A/N-Hey guys! Here's another little fic I thought up. It literally wouldn't leave me alone until I wrote it. I also want to thank everybody who reviewed my last story, I responded individually but I had to say one last, big THANK YOU because you all just made my day with your fabulous comments:) Now, this one may be a little harder to follow, and it might be a bit odd, but I'm hoping you'll give it a chance. Please let me know what you think!
Summary-Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett got it wrong the first time. But the Fates have stepped in and given them a second chance. A love story that spans over a century.
Disclaimer-I don't even own the DVD :( The Nearness of You belongs to Billie Holiday and the little quote at the beginning is from The Painted Veil. Beautiful movie, and it has Ed Norton. Go rent it.
Sometimes the greatest journey is the distance between two people.
Time is an ever rotating wheel, it never stops, not for anyone. Except Sweeney Todd and Eleanor Lovett. For them, time paused for over a century, waiting for them to catch up...
Weaving the web of fate is not an easy thing, it takes deep concentration and an all-seeing eye. The Wyrd Sisters were the only ones capable of such a daunting task. But sometimes, even the most skilled run into a snag, two stubborn people refusing to let fate take its natural course. And sometimes these people need to be dealt with in a most unusual and timely manner.
The second the thread of Sweeney Todd's life was cut, the sisters knew something had gone wrong somewhere. It happened occasionally, when they got a particularly intransigent case, though it was quite rare. As much of a headache as it was, the sisters only had one choice - to once again breathe life into the two people lying in their own blood and ashes on the floor of a bakehouse in London. After all, if they didn't, the whole course of the world would change forever.
It was times like these that the Wyrd Sisters really despised stubbornness.
He opens his eyes to the face of his beloved wife, his Lucy. Her eyes are closed in the blissful peace of mind that death brings to those fortunate enough to attain it. The slit in her throat is gruesome, blood drying on her pale skin. It pains him to look at what he has done to her. He wants to take a razor to his own throat. It is then that Sweeney Todd remembers something very important. He has already died. The memory of faint footsteps behind him, and the quick flash of pain at his throat assures him of that.
Reaching up one hand, he feels at his throat for the gaping wound and slippery feeling of blood spilt that should have been there. Nothing. Not a scratch. No blood. Panic rising up in his chest, threatening to spill over as he wonders what form of hell he has been sent to.
And then he hears it.
Eleanor Lovett can vividly recall how it feels to be burned alive. The complete agony, when all she can think of is the pain, the way the flames had licked at her flesh until there was nothing left but ash. It isn't something she will soon forget. And so she has to wonder how she survived when she comes to consciousness in her own oven.
Breath coming in quick gasps, she glances hurriedly down at her hands. Perfect, unmarred flesh. She is alive, flesh and bone. The joy is overwhelming, but she still feels awfully warm. Then she realizes something. The oven is still on. Alarmed and well on her way to hyperventilating, she begins pounding on the door to the oven, screaming, hoping someone, anyone will hear her and let her out.
The oven door swings open and the very man who'd pushed her in stares back at her, gaping like he's seen a ghost. As they stare at one another in shock, she thinks that maybe he has.
In the year of 1899, Al Capone is born, Aspirin is patented and Eleanor Lovett is in Cuba just as the Spanish rule is nearing its end. Havana is bustling with life as she makes her way through the crowded street market, shoving people aside when she has to. She finally manages to get away from the rabid crowds and onto a less populated street, hoping she isn't late.
Eleanor winces when she catches a glimpse of her reflection in the window of a shop. She hates any reminder of her ever-youthful appearance. Surely some strange curse for all the evil she has done in her life. It is a curse disguised as a blessing, watching everyone around her drop like flies while she stays young and beautiful. Forever moving from place to place, forever alone. This is her punishment, living forever with the guilt of what she has done.
She is working now as a maid for the governor, a real brute of a man, but it's money and she's not going to complain. A lady needs some way to make a living these days. She can see the governor's mansion, on the hill overlooking the sea (she doesn't miss the irony of this), when she sees him.
