AN: This is a companion piece to my other one-shot, "Enough". I recommend reading that first.
Ok, firstly, I have never been to London. So, Hyde Park is located in Central London, but, honestly, I have no idea whether or not the area surrounding was once where the more wealthy people of the city lived...Just go with it, and if you know a park that is better, I'll change it.
I can almost remember Anthony was looking for Hyde Park. So I assume it is nearby the Judge's house, which would place it near a rich neighborhood.
This was written mostly as a fun piece. I was feeling a little reluctant toward writing chapter six of "The History of the World", if only because I updated twice in one weekend. So, I wrote this as a little break from the more serious fare. Not that I don't love writing that fic. I really do. And I'll update soon, I promise!
This is just a little follow-up to "Enough", from Mrs. Lovett's point of view. Some of you may remember the first draft of this, also written from her point of view. If you do, you may wonder why it disappeared. That's because I deleted it, due to an extreme dislike of its plot and organization. I'm picky with my writing...I might re-upload it, just because, but...
I did include one line from the old story, as it was the only part I was pleased with.
Also, on a last note: This is unrealistic. I know. But it's Todd/Lovett, which is hard to write optimistically, so I'm taking a little leap of faith, and trusting you, my readers, to know it's a bit out there.
Mrs. Lovett has never really believed in fate, until now. Up until the moment he strode through the door to her shop, she had scoffed at people who said that destiny had guided them, and laughed at those who told her to have faith, to believe that better days were ahead.
Now, she isn't sure.
He kissed her, the red scarf wrapped around his pale (beautiful) neck, and he had a look in his eyes. She had been reminded, suddenly, of Benjamin Barker, of how caring he had been. How sensitive to others he had always been.
He had kissed her, and his lips were soft, almost shy against hers, and he had tasted like gin, salt and something sweet. Clinging to him as if she might melt, she had kissed back (perhaps, in retrospect, a bit too eagerly), wishing, praying to any god that might listen to let this never, ever end.
It had ended, of course, as all things did, and she had left, rather quickly, feeling light-headed. Breaking into an almost-run down those stairs, right to the parlor, where she had collapsed onto the settee, yelling into the first pillow she could grab. All silly smiles, her face flushed, Mrs. Lovett wonders what kind of fate has brought this man back to her door.
She is giddy the rest of the day, particularly cheery around customers in the shop, and greeting each man who climbed up those stairs with a pleasant 'hello, how are you today, sir?'. People seemed a bit perplexed; after all, what sort of a woman is so happy, during these horrible times?
She didn't really care.
But that was several days ago. And of course, as was almost typical of him, they hadn't spoken at all. Or rather, he hadn't spoken to her.
Usually, it was normal to interact with him, at least once. He was almost always acted unresponsive, silent and staring out that window, eyes straining so hard...As if he could look close enough, and he could find the London he had left behind.
The two of them were in the same room at least once a day, mostly because she insisted on talking to him every day, hoping, maybe, that he would one day become the man she had imagined. But the past three days, he had been gone, disappeared into what could be thin air, whenever she was there, holding a tray of food for him to eat (even though he didn't touch it, and if he did, he eat next to nothing at all).
The first day, she had shrugged, too pleased with everything to mind much, assuming that he went out for a walk.
The second day, however, she had opened up the door to his shop, heard the little bell ring, and seen an empty room. This was disconcerting; Mr. Todd's staying indoors, pacing about all day long was as strong a constant in her life as the sun, or breathing. Going downstairs again, she had felt strangely out of place, without the noise of his heavy boots thumping about in a pattern, almost a rhythm.
She had once joked that his pacing sounded like an old song sailors on the docks had sung, and he had shot her a look, neither angry nor pleased, and then continued.
The third day, she had felt a pang of hurt (was he avoiding her?), and a wave of worry. What if he had been attacked, and was lying dead in some alley? Worse yet, what if he had attacked someone, and left them dead in some alley?
She had bit her lip, and reassured herself, over and over, that he would be fine. He had lived through fifteen years in Botany Bay, infamous for its cruel methods and mysterious deaths, surely roaming London couldn't kill him. Trying her best to tune these worries out, she had hoped that perhaps he would come back that evening, perfectly fine, and when she asked him where he had been, she would not even care if he had shrugged and muttered something inaudible. It would be better than fretting over his whereabouts.
That morning, the morning of the fourth day of her tenant's absence, she had woken and dressed in a hurry, going about the morning chores quickly and preparing the usual breakfast tray for him, despite everything. Heart pounding, she had pushed open the door, and found...
At this, the fourth occurrence, Mrs. Lovett had broken down.
Not caring whether he had no wish to see her, or not, she had flew down those creaky steps and grabbed her coat, then, remembering the scarf (and briefly blushing at the memory that would always go with it), she had ran back upstairs, snatched in up, along with his own coat, and instructed Toby to watch the shop.
Grey clouds loomed over London, ominous, and she had cursed.
