My second story in the Sweeney Todd fandom! I hope you enjoy it! Please read and review.
He Brings Death
The chair that belonged to the late Albert Lovett was torn, broken, and reeked of gin and ale, but Mrs. Lovett couldn't help but adore it. She often sat in it at night, thinking about her departed husband and the barber that usually paced above her. This night, she sat on the chair, as the winds howled outside, with Toby on her lap. The mess of black hair upon his head and his soft, innocent yet aged black eyes brimming with happiness. The soft white skin and his delicate laugh seemed to raise the baker's spirits as of late. He seemed drowsy, with the bottle of gin loosely held in his hand and with his eyes half closed. Mrs. Lovett sighed adoringly as she tried to pry the intoxicating bottle of liquid from his fingers. Immediately, he jerked upright and growled softly as he cuddled the bottle tight, all the while gazing at her through those immense, doe-like eyes. Mrs. Lovett suddenly realized that there was nothing tainted about the boy, yet he seen and witnessed horrors.
He cuddled the bottle as if it was a toy of some sorts – which many children would have done at his age. Yet, he cuddled a bottle of liquor in its replacement. Mrs. Lovett couldn't help but adore Tobias Ragg. Somehow, she regarded him as a son. He was not her apprentice, but he had a certain part of her heart that Mrs. Lovett knew Mr. Todd would never have. She never fancied herself a mother, but with his fragile and delicate frame balanced upon her knee, with his head resting on her chest, she thought for a mere instant that it could have been.
Albert Lovett, although immensely large and bald, would have loved the boy as she did.
"Mum," he said softly, to wake her from her reverie. "Mum, tell me a story. I n'ver 'eard a story b'fore. N'ver had a mum to tell me a story."
Mrs. Lovett smiled at the boy in her lap; tenderly, she played with his black locks. "A story, love?" she said briefly, as if she contemplated the mere idea of it. "I en't really a storytellin' kind o' lady."
Toby immediately frowned with sadness.
"Oh, alright, dearie," she said. "Wot do you want to 'ear?"
"I dunno," he responded with a shrug of his shoulders. "Tell me 'bout your 'usband, Mum. Ya n'ver talk 'bout him."
At first, at the word 'husband', she felt herself go rigid. No one asked about him, and she did not offer anything about him, either. She found it quite ludicrous that Toby would ask about a long dead man. Then, as she became used to the idea, she softened. Albert Lovett would have loved him, maybe. Hopefully. She smiled and touched the fabric of the chair in a deep reverie.
"Albert?" she said, more to herself than him. "Me Albert was a butcher."
Toby nodded. "Yes, I know that!" he grinned.
"'E was a good man, 'e was. Loved my meat pies, he did. 'e was much older than me, and we weren't married fer very long," she said, her eyes downcast and on the floor, rather than her son's face. "Not much to tell, dearie. 'e wasn't very interestin'."
Tobias seemed puzzled for a moment, with his brow knitted together and his nose scrunched up, and his tiny lips pursed in thought. He tilted his head in bemusement, and Mrs. Lovett smiled to herself. She loved him as if her own, and his beauty mystified her. "Ya di'nt love 'im?"
"I did, in my own way," she said.
Toby nodded uncertainly. "Not the way ya love Mr. T?"
Mrs. Lovett felt her breath catch in her throat. The boy was clever. He never really seemed bright or understanding of the world around him. But he was. He was not naïve, Pirelli had stolen that from him when he abused and harmed him. Yet, it still troubled Mrs. Lovett that Toby actually knew. He knew.
It puzzled her and she licked her lips nervously. With a bemused smile, she shook her head. "Wot are you on about, Toby, love? Me and Mr. T are jus' partners, friends, maybe."
Toby nodded knowingly as his lids became heavier and heavier, and soon he was lulled to sleep. She held him in her arms as she gently placed him on the couch. Softly, she placed her lips upon his forehead.
