Disclaimer: I don't own Sweeney Todd, Mrs. Lovett and other characters you might recognize.
It was another extremely busy day in Mrs. Lovett's pie shop. The customers ate faster than she could think, let alone bring them their orders. It had been like this for hours; the stream of customers just didn't stop.
"Six more pies!" she said to Toby, while she put her tray on the counter and caught her breath for a moment. "And bring those gents in the corner their ale."
The boy did what he was told and she hurried towards another table to serve to those men. She immediately returned to the counter for more pies and put them on another tray, and when those were served she returned to the counter once more. One endless routine that exhausted her beyond words. She had been very poor until recently, but at least she hadn't had to work so hard.
Even more customers entered her shop and officially it wasn't even dinner time yet. Among them was a group of four extremely noisy men, and one of them, a tall man with brown hair that seemed to be even bolder than the other three, was clearly their leader. Mrs. Lovett was quite sure she had never seen him before, yet he looked strangely familiar. But she saw so many different people in her shop every day, and she was too busy now to really think about it.
"Toby!" she yelled, slightly desperate. "I need more ale!"
She could only hope there were enough pies left in the bakehouse – making new ones now was simply out of the question. Even if they could be baked within five minutes, it wouldn't be fast enough and in reality it took almost three hours to bake the pies.
"Toby!" she shouted again, "I need more ale, now!"
She hurried towards another table, the one where the four newly arrived customers just sat down.
"Bring us some gin!" their leader yelled at her before she could even ask them what they wished to order. "Eight cans to start with!"
Luckily there was still some gin left, so Mrs. Lovett hurried back to the counter, almost running, and she emptied two bottles of gin into eight glasses. She hoped that those men would calm down a bit if they had something to drink; for even in Mrs. Lovett's opinion they made too much noise and were too bold.
She carried eight cans towards them, four in each hand. They were heavy, but she thought that she would made it to the table.
Unfortunately, at the last moment one of them slipped out of her hand, and it fell upside down on the table. The gin dripped from the table onto the clothes of one of the customers; he was that arrogant looking man who had ordered the drinks earlier.
"Hey, you!" he shouted aggressively. "What the hell do you think you're doing? You can clean that, bitch!"
Maybe she was used to it, or maybe she was daydreaming while working again, but the cruelty in the man's voice went by mostly unnoticed.
"I'm so sorry sir," Mrs. Lovett said, "but please don't worry about it. I'll give you two new cans immediately, and you can have them for free."
"New gin or new pants?" he shouted daring to her retreating back, causing his friends to laugh loudly.
"Well done Peter," one of them shouted to him. "Don't let her get away with this!"
Mrs. Lovett forced herself to stay calm and ignore the pathetic men. She grabbed two new cans of gin and brought it to the table where she put it down, this time without spoiling it. Yet the man, whose clothes she had accidentally ruined, yelled in anger.
"New gin? Do you think it's that easy?" the man who was called Peter shouted, like it was a huge offence that she had offered him a new drink. "You ruined my pants! Do you have any idea how much they cost?"
She cast a quick glance at the men. Their clothes looked even more expensive than they had seemed when she watched them from the distance when they had entered her shop; especially those the man who addressed her was wearing.
"I'm so sorry sir, I can pay for the cleanings costs, and…"
"Cleaning costs? Who do you think I am? This can't be just cleaned… I need new pants and since it's supposed to match perfectly, I need to buy a new shirt and coat too!"
It was absurd, and she knew it. Yet, he was clearly a powerful man, and she didn't want to get in trouble by ignoring him.
"But sir, I can't afford to…"
"Well, you ruined my clothes, not me, so it's your problem. And look at all these customers here… I'm sure you have more than enough money."
"It's going well sir, but not well enough to…"
She glanced again at his clothes, which looked so expensive that she wouldn't be able to buy it even if she had ten pie shops.
"I can't pay for that, sir. I'm so sorry."
She walked away form the table, trying to escape from the impossible man.
"Hey! I'm talking to you!" Peter yelled after she had gone only a few steps.
She turned around impatiently to tell him again that she was sorry but couldn't pay for it, but she never got the chance. He took one of the glasses of gin that she had just brought him and threw the liquor into the face of the pie maker.
