Author's Note--Well you can add this to your list of 'Things That Will Never Happen'-- a functional or at least semi-functional Sweeney/Lovett baby story.Haha I'm afraid that it might be too fluffy, and therefore out of character, so let me know what you think. I'm a Sweeney Todd virgin, so please be gentle with me. It's so hard to keep those two in character when children are involved.Haha I've been going through the archives and reading stories, I haven't gotten through them all yet, but I noticed that I hadn't really come across anything like this. So if there is already a story involving this plot, I apologize if I've stolen your idea, it was unintentional;) Oh, and a side note, in the movie Mrs. Lovett looks like she's in her late thirties, give or take a few years, so I'm going with roughly around 37.
"We could have a life, us two. Maybe not like I dreamed, maybe not like you remember, but we could get by."
The house, a quaint, two-story with chipping paint and a creaking porch, sat a ways off from the ocean, a grassy meadow and tall trees surrounding the house on all sides, but stepping out the door, one could see the ocean, smell the salt in the air and feel the sea breeze. The crash of the waves against the shore was reassuring from where Eleanor stood on the shore line, swaying back and forth in her bare feet, her dress trailing in the sand.
When she laid down at night, the sound of the ocean lulled her to sleep, and when she woke up in the morning, the waves lapping at the shore were there to greet her. The ocean stayed with her throughout her day, kept her company as she went about her daily routine of cleaning the house, making breakfast, lunch and dinner and everything else a respectable housewife does. But it still wasn't enough to cover the sounds of the wailing babe in her arms.
He'd been at it for hours. At first, only small little whimpers that in time escalated to the full on shrieks ringing in her ears now. When Liam had first been born, she'd fancied that she could handle a baby easily enough. After all, she saw women do it all the time--feed them, change them, burp them, rock them to sleep. Piece of cake. The trouble with that old saying, she found, was that nothing was ever a piece of cake.
Humming an old lullabye softly over the din of the waves, Eleanor cradled her child in her arms and continued to sway back and forth with him, trying her damndest not to cry. This was not how she'd imagined motherhood. To be honest, when she thought of being a mother, she thought of Lucy Barker, glowing and blonde as she pushed Johanna around in a perambulator through the park. The woman had made it look so easy, so enjoyable. Eleanor was quite sure now that Lucy Barker had been faking it. It wasn't to say that she didn't love her baby, she loved Liam just like any mother loves her own flesh and blood. But why did he insist on crying all bloody day?
Colic, the doctor called it. He had said it was normal, that a lot of babies went through such a thing, and that he would stop being so fussy in time. But standing there on the beach in the wee hours of the morning, mumbling words to lullabies she thought she'd forgotten long ago, Nellie had a hard time believing that quack of a doctor.
If she hadn't been so busy trying to calm her son, Eleanor might have laughed at the absurdity of her situation. A year ago she'd been living in London, in love with a murderer and baking men into pies. And now here she was, living by the sea and singing to a child. After Mr. Todd had killed the judge, finally avenging the death (supposed death, anyway) of his wife, and getting the revenge he'd deserved after having his whole life ripped away, he'd been faced with the age-old question: What Now?
By the sea Mr. Todd, that's the life I covet, by the sea Mr. Todd, oh I know you'd love it...
Just weeks after the murder of Turpin, they'd sold their shop (after disposing of all evidence, of course), packed their bags and dragged Toby with them to the sea side. It had taken a little cajoling on her part, but he'd needed less convincing than she'd thought he would. She liked to think that deep down, Sweeney Todd had wanted to start a life with her, had wanted to begin anew.
He'd certainly gotten that, she thought with a wry smile, glancing down at the reddening face of the infant in her arms. Reaching down, she lightly touched her fingertips to the auburn tufts of fuzz on top of Liam's head. It looked like the boy had gotten her hair, and she felt sorry for the lad. She wouldn't wish her hair on anyone. She could already tell that the child was going to favor her in physical features, he had the same nose, same fine bone structure. Hugging the child to her, Nellie pressed her lips to his forehead.
"Come on darling," she sighed into his ear. "I'll do anything. Just shut up for a few hours. Please."