Silently, she retreated back to her chair and to the abandoned bottle of gin. It occurred to her suddenly that she did not hear the pacing of Mr. Todd above. Mrs. Lovett did not care to see what he was up to; she would only be greeted by a verbal slap in the face. But what Toby said was true. She did love Mr. Todd. She would have done anything for him, and she loved him more than she ever loved Albert. Oh, she loved Albert a great deal, but in a different way. She admired her late husband and she respected him. He was a good man, but he was well in the years and never satisfied Nellie Lovett as she wanted to be satisfied.
"Just friends, Mrs. Lovett?" Sweeney Todd said in a sinister manner as he walked over the threshold and into the living room.
Mrs. Lovett felt her heart hover in her chest. "Mr. T! Givin' me a fright as always. Wot are you doin' down 'ere? Ya hungry, love?" she said as her voice wavered with hesitation.
She ignored his words on purpose. And with her own words, she saw annoyance and irritation flash over his features. Mrs. Lovett almost shuddered with anxiety. She didn't want to contemplate that he heard Toby's words. She did not want to believe that Mr. Todd knew all about the lust and love she felt for him. Yet, with his fathomless black eyes locked onto her, she felt he could read her mind. Did he hear the dirty, naughty, and most inappropriate thoughts she had about him? Did he know the way her soul ached for him?
He was so beautiful. He was so beautiful in his harsh elegance and cold manner. He was so heart achingly beautiful with his ruthless black eyes and his icy white skin, and he looked so powerful. Mr. Todd was so incredibly powerful that it made her mind reel. The razor at his belt, the hate and malice glittering in his very expression. He made her shudder at the mere thought of his touch.
Mrs. Lovett was in love and he knew.
"You ignore my words on purpose!" he said, louder this time, as he walked towards her.
Mrs. Lovett immediately went to her feet. "Wot are ya on about?" she asked quietly, afraid of his answer.
"Why do you pretend, Mrs. Lovett?" Sweeney asked as he moved towards the fireplace with an orange glow flickering on his pallid features.
It was so demonic looking. It was so maliciously devilish looking. It was grotesque, it was almost evil looking, and yet her heart raced as it never raced before. She swallowed her hesitation and her anxiety and looked away quickly from him before he realized her eyes had been fixated on him.
She looked nervously at her son who was deep in slumber. She frowned deeply and opened and closed her mouth as no words left her vocals. Her heart fluttered in her chest nervously. "If yer goin' on about Toby -- "
"Liar!" he growled.
"He's jus' a boy, 'e en't know wot love is, Mr. T," she continued quickly and quietly.
Sweeney looked at her. Her auburn hair, tangled and messy with flour -- and perhaps blood -- mingled in her locks. Her eyes dark, and her cheeks rosy from the heat of the fire. Her dress was dirty and ripped, with the neckline plunging a bit more than any respectable lady. She was afraid, maybe, not of him. She was afraid of the truth. She was never afraid to whisper her affections when she thought he didn't hear. She was never afraid to sing her soft lullabies to him. And she was never afraid to fixate her eyes on him when she thought he wasn't looking with that wistful smile on her face. Why she was afraid now, Sweeney did not know.
"Lies," he hissed.
Mrs. Lovett suddenly met his eyes with fervor. "Mr. T? Love? Wot do you want me to say?" she said softly.
She took his wrist and suddenly led him to her shop, away from the living room where they might wake Toby. They were now among the darkness, the lanterns snuffed out and the candles all without flame. They were amongst the flour and the leftover pies that Mrs. Lovett had forgotten to put away. Mr. Todd suddenly realized that he had been in her shop a single time after returning from Australia. And now this was the second time.
"Lies, Mrs. Lovett, seem to associate with your very being," he hissed.
Mrs. Lovett looked away from him. "I love you, I do," she said quietly with the fiery red blush coming to her cheeks. "That's not a lie, it isn't!"
