Rating: Hard R for violence, sexuality, rape implications, and language.

Summary: Nellie Lovett was not a whore. Sweeney Todd/Mrs. Lovett unrequited.

Author's Notes: I'm not sure where this came from. I took the "rumpled bedding" line and twisted it into something terrible. It's a little "stream of consciousness," and doesn't have any discernable order. I hope that doesn't bother you guys too much or detract from the story.

Nellie Lovett was not a whore.

Of course, that didn't mean she hadn't considered the "profession." When times had been particularly hard—like the day Sweeney Todd had swept back into her shop, ironically enough—she had considered it. She'd thought hard about it; it did had its advantages. She knew she was pretty enough, and could most certainly turn a few heads and a few coins out of it, but somehow, something had always stopped her from resorting to prostitution. Sometimes it was her pride that she was continually tripping over, pride in that she'd once been a married woman, and widows simply did not do such nonsense. But other times, it was her love of Benjamin. He'd not want to see her fall into such ruin, resorting to lifting her skirts at gentlemen out in back alleyways, scrabbling on the ground for a few pieces of copper or maybe gold, if she were lucky. He'd want to come back to someone fresh and dutifully waiting for him, not some smeared whore with a mouthful of jizzum and her twat known by half the men of the city.

And other times—most times—she stayed her petticoats because of Lucy Barker.

Yes, Lucy. Mrs. Lovett had seen Lucy outside many times, sing-songy Lucy, crazy Lucy, who'd bray out to perfect strangers if they'd like to get a bit up her muff. Mrs. Lovett remembered the day she'd discovered Lucy's newfound source of "income"; she'd been walking home, and had seen Lucy Barker, sweet, innocent, innocuous Lucy Barker bent half-over like the perfect little slut she was, her eyes rolling and her mouth wet with drool, as a man had rogered her shamelessly. Mrs. Lovett had almost been too transfixed to move, but move she had, and quickly, back to her shop.

As she'd leaned against the door of the empty store, she'd felt her horror and pity turn into a malicious sort of glee—Lucy Barker…oh, how the mighty had fallen. It had amused her greatly by the end of her thinking about it, and had given her yet another reason to keep her knickers firmly on. Because Benjamin would want a faithful woman, not one who let herself be used by all of London's men.

It was odd, Mrs. Lovett thought idly. Because of Lucy Barker, Mrs. Lovett had avoided becoming a whore. And now, once again, because of Lucy Barker, she was little better than a whore.

She quietly smoothed her skirts, sighing, staring helplessly at the man who was already falling asleep on his small cot—the one that was not big enough for two unless said two were stacked. And Mrs. Lovett knew that it wouldn't have mattered if it had been big enough—Mr. Todd would not have allowed her to stay. He never allowed her to stay. Every night it was the same. He either said nothing or the customary, "You've had it, now get out."

He was turned away from her, his white shirt dark with sweat, his chest rising and falling evenly. He'd already slid under the stained sheets, but Mrs. Lovett knew he wouldn't completely fall asleep until she was gone; he always kept one eye open until she'd left his presence, and she knew why. He still didn't trust her from all the times before when she'd sneaked into his room to watch him sleep.

"Good night, Mr. T," she murmured, but, as usual, did not get a response. She moved across the room and slowly opened the door, letting herself out to go back downstairs and get into bed herself.

No better than a whore, that nasty little voice told her again. She furiously quashed it; no, this was simply progress, was what it was, progress with what she and Mr. T could—would­—be having.

But the memory of the first night still burned in her mind, that first time she'd ever had a taste of what Mr. Todd had to offer—what she'd always thought would be kind and romantic and sweet and tender turned out to be vicious, cruel, and quick. He'd been drunk; he'd crept down into her room, the bottle still one hand and a razor in the other, while Toby had slept on the couch outside. She'd nearly screamed when he'd crawled into bed with her, she'd been so startled, and then she'd nearly screamed again for quite another reason. He'd put the razor to her neck and had told her that if she made a sound—one—he'd slit her throat.

And then he'd taken her, a hand covering her mouth the whole time, that razor glinting evilly next to her on the pillow as he'd thrust jerkily into her, his eyes tightly shut, hers glistening with unshed tears as he'd hurt her, violated her, but she'd been quiet as ordered. And when he'd been done—which had been less than a minute after he'd clumsily managed to get her nightgown up—he'd collapsed on top of her, his weight surprisingly heavy on her, and he'd murmured slurred, threatening things in her ear, like if she even thought of telling anyone or acting any differently, he'd cut her from gullet to groin and bake her in one of her own pies. But he needn't have worried—she wasn't going to tell anybody of it.

Mrs. Lovett let herself back into her shop, sighing, wrenching herself away from that terrifying night. She'd been afraid, then, yes—as much as she wanted to romanticize it and make it something like that "first time" night she'd always wanted with Benjamin but had instead gotten with Albert, she simply couldn't. She could do that to every other night that had happened since then, but the first night…no, he'd raped her and she knew it. She could turn everything else into something it wasn't, but not that one.

But that still didn't stop her from thinking that at least he'd displayed an interest in her for once, instead of that awful, cold, frigid indifference.