She huffed when he didn't quit his wailing and gave up. She'd thought the sound of the ocean and the fresh air would soothe him, but obviously not. Well then, she'd just take him back into the house and let him wail there. Beginning to walk away from the privacy of the beach and up the walkway to the house, Eleanorwasn't the least bit surprised to find her husband standing on the porch, frowning and looking sleepy.
Sweeney Todd was a light sleeper, and he'd woken up the minute his wife had slipped from bed to tend to their son. He would have gotten up if he'd thought it would help, but Liam cried no matter who held him, and one of them needed sleep. He held out his arms for the baby when she reached him, and Eleanor willing gave him up with a relieved sigh. She looked tired, and he felt an unexpected and unfamiliar pang of guilt at having left her alone with him for so long.
Shifting his son in his arms, Sweeney took his wife by the arm and led her over to the wicker settee, pushing her onto it. She did so without protest, a testament of how exhausted she was. Settling in beside her, he looked down at his son. Mr. Todd could not recall Johanna exercising her vocal chords quite so frequently, or quite so loudly.
When it came to parenting, he and Eleanor were both out of their element. Lucy had always dealt with the motherly aspects like changing diapers and soothing the fussy infant, and he had been the one to play with the happy little girl after she'd had her nap and had been fed, showing her dolls and books. But it wasn't to be this time around. Oh no. The former Mrs. Lovett was no Lucy and she damn well expected his help.
Sweeney Todd struggled to suppress a slight smile at that and was in the middle of noting what a bloody wonder his wife was, when he heard light snoring coming from his side. He glanced over and saw that Eleanor had fallen asleep with her head on his shoulder, mouth slightly open. It was then that he noticed Liam had quieted as well. He now stared up at his father in quiet wonder, brown eyes locked on the face of the man staring down at him with a furrowed brow.
The little bugger was kind of cute when he wasn't screaming his head off. Holding his son closer to him, Mr. Todd closed his eyes, just for a moment, and promptly fell asleep against his wife.
They were quite the picture when Toby found them hours later, in the bright light of morning, the barber, the baker and the baby all fast asleep on the porch.
Sitting on the wicker settee on the porch, Eleanor Todd closed her eyes against the cool breeze wafting up from the beach, carrying with it the sounds of little boys at play. Though, Toby could hardly be considered a little boy at sixteen. The thought that her little man was growing up made her strangely sad, in a motherly sort of way that she still was not quite used to. She'd spent so long only caring for herself, it was still sometimes an adjustment to think that others depended on her now.
Opening her eyes again, she allowed herself a soft smile at the sight of her boys wading out into the water together, Toby having a tight hold on five year old Liam's hand. She watched as Liam looked up at the boy he thought of as his big brother with a delighted grin at being allowed to go so far out into the water. Normally, he was only permitted to sit on the shore and jump over the waves that lapped at his feet.
Nellie's smile widened when she heard the excited shriek of her son as Toby lifted him onto his shoulders and waded further into the sea. Fiddling with a lock of hair, she occupied herself with watching her boys until Sweeney stepped out onto the porch carrying her cup of tea. He handed it to her and sat down next to her, watching her intently as she took a tentative sip.
"Thanks love," she murmured, not taking her eyes from the shoreline. "This should 'elp settle my stomach." He doesn't say anything, but then, she hadn't expected him to. He wasn't a man of many words, her husband. He only spoke when he had something to say, so very unlike her. She talked just to fill the silence, and she could tell it sometimes grated on him, the way she said whatever popped into her head, just to be talking. But she couldn't help it. She hated silence.
They sat there together quietly, her sipping her tea, watching the boys intently, while he watched her and she pretended not to notice. Liam was in the middle of splashing Toby with impressive enthusiasm, when Mr. Todd finally spoke. It was so sudden that she nearly jumped.
"You're tired," he observed quietly.
She scoffed. "Of course I'm tired. You know what it's like keeping up with Liam."
"That's not what I meant," he said, his voice as stern as it was yesterday, when he'd caught Liam hiding a toad in his mother's dress pocket.
"I know," she smiled, tearing her eyes from the boys to face him. "But I'm fine. It'll pass."