She never blushed. She never felt ashamed. But under his forceful glare, she felt the red creep onto her cheeks. Not even on her wedding night, when she stood before Albert naked as the day she was born. She did not blush as his black eyes went over her youthful body greedily. And she did not blush when she made love for the first time. It was strange that Mrs. Lovett blushed now.
Mr. Todd took her tangled, auburn mess on top of her head and yanked back her head forcefully. She cried out in surprise, rather than pain. Actually, she relished his touch and the heat he emitted. He stepped closer and she shuddered from the violent intimacy. His lips were close to her neck, so very close, and she could feel his hot breath upon her. Mrs. Lovett swallowed nervously as he pressed his body closer to her. His soft lips were on the tender flesh of her neck, and she emitted a low and rumbling moan.
Sweeney put soft kisses up her neck until he finally reached her supple lips. He relaxed his grip on her hair and she lowered her head to look into his eyes. They seemed softer and more passionate than before. Yet, he was just as harsh. They seemed more tender and sweeter, but Mrs. Lovett knew they were not. He was not gentle with her, he never would be. She wasn't Lucy. She wasn't delicate like a paper flower on the wind. She would not crumble the moment he treated her harshly.
Would he ever treat that li'l nit roughly? Mrs. Lovett wondered. Ev'n as Mr. T and not Benjamin Barker?
She knew he would not. She didn't have to ask.
He could be forceful and she would not break. He could break her skin, hold her so tightly until her skin purpled, and she would not hate him. She would not beg him to be gentler and more kind.
He was harsh, yet he was gentle. Strangely, Mrs. Lovett could not decide which she liked better.
Sweeney crushed his lips onto hers as he pushed her up against the counter where she made her pies. He gripped her wrists roughly as he continued to kiss her. Mr. Todd did not kiss her gently, but in a more animalistic and harsh manner that reflected his whole being. He tangled his fingers in her hair and pulled on it in ecstasy as their tongues continued to search each crevice in the other's mouth. Her hair fell in ringlets to her shoulders, and Mrs. Lovett went to place her hands on the small of his back to draw him closer.
He broke away from the kiss and glared at her when she tried to do so. He roughly took her wrist and held them tightly against counter. Todd faintly saw the pain reflecting in her eyes, but she did not groan or moan in protest. She simply smiled weakly and leaned in to seize his lips once more.
Suddenly, he pushed her away forcefully, and she was puzzled for a moment. He took her hips and led her towards the wall behind the counter. And with cruelty, he pushed her back against the wall as the thud of her body against it reverberated throughout the room. She cried out only softly, and immediately as she did so, he sealed her lips with his hand. Sweeney almost expected her eyes to be small and frightened, but strangely they were not. Her doe eyes were big with fervor and excitement. He almost became excited at the mere idea that Nellie Lovett was passionate about the pain and welcomed it, rather than shunned it.
He held her wrists tightly against the wall as he pressed himself up against her. His mouth only grazed her ear, and Mrs. Lovett shuddered from his breath upon her skin. It seemed almost surreal to her. His body pressed up against hers, his mouth almost tasting the tender flesh of her ear, and her wrists dominantly grasped by his calloused hands. By the mere thought of the intimacy, she almost moaned with pleasure, but she did not. She was afraid to make any sounds, as if this all was a dream and would burst like a soap bubble. She was so terribly afraid that it would all end.
"Mrs. Lovett," he said huskily in her ear. "Would you ever lie to me?"
"I wouldn't. No, n'ver!" she protested.
That was a lie. She already had lied to him. She already had abused his trust. But, he didn't know that. Nellie Lovett didn't really want to lie, but it was a necessity. She could never have Sweeney Todd if he knew of Lucy, so she had to lie. She didn't want to, of course. But she would rather lie than break the poor man's fragile heart. Once fragile, at least. Now it was cold and bitter. Mere technicalities.
Sweeney laughed to himself and he released the grip on one of her wrists momentarily as he held her shoulder roughly. His fingertips dug into her tender flesh and she merely gritted her teeth. "Lies again?"
