A/N: Just some general ramblings I wrote a few weeks ago while battling writer's block . . . I don't know if this fic even makes any sense, but I figured I have nothing to lose by sharing it here, yeah:) Anyway, I hope you enjoy my third adventure into the world of Sweeney Todd fan-fic, and do let me know what you think of this.
She's loved him for as far back as she can recall, really. No, that's not true, she met him when she was in her twenties, and of course she has memories of earlier times than that. But somehow when she reflects on the way life was back then, it's as though she's looking at another angle, another perspective, another life, even. A life that was – she does not want to think meaningless, for there were moments of pure, silver happiness in the days of her youth, even despite her poverty. No, her life was not meaningless before she met him. It was colorless. She thinks back now on what used to be, and she sees in shades of gray. When he moved into the room above her shop, he changed all that, he changed everything. He colored her world.
The canvas was there for many years: blank, ready, open, longing to be painted, yet not knowing what it was to be painted, having never experienced it. But when the proper artist comes, the canvas suddenly knows what it has been missing, and the artist splashes it with paint, teases the blank pallet with tiny droplets, and now the canvas is colored, yet it still yearns for more, always more.
He's loved her from the moment he met her, really. She was beautiful, from her bountiful gold curls; to her perfectly shaped face, a true descendant of the angels; to her delicate, soft form that fit so neatly beside his own; to the way her face flushed and her eyes lowered shyly when he approached her that first night they met and asked her to dance. And once he began to know her, he saw that her insides were just as gorgeous as her exterior, and he fell completely and wholly in love with her. Life was suddenly amazing, and beautiful, and gorgeous, and flawless. She had touched his world in a way that it had never been touched before. He was so caught up in the moment, in the life he was leading, he could barely notice anything else – but what else was there, really, apart from his Lucy's eyes, his Lucy's hair, his Lucy's smile and laughter and heart and perfection and love? How had he gone all his life without her? How had he been able to live so long without actually living?
Splashes of color, dashes of beauty, smears of joy, spots of bliss, veins of amour – both the artist and the canvas can get lost in the swirls of color if they aren't careful. They can begin to forget what exists outside of their special shared world where only they live in harmony, what else is out there in the cruel and colorless world, a world that does not view them in the same way as they are able to view each other.
Despite he showing her all the many vibrant colors of the world, she always had the feeling that she was not seeing them all. That she was still overlooking a few of the colors, or was perhaps not seeing them as bright as she could, as bright as others could. Lucy Barker was obviously one of these people who could see all the colors in all of their glory. The pie maker wouldn't say she hated the barber's wife – how could one despise something that was so kind and cheery and perfect? She may have wanted to, may have tried to, yet she couldn't. But there was still a certain dislike, a certain envy. For if she was seeing these new colors simply by being Benjamin Barker's landlady, then the colors would surely be brighter in ten-fold if she were the barber's wife.
The paint is beautiful, bright and bold against the simple white; but if we're not careful the entire masterpiece can be washed away until it is nothing more than a light smudge, and a memory in our minds.
Had he not been so wrapped up in this new stunning world that consisted of only him and his small yet perfect family, he might have realized that such contentment, such bliss, such a world of paradise that he could merely coast across without fear of getting harmed – he might have realized that all of this could not last forever.
But while it is there, it is beautiful.
Her Albert, sweetheart though he was, had never made her feel like this. Could never make her feel like this. Theirs had been a marriage of convenience, of money – though that too had always been sufficiently lacking, considering his quickly deteriorating health. She cared about Albert, and he had showed her colored tints and hues of the surroundings during their brief time together, but never the intense chromes the beautiful barber had been able to wield.
Should the artist merely relax and enjoy the simple world of artist and artwork while it still is there, or should the creator do their best to hold on longer, even if it is a hopeless struggle? The artist doesn't know, so for now the craftsman merely goes on creating the masterstroke, pretending that it is all that exists.