He frowned, looking unconvinced and she found it almost endearing. Even after five and a half years, her heart still thrilled at the concern he showed for her, when he allowed it to be seen. She reached out and took his hand, placing it on her rounded, swollen stomach. "I'm fine, love. Every pregnancy is diff'rent. Liam was easy. This one," she paused, inclining her head to the side. "Not so much."
When she'd started getting sick eight months ago, she'd gone to see a doctor for something to take, thinking she had the flu, only to be informed that she was pregnant again. It had stunned them all. She thought back to that day, remembering lying on the settee in shock, listening to Sweeney's footsteps as he paced the floor above her. But they'd both come to terms with the idea of another child, and she'd even grown to be a little excited about it. This had not been an easy pregnancy by any means, she was constantly sick and nauseous, putting her husband and Toby on edge for months.
She smiled slightly as she remembered the night before, when she'd been sick for hours, and Sweeney, feeling helpless had growled that he wished the "damn baby would just come out already" and "put everyone out of their misery." She found it oddly adorable that he got angry when he couldn't do anything to help her.
Pulling herself back to the present, Eleanor smiled at her husband and settled herself into the crook of his arm, reaching up and lacing his fingers through hers. "One more month," she whispered, smoothing her hand over her stomach. "I want a little girl."
"Don't," he said.
She looked up at him in confusion.
He sighed, turning his eyes from her. "Don't get your hopes up. It could just as easily be another boy."
She bit her lip, knowing he was right, but unable to help picturing a pink bundle when she thought of the baby inside her. "I know that," she said airily, twisting the material of her red dress in her hand nervously. She'd been meaning to ask him something for weeks, but she was never quite sure how to bring it up, or how he would react to it when she did. The last thing she wanted was for him to lose his temper. He did it so rarely now, but she still remembered what it was like.
"I was thinkin'," she ventured slowly, keeping her gaze fixed on their entwined hands. "If it is a girl...I thought we could give 'er the middle name...Johanna."
Her suggestion was met with silence, and she cringed inwardly as she imagined the look on his face. She should never have brought it up, it was still a touchy subject and she should have left it alone. Her and her big mouth. She could feel his eyes burning into the side of her head as she stared at her lap. The excited shrieks of her dear Liam became just a faint noise in the distance as she debated whether or not to look at Sweeney. Deciding to be brave about it instead of shrinking from his gaze, Eleanor slowly lifted her eyes to meet her husband's, surprised to find no animosity in them.
"Do you mean that?" He asked quietly.
She nodded, a slow smiling making its way across her face. "S' a pretty name."
Sweeney pulled her tighter against him, murmuring into her hair, "Yes, it is." He frowned suddenly. "What if it's a boy?"
Nellie looked up at him with a smug grin. "Joe?"
Sweeney Todd couldn't hold back a small chuckle.
Small hands stretched out, reaching higher and higher until they finally grasped the thick branch of the old oak tree, and a small body began to pull itself up and onto the sturdy wood. Struggling to adjust herself, Catherine Johanna Todd swung her legs over the side of the branch and laughed in childish delight at having finally climbed her favorite tree. She'd been working at it for days, and now she was finally strong enough to reach the top.
As a warm breeze ruffled her dark hair, she surveyed the land before her. She felt like a queen, sitting up there and looking down on everyone. The huge expanse of ocean lay before her, rough waves and the dark clouds overhead signaling an oncoming storm. Catherine could smell the rain in the air and it made her grin. She loved thunderstorms. Behind her there was a field of tall grass and more trees, not another house for miles. She loved running through the field with her brothers, and even as a scrawny five year old, she was able to keep her own with them.
Speaking of her brothers, there was Toby, sitting in the sand with the blonde girl he'd brought home that day. Toby had gone off about a year ago, to travel and when he'd come home the day before, he'd brought Julia. Cathy's mother said they were going to get married, but her father didn't seem quite so sure. Cathy liked her alright though, she was pretty and she'd given Cathy toffee.
