Disclaimer: I do not own Sweeney Todd : The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, or anything associated.
.:. Ashes to Ashes .:.
The blood spilled from her throat with an unusual silence, the streams sinking straight down her skin in a scarlet waterfall of panic. There were no quick juts of pressure that often resulting in ragged spurts of the betrayed source of life, nor was there a light sprinkling of red that often burst from the tear as well. Instead the tainted tears fell quietly, staining the already filthy clothes that hung on her miserable frame, and matching the hollow, bewildered look in her glassy, clouded eyes. As the fountain began to die, the last ruby drops clung to her soiled, dirty locks of hair, spilling out from a tattered hat that barely clung to her head with weak, gnarled fingers.
Sweeney Todd observed with a wary glance, paying more attention to the oncoming, impatient footfalls that could be heard from below. Stepping around the bleeding corpse in disgust and haste, his heel crashed onto the metal device it had been itching to meet. With an almost soundless shriek of rusty metal on wood, the lifeless, possibly already rotting body dropped through the shaft with an undignified landing, miniscule cracks revealing the smashing of bone.
Lithe movements had him facing the door as his visitor appeared in the doorway, aged eyes glowing in anticipation and a disgusting fire of lust that should have burnt itself out years ago. All it took were a few admiring words and porcelain promises to have the judge in his grasp, reclining happily the awaiting chair that would soon hold only a revolting sack of dribbled blood and torn flesh. A relaxed sigh bubbled out of his prey's throat, causing the predator to smile a sick grin that couldn't be seen behind his façade of pleasantries and friendship.
This mask did not slip as the process began, deft fingers gliding up and down in a soothing motion, the gentle feel of a silver caress luring its quarry in a security that would soon twist itself into his demise. It began to crack as the seconds dragged by, the nimble hands of the barber beginning to almost visibly shake with anticipation, but still he was trained in his goal to keep these imperfections from being noticed.
Finally, dragging the obedient razor over the vulnerable, pampered skin once more, he stood back, giving an already, but unknown to himself, dead man his final words. His vision began to blur even as his lips moved in a cordial reply, a hazy film overtaking his vision as suppressed rage raced under his skin. No longer could he hide the horror from himself, repress images of his trusting wife, turned on by one who she had given only an ounce of precious trust. Pictures of his bonny child formed under his bruised eyelids as he blinked, time standing still in the form of a golden haired baby with her endearing grin that always appeared when her loving father took her into her arms.
His voice inflection began to change, but the judge did not notice it, so blinded was he with his pathetic fantasies and pompous pride. The words came out more harsh and biting, and finally he revealed it all, stepping closer to the man to watch those eyes open in recognition. Sweeney Todd felt his pulse race as Judge Turpin's eyes grew wide, not only with shock, but with a wretched, inescapable fear that caused his killer to only grip his partner tighter.
Those untrue words rang through the air until they were sliced in half by the silver blade that embedded itself into tender, unprepared skin. A hopeless, choking sound filled the air as the criminal gagged on his own blood, the rest gushing from the incision with cries of pain and terror. Gritting his teeth, Sweeney Todd slashed again, digging the razor as deep as it could go before dragging it through the judge's throat. More crimson fate revealed itself as the man retched, but still, he was not satisfied.
His original anger was rampant now, as uncontrollable as a wildfire, and as destructive to all in its path. However, like an accomplice in crime, this fury boiled with a new addition to its source, causing bubbles of heated hatred to sizzle and burst upon the wounded mess before him.
The judge had called him Benjamin Barker, a name reserved for a defeated man, a man who lay in the hidden recesses of Sweeney Todd's mind, his grave holding nothing more than maggot-ridden limbs and a withered, dusty heart. Benjamin Barker had lived in a world of color, of love and love and of all things that were good and right. Sweeney Todd had been born out of truth, a being who could finally acknowledge what society truly was; only a corrupt pit of jealously and hate, all buried under a stifling cover of lies. To call him Benjamin Barker was to pretend again, to remind a broken man of a time where he had been whole and free, and even though he had screamed this back in affirmation, it was more a mocking last laugh than an identity now.
Breathing heavy, deep intakes of air, Sweeney Todd's chest rose and fell slowly as he stepped back, taking in the begging expression that had replaced a smug, self-confident face. His lips, once useless and empty, could not stop the maniac smile of vengeance and retribution that painted itself onto his pale face. There would be no mercy in him now, no pity for the one who had spared none for an innocent man, an honest man. When no compassion was given to the pure, it was only fair that those with blackened, putrid souls received the same treatment.
His heel met the steel pedal once again in an embrace, dark, haunting eyes watching hungrily as the tortured body slide down; down, down to a fiery hell of his own creation, a grave he had dug itself day by day once he took satisfaction in what had not belonged to him.
