Disclaimer : I do not own Sweeney Todd : The Demon Barber of Fleet Street or anything associated.

.:. Feeding the Fire .:.

-----------------------------------

"Die! Die! God in heaven, die!"

Wretched, doomed hands clutched at the folds of her dress, ripping the fabric as he desperately clung to the life that they both knew was rapidly seeping from the jagged gash on his jugular. The thick, scarlet substance spilled at their feet like a vengeful river, tainting all in its path with its poisonous stain. Frenzied shrieks ripped through the air, filling the silence with panicked screams that overran the begging moans from the dying man fading away on the floor.

Mrs. Lovett yanked the cloth of her skirt free, backing away with a few horror-filled hoarse gasps, her eyes widening as the judge's own glazed over, and his frantic movements ceased. Gulping a sharp intake of breath, she tore her gaze from those dulled orbs, glancing towards the other body that lay twisted on the cold floor. Sweeping her attention over the figure sloppily, she was about to desert the scene when something made her freeze.

Stepping over the tormented corpse, she knelt down, her aching knees scraping against the rough, coarse stones. Mrs. Lovett peered into the face protected by a bloodied mask, taking in the filthy features, finally at peace. The once fair pale skin was weathered and diseased, and soiled matted hair replaced strands that had once been...yellow.

Shrinking back with a snarl of disgust, Mrs. Lovett brought a hand to her mouth, trying to stifle the horrendous feeling of nausea that was rolling through her stomach painfully. Staring down at a defeated enemy that had resurfaced, a curse, her voice trembled as she spat out a low,

"You..."

Sudden claps of oncoming thunder burst through the walls, warning its mistress desperately. She stumbled to her feet, hysteria freezing her limbs and mind as she stared down at the ruined body before her. Something inside of her snapping, Mrs. Lovett snatched up the dirty arms of the victim, trailing the carcass across the room and towards the hungrily awaiting oven. As a burning spread from her elbows to her shoulders, Mrs. Lovett could barely budge the feather-light hag; her muscles were too weak and her strength, nonexistent.

"What is it? Why did you scream?"

Dropping the body in fright, Mrs. Lovett turned around nervously, a tremor of surprise slinking down her spine.

The ghostly man across the room waited, his dark, fervent eyes boring holes into the wide, gaping ones of his accomplice. Raindrops trailed down his face and cheeks, painting his white skin with crisscrossing, rusty cobwebs. A shimmering razor laughed, tightly secured in his tainted hand, its mocking shine covered with a deadly, dripping case.

Mrs. Lovett's quick eyes flickered from the bodies scattered on the floor back to the face of the man she loved, smoothing down her skirts in a pitiful attempt to soothe her nerves.

"He was clutching, holding on to my dress...but he's finished now."

Mr. Todd nodded distractedly, his bloodshot eyes trailing along the floor with detachment, unaware to the fear he was arousing to the only other living occupant of the room. Stepping forward, he circled the fallen body, the beggar woman he had cut down as payment for her intrusion. Glancing for a second on her ratty attire, he wrinkled his noise in disgust before flicking his eyes to the yearning oven. He stooped down halfway, tentatively plucking her up by her flea-bitten limbs and gestured towards the door with his head.

"Open the doors."

Mrs. Lovett bit her lip, the bruises under her sleepless eyes growing more prominent as they bugged out of her head, her face looking more like a skull than it ever had. Freezing on the spot, she did nothing to obey, for once not leaping with obedience to fulfill her love's demands. After a few stiff seconds, Sweeney Todd gave her a furious glare of bewilderment, repeating with venom as he gave her an impatient push,

"Open the doors I said!"

Stumbling and barely catching herself in time to avoid the heated iron scorching her vulnerable back, Mrs. Lovett tried to still the guilty shaking of her body as she forced open the door, her body screaming in agony. Hearing the grating creak, she retreated from the overpowering heat that shot out with starving tendrils, ready to snatch up the nearest victim to feed its insatiable hunger.

A foreboding frost chilled the air as she stood, wringing her hands in anxiety, like a worrying wife waiting for news of her faithful husband.

Except there was no wife here, just a desperate widow who couldn't bear the thought of loving alone.

Neither was a faithful husband present, but a vengeful widower who did not know that he had created such an identity for himself with his own two hands, his own two fouled, condemning hands.

Mr. Todd began dragging the body like troublesome cargo towards the awaiting grave, letting out a frustrated stream of words as he tripped, causing the head to be thrown back and into the light provided by the fire's malevolent glow.

Mrs. Lovett couldn't hold back the terrified whimper that clawed its way up her throat, leaving the skin scratched and aching. Pressing her palms into her mouth to keep silent, it didn't seem to make a difference, for blank eyes were already refocusing...

Remembering...

Recognizing.

As he reached out a shaking hand, Mrs. Lovett wanted to shout and cry and pull out the very hair from her head in the anguish she couldn't contain.

No, no, no!

Wretched fingers curled around knotted, tangled tendrils of hair, revealing a face with clumsy movements. The gasp filled the room, taking up every inch of space until there was no room to breathe. Mrs. Lovett could feel herself choking, her throat closing up as pressure built inside of her until she was ready to burst into a thousand broken pieces.

