroline stepped forward towards him, her eyes wide and her jaw set. Slowly, she reached up around her neck and unclasped the necklace he'd bought her for her birthday. She let it fall into her hand before throwing it on the floor in front of her and stepping over it so she and the barber were stood only inches apart.
"Albert may not have been my father but he wasn't the bastard. That man is standing in front of me." She spat before turning and storming from the room, straight through the shop and out the door.
As soon as the chilly air hit her face, the tears started rolling down her cheeks and off the end of her chin. She paused half way down the stairs and started to sob, hanging onto the railings as she heaved in great gulps of air that wracked her whole body.
The sound of the shop door opening at the bottom of the stairs made her look up. Toby was stood in the door way frozen to the spot, his eyes wide and confused. Not feeling in the mood to speak to anyone, Caroline bolted down the remaining stairs and straight past Toby. She ran through the shop, not bothering to even pause when she heard her mother's voice from somewhere near the counter, and straight through the parlour into her bedroom when she locked her door and bundled herself onto her bed, curling herself up into a tight ball.
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