He should have noticed. Should have been able to step outside of his picturesque life for at least a few moments and try to see what was outside of the bubble. But he didn't. He was naïve, he was foolish, his mind was far above him; somehow in finding all the colors of the world he had lost his logical head – at the time he hadn't minded this (hadn't noticed this). These were not excuses, because there were no excuses; they were only reasons, and pathetic ones at that. But it was true – and because of his brainless state, he did not notice what else was around him. Not even the judge who lusted after his wife – that is until the immoral man swooped down seemingly from nowhere and took all the colorations away from him.
The artisan can't shut out the world forever, no one can; and the paint cans splatter over the floor as the artist runs from the room in terror as the outside world catches up to this one; the paint colors from the cans run across the floorboards and cloud together in a terrific blur of pigments, one final attempt at keeping the world as they know it.
She'd noticed how that Judge Turpin had taken a rather high fancy to Lucy, but didn't think much of the situation until he was taken away. Gone. So quick, so sudden; she had hardly blinked and then suddenly the colors were becoming dull and faded again.
It all fades away to shades of gray, drab and ordinary; and so the artist goes back to moving around without knowing, looking around without seeing, passing through life without living, but this is no way to live, not while the memory of all their beautiful colors are still fresh in mind . . .
The judge put him in a living hell, unlike anything he had ever known before. For fifteen long years he stayed there, slaving away endlessly, the only thing keeping him going was the constant longing, the lingering memories: Johanna's gurgling laughter, her tottering feet against the floor, her weightless little body secured in his arms – and his Lucy, her hair in his hands, her arms circled around him, her gentle eyes gazing at him with love beyond all measure . . . he would go back to them one day, he would go back to them one day, and it was only this thought pounding in his head, throbbing to the beat of his heart, that kept him going even in the hardest and most torturous of times . . .
But even the strongest memories do eventually begin to fade, and soon the beings are left with only a recollection of the actual memory, which can only barely pass for the vibrant colors that life was once painted with . . .
She missed him day in and day out, but she could not dwell on it: she had a business to run, even though its customer activity slowly dwindled away. As her business declined, so did the condition of her tenant upstairs, whom without her husband had taken to brooding and moping about, silly thing. The woman had a daughter to take care of, and rent to pay, what was she doing just sitting around? Well, and then after the judge'd had his way with her, things got even worse. Lucy completely lost the will to live, and after more days of sulking went down to the apothecary to take matters into her own hands. You fool, the pie maker hissed at her, you fool, you dolt, you nit, don't you just hang your head in defeat, you're still alive, ain't you? We all got our problems, times are hard for us all. You still got a little girl and a home, that's reason enough to keep on; and if I'm knowing Mr. Barker as I do, he'll find a way back to you someday . . .
Because once one has seen the rainbows in the world before, they will do anything to see them again, even if it takes them to their end.
He was made to do hard labor, was forced to sleep in the crudest conditions imaginable, was pushed in with company that was less than desirable (putting it mildly). Everything was gray without her, everything was devoid of any sort of color. Yet every once in a while, out of the corner of his eye, he would catch a glimmer of a crimson red or a velvet blue or a lambent orange – but whenever he would turn his head to see more, to drink in the color fully, he would never see it. As though it had never been there.
The flecks of colors do not please, they only torment; they are a reminder of once was and is not anymore.
But the stupid, weak thing had only smiled faintly at her landlady. There's no hope for me, Nellie dear, and you know it just as well as I, she whispered, and before the pie maker could make another move, Lucy raised the poison to her lips and took all its contents in one swallow. You fool, you simpleton, you dunce, you spineless hopeless thing! she thought over and over, even as Mrs. Barker began to shudder violently, her eyes rolling back into her head, her mouth jerking open and closed in silent twitching movements; even as the pie maker attempted vainly to force her back down onto the bed, pull the blankets over her so she could at least die warm, squeeze Lucy's hand as tight as she could as though to choke the life back into her. You poor, stupid thing, why don't you understand, why don't you get it? she thought. You had everything, you had all the colors in the world, and even now you still had a chance of getting them all back. But you couldn't recognize that, you couldn't understand that, you either wanted all of the colors or none of them at all. You poor, pathetic, weak-willed thing. And it was these many thoughts that slowly made her more and more upset with Lucy, even as her health deteriorated and she got carted off to Bedlam. The emotions she felt towards the other woman were mixed. Rage, incredulity, shock, pity, disgust, sadness, ire. Lucy had once had all the colors imaginable, and even with the chance of seeing them all again, she could not see anything still worth living for. Why, if it had been herself in Mrs. Barker's shoes, even the mere memory of once being the beautiful artist's own would have sustained throughout many long years, even despite the other cruelties of the world . . .