"Don't I know you, she said..."

Her heart cracked a little, tiny veins breaking the still beating hope apart from the inside. It sank like a stone inside of her, causing tiny ripples of hope to wash out, only to crash cruelly against the shore. She curled one hand toward him subconsciously, wanting to touch him, for him to hold her and promise to love her as she loved him. There was still a chance, wasn't there? Poor Lucy was dead, and it was too late to change that. He could still be hers, couldn't he?

"I was only thinking of you..."

It was true; he had to believe her! How could he live with the knowledge of what his wife had become, nothing more than a loathsome urchin, wandering the streets like a nomad, with no place to call home? It had been better that way, with a chance for a new life. He would've been free this way, free to live again, free to love...and be loved.

He lifted his eyes from the fallen body of his once beautiful Lucy, focusing on the woman who had taken his trust and pierced it, torturing it into some grotesque shape without an once of humanity.

Those eyes...

The bloodshot irises were wide and disbelieving, almost innocent in their questioning but knowing stare. As she was pulled in, forced to looked closer, the coal rims were filled with fear and disgust, aimed at the witch who had forsaken him.

It was the pupils that ripped her heart out even further.

Those black pupils, dark as sin, swam with the most bitter betrayal one could ever imagine. Their deadly, virulent glare sliced through her with pernicious rage, a viperous cover for the last emotion lurking within. Intertwined with that anger was a sadness, the most complete misery and mourning that human eyes could convey, that a soul could feel. Those motions churned inside of the darkness, condemning her for her treachery and deceit, a force so great that the man before her seemed inhuman; a demon.

"You lied to me..."

Pieces of her heart began to crumble, sifting into dust even while she still lived and breathed. Trepidation and alarm shot through her; she had not lied, not once! She had only protected him, shielded him from unnecessary knowledge that would only have harmed him! How could he blame her? She, who had done all that he asked, helped him carry out his schemes without question, who had stayed by his side every damning step of the way to Hell!

She who had only loved him.

It was sudden and unexpected.

He was rounding on her in seconds, nearing her with a predatory stance of narrowed eyes and a stealthy gait. The sight sent chills down her spine, causing her to retreat against the wall in fright as he grinned at her, the expression sizzling with some emotion she could not recognize.

All worry was forgotten as he touched her, cradling his body against her own in a wonderful dance. Mrs. Lovett was filled with bliss, euphoria, as she saw all the promises in his eyes, pleasant eyes now. The feeling of his hands on her arms, guiding her, was enough to send her senses in a whirl as she smiled, throwing herself into the act that promised a life together.

She could see where their dizzying steps were leading, but she refused to acknowledge it.

She could hear the taunting cackles of the flames, but she closed her ears to their warnings.

She could smell the caustic scent of charcoal and ash, but she was sure the room was drenched in it.

She could feel the heat against her back, sinking through her dress, but she wouldn't believe it.

But Mrs. Lovett had to believe it.

He forced her to.

Suddenly, her feet were lifted off the ground, and her eyes flew open out of their dreamy state as she felt herself soaring through the air. Everything seemed to freeze. She could see that smile, slowly turning sinister and menacing, and most of all, horribly pleased. The sight caused her heart to ache, crumbling even more than it already had, leaving her with barely anything at all.

It all sped up again as her back crashed into the cooking trays lining the exterior, causing her to cry out in agony while the scalding metal seared into her delicate skin, imprinting itself into the roasting flesh.

Shrieking in horror and uttermost torment, she reached out her hands, now blackening claws, towards the opening, only to have it thrown in her face with a deafening bang. Continuing to howl and plead in the only way she could, she writhed in torture as the fire licked at her body, singeing and melting everything it could. The tears she might've cried evaporated as soon as they leaked out of her eyes, despising the sorrow that welled within her soul.

Her burnt body began to disintegrate, just like her barely beating heart, and the chaos and pandemonium of her mind reached its peak. Somehow, as if the heavens decided on one last final retribution, she could hear the sweetest, comforting words from outside. Those were the words of lovers as they lay in each other's arms, of soul mates as they found each other in a world destined to pull them apart.

Words she had always dreamed one man would say.

Now she could hear them, but it brought her no joy.

Just as her consciousness slipped away, another noise broke through the sugar-spun soliloquy. It was a sound she had come to recognize, look forward too.

A gleaming razor sliding through unsuspecting flesh.

And she knew.

And whatever was left of her heart collapsed, leaving her body to follow.

-----------------------------------

Author's Note : Ah well, that didn't turn out as I had hoped it would. It definitely isn't my best, but I do like how the ending came out. If I were to judge it, I'm most dissatisfied with the beginning, but I'm not sure how to change it to my liking.

I am aware that the lines of dialogue are probably not accurate to either the play or the movie, but it was from memory and I gave it my best shot. Honestly, I don't mind because it fits into my writing fine.

I know there are a lot of these Lovett-burning-thought-things, but I just felt like writing another to add to the pile. :) I am also unaware of how long it takes a body to burn in order to be fully dead, and if you do, just ignore it for the sake of this story please.

Please leave a review. It would be very kind.