He hasn't laid eyes on her since their bitter parting in London nearly fifty-three years ago, when they had both decided to get as far away from each other as possible. She hasn't aged a day since then, but neither has he. He has always known it was just a matter of time before they ran into each other again, and when he sees her, he inclines his head to the side with a polite smile that resembles more of a smirk.
Her eyes widen almost imperceptibly, and then a mask of indifference falls into place and she breezes past him without another glance. It isn't until she is safely inside the governor's mansion that her racing heart begins to slow.
She hasn't seen him since they were both passengers on that damn ship sinking back in 1912, and when he walks into the nightclub where she's working, her palms begin to sweat. She nearly drops her microphone in the middle of a number. Eleanor doesn't quite understand what she feels as she watches him take a seat near the back of the club with four other men, all of them smoking cigars and wearing snappy suits. It's not fear, because they had both learned a long time ago that dying is an impossibility.
"It's not the pale moon that excites me, that thrills and delights me. Oh no, it's just the nearness of you. Isn't this sweet conversation that brings this sensation. Oh no, it's just the nearness of you."
It certainly wasn't happiness. The man has tried to kill her before, and if he thought it possible, he would probably try again. They try to steer clear of each, but being the only constants in a world full of change, they come across each other every so often.
"I need no soft lights to enchant me if you only grant me the right to hold you ever so tight and to feel in the night, the nearness of you..."
Perhaps it was nostalgia. A longing for what they'd once had. Yes, she decides as she finishes up the last of her set. That must be what is. She hits the last note, smiling at the piano player and already looking forward to the gin waiting for her back stage. She feels much better now that she has put a name to the strange feeling, but the emotion is short-lived as she places her microphone on the piano and their eyes lock across the crowd and smoke.
She can't be sure, but she thinks she sees a genuine smile grace his features.
She thinks she smiles back.
The war is over. It's on everyone's lips, splashed across the front of every newspaper, and on Nellie Lovett's mind as she stares out the window of the train car at the rolling hills and open meadows before her. Ever since the beginning of World War II, she's been working as a nurse, caring for the soldiers, nursing the ones who had a chance back to health, and keeping the ones who had no hope company for their remaining hours on earth. She would watch those men, sit by their bedsides and hold their hands, watch the light fade out of their eyes as they passed from this world and she would sigh with envy.
She has been through so many wars in her lifetime, she never wishes to see another. She has seen so much suffering, so much pain and heartache. It makes her hurt all over, and she decides it isn't fair that she's not allowed any respite from the trials of the world. There is no afterlife for her, just life.
Now that America is beginning to pick up the pieces of its country, Eleanor has taken off her nurses uniform, boarding a train, ready to return to where it all began. London.
He is sitting in a train station in London, still in uniform, hiding behind a newspaper proclaiming the end of the war. He disembarked the train over an hour ago, but unlike his fellow soldiers and comrades, he has no one to go home to. So until he decides what he's going to do next, Sweeney Todd does not plan on leaving his bench or putting down his paper.
A train whistle blows in the distance and he sighs as it disrupts his brooding thoughts. It pulls into the station, steam billowing out, passengers stepping out smiling. And then he sees her.
She steps off the train and looks around, taking everything in. This is no doubt the first time she's seen London since she left years ago. She looks just as lovely, if not more so, than she did then. Her hair is down, neatly curled around her face instead of on top of her head and wild. She is dressed in a knee length skirt and heels, a simple blouse, with a hat atop her head, tipped to one side and decorated with bits of netting and a brooch. Her gloved hands are clutching her only bag to her as she glances around the station.
As much as he hates her for lying to him all those years ago, a part of him misses her company. Sweeney Todd comes to a decision as he slowly lowers his newspaper, making his presence known.
Her eyes immediately fly to his in surprise. She doesn't bolt, like he expects her to, but merely stands there, her bag full of clothes hanging at her side as they stare each other down. What she does next surprises him. She slowly walks toward him, eyes the bench and him warily, and sits.