Some paintings are better seen at a distance, for up close they are too raw, too personal; for viewing them again while near is when the slight imperfections that you never noticed before are suddenly made perfectly evident, crystal clear.
Finally, he managed to escape, catching a ride with a nice young sailor, and returning to his familiar home of Fleet Street. Yet it was not familiar, not familiar at all, the pleasant home he had remember was not as it had been. It was as gray as the prison he had just spent his last years locked up in. All his hopes and dreams of rebuilding his life were dashed and destroyed; the pie maker told him that his Lucy was gone, and his Johanna prisoner of the judge.
The canvas is ripped to pieces before the artist's eyes, and even though the paint has already been washed away by the cruelty of the world, it is as though the artist's soul rips right along with it.
She didn't tell him that Lucy was still alive. Why would she? The woman was as good as dead, what with her state of mind. And Lucy didn't deserve the attention the pie maker knew he would give his wife, were she to tell him. She hadn't had the will to live, to hold onto the chance that he would come back – so now that he had returned, didn't she, the woman who loved him more than that fool thing ever could, didn't she deserve his attention much more than the insane beggar?
Yet another artist is not as discouraged by the destruction as the first, and carefully begins to piece the canvas back together, ready to try their own attempt at painting. They know, far down within, that it will never be the same. But just like the first artist, they too have the ability to shut out the rest of the world, even if only temporarily.
So he stumbled through life blindly for some time, fixated on only one thought: revenge. This continued drive could even sometimes mask the fact that all the colors were gone, that his world was coated in grays and shades and nothing more than that. But then, he managed to discover a new color: red. Bright, stark, absolute red, slick and shinning and beautiful in a way that nothing else was. And that is how he was living now, painting his life with the red, greeting another bright red day with each coming sunrise.
And the new artist grabs his brush and the large can of red paint, swooping his brush into the tin, flinging and splattering his brush in wild and crazed patterns: for he is determined to show a different type of beauty than his proceeder.
So here they are again, the tenant and the landlady, but oh, how life has changed them both. Still, she loves him just as much as she ever has, perhaps even more – because he needs someone to love him now more than ever before. True, he hardly notices her, but one day, he will. For now, she will enjoy these colors again, dreaming happily of how much brighter the pigments will be if – no, when – they move down to the seaside together. When she will cease to be Mrs. Nellie Lovett, and instead become Mrs. Nellie Barker. Todd. Either tint works, really, it's the man behind the name – whichever one he will be using at the time – it's he that counts, it's he that matters.
Red dabs, red stripes, red fingerprints, red splashes, red marks, red lines, red traces, red bruises, red points, red, red, red, so much of it that one would think it would be overwhelming, and yet it is not, it is somehow never enough for artist or canvas. Because though they love the red, and though they pretend that it is all that matters, it is not, it never is, they still fantasize of the other colors taking them over and making life what it once was, even if it never could be again.
The red washes over the grays, coats them over, makes the shades somewhat more bearable. Sometimes he can even start to pretend that red is the only color that matters to him – that it is the only color that has ever existed. And in a way, it is the only color that has ever existed: for Sweeney Todd, red is the only color that exists, that ever has exists, that ever will exist. But every once in a while, Benjamin Barker resurfaces, and that man will long to even catch a fleeting glimpse of the purple lilacs or the blue skies or the yellow wheat, the ones that he still remembers distantly, but can't precisely recall the appearance of anymore.
Yet the artist keeps painting, for what else can the artist do at this point?