The first thing that Mrs. Lovett was aware of when she woke were the gentle lips that were kissing her belly.
"Do you even know how late it is?" she groaned, feeling that the moment that the barber and she had finally fallen asleep the previous night was only minutes ago.
"Seven o'clock," Sweeney smiled teasingly.
"Seven o'clock? We have to get up, now!"
"What's the rush, my dear?" the barber asked as he continued kissing the woman's stomach and licked her navel teasingly.
"That's not fair," Nellie sighed, "you know I can't resist that."
"Indeed," Mr. Todd answered, not ceasing the ministrations.
Mrs. Lovett leant back against the pillow, closing her eyes as she surrendered herself to the sensations that Sweeney caused. How incredibly wonderful and unbelievable it was that he touched her like this now so often, that something that had been too good to even dream about, had actually come true.
She whispered his name as she weaved her fingers into his hair, urging him to continue what he was doing. Her body responded eagerly to him, like it always did – she just could never get enough of him. Though it was only several hours ago that they had made love, the baker was aroused once more and, wanting to feel the barber's lips and tongue on other parts of her body, she attempted to guide his head to those places herself.
However, Sweeney didn't move the way she wanted him to and remained focused on her belly.
"Is something wrong?" she asked, opening her eyes again.
"Not at all," he said, smiling mischievously at her, while his hands explored her stomach gently.
"What are you doing?" Nellie asked, suddenly feeling uncomfortable.
"I'm checking your figure."
The baker's mouth opened in shock and she stared at the barber in disbelief.
"What? Are you… are you saying that I'm…"
"No, you're not fat," Sweeney replied, his grin widening at the misplaced insecurities of the woman.
As she still looked shocked, he grasped her hands and placed them on her stomach, beneath his own hands.
"Nellie," he said, completely serious now. " Did it ever occur to you that you might be pregnant by now?"
The woman's eyes widened at those words and she realized what he actually was talking about. No matter how odd it seemed, she had never thought about it. The past two months had been one explosion of passion and love; it had started that night in the bathtub, when the Judge and the Beadle were killed, and from that moment on, Sweeney and she had been basically glued to each other. That was all so new and exciting that she hadn't even fully realized that their love might lead to something even more beautiful.
In spite of the situation, she couldn't suppress a giggle. Bearing Sweeney's child had been a dream of hers for such a long time and now that the possibility was right in front of her, she hadn't even thought of it.
"What?" Mr. Todd asked, "did I say something wrong?"
"No, not at all," she replied, smiling adoringly to him. " You just keep me busy all night, I didn't even have the chance to think about a pregnancy."
He smiled too, like he had done more than once during the past few weeks, but still Nellie couldn't help but stare at his face and wonder at that wonderful laugh of his.
Recognizing her look, Sweeney covered the woman's body with his own and kissed her gently.
But for once, the baker wasn't totally lost in his kiss, for a little voice kept nagging in the back of her head. The barber and she had never talked about family and having one of their own before; the topic was simply too painful for both of them. But now that they were together for almost two months, the probability of a child was certainly there and thus they had to discuss it, rather at the best moment and Mrs. Lovett felt that that was this one.
"Would you… would you want that?" she asked, breathless, "A child I mean? Our child?"
"There's nothing I want more," he whispered. "Although…" he added, switching back to his former, more playful tone as he eyed the naked baker in his arms, "there's something else I really want."
Their lips met again, and it seemed as if their kiss was different this time; there wasn't only love for each other, but for a possible third person in her womb as well.
"What do you think?" he asked as he trailed kisses over her chest, back to her stomach, "do you feel any difference?"
"No," she said after a few seconds of thought. "Not yet."
A few more kisses, and then Sweeney sat up and reached for their clothes. He stood up from the bed and dressed quickly, pretending not to notice that Nellie was watching him eagerly.
As she didn't seem to plan getting out of bed soon, he offered her his hand to help her get up. It was quite late already and although he enjoyed teasing the baker, he knew very well that they both had a shop that they were responsible for.
