A.N. Just a bit of my regular humorous, romantic fluff sprinkled with angst. I hope you enjoy!
Mrs. Lovett was lethargically kneading dough on the splintering, wooden countertop with her flour-caked fingers and languorously daydreaming about the house she and Mr. Todd would have someday. It was, to some extent, like a game. She'd already designed the outside of the house and now she was dreaming up the curtains they would have in the main parlor. The pie maker was contemplating whether to have lacy, white curtains or cheery, cream-colored curtains with buttercups printed on them.
"The curtains should let the light in," Mrs. Lovett thought to herself as a frizzled, auburn curl fell in front of her eyes. She indolently blew on the bothersome lock of hair and it flipped loosely over to her ear. She hated having her hair in her face. Mrs. Lovett was a "no nonsense" woman and she wouldn't tolerate having her hair flying everywhere when she was at work.
"Maybe light green curtains," Mrs. Lovett muttered pensively as she imagined pale green curtains in her ebullient, sunny parlor by the sea.
"Thump! Thump! Thump!"
Mrs. Lovett's head almost hit the ceiling as she was callously jerked away from her reveries by the three bangs resonating above her head. From the barbershop on top of her pie shop. The three bangs was Mr. Todd's coarse indication that he needed her.
"Wot the 'ell dos' 'e need me for right now?" Mrs. Lovett muttered to herself, clicking her tongue and shaking her head.
"THUMP! THUMP! THUMP!"
"I'm comin'! Keep yer trousers on!" Mrs. Lovett shouted, taking a broom that was resting against the counter and jabbing the ceiling numerous times with the tail of it.
When Mrs. Lovett ceased prodding the ceiling with her broom, she heaved an agitated breath and put the cleaning instrument back in its proper place. She jumped again when she heard a concluding, livid stomp of one of Sweeney Todd's heavy boots.
"I'M COMIN'!" Mrs. Lovett wiped her floury hands on a frayed, checkered rag and brushed the white, fine particles from her gathered, dark burgundy skirts.
She made her way out of her pie shop and ascended up the rickety stairs leading to Mr. Todd's barbershop, teetering slightly on the penultimate step.
Mrs. Lovett stepped down to the stair before it and lightly put her foot on the wobbly board crudely nailed onto the step.
"Need to get Mr. T off 'is worthless rump an' make 'em fix this," Mrs. Lovett mumbled, persevering up the unstable stairs.
When Mrs. Lovett reached the entrance of his shop, she balled up her fist and prepared to lightly tap her knuckles against the door. But before her hand even reached its destination, a gravelly, monotonous voice stopped her,
"Don't knock. Just come in, please." The word "please" sounded strained and almost sardonic, as if the bearer of the voice despised politeness in any form. Well, that's Sweeney Todd for you, I suppose.
Mrs. Lovett noticed that the flimsy door was slightly ajar so she lightly shoved against the knob. The hinges creaked noisily, threatening to fall off from the "massive strain" of being pushed open and Mrs. Lovett cautiously tiptoed in. Mrs. Lovett covertly was frightened of the grey, foreboding room with its squeaky, dusty floorboards and its faded wallpaper that had been stripped of its former glory once it succumbed to the gloom. Pretty much everything and everyone had surrendered to the dreariness ever since Benjamin Barker was taken from the once beautiful town of London, it seemed.
"Mr. Todd?" Mrs. Lovett looked in the direction of the barber's chair, expecting to see Sweeney slumped in it, but instead she saw it was vacant.
"Mr. T-Todd?" she called out again. Goosebumps began to crawl over the flesh on her arms, even through the sleeves enveloping them. "Where are ya? I thought I 'eard..."
A rock-hard hand slammed down on her shoulder and clamped down upon it with an iron grip. Mrs. Lovett's heart practically leapt out of her mouth as she quailed with fear.
Another hand collided with her mouth and fastened against her lips, hindering her capability of speech. The hand was so icy cold that it almost penetrated through the soft flesh on her lips.
"Mrs. Lovett," a husky voice whispered in her ear. Mrs. Lovett practically went limp from relief when she realized it was only Mr. Todd behind her. The hand released itself from her mouth and she gave a gasping breath. Her chest heaved up and down as she breathed heavily, trying to calm herself down.
"Mr. ...Todd..." Mrs. Lovett panted before whipping around to face him. He had a mildly amused expression on his ghostly visage. "You gave me a fright, sir! Don't you ever go poppin' up be'ind me like that ever again, you 'ear me, mister? Ya almost made me 'eart stop an' I would've..."