It was snowing now, not heavily, but enough to gather about curbs and doorsteps. And it would get worse, she just knew.
"Lovely luck I 'ave, losing 'im in the midst of the winter season," she mutters, racing across another street to a shop across the way that sold newspapers. Stopping at the vendor, she clears her throat.
"'Scuse me, sir, but 'ave you seen a gloomy looking sort of man...'E's got black hair, with a white streak through it...Got a moody disposition...A bit scary, really. You seen anyone like that?"
The man stares back at her, as if she's crazy, and then shakes his head slowly. She gives a sigh of annoyance.
"Yeah, well, thanks. You're a great bit of help, aren't ya?"
Shuffling away, she threads through the crowds surrounding the entrance to the street market, and asks every person there if they've seen him.
Twenty minutes later, she has stumbled into the higher class section of the city, where they have parks for walking, that are clean and free of beggars, and they sell clothes that cost as much as enough food to last her five months.
It's getting colder as, freezing almost, and she is struck suddenly with the image of Mr. Todd, frozen solid on a park bench, a circle of children surrounding his form, gazing in amazement as if looking at particularly angry statue.
Horrified by this new thought, she turns the corner, and strides up the sparkling clean walkway, staring at the men and women passing her, amazed at the wealth she sees. It is a wonder, Mr. Lovett thinks, that these people can live in this little world of theirs, unaware of all that goes on outside. As if they're trapped in a little jar.
Stopping to rest for a brief second, she sits down on a bench across from a flower shop.
Ah, Benjamin Barker had liked flowers. At least, he had known a great deal about them, probably because he gave so many to Lucy. Today, the shop is closed, shut down due to the frost that has overtaken all of the plants nowadays. Not that it matters; flowers wilt faster, even, since Mr. Barker was hauled off. The whole world seems to have died a bit along with him, resurrected as an ugly, smoky thing, dark and bitter, full of evil. Almost like Sweeney Todd himself.
But no! Mr. Todd isn't really evil, she thinks. He's just lost, and angry. He wouldn't be the first in London to feel like that.
Thinking back to the flowers, she remembers on many a Sunday, Mr. and Mrs. Barker would go for a walk through Hyde Park, gazing at the well-tended gardens within, holding hands and smiling like they had only just been married.
Sickened by this thought, Mrs. Lovett leans her head back, closing her eyes...
And then it hits her.
"Of course! Oh, that's so obvious...Why 'adn't I thought of that?"
Standing up, she walks as fast as she can to the park, sliding right past all the couples and children playing with brightly colored toys, straight to the botanical gardens, with its small lake surrounded by flowers.
Coming up over the crest of the hill, she gasps.
The garden is browning, and grey, but color persists in the fading flowers, making the place seem pretty, despite her own memory insisting that this area had once been beautiful. Eyes flickering over each bench and shady tree, she can feel her heart, pounding fast against her chest.
He is sitting, hunched over, elbows on his knees, on the park bench farthest away from her.
Snow is clumped up now, in piles, thickening on the ground in a layer of clean, perfect white, and she treks across it, fuming, leaving bootprints behind.
He looks up at the sound of her heavy footsteps on the park walkway, staring blankly, suddenly stricken with a look of terror, as she advances toward him, furious.
"All this time, yer sitting here, in silly Hyde Park, moping?! All this time?" she snaps it, coming up to him fast now, and she is instantly not thinking about her actions at all, dropping his coat and scarf, and grabbing a large handful of snow in her hands, working furiously to sculpt it into a round sphere as she continues to his bench, arms moving with all the dexterity and instinct of a woman who has been baking for years, kneading and shaping the dough until it is second nature.
Sweeney Todd is looking severely worried, scooting his way down the bench, furthering the amount of space between herself and him, hands coming up, as if it will stop her.
"Don't even think about it, Mrs. Lovett," he says. "Don't, really, I--"
The clump of snow and ice hits him square in the chest, soaking his shirt instantly, and chilling his skin. Eyes wide, he stares at her in shock, almost not believing that she dared to throw it at him.
She's so angry at him, she doesn't even care to laugh, despite the comedy of the situation. She is so frustrated with him, with all of it.
"You, you're absolute hopeless, you know that? Really," she yells, "What is wrong with you? Mmm? You kiss me, once, as a thank-you for the bloody scarf. Knowin' full well that I expect nothing more, knowing that I would like it...So you kiss me, and then, what d'you do? You go, leave, for three days, not sayin' anything to anyone, worrying me sick, to go feel sorry for yerself?"
Grabbing the snow at her feet, she hurls handfuls at him, hard and fast, surely painful, but she doesn't care.
"Just...Just...I can't stand it," she stops, huffing, breath coming in puffs of smoke, and she sinks to her knees, and sobs.
"You...you're impossible," she whispers, face red now from the shame of crying. "I can't win, can I? There's just no tryin'."
He sits still, like he's made of stone, face and chest soaked to the bone with melted snow, hair dripping, eyes staring blankly off into the distance.