Toby and Julia were watching Liam attempt to fly a kite on the shore, both of them trying not to laugh at the ten year old's struggles. It was a perfect day for kite flying, with it being as windy as it was, but Liam seemed to be having a bit of trouble. Cathy snickered as he dropped the kite and then started off after it as it began to get away from him, sand kicking up in his wake. He finally dove on it and caught it, his curly mop of red hair falling into his eyes.
Turning her eyes away from that particular spectacle, Catherine's gaze fell on the large bay window on the side of the house. Squinting, she could see her parents at the kitchen table playing cards. By the grin on her mother's face, she must be winning. Catherine continued to watch them as her father threw down his cards in frustration and her mother laughed in delight. She could hear the faint tinkling of her mother's laughter through the open window. They were both so competitive at cards and chess and whatever else they decided to play, Cathy often amused herself with watching them. Her parents were entertainment in their own right.
She looked slightly confused as she saw her father reach out for her mother's hand as she stood up to leave the table. Her befuddlement grew as she witnessed him pull her mother into his lap. It was very uncharacteristic of him, but her mother didn't seem surprised in the least. Cathy had noticed long ago that her parents were very different people, so different that sometimes she wondered why they got married at all. Her mother was more ostentatious with her love, kissing her father's cheek, running her hands through his hair, reaching for his hand. But her father wasn't quite so openly affectionate. Sometimes, however, her father would look at her mother with a soft smile he reserved only for his wife, and Catherine would just know that he loved her.
And then he went and did something like pull her mother into his lap, and it turned her whole perspective on things upside down. She made a face when her parents lips met, turning away and wondering why they would want each other's cooties.
As she turned her gaze back to the ocean, she let the sound of the waves take her thoughts away. She heard her mother's laughter again, but she didn't turn to see what was so funny this time, knowing it probably had to do with her father and kissing. Blech.
Catherine smiled anyway, because her happiness had always depended on her parents being happy. Luckily for her, her childhood so far had been full of moments like these, when it was just her and her family in their own little world out here, and life is almost too good to be true. Life where her father reads to her before bed at night, his deep voice lulling her into peaceful dreams of climbing trees and being on Toby's shoulders in the water; life where she helps her mother with the laundry and she can talk about anything at all, her mother will listen and talk back and not make her feel at all silly, like Liam does. Stupid boys.
Leaning her head against the trunk of the tree, Catherine stared down at her legs dangling over the side of the branch. She'd skinned her knee climbing the tree, and her white cotton dress was dirty; she knew her mother wasn't going to be very happy. As practical as her mother, she decided there wasn't much to be done about it now and she might as well enjoy the time she had outside before the storm hit.
Liam had finally gotten his kite up into the air, and Catherine watched as Toby and Julia clapped at his feat, laughing. Then she felt it. A wet splat right on her nose. The first rain drop. And then it was pouring, and the party at the beach quickly raced toward the house, Julie gathering her skirts as Toby dragged her along.
Catherine looked up at the sky, dark clouds as far as the eye could see, and wondered how long it would take before--
She winced. There it was. She ducked down slightly, biting her lip to keep from giggling as she hid from her mother's searching eyes. "Catherine Johanna, if you don't come inside right this instant, you'll be skipping supper and going straight to bed!"
Catherine frowned. Her mother really knew how to get her to do what she wanted. They were having her favorite dish tonight--fish and chips! Grumbling at her mother's cleverness, Catherine slowly began making her way down the trunk of the tree, skinning her other knee on the rough bark in the process. Hair dripping and white dressed thoroughly soaked, she avoided her mother's knowing grin as she slunk inside to change out of her wet clothes and wash up for dinner.
Birthdays. It was amazing how one went from looking forward to them as a child, to dreading them as an adult. It was cruel really, for God to take something that used to bring so much joy and turn it into something so bloody depressing.
Eleanor sighed heavily as she sat at the kitchen table, bright sunlight filtering in through the large bay window. It was an old table, it had weathered many years, some spills, a family, and it was starting to show its age. Much like her. She frowned at the thought and continued to stare at the wood in brooding silence.