She was too shocked to say anything or walk away any further, or even to notice that it was suddenly very quiet in the usually noisy shop.
The liquor dripped from her face and dress, causing it to stick against her body in a very inelegant way. She shivered from the sudden cold and wetness, but what scared her was the man, who looked at her shamelessly, like she was a prostitute.
He grabbed her wrist and before she could do something to prevent it, he pulled her into his lap. She tried to break free from his hands, but he was too strong to fight.
He eyed her while he smirked wickedly and his gaze focused on her chest, which moved rapidly in fear. Then he pulled her against him and mockingly toyed with the laces of her dress.
"You may be a fortunate woman now, Nellie Lovett, but I know there were times when you sold your body for a few pennies. It seems I'm just too late to enjoy that, but, luckily, those clothes you ruined are worth more than that. A lot more."
Her cheeks reddened in embarrassment at his words, and she had to blink back the tears when she felt his lips against the sensitive skin of her neck.
He loosened the strings of her dress and Mrs. Lovett shivered when his hands touched her partly exposed back.
"Don't be shy, bitch," Peter grunted. "You used to do this every day, didn't you?"
She couldn't hold back the tears any longer. The man was right, no matter how cruel he was. It had been awful, and it was terrible to admit it, even to herself, but he was right. When her husband had deceased and she was all alone, and the customers avoided the shop she now owned, she had to do something to be able to buy some food, or keep the place where Benjamin Barker once might return to.
But those days were gone forever. The shame, the humiliation, the physical and emotional pain. She closed her eyes, her mind thinking of a thousand things she could do to escape, but her body was numb.
"Well, I'm glad you finally shut up," he said viciously while he moved his hand to her lower back. "Women mustn't talk, they only say nonsense anyway."
She shuddered with fear once more, desperately trying to think of a way to escape, but that attempt failed miserably.
One of his hands lingered on her hips, and he whispered obscenities in her ear. Inwardly, the baker screamed, kicked, cried and ran, but her body was too weak to do anything. She didn't even notice that every single customer was staring at her. All she felt was how the man's hands touched her body in a way even her late husband hadn't dared.
But before it could get any worse, she felt an object going through the air, barely missing her head.
One second later Mrs. Lovett heard a sickening sound of metal against bone, and the grip on her body was gone.
The first thing she saw when she dared to open her eyes again was Toby, who was standing there with a tray in his slightly trembling hands.
Then she looked down, and there was that horrible man. He clearly was unconscious now, and a pool of blood formed on the ground near his head; but to her he seemed almost just as treacherous as before.
After one more second of unbearable silence, the customers cheered as one person and shouted congratulations to Toby. But the small boy didn't pay attention to them; his big brown eyes were focused on the still shivering woman. He offered her a hand to get up from the man's chair on which she was sitting now, but she didn't take it.
Instead, the pie maker ran out of the shop. She didn't see that the crowd attacked the friends of the man who had almost raped her, and that they threw his unconscious body in the mud on the street, while they cheered loudly. They congratulated Toby once more, and some of them gave him a huge tip, before they continued their meal like nothing had happened.
For Mrs. Lovett of course, it wasn't that easy. She fled into her bedroom and locked the door carefully behind her. She collapsed on her bed and hid her face in the pillow. She cried, and didn't stop doing so for a long time, while the fear never left her system. The baker couldn't get the memories out of her mind; new and old ones transformed into one horrible and seemingly endless vision.
She had promised herself it was the last time when an elderly man had refused to pay her and had humiliated her even more. She had said to herself she'd rather starve than go through that again. She had managed to ban that part of her past out of her mind, but now it was back, so graphically that she feared she even couldn't forget it when she slept.
Her pillow was almost soaking, but still the hot tears didn't stop coming. She shivered from the cold once more. Her back was exposed and the remains of her dress were still wet from the gin, but she was too weak to pull a blanket over herself to prevent herself against the freezing darkness.
Half on hour later, someone knocked on the door. Mrs. Lovett ignored the sound. She knew it was Toby who wanted to comfort her, but she didn't want to see him. He had saved her and she would be eternally grateful for that, but she didn't want to tell him because by doing so she would have to admit what had happened, and for the time being she was unable to face the things that were done to her.
So she pretended to be asleep; but the oblivion she longed for wouldn't come for a very, very long time.