When he leaves, he has her address in his pocket. For the next thirty years, they write letters back and forth.
Finland and Germany have just ended their state of war, and she is on assignment for the Chicago Tribune. There are people to interview, leads to chase down, but she's tired and in desperate need of a drink.
On the corner of a friendly street in a small town in Germany, Eleanor Lovett slides onto a bar stool and stares at her hands resting atop the bar until she feels a presence looming over her. The bartender. Without looking up she orders gin on the rocks, and briefly thinks of Toby. A deep voice, eerily familiar, tells her that they are out of gin. She looks up in disbelief and nearly falls out of her chair when she realizes she is looking at her would-be murderer and sometimes friend.
She enjoys the letters she gets from him, looks forward to receiving them. They are the only bright spot in her endless days, and though she doesn't know it, he looks forward to her letters for much the same reason.
He is grinning at her crookedly, already holding the glass of gin. He has obviously anticipated what her drink of choice would be and he slides it in front of her. Scowling at him for making her think she was not going to get gin, Nellie picks up the glass and takes a long sip.
They talk for an hour before parting ways. She hurries to get her interview, and he watches her walk out, ignoring the strange pang in his chest when she is gone.
In 1969, while nearly half a million people gather in New York for Woodstock and the second wave of feminism is in full swing, the year man will walk on the moon, Eleanor Lovett is lying on her stomach in the middle of a field, making daisy chains in bell bottoms and a peasant top, bare feet in the air behind her.
All around her are people dressed just like her, smoking and drinking, loud music coming from the Volkswagen van parked a few feet away. The doors to the van are open, and several more people are inside, laughing to themselves and controlling the music. But Eleanor hardly notices any of these people, partly because she herself may have taken a few more hits than was necessary, but mostly because right next to her, looking distinctly out of place, is Sweeney Todd.
She's grinning at him openly, seeing the humor in Sweeney Todd, the demon barber, sitting in a field of daisies and listening to Jimi Hendrix with a bunch of hippies. It makes her giggle thinking about it, and he glances at her in befuddlement but says nothing. The pair has grown decidedly closer through the many letters they've written over the years, as well as the few and far between visits every decade or so. They have formed a strange sort of friendship, despite the years of resentment in their past.
The girl on her other side, Cindy, asks her how old she is, because they are running out of beer and one needs identification in order to buy alcohol nowadays. Is it Cindy? Or Sunflower? Well whoever she is, she is looking at Eleanor expectantly, toying with one of her blonde braids.
Before Sweeney can stop the inebriated Mrs. Lovett, she replies that she is one hundred twenty-three. Her friends laugh, and she doubts they will remember it when the buzz wears off, but Sweeney Todd stands up, lifts her and her half-finished daisy chain into his arms, and takes her away before she exposes them both.
It seems they have come full circle when she once again owns a pie shop, and he begins shaving customers. Of course, this time, her pies are actually quite good, he is not spilling blood, and they are thousands of miles away from each other.
A radio in the background plays a song by some new punk band called the Ramones, while Eleanor kneads the dough for a cherry pie and occasionally steals a cherry from the bowl next to her to pop into her mouth. She has help, but she prefers making the pies on her own, because there are so many unpleasant memories that come along with a simple pie. It is not unusual for her to be in tears by the time she puts the pies in the oven, and she isn't particularly eager for anyone to see that. They would probably question her sanity, as she so often does.
She cannot help but think of all the times Toby stood by her side and helped in any way he could, those brown eyes looking up at her in complete devotion, the way the word 'mum' rolled off his tongue so easily. The thought pains her, and she wonders what became of him, not for the first or the last time. Her eyes fill up as she thinks again of the closest thing she has ever had to a child of her own, and she hates herself.
The door swings open, and she wipes hurriedly at her eyes with the corner of her apron, turning around to grace her teenage assistant with a smile.
