Note: My first Sweeney fic, which I've been working on since the film came out. It's a companion piece to 'Quite the Gentleman,' but makes perfect since as a standalone, since the other fic is based off of this. Kindly remember to review!
Disclaimer: Don't own. Don't sue?
She walks like a man. A sailor, even, and talks like one, too. Her lanky arms are held in almost a circle when her shoulders hunch, making them look terribly burly. Her hands clench in fists and her small muscles strain like a boy carrying buckets of water, and when she walks it's more of a lumber even though her footsteps are quiet.
He'd find the way her hips almost sway perversely enticing if he weren't so busy.
She starts to dress more nicely and take more care when keeping the shop after they meet. She tries to appear modest by raising the neckline of her dresses by patching on lace and dyes her hair a garish red that, for some reason, doesn't look too garish on her. She smiles smugly at him whenever he glances down at her serving the customers, because she knows that it's because of her that they can afford the dye and the meat.
If he weren't so preoccupied with thoughts of his Johanna, he'd grin in return.
He notices, after a while, that she, lumbering up the stairs with her pies, is a sight that he doesn't want to find the words to describe. She's also one of the reasons why there are so many customers - behind the not-so-garish flyaway hair and the botchy lace, there's a genuine smile covered by bitter cochineal. And when she smiles at him, there's a sort of hunger in her eyes that disappears whenever she takes him by the arms at night at firmly tells him that sleep is needed - because without sleep, he wouldn't be able to concentrate and then wouldn't even be able to take care of his customers properly!
He would realize that her hands were warm if he didn't always picture Lucy in her place.
When business starts to get better and the shadows around both their eyes get darker, she hums lullabies in her shrill voice when he sits in his chair that's really hers and she smashes all the wayward insects she can. The last thing he sees each night is the way her eyes glint in the firelight, matching the glimmer of her butcher knife.
He'd notice that he sleeps more easily when she does this if it weren't for the way he has eyes only for the shining blade he polishes dry every night.
She doesn't bother with the patched lace after three months, and the male audience that are treated to a shave each night become a bit more frequent. Her walk doesn't change, but her voice becomes less shrill and the cochineal changes colors to match her hair. The portrait of her husband - he doesn't care to know the late man's name - moves from the front of the shop to behind the counter, to buried in the sheet music by the dormant piano. They perversely tease each other after this, about anything and everything, and he almost chuckles for the first time in fifteen years. Then, suddenly, his skin starts to warm like hers.
He'd notice that he starts to find more and more endearments to call her if it weren't for the way that Anthony describes Judge Turpin's immaculate clothing and disdainful, curled lip.
The late nights start to take their toll on her. After the shop closes and he's fitfully sleeping in his chair (that's really hers) by the dormant piano and the singed cherry wallpaper, she finishes cleaning the shop and the bodies. The cochineal fades and then disappears, the dye starts to darken, and she ends up sleeping awkwardly on the couch next to a bottle of gin. When he awakes, though, her lips are red, the gin is gone and her hair is a bit more arranged.
He'd notice, but he's too busy humming lullabies that seem familiar, even though he thinks he's never heard them.