"Mrs. Lovett," Todd's expression changed from one of mild amusement to just plain irritation. He then pasted an obviously insincere smile on his face. Well, obviously insincere to Mrs. Lovett, that is. The pie maker, unlike Todd's "customers" was not fooled by this façade he put on. Instead, she saw his smile as more of a menacing leer. A predator's leer. "Forgive me, Mrs. Lovett. I did not mean to frighten you."
"Wot a bloody liar!" Mrs. Lovett thought to herself, trying not to snort.
"'Course ya di'nt, love." Mrs. Lovett donned an ersatz smile as well. Both Mr. Todd and Mrs. Lovett were quite proficient in the art of fake smiles. "Jos startled me a tad, that's all."
Todd's spurious grin melted into its usual, unreadable expression. His curled lips straightened out into a thin, horizontal line. His jet black eyebrows knitted together on his ashen forehead in deep concentration as he awkwardly moved over to sit in the barber's chair. He was practically sidestepping around Mrs. Lovett as if he didn't want her to see something behind his back.
"Wot you 'idin', love?" Mrs. Lovett peered around to look behind him and he bolted like a rocket into his chair.
"Nothin'," Todd muttered, shifting a bit in his seat. "Just...go."
Mrs. Lovett cocked her head with curiosity, not knowing whether to laugh or be completely incredulous about his highly uncharacteristic behavior.
"Go?" Mrs. Lovett finally said, promenading over to the side of the chair, resting her hand on the crushed velvet armrest. "You mean to tell me that you int'rupted me work an' made me come all the way up 'ere jos so you could scare the livin' daylights out o' me then tell me to go?" Mrs. Lovett took another breath, trying to control the anger that was welling up inside her. Nellie Lovett was not an angry person by nature and she was not one to lose her temper on a regular basis. She knew exactly how to think before she spoke and to keep her angry thoughts to herself. It was the way her mother raised her. Like a lady.
"Controllin' your temper, pet?" Todd smirked a bit before returning to his apathetic, grim disposition. Mrs. Lovett always wondered how he was able to change moods so quickly. One minute he'd be livid, then in the blink of an eye he'd be forlorn, overcome with hidden grief. One minute he'd be deliriously giddy and faster than you could say "Lord protect me", he'd be indifferent and cold. It didn't make an inkling of sense to the pie maker, and it probably never would. Sweeney Todd was as unpredictable as the direction of the wind and there was nothing she could do about it.
"Why would I need to control somethin' I don' 'ave?" Mrs. Lovett lied, her tongue coated with a substantially thick layer of honey.
"You were getting angry, Mrs. Lovett," Todd's tone became considerably lower. He was speaking in monotone again. But Todd had a unique type of monotone that Mrs. Lovett never heard before the new Benjamin Barker came into her life. Somehow, his monotone almost always was filled with a hatred and grief, even though his voice would be flat. Before she met Sweeney Todd, she only perceived a monotone as an indication of boredom. "Don't lie to me. I'm not fond of being lied to."
Mrs. Lovett turned her head, afraid of giving any of her secrets away to him. She couldn't let him find out about...well...you know.
After an awkward, stifling silence between the two, Mrs. Lovett spoke,
"Mr. T? Wot did ya wont me for up 'ere?"
Suddenly, a bizarre phenomenon occurred. Cascading across Mr. Todd's typically pallid face was none other than a light pink blush.
Todd opened his mouth as if to speak, but then hastily closed it. He did this action several times, making him bear an uncanny resemblance to a demented fish.
"Wot, love?" Mrs. Lovett's lenient, brown eyes scanned over him inquisitively. "Cat got your tongue?"
"I..." Todd managed to rasp, scooting back as far as he could in the chair. "I...er...I..." He was getting pinker and pinker by the second.
"Mr. T? Are you alright?" Mrs. Lovett's nose crinkled with befuddlement. "You're actin' kind o'..."
"Mrs. Lovett..." Todd hissed through tightly clenched teeth.
"Spit it out then, love! I 'aven't got all day! I 'ave me work to do an' pies to bake."
The barber anxiously grabbed at the collar of his shirt. "Mrs. Lovett...I...n-need...needyourhelp." he said the last three words as quickly as possible as if they were a poison he wanted to get out of his mouth with due speed.
"With wot, dearie?" the baker put a hand lightly on his shoulder but, as she had anticipated, he shrugged it off.