His eyes take on a far away look every time he puts a razor to a man's face, and he often wonders why he returned to the profession that brings him so many painful memories. He thinks maybe it was inevitable. History, he decides, has a habit of repeating itself.
The urge to take a life has long since faded, but every time some unsuspecting man bares his neck to him, Sweeney Todd's mind is full of gruesome images. Throats slit open, blood spurting out, ragged last breaths, the sickening thud of another head hitting the floor of the bakehouse.
He cannot forget, and he wonders if he ever will.
It's 1986 and Eleanor Lovett has big hair, tight pants and every Whitesnake album known to man. Even in the middle of September, Louisiana is hotter than the deepest circle of hell, and as she fans herself with a magazine while she lounges on the sofa in front of the television, she wonders if it is possible to sweat to death. Not that I can, even if it is possible, she thinks bitterly. She eyes the glass of water in front of her, sitting neatly on top of a coaster on the coffee table. She can tell by the rapidly evaporating condensation on the glass that the water is no longer ice cold, and she had only poured it five minutes ago.
Sighing dramatically, she listens as this new talk show host tells her that fingerless gloves are back in fashion. This thought cheers her a little, and she decides she'll have to bring her old lace gloves out from that trunk in the attic.
Sweeney walks in with their dinner, a pizza with everything on it, and she mindlessly sits up on the sofa to make room for him, never taking her eyes from the television. He is in town again, back from wherever he goes and doing whatever he does. She never asks him, and he never tells her. But for the time being, he is staying with her, and she secretly enjoys his company.
He grumbles about her choice in television programming as she takes a slice of pizza for herself, grinning at the amount of anchovies. When he bets her a hundred dollars that in ten years, no one will know "this Oprah woman's name", they shake hands on it, and she reaches for another piece of pizza.
Y2K. It's the talk of the New Year's Eve party, and Eleanor Lovett is bored. People seem genuinely concerned, and there is even talk of lights going out at the stroke of midnight, but she isn't afraid. Really, there isn't much she fears anymore. Once death is no longer something to be afraid of, what else is there?
Sipping from her flute of champagne, she smooths her dress and moves out onto the balcony, away from the party. She decides she'll have a good laugh at all this crazy talk tomorrow, when all of this turns out to be some silly superstition. Nellie is not one for superstitious nonsense. She walks under ladders, used to own a black cat named Thirteen, and frequently opens an umbrella inside her home, mostly out of clumsiness rather than on purpose, but this is all the same to her.
She sighs, breathing in the night air and thinking, as she often does, of the past. She wonders what he is doing, and if he's thinking of her. As the countdown to the new Millennium begins, she raises her champagne in a silent toast, looking up at the stars.
Not as far away as Eleanor seems to think he is, Sweeney Todd sits in a bar, brooding as he does at the start of every new year. He has spent so much of his life being alone, in isolation. He comes to the conclusion that it is starting to get old, this loneliness thing. Part of him longs for companionship, someone to talk to, even if he doesn't have much to say.
Staring into his beer bottle, he thinks of her, and wonders what she's doing, if she is as lonely as he is. As the countdown begins, he looks up at the television positioned in the corner of the bar, and when the ball drops, he raises his glass in a silent toast.
Time is an ever rotating wheel, it never stops, not for anyone. Except Sweeney Todd and Eleanor Lovett. For them, time no longer existed. Or maybe it did, but it no longer applied to them. Their wheel had stopped rotating a long time ago, and the only way to get it moving again was to fall in love - with each other, for this was the whim of the Fates. Trouble was, neither of them knew this.
A/N-Well I hope you got it, that until they fall in love, the way the Fates intended, they are never going to age. Hopefully that was clear enough. And just a teeny history lesson for those who don't know, The Fates, according to Norse and English legend, are three sisters, each one representing the past, present and future. According to tradition, they control our destinies. They have the ability to stop time, pause it, reverse it, etc. The next chapter will start in present day (2008), and I'm thinking it will be less angst and more on the light-hearted side:) I'm afraid this may be a really stupid idea, so it's up to you all to let me know.LOL