Despite how she had assured her husband when his fiftieth birthday had come, that the silver hairs beginning to make themselves known in his dark mane made him look distinguished, turning 50 was really quite depressing to her, and she was suddenly very sorry about the way she'd been so flippant about Sweeney's. He would hardly feel the need to be sympathetic now.
As if he'd known she was thinking about him, her beloved sauntered into the kitchen, eyed her slumped form suspiciously, and made her a cup of tea. He put the steaming cup in front of her, along with a bouquet of forget-me-nots. She smiled softly, reaching out to finger one velvet petal as her husband pressed a kiss to her temple.
"Thank you love," she whispered.
He sat next to her and raised an eyebrow at her glum expression. "I'm confused, Eleanor."
She tilted her head to the side, a sign for him to continue.
He gestured vaguely with his hands. "It's your birthday, which you love, and which Toby and Julia are home for. You have a house full of people again, why aren't you off grinning like a silly little girl and baking?"
She made a face, wondering if she'd really become that predictable. She refused to think of it as predictable per say. More like she was always honest with him, there were no secrets. If she was happy, he knew it. If she was unhappy, he definitely knew it. At the thought of secrets, her mind took the dark turn it always did, thinking of a time so long ago it seemed like another lifetime. In her mind's eye she saw yellow hair, a beggar woman asking for alms. She really did try to be honest with her husband about everything, but there were some secrets that needed to be kept, that should never see the light of day. She would take hers to her grave. Instead of dwelling on it and making a terrible day even worse, she said despairingly, "I'm old."
Sweeney chuckled quietly, catching her hand in his as she swatted him away. "Hardly, my pet. You're only a day older than you were yesterday. Did you feel old then?"
She frowned slightly. "No," she said slowly, drawing out the word.
"Well," he said simply. "How can you possibly be young one day and old the next?"
His logic, as irrational as it was, made her feel a little better. Footsteps sounded on the stairs before she could dwell on it much longer, and Liam trudged into the kitchen, sleepy eyed and yawning. Stopping to kiss his mother's cheek, he said, "Happy Birthday, mum."
"Thank you darling," she smiled at her son as he ran a hand through his curls and picked up a muffin from the pan on the counter. He was only fifteen but nearly as tall as his father already. Nellie often remarked that as much as her son looked like her, his facial expressions and mannerisms were much like his father's.
Liam grabbed another muffin, and stuffed the remainder of the first into his mouth, much to his mother's dismay. Mumbling around it, he said, "Picnic today, right?"
She nodded, not feeling up to lecturing him on talking with his mouth full. She'd never been one for lecturing anyway. He passed Catherine on his way out of the kitchen and ruffled his little sister's dark hair as she came wandering in wearing a light green dress, dirt already smudged across it. Eleanor sighed. She could never keep that child clean.
The ten year old made her way over to her mother and wrapped her thin arms around her neck. "Happy birthday mummy."
Pressing a kiss to her daughter's cheek, Eleanor smiled, thinking that maybe turning fifty might not be so bad after all. "Good morning dearie." She laughed as Catherine leaned over her to kiss her father's cheek, their good morning custom.
Catherine unknowingly copied her older brother's movements, grabbing two muffins from the pan on the counter. She tucked one into the pocket of her dress and began eating the other. "I'll be outside."
"Be back in an hour," Sweeney called after her, shaking his head as the door shut behind her.
"Little bugger won't stay inside for anything," Nellie sighed. The differences between her two children never ceased to amaze her. One would rather stay in and read, the other would rather live in a tree. Liam, no matter how much time he spent in the sun, never tanned. But Catherine was like a little sea nymph, dark hair wild about her face and her deep tan from long days spent out of doors set her apart from the rest of her family's pale complexions.
Taking her silence as still moping about her birthday, Sweeney sighed heavily. "If you're going to sulk, what am I supposed to do? Bake pies?"
She giggled at the mere thought. Looking up at him with a soft smile, he could see that the deep affection in her eyes when she looked at him hadn't dimmed over the years. "I think I'm goin' to like growin' old with you," she whispered, resting her head on his shoulder. He merely grunted in reply, but Mrs. Todd was certain she felt his lips brush against the top of her head. He would deny it if she pointed it out, so instead, she merely closed her eyes, her smile widening.