"I..." Sweeney bent his head and rubbed his temples. A scheme to hide the discomfited look on his face. "I had...a little...well...er...accident."
"Where, love?!" Mrs. Lovett immediately became alarmed, her motherly instincts kicking in rapidly. "Wot 'appened?! Wot kind o' accident?! Are you 'urt? Is...?"
"I'm fine!" Sweeney snarled. He despised it when she prattled and fussed like that. "Calm down, woman!"
"Oh," Mrs. Lovett heaved a deep sigh of relief and clutched her heart. "You 'ad me so..."
"Worried," Sweeney finished for her with a growl. His face returned to its natural, chalky white color. The barber lightly stroked the razor in his holster, trying to prohibit himself from scything out her constantly flapping tongue so she would never blather again. Then he might have sweet silence for onceOh, how he missed silence! Lucy hardly ever spoke and Johanna was such a quiet little thing. In his days of being Benjamin Barker, he remembered how he would sit in their bedroom after a long day's work and be able to hear the steady sound of his, Lucy's, and sometimes even little Johanna's steady, unfaltering heartbeat.
"Yes, love," Mrs. Lovett's voice broke into his sweet recollections and he was yanked back into the harsh, cold reality of his present-day life. "So...if ya ain't 'urt, wot's the problem?"
Sweeney felt the warmth creeping over his cheeks and enveloping around his ears. Mrs. Lovett could see that he was once again pink.
"Er..." Sweeney's left eye began to twitch in an almost comical manner. "I...er...you see...it..."
"Someone stole your tongue an' you wont me 'elp gettin' it back," Mrs. Lovett finished for him, eyes glinting with mischief. "That's your problem, love?"
"N-No," Sweeney was highly tempted to smack himself with a heavy object. He was not, by any means, a man who did something as weak and pathetic as stuttering. "I mean...no!"
"Then wot', love?" Mrs. Lovett tapped her foot impatiently. She needed to get back to her pie dough soon or it would dry out. "I don't 'ave all day." Sweeney simply replied with an unsatisfying grunt. "Fine, then." Mrs. Lovett gathered her skirts and prepared to depart the barbershop.
"Wait," Sweeney snatched a fistful of her skirt and yanked her back. "Alright...I'll...tell ya."
Mrs. Lovett pulled her skirt away from him and put her hands on her hips expectantly. "Let's 'ear it, dearie."
Sweeney clasped his hands tightly together, pushing his rear further back into the chair. He then mumbled something inaudible.
"Pardon, love?" Mrs. Lovett's eyebrows rose considerably.
"Ah..." Sweeney's face was now the exact tint of his precious rubies. "IhadabitofanaccidentandI..." the barber put a hand to his damp, oily forehead. Wait...when did he start sweating?
"Slow down, love,"
"I..." Sweeney gulped. "I ripped...I ripped me trousers." The poor man was now almost maroon.
Mrs. Lovett stood there incredulously for a moment, searching his features for any sign that he might've been pulling her leg. Once she finished her thorough study, she made the revelation that he was indeed not joking.
All of the sudden she felt something bubbling inside her and a powerful force was pulling at the corners of her lips. She bit her tongue as a hysterical laughing fit threatened to fly out of her mouth. Suddenly the hilarity of the situation was too much for her to contain alone so she slapped a hand over her mouth. Her ivory cheeks flushed a ruddy, giddy shade of pink.
"Don't you dare!" Sweeney's menacing roar reverberated deep in his throat as he clenched his bony, calloused fingers around the handle of his precious straight razor.
A squeaky, choking sound escaped from the baker's lips and she put her other hand over her mouth as well to conceal the large grin on her face.
"Mrs. Lovett..." Sweeney's face flushed almost purple with hidden rage. If the room were only a little colder, steam would be rising from his head. His entire body trembled irately as he pulled his silver friend out of its holster. "If you even think about..."
That was too much for Mrs. Lovett. No matter how much she tried to suppress her giggles, they somehow managed to push their way out. It was too excessively hilarious for her to ignore. Soon, Mrs. Lovett was laughing like a hysterical hyena.
Sweeney leapt out of the barber's chair, hissing and snarling like a livid predator. Mrs. Lovett had unintentionally succeeded in provoking him into feral violence. He grabbed the laughing woman by the shoulders and rammed her brutally against the wall. The barber took his gleaming razor and pressed it violently underneath her chin. The woman had stopped laughing.
"What, my pet?" he hissed, lifting her chin up with his blade so he could see the fear swimming in her eyes. "You don't want to laugh anymore?" he pressed the razor harder against her flesh. "Do you?"