Then there was a peace, a mind-numbing sensation that Sweeney Todd had never known. It liberated him completely, and the heaviness on his shoulders, if not on his heart, lightened. Closing his eyes and kneeling onto the scratched floor, joy he thought he would never feel again bloomed inside of withered fields, rain finally ghosting the air after a lifetime of drought.
Flawless glass can be reduced to hideous splinters with only a careless touch, and this pacification was the same. The hushed sound of a gasp, the tiny creaking of hinges, that was all that was necessary for the relief to be shattered.
Almost relaxed eyes snapped opened fully, their black depths dragging the unfortunate soul to an undeserved face. Ruthless hands grasped the youth that had foolishly revealed himself, throwing the thin body into a chair that was still soaked in another's blood. The blade molded itself back into his virulent grip, prepared to slice open another throat to compensate for the sorrow that still flowed inside of him.
Leaning forward, Sweeney Todd ignored the jumble of fearful mumblings that tumbled out of the boy's mouth, seeing only a stupid mistake that had meandered where he hadn't belonged and seen what he wasn't meant to see. He held his razor to the boy's neck, taunting him harshly without care, pausing for a second when he looked into those huge eyes.
They were blue, a deep blue full of depth and something hidden that he could not decipher. This was not what had stopped the man though. Something about those eyes struck him in a way he could not comprehend, freezing his form and weakening his purpose to almost nothing. They almost seemed familiar.
This indecision was snapped in two by the sound of crazed shrieks and howls from below, causing the man to flicker his veiled eyes to the face of a nervous, but possibly harmless loose end. Forcing himself to back away with nothing more than a bitter threat, he fled from the room like a specter from a fairytale, taking the steps two at a time in a rush.
He slammed the door open, frustration shooting from his fingers and amplifying his strength as he entered the heated room. Mrs. Lovett greeted him with her owl-like eyes and versatile lips, usually sweetened with a smile, downcast into a gaping hole. Her hands were buried in cloth, tugging at the rags of a corpse's dress hurriedly, but her frantic movements ceased when his eyes fell upon her.
Noticing the struggle to rid the room of evidence better left forgotten, he pushed her unhelpful form to the side roughly, ordering her to open the doors with a curt command that she hesitated to obey, but did in the end. Heaving the body into his arms, trying to keep the revolting form as far away from himself as possible, he began to drag her towards the inevitable. However, his process was tedious and slow, brought altogether to a halt as he stumbled, causing the almost severed head to fall back.
Glaring down in loathing, the expression froze icy on his face as her features fell into the light. Kneeling onto the ground slowly, he placed the battered body gently beside him, lifting one trembling hand to curl itself into her hair. He brushed the strands to the side, watching as they began to glow faintly in the glow of the fair, true cornflower hair revealing itself under layers of grime and hardship that had died it a dull brown.
Shifting the other tresses to the side with care, he stared down at a face that had been imprinted into his memory. The elegant slope of her nose matched the picture in his mind, following with the tender curve of lips that had once been a fair, rosy pink. He traced a murderer's hand along her face with a lifetime of longing, remembering the way her face would light up in a smile when he surprised her with a present, even if they couldn't afford it with ease, or the absolute bliss on her face when their daughter was born, blessing them both with a love and adoration they had never experienced.
His grip grew tighter, forcing the body to his own with only misery and love, all revolution fading like light dust in the wind. An already warped mind tried desperately to fit the pieces together, needing some explanation for why it was his wife who lay broken in his arms, and not some meaningless beggar woman. The air was crushing, invisible lead baring down upon him relentlessly until he wanted to tear off his own skin and claw out his own eyes.
It all made sense in such an instant that for a second the explanation remained enigmatic. A pitiful cry lifted him out of the fog, and he looked up to meet Mrs. Lovett's pleading stare.
"Love me," she begged without words. "Forgive and forget."
A well known feeling filled him so completely that it only hurt all the more to recognize it.
Sweeney Todd had returned to London with no fallacies, dumping all his dreams and beliefs into the sea without remorse. Finding his wife nothing more than a shushed memory had reduced his heart to nothing more than jagged pieces with no possibility of ever being mended. All he needed, or wanted, was compensation. If those with higher power would not punish, he would gladly take it upon himself to deliver punishment to those who skimmed through life with privilege.
He had been ready to task this task alone, force his own way through a crowd of horrid sin until he could find the other side, but she had attached herself to his side. Mrs. Lovett, ready to do all she could to make him happy, to bring a smile to a face too hardened to smile again. Mrs. Lovett, assisting him in trials where he might have found no answers, his source of information and knowledge, the one who had told him it all with that sorrow in her lying, scheming face.
