A/N:I was totally and utterly taken in by Mrs. Lovett when I first saw her. But I guess I'm biased, since I walked into the movie already liking Mrs. Lovett a lot, since she got tons of pretty songs and costumes, and two of my favorite actresses have played her. Figured she needed something of her own, too. Inspired by lots of little things, like black widows, Sylvia Plath, and the musical in all its brilliance. Concrit trumps all; happy almost-Christmas.

pity

She's up to her elbows in dough now. She can't help but keep pushing and pressing and pulling at the flour and the dough, trying to stretch it enough to cover pounds and pounds of what used to be her neighbors and her friends and her priests, too.

Not to mention it's a downright awful business that's got to be kept up if they want to keep the customers coming. She thought she'd have enough work just trying to keep those bloody black widows out of her dough, but there's more than that.

Ifrigor mortis sets in on any of them what's dead, their supply's cut; men and their beards aren't regular enough to believe in and rely on, what with missuses' preferences changing and all.

So the flour doesn't really wash off, even with her hands so close to water and fire, to things that erode and wear away. She's always got flour on her hands, always, so when she ruffles Toby's hair or takes hold of Mr. Todd's hands, she leaves behind a white stain.

It reminds her that she's permanent, a bit more than just a slip of a woman. She sees them marked: Toby as her maybe-son, or the closest thing she's ever got to one; and Mr. Todd, her maybe-lover, the only man she ever really loved.

(Maybe it's bad, for her to say that. Because of course there was Albert: sweet, fat Albert who just wanted to keep her safe, but it wasn't as if he could do that when he'd eat himself to exhaustion on her pies.)

None of the new things stop the dreams, though. Sometimes she has rather fantastic ones: she tells Mr. Todd of one, down by the sea, married nice and proper, chums over every Friday, growing old together.

That's the prettier one.

The other one's got fire, bright like poppies in July. Fire like a great terrible beast, carving its way through streets and eating her away, eating her colorless face and dying curls away. And a figure, just there, a wingspan away, painfully familiar.

She awakes feeling betrayed, though she doesn't know why.

She awakes feeling alone too, but that's a feeling she knows well enough.

Pity a woman alone, she thinks even with her hand 'round Mr. T's shoulder and Toby's sleepy curly head near her lap. Because she already knows they're not fireproof, and one day (as all men are wont to do), they will leave her.

It's why she locks Toby in the bake-house.

She feels downright awful about it, but not as bad as she does when she knows Mr. Todd will eventually have to join him. She needs as much time as she can get now, with the both of them.

Because the sea isn't a possibility anymore, it's not, not with the damned spots of dough not ever washing out and the stench of death coming from her chimney. They don't have much time left, even with their respectable business and money coming in regular and cheery wallpaper on the walls.

They pretended they were immortal.

Fatal mistake, that. Now when she hears the clock winding down.

And it's even worse than that.

Because all Mr. Todd talks about is bloody not-quite-but-good-asdead Lucy and bloody good-as-dead Johanna and the old bloody should-have-been-dead-by-now Judge and how everyone deserves to die (even you, Mrs. Lovett, even I).

And Mr. Todd, why, she's getting the feeling that he doesn't really love her at all.

Despite her being his pet and friend and accomplice and confidante, she's getting the feeling that he doesn't really love her at all.

All of it's enough to make her sick, sick like popping pussycats and priests in pies, and it's enough to make her think of ways out, things like backway alley plans.

(Oh, arsenic's never looked so glamorous.)

Pity a woman alone? she whispers when she wakes and wakes and wakes, with flour and spider bites on her hands and nightmares tangled in her curls.

Ah, sir. Times is hard. Times is hard.

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