He intended to go to his tonsorial parlor, but as he saw how Mrs. Lovett moved out of bed and began to dress herself, he stood still to watch the woman in front of him.
"Did I ever tell you how grateful I am to have you?"
"About a thousand times," she replied happily, as she tugged at the laces of her corset.
Sweeney moved closer to her and helped her tie the strings and get into her dress.
"And did I ever tell you how much I much I like this dress?"
"I didn't count, but it was very often. And did I ever mention that I like this dress very much myself?"
"I can't recall," the barber replied, pretending to think deeply about the question.
"It seems so long ago," Nellie said, referring to the day three months ago that she had found a package with the dress in it in her bedroom, where Mr. Todd had placed it. Now the man himself was stroking the fabric, caressing the baker's back in a way she could've only dreamed of back then.
"Nellie, I've been doing some thinking." From the tone of his voice, she knew immediately that the banter was over. "About us."
"About us?" she echoed sheepishly, a horrible feeling suddenly overwhelming her.
Within seconds, the everlasting fear that Sweeney would fall out of love with her and leave her was on the foreground again.
Sweeney bit his lip and Mrs. Lovett stood perfectly still, expecting those long feared words to come from his lips at last.
The barber himself, too nervous to notice the woman's distress that he caused, reached for a small box on his nightstand. Mrs. Lovett hadn't seen it before, as if the man had hidden it, and although she didn't know what Mr. Todd was up to, she feared that it could be nothing good. The past weeks had just been too wonderful, too heavenly, and she had always known that it probably wouldn't last very long. But now that she was afraid that it would end, she wished that she could only enjoy this paradise on earth just a bit longer, if only for one day.
"Nellie Lovett," Sweeney said, kneeling down in front of her and opening the box to reveal a golden ring, while both his voice and hand were trembling lightly, "will you marry me?"
For a long moment they stared at each other, as if they were both unable to believe that he had just asked her to be his wife, but then Mrs. Lovett broke the silence.
"I… I do," she muttered hoarsely, tears of joy welling in her eyes. "I do, I do, I…"
The rest of her words were unintelligible for at that moment her mouth crashed against Sweeney's, the force of the kiss knocking the two of them over on the bed. Even while this happened, the baker kissed her soon-to-be husband tenderly. But before her kisses became heated once more, he moved away from her slightly.
"That's not all," he said, sitting up while he wrapped his arms around her and looked her in the eyes. "Almost sixteen year ago, everything I loved was taken from me. I never want that to happen again. I'll look after you, I'll protect you with my life, but even now that Turpin is dead… there are so many men like him in this city. I want us and our children to grow old in a peaceful and quiet place. I believe that the seaside might be a proper location for us to live."
"By the sea?" Nellie asked, tears slowly finding their way down her cheeks now.
"Yes," Sweeney said, staring at her, as he didn't understand her reaction immediately. "I thought you wanted to…"
Unable to deal with all the happiness that overwhelmed her in a controlled way any longer, Mrs. Lovett buried her face in the crook of his shoulder and began to sob.
"Did I say something wrong?" the barber asked, not seeing what was wrong but only hoping that it had nothing to do with his proposal. "Don't you want to…"
"Of course I do," Nellie said, smiling in spite of the tears on her cheeks. "That's what I've always wanted."
"But why are you crying then?" Sweeney asked bewildered.
"Because I'm happy, you silly man," the baker replied, looking at him with such a loving glance that the barber's lips quirked upwards too.
When she flung herself in his arms again, he embraced her in that protective and possessive way that she loved so much and all thoughts of impatient customers were forgotten. All that would ever matter to her was this man, the love of her life, who had asked her to be his wife after more than twenty years in which she had longed for him in vain. But now, life was good at last, and it was only getting better.
Here it is, the very last chapter of this story! I've been writing this for more than a year and it feels really strange now to post the last part.
I hope you like the epilogue and I want to say 'thank you' once more to everyone who read and reviewed. =D