"N-N-No," Mrs. Lovett's voice was barely a whisper. "I...d-din't m-mean to...t-to..."
"Let's make sure it doesn't happen again, my dear," Sweeney roughly released her and jammed the razor back into his holster.
Mrs. Lovett was trying to regain her composure when Sweeney turned around to head back to the chair. Right on the rear of his dark, pinstripe trousers was a long rip at the seams, revealing his shockingly white undergarments.
Mrs. Lovett inadvertently snorted with amusement and Sweeney turned back around, glaring at her before putting his hand over the split while he returned to his chair.
"Do ya not know...'ow to sew, sir?" Mrs. Lovett struggled to keep an even tone and a straight face.
"No!" Sweeney snapped. "That's women's work."
"Alright then, love," Mrs. Lovett sighed. "I'll fix 'em for ya." She held out her arm. "Jos slip 'em off an' I'll take 'em downstairs to..."
"I am not taking them off here, you madwoman!" Sweeney's black eyes widened in mortification.
"Well, then," Mrs. Lovett looked away to hide her disappointment. She had been looking forward to seeing him in his undergarments. Oh well. A lady couldn't get everything in life. "Jos go in your back room, slip on another pair o' trousers an' then 'and the ripped pair to me once you're fully clothed."
Sweeney squirmed a bit in his chair, mumbling again.
"Well, why don'tcha get to it, dearie?" Mrs. Lovett told him softly, still repressing giggles.
"Mrs. Lovett," Sweeney coughed. "These are...me only pair."
"Mr. T!" Mrs. Lovett gasped. "You cain't be..."
"I'm very serious, Mrs. Lovett," Sweeney's face was becoming so hot that it was a wonder that his flesh didn't bubble and melt off of his bones. "I only had these when I came back here and they took the rest of me clothes...save a few shirts." The barber twisted his onyx black hair violently around his fingers. This was probably one of the most uncomfortable conversations he'd even been involved in.
"Why di'nt ya tell me earlier, love?!" Mrs. Lovett fussed over him like a worried mother. "I could've gone to a tailor and got ya some more trousers! I went an' got Toby some clothin' an' there's no reason why I couldn't get..."
"I only need one bloody pair of trousers," Sweeney growled.
"Well, if ya 'ad two pairs, there wou'nt be sucha problem," Mrs. Lovett countered. "So it's your own bloody fault that you're in this situation." the baker held out her arm again. "Take 'em off an' 'and 'em over. I'll sew 'em up."
"If ya don' wont me 'elp, Mr. T, I'd be glad to leave." Mrs. Lovett challenged him, not meaning a word she said.
Sweeney let out a defeated sigh. "Fine. But you get your bloody sewin' kit and fix them now...up here. I don't want any customers to come in with me in my..." Sweeney wiped a bit of sweat from his brow, not wanting to say "undergarments".
"Alright, love," Mrs. Lovett gave the barber a pat on the back and departed the barbershop. In about five minutes, she was back with a miniature basket filled with pincushions, needles, thread, and scraps of fabric.
"Now take 'em off," Mrs. Lovett gestured at Sweeney's trousers and set her basket down by the barber's chair where Sweeney was still sitting. She tapped the barber on the shoulder and he bolted up in surprise, almost as if he wasn't previously aware of her presence. Mrs. Lovett chuckled a bit at his reaction and thus earned a glare from him.
Sweeney angrily fumbled with the buckle of his belt and whipped the long, leather strip from its place on his waist. He then unfastened his trousers, pausing.
"Mr. T..." Mrs. Lovett raised an eyebrow at him, giving him a chastising look.
"I'm doin' it, woman," he snapped, slipping off his trousers and throwing them at the highly entertained baker. "Fix 'em." Mrs. Lovett's eyes traveled to his white undergarments, smirking. "Stop lookin' and get to work!"
Mrs. Lovett tried not to study his delectable, muscled legs. They were so white and impeccably carved that it seemed like they had been sculpted from gleaming marble. She forced herself to tear her eyes away and concentrate on the task of sewing.
The woman sat down in the barber's chair, set the trousers on her lap, and reached down for her basket. She then took out a spool of black thread and a grey pincushion, taking a needle out of the little sawdust-filled pillow. Mrs. Lovett dexterously threaded the needle and began the task of stitching the gash together.
"Would you hurry up, woman?!" Sweeney snarled, the embarrassed purple flush on his face extending to his neck.
