A/N: So I was listening to the Johanna (Reprise) song, and one particular verse has been stuck in my head all day: And are you beautiful and pale / With yellow hair, like her / I want you beautiful and pale / The way I've dreamed you were / Johanna.
Anyway, for some reason this verse seems really disturbing to me. So I wrote a oneshot involving it. Starts off when Sweeney sees Johanna hiding in the trunk in his room. I'm assuming that Anthony finds her in the end and they run off and live contentedly-ever-after.
Beautiful and Pale
I was completely numb as he wrenched the lid of the trunk open, then grasped my arms to pull me out. "Come for a shave?" he sneered, a manic light glowing from within his black eyes, as he shoved me into the bloodied barber's chair. My cap tumbled off but I was too frozen with fear to attempt to catch it. Not that it mattered. Chances were quite high that I would die by the hand of this mad barber, and I doubted he cared whether or not I was wearing my cap whilst he killed me. I closed my eyes, mentally saying goodbye to Anthony and waiting for the cold sting of the razor at my throat.
Nothing happened. What was he waiting for? Cautiously I cracked one eye open. The silver razor, blade open, was flashing in the sun, but it was not poised to strike; instead, it hung limply in the barber's hand. I dared to open my eyes the rest of the way, and was surprised to see that the man's crazed expression was gone, replaced by a look of sheer awe. His eyes were wide, his mouth slightly agape. He began to circle slowly around the chair, looking me over.
"Johanna?" His rough voice was low and gentle. A strange smile, oddly triumphant, appeared on his gaunt face. He looked very different when he smiled...familiar, somehow. He was still circling, still staring at me.
"Amazing," he breathed, and it seemed as if he were talking to himself. "Just like she was. Beautiful and pale."
Somehow, inexplicably, I knew that "she" meant my mother. I didn't know how he knew who my mother was or what she looked like, but judging by the tone of his voice he had obviously liked her, and it seemed that if I looked like her he would spare me the wrath of his blade. This struck me as a bit unfair. What if I hadn't been beautiful and pale, as she had been? What if, years ago, I'd gotten run over by a cart horse and been permanently disfigured? What then? Would he kill me because I failed to look like she had? Then again, if I was disfigured Anthony likely would not have spirited me away, would not have taken me here for supposed "safekeeping."
The barber leaned in closer to me. I flinched; he either did not notice or did not care. The smell of the blood on his clothes wafted over to me; the scent of copper and rust pervaded my nose. There was the sudden sound of metal hitting wood; he had dropped the razor onto the floor. Maybe, if I could simply grab hold of the razor I could escape. Better yet, Anthony could come back. (Where on earth was he?)
"Do you know who I am?' the barber asked, almost whispering. "No, sir," I said, figuring that it was best to be polite in such a situation. An odd, frightening look fluttered across the barber's face. "Turpin," he muttered venomously as he whirled around and started for the dresser. I seized the opportunity, lunging forward and snatching the razor off the floor. I swung around to face him, the razor gripped tightly in my shaking hand. He, too, swung around, something rectangular and shiny held in his hand.
"Stay back!" I warned. The barber's features seized up in rage, but the steps he took toward me were calm and measured. "Johanna," he whispered again, his white hand reaching for my shoulder. I reacted automatically, mimicking the way he had cut the throats of the old woman and of Judge Turpin.
The blade flashed forward. He did not react, although I was sure that he could have easily pushed me aside and saved himself. There was the tug of skin and tendon and bone against the blade's edge, and a grisly sucking sound made me cringe. Crimson exploded from his neck, and for a moment he stood swaying on the spot. His eyes were still open, and seemed to remain trained on me as he fell heavily to the floor. I stared at his still figure, and my first coherent thought was How am I going to explain this to Anthony?
I closed the blade, stepped delicately over the body, and set the razor on the dresser top. A flash of dull silver on the ground caught my eye; it was a picture frame, the one the barber had just been holding. The glass was shattered but the photograph was still intact. Curious, I picked it up. The photograph showed three people. A man, who, upon closer inspection, was the barber. In the picture he looked younger, clean, and perfectly sane. Beside him, a beautiful, light-haired woman. She held in her arms a toddler girl who was wearing a frilly dress. I flipped the photograph over, to see if there was writing on the back that might explain who these people were. There was.
Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Barker, with daughter Johanna Barker.