She had never been on his side, not once working for what he had been striving for. She was as terrible as the judge himself, condemning Lucy to this unknown death for her own selfish reasons, trying to keep something that was not hers to have. And even though fury became present and consuming, Sweeney Todd could not ignore the misery that joined it hand in hand.
He had, foolishly, trusted in Mrs. Lovett, the neighbor always waiting down below. He had believed her words with a simpleton's affirmation, when he should have known.
There was no one to trust in this world.
Faith was only a macabre joke, a laugh in the faith of truth.
No one was worth sparing.
So he stared at her with those accusing eyes, her excuses and explanations only causing him to clench his teeth and close his ears from her lies, poisonous, toxic lies. He could never trust her again.
Charcoal eyes opened, this time with a loving haze, and previously kneeling legs soon carried him across the room to where she waited. He held her delicately in his arms, twirling her around the way he had when they had laughed together, planned together.
The very image made him sick now.
Sweeney Todd smiled at her with promise, spinning her as she laughed, gazing up at him with such simpering adoration that he could barely keep his sanity. Glancing over his shoulder, his grip became tighter so she could not escape, and his practiced steps were all he needed to toss the wretch inside to an awaiting ashy demise.
He stepped back immediately as not to join her as the flames ravished the one who had once ruled them, but with one hand on the door, he did not close it right away.
He wanted to see her burn, watch her white skin turn black and crusted, like her heart. He wanted to watch her hair reduce to cinders, and for her limbs to become nothing more than knotted, contorted claws, unforgiving. Most of all, he wanted to watch her eyes, turned to him in shock and the uttermost sadness, the betrayal he felt shining through the melting pools. It made his eyes glow with a tortured light. They were both betrayed in the end, by each other, the one they had trusted most.
Sweeney Todd could find nothing more fitting.
Eventually, he did shut the door, her painful screaming beginning to grate on his eyes undeservingly. Slamming the iron casket shut, and locking it with a taunting finish, he stared back in for the last time, admiring the way her body burned with all its hopeless flailing. The view closed with a resounding click, refusing to disgrace the world with her presence any longer.
The adrenaline and hatred melting off of his marble form, it came to a surrounding, useless pool around his feet. Lost eyes focused once more on the crumbled body in the corner, and he could do nothing else but hold her to him as a choking feeling grew in his chest, a pain stabbing what perhaps was all that remained of his heart.
Staring down at her bloodied, diseased skin, Benjamin Barker had seen nothing more beautiful.
That was why, when he heard the footsteps behind him, he did not care that he had dropped his razor for anyone to snatch. It did not matter that he could hear the blade drag upon the floor with a chilling warning, or that the feeling of another behind him again tried to alert him to his fate.
All he needed was to hold his wife closer and to lift his own neck up to he who would finally judge him. For a split second, he wondered if there was a heaven or a hell, and if so, would the devil be so heartless as to separate them again?
Closing his eyes into unseeing slits, he could almost laugh, knowing that none of it mattered. He was a demon, his wife an angel, and if the tales were true there was no hope, none at all.
There was a quick blooming of pain, and for a moment he could hear his own blood dripping out of the wound in a sickening drizzle. As his head fell forward, he noticed in his last seconds that the scarlet was raining open his wife's awaiting face, condemning her, spoiling her.
So ironic, it seemed.
Even in death, her innocence unable to save her, did his own sins spill upon her, and curse her. He could not hide from it, the truth that was as clear as his own face in the sparkling blade of his razor.
It was his fault, and there was no one else to blame.
Author's Note : This is not really a continuation of the previous chapter, but I wanted to also write a bit about Sweeney's death. Since the two topics of the same, I decided to simply place them together due to their relation. I also have a desire to write about Toby's ending, however I don't know if I should. Maybe? Yes? No?
The desire to write this came from disappointment actually. I happened to see a very touching Sweeney Todd video that actually made me begin to cry. I tried to share this with my friends, who haven't seen Sweeney but heard enough about it from me to understand. Needless to say, they didn't understand at all, no message, no emotion, absolutely nothing. All they did was complain about how "OMG THAT'S SO DUMB! WHY IS SHE IN THE FIRE! WHAT???"
To be honest, the experience shook my faith in the world. If all they could see was a woman burning, and not the meaning and tragedy…I don't know, I just felt horribly upset. I've heard people say this movie was ahead of its time, and my own mother has called me 'an old soul who is insanely mature for her age,' but I have never found such statements to be true before today.
Well, that's where the inspiration came from. I really wanted to devote myself into writing something with meaning, and I do hope I succeeded. In addition, I apologize for how long this note is, but I wanted to let off some steam to some people who might actually understand where I'm coming from. :)
I'm sorry for any spelling mistakes I might have missed. I don't really feel well, and didn't check thoroughly for errors. I really wish I had someone to assist with that :( . Thank you for reading. Please leave a review, because I'm very unsure about how this turned out.