Sweeney Todd stands, walking past her crying form, bending down to pick up his coat and scarf, and slowly, methodically putting them on. Then, still silent, he leans down, and takes both her arms in his strong hands, pulling her to her feet, and sitting her down on the wooden bench, slumping back next to her.
He puts one arm, tentative, around her shoulder, and giving up, Mrs. Lovett buries her face in his already cold and wet shirt and cries.
She cries for him, for all that he's lost: his wife, his child, that sparkle of delight that he took in everything, evident in his soft, dark eyes, his youthful features, and rosy complexion. All of his faith in barbering as an art, all of his beliefs in life, love, and hope...
He has lost everything, absolutely everything, except his will to live on, and even that's questionably shaky.
She cries for herself: for Albert, who had been a man she had loved, once, a long time ago, for all of her old friends, who've died or disappeared, for her own happiness. She had been as hopeful as Benjamin, once, hadn't she? Alive and full of energy, humour, and optimism. She had been good at what she did, once, well-known for being a good cook, and now, the world has ripped it all away, even her one indiscretion, her love for a married man who was so beautiful, once.
Once upon a time...
She cries for Toby, who's been treated so wrongly, so young, and yet, he's already been introduced to the evil in the world. No chance to be a child, no chance to believe in the good of man.
She's not sure how long she sits, with her head leaning on his chest, but finally, when she's done, she sits up, pushing him away quickly, and wiping her eyes.
"Oh, I...I...I'm so sorry, Mr. T...I didn't mean to...I..."
She sniffs, composing herself.
"I am sorry, for getting angry...Just been worried 'bout you, is all. Thought you'd freeze to death..."
He watches her fuss over nothing, embarrassed that she's been bawling her eyes out into his shirt, and sure that she looks a mess.
They sit there for a long time, completely quiet, watching as birds fly overhead, and a wind ruffles the lake's glassy surface. Snow is still falling, like bits of ash, scattering the fields and trees of Hyde Park with white blotches, like a blanket full of holes, worn thin.
"M'sorry...fer worrying you," he mumbles, shifting nervously.
"S'alright...I 'ave an over-active imagination, probably my fault, for gettin' so worked up," she says between breaths of air, still recovering from the crying.
"And for avoiding you...I..." He stops, thinking over his words. "I thought you'd act different, after..." He fingers the scarf, red slipping between his fingers, and she immediately understands, heart giving a little jump, in spite of itself.
"Why d'you think I'd change, Mr. Todd?"
"I...I kissed you," he points out, almost accusingly. "I thought you'd think..."
She puts a finger on his lips, silencing him. Beneath her hand, he's staring at her with a mixture of fear, as if he thinks she's going to throw more snow at him, and confusion.
"Nothing will change, unless you want it to, Sweeney Todd...Just..."
She takes the ends of the scarf, pulling until he is inches from her face, and then, she rests her forehead on his.
"Just...let me pretend...please," she breathes, ready to cry again, but holding it back.
He stares at her, and the change in nearly imperceptible, his eyes flickering like a candle caught in a gust of wind. Taking her face in his hands, he almost smiles, his normally tight-set mouth curving slightly at its corners, smiling for her.
"I wouldn't have it any other way," he says. "I don't know what I feel, Mrs. Lovett...Perhaps only that I enjoy your company. I cannot guarantee anything. But...I will try... Is that enough?"
It's almost a dream. She can't believe he's saying this, showing something that could almost be a willingness to go along? Could he possibly care for her?
"More than enough, love," she replies, and she kisses him then, gently and cautiously, and she's finding it funny, that every time they have kissed, it's involved this maroon scarf wrapped about his neck.
The demon barber smiles against her lips, a wide and genuine grin that makes her heart leap and soar. She hadn't thought anything could top how happy she had been when he kissed her; this is perhaps even better.
They pull away quickly, seeming to realize that they are in a public area, gazing at each other for several seconds with silly, flushed looks on their faces.
Sweeney Todd offers his arm, and Mrs. Lovett takes it, eyes bright with joy.
He is certainly impossible to predict, a frustrating, stubborn man, who has more than his share of faults and quirks (killing his customers, for one), and he's worried her to death. He is not conversational, or very observant, and he's stuck on his revenge, stuck in the past.
And yet, Mrs. Lovett can't really care, because he's holding her hand, and he has kissed her twice, he is wearing the scarf she made for him, and he's smiling for her.
It doesn't begin to compensate all he's done (or not done), and he probably will never make up for that.
She loves him all the same, for these small inconsistencies, these moments when none of his bloodied razor edges or his driving need for revenge matter to him anymore, and when she looks over to him, as she so often does, he is not gazing into the distance.
When this happens, he only has eyes for her.
And that, she thinks, is satisfactory.
I know, I know, it's silly, and unrealistic, but allow this author her happy, fluffy one-shot, please!
Thanks for reading, and if you encounter an error, I would appreciate you bringing it to my attention.