Mrs. Lovett stopped mid-stitch and put her needle down.
"I didn't tell you to stop!" Sweeney spat, livid.
Mrs. Lovett merely replied with a short "hmph" and pushed the trousers off her lap, onto the floor.
"What was that for?!" Sweeney exclaimed, thoroughly incredulous.
"I'm not doin' a single thing for you if ya don't show me a bit o' courtesy." Mrs. Lovett's softly trimmed eyebrows narrowed in suppressed annoyance. "I wos jos 'elpin' ya an' I'm not gonna be puttin' up wit' this, mister." The woman stood from the barber's chair resolutely. She bent over to pick up the pinstriped trousers and in her aggravation, crumpled them up and chucked them at the baffled barber.
"The last bloody favor I'll ever do for ya!" Mrs. Lovett, utterly incensed, stomped away from him to reach the exit. How dare he treat her in such a manner? After all she'd done for him? After all the secrets she'd kept for him, after all the blood she'd washed from his few shirts, after all the hot meals she made special for him, after the way she loved...
The baker felt something as frigid and hard as a blade in the snow encircle her wrist and snatch it back. She soon felt her legs become nothing but bags filled with sand as the chilly entity pulled her away from the door. Sweeney's hand. For that reason she didn't fight back. She never fought back when Sweeney was involved...until a few minutes ago, of course.
Mrs. Lovett's form was pulled so close to the tall, gaunt stature of Sweeney that she felt his ribs digging into her upper back.
"Mrs. Lovett..." a husky voice whispered in her ear.
"Y-Y-Yes, M-Mr. T?" Mrs. Lovett felt her breath leave her chest.
"Please..." he then pulled away from her. "Please, Mrs. Lovett, I am in dire need of your wonderful, adroit skills and I would be much obliged and forever in your debt if you would assist me with..." Sweeney stopped, coughing in his sleeve to hide his discomfiture. "...repairing my trousers."
Mrs. Lovett almost felt her heart plop to her feet in disappointment. She had foolishly been preparing herself for a confession of love from him. She had been so ready for it. It was about to happen like she'd always dreamed...
"Alright, Mr. Todd," Mrs. Lovett took the trousers from the barber and sat back down, returning to her work.
As each stitch glided methodically in and out of the pinstriped fabric, bringing the rip together, Mrs. Lovett felt each stitch holding her hopes and dreams together come loose, leaving a gaping slit in her soul.
"I apologize, Mrs. Lovett," Sweeney shattered the hush with his almost listless, deep voice. "You are a fine businesswoman and we are of equivalent standing. I'm sorry that I frequently treat you like a common maid. I would like you to know that I truly do consider you as an efficient, practical woman who is not only a skilled in the world of enterprises, but who is also a very useful woman. I regret that I take advantage of this fact." His voice remained completely flat and emotionless as he made his apology.
"So that's all I am?" Mrs. Lovett thought acrimoniously to herself. "That's wot 'e sees me as? A bus'ness partner?"
"I...understand completely if you don't want to forgive me..." Sweeney's words were empty ones. This fact became even more obvious when he walked over to his wooden side table, picking up the framed picture of his wife and Johanna.
"Guess I can't 'spect 'em to love me..."
"Mrs. Lovett?" Sweeney became mildly concerned when she didn't answer him.
"Oh, don't trouble yourself, love," Mrs. Lovett gave him a weak smile before punctually returning to her work and murmuring to herself,
"You don' need to trouble yourself 'cos I trouble meself enough for the both o' us."
"Pardon me?" Sweeney's unnaturally sharp senses picked up the nearly inaudible murmurs.
"Nothin', Mr. T," Mrs. Lovett grimaced as she finished the penultimate stitch, feeling the second-to-last stitch in her desire-filled soul loosen and slip away. "These trousers are almost done, sir."
"Good," Sweeney grunted with satisfaction
"Jos one more..."
"There we are," Mrs. Lovett announced, coating on a layer of cheerfulness in her tone as she tied the end of her stitches securely, biting the thread away with her teeth. "Good as new."
"Thank you," Sweeney swiftly took the pants and put them on in what must've been a record-breaking time.
"Anytime, love," Mrs. Lovett stood up, readying herself to leave.
"Yes, Mr. T?" Mrs. Lovett turned to face him.
"Could..." the barber swallowed nervously. "Could you...?"
"Wot, love?" Mrs. Lovett slowly felt the "stitches of hope" reincarnate themselves inside her.
"Could you teach me how to sew sometime?"