Mrs. Lovett was startled. Her blood seemed to run cold in her veins. She placed her head flat against the wall so she could get a look at his face. His eyes were narrowed on her and he looked absolutely livid.
"Lies?" she asked. "Wot lies?"
"Wot lies?" he mocked. "The lies you spawn every day!"
She felt herself shudder from the intensity of his voice. "I-I dunno wot you're talkin' about!"
Sweeney smirked at her. "Lucy is alive."
The color drained from Mrs. Lovett's face. Her body quivered with fear. He knew. The lie was done. It was over. He knew, and she wasn't sure how is happened, but it did. The radiant, virtuous Lucy was alive to him now. She no longer was the poor, unfortunate beggar woman that sold her radiant virtue on the streets. Somehow, Mrs. Lovett felt her death upon her. She knew the razor would slice her flesh and maybe even pierce it if he erupted into a rage.
Mrs. Lovett shook her head in blind, utter shock. "I did it fer you! All fer you! I love you, I do. Lucy en't Lucy anymore! A beggar woman, she is! Not your Lucy! She en't virtuous no more. Sleeps wit' men who pay, she does! No lies, honest!"
The rage flashed over his ashy features. His razor, his friend, appeared in his hand in a split second. As it was flicked open, he placed the cool sharp edge to her cheek. He ran it down to her chin slowly. As the blood trickled down, he was mesmerized. With his thumb, he touched the blood and inhaled as he saw its splendor upon his own flesh. But he looked back up at her with the razor lingering fatally at her throat. "Don't you speak about Lucy that way!" he roared.
"I meant no offense, Mr. T! 'Tis the truth! She's barkin' mad, she is! Abandoned 'er child, li'l Johanna, poor dear. I only be thinkin' of you!" Mrs. Lovett argued pathetically and desperately.
Sweeney looked thoughtful for a moment. He pressed the blade against her throat harder. "She's mad, you say?"
"Barkin', Mr. T!" she said all the while nodding.
Mrs. Lovett touched his cheek tenderly and he flinched, and recoiling from her touch. She shook violently, and she had trouble containing herself. His skin felt so smooth, so flawless underneath her touch. Mr. Todd had a murderous rage in his eyes, and for once, Nellie Lovett was terrified.
Sweeney took her delicate wrist and flung it off his cheek. "Don't touch me," he snarled.
"N'ver! N'ver if you don't want me to!" she whispered with fear. "Please, Mr. T, please understand!
"Say m'name again, Mrs. Lovett," he growled.
Mrs. Lovett blinked in surprise. His tone was hushed, menacing, but not all together murderous. Perhaps he understood. Maybe he would spare her. Yet, his request was odd and all together puzzling.
"Mr. Todd," she whispered.
"Mr. Todd," she obliged.
Sweeney grinned. "Say it again for me, my pet, my love."
Mrs. Lovett smiled and touched his cheek once more, and he did not recoil from her touch. "Ooh, Mr. Todd!"
Her mouth did not even produce the last syllable, when Sweeney grinned in a sickly manner. His fingers dug into her shoulder deeper and painfully. She moaned from his sudden attention and cruelty. And with the blade lingering fatally at her throat, he sliced the tender flesh. Mrs. Lovett's throat became a wide, gaping wound with the blood spluttering out and on to his demonic face. The life seemed to drain from her eyes and the final syllable caused a rush of blood to erupt from her mouth. Her body became limp in his arms, yet she still stood upright in a grotesque manner with her head leaned to one side and her throat ripped right open, her eyes wide open in shock.
Sweeney smiled regretfully at her corpse. "I bring death and misery, my pet. Not love, never love. You misunderstood my purpose, Mrs. Lovett. You believe I would bring love that imitated your disillusioned fantasies. I bring death, Mrs. Lovett."
Mrs. Lovett knew, even as a lifeless corpse, that he brought death and never love. And if she was not dead, and was as alive as she once was, she would have wept.