She paused, grimacing, pressing her hand against her crotch through her skirts for a moment. He'd been especially rough tonight, but she hadn't expected anything less—he'd killed indiscriminately today, and he always got excited on those days. And she was pleased to see that she was getting used to it anyway, even enough to get some pleasure out of it all herself. He was lasting longer now, long enough for her to enjoy his company as best she could.

She pursed her lips. Unfortunately, that nagging thought was back. Little better than a whore. He'd gotten what he'd wanted and tossed her out. The only difference was she wasn't getting paid for it.

It was always there in the end, and while she always managed to banish it before bed, it was getting harder and harder to do so.

I'm only a whore if it don't mean nothin', she retorted suddenly to that thought. But it did mean something, at least to her. Even if Mr. T did treat her like a common slut, she was the only one in his bed. He hardly ever left the shop at all—she'd watched him. He never frequented the whorehouses, and he never searched the back alleys, for which Mrs. Lovett was grateful; for all she knew, if he ventured out, he might find Lucy. And that was all the reason she needed to dutifully climb the stairs and let him do what he wanted to her, to keep him nicely occupied from thinking of Lucy.

Like tonight?

She scowled darkly. She hated that evil little voice that continually spoke up.

Tonight, Mr. T had whispered a name as he'd spilled into her, his eyes shut as usual, his fingers knotted into the pillow below Mrs. Lovett's head even as she'd arched up against him and clutched him, gasping for air. He'd made no attempt to mask it, no attempt to hide it, and he hadn't cared about the shocked and wounded look she'd given him.

He'd said her name. "Lucy…" he'd whispered.

She'd been instantly angry and jealous, and rightfully so. But she'd known better than to confront him on it; he was not to be tested when it came to his "dead" wife. He'd not acknowledged that he'd said it; he'd simply lain on top of her momentarily before rising and pushing her impatiently out of his bed. And she'd gotten dressed and dutifully left, saying nothing and pining as she always did for that goodnight kiss and that soft, "I love you," hurt and angry at his slip of the tongue.

She just wished it was sweeter. She could've handled him saying Lucy's name during their night if he were just a little less rough, if he took a bit less time to pry her legs apart and get in between them, perhaps if he'd just let her undo his trousers instead of always doing it himself. And part of her was happy to be his own personal fuck—he slept now, and she knew it was because of her. He was using her, yes, but he'd chosen her to use, not anyone else.

Her nose went up a little as she passed Toby, sleeping on his couch as usual, and she entered her bedroom. That thought always helped to cheer her. She was his, all his, and he was hers.

But then she remembered yet again the quiet, almost reverent way he'd said Lucy tonight.

She sighed again, slowly slipping out of her dress and corset and getting into her nightgown. It wouldn't do to dwell on such thoughts. And he was expected to have a slip up occasionally. Surely she was driving the memory of Lucy away. Lucy would never have let her husband take her the way Mr. Todd had taken Mrs. Lovett. He had taken her in any and all ungodly ways; Mrs. Lovett found that part somewhat enjoyable, as Albert had been woefully uninventive, and Mr. Todd was not content to merely have her in his bed and on her back. He'd had her on the floor, bent over the arm of the grisly contraption he called his barber's chair, against the wall, on all fours, her on top, and even down in the bakehouse amidst the dead and the blood and the viscera (that one she had not enjoyed, she admitted; the dead bodies had stared at them—not that he'd cared).

Surely Mrs. Lovett was twice the woman Lucy Barker was.

She slid under her sheets, curling her toes a little, and still wincing from the almost frantic pace Mr. T had set tonight. Despite how sore she'd be in the morning, she almost felt sorry for him now. He'd been desperate tonight, not even letting her get completely undressed before throwing her down on his cot and falling atop her, biting along her neck, groping at her breasts, struggling mightily to get what he wanted. She wished he would be more tender about it, because then she'd be able to tell that it meant something to him, meant that he was coming around to her way of thinking. And her way of thinking meant doing it good and proper, taking the time to enjoy it, being attentive to what she wanted for a change.

Being the way he'd been with Lucy all those years ago.

Mrs. Lovett scowled horribly, and knew she wouldn't get much sleep if she couldn't stop thinking about damned Lucy. Lucy this, Lucy that—first he says her name and now she can't help but wonder what he'd been like when he'd made love to Lucy. Because Mrs. Lovett knew he'd done that with the mindless bint—he hadn't ever viciously fucked her, placing his hands around her throat, face twisted into a snarl. No, that would've just made poor Lucy cry. But Mrs. Lovett never cried—her eyes may have gotten a little wet, but she'd never cried, no matter what Mr. Todd did to her. And yet Lucy still had what Mrs. Lovett began to think she'd never have—the loving husband.

She banished the thought immediately. She would have her loving husband, and it would be Mr. Todd, and she would be Mrs. Todd. He simply hadn't come 'round to the idea yet. And besides, while it wasn't exactly love-making that they did every night, it was a start.

She rolled over, digging under her pillow for that shirt she'd nicked from Mr. Todd's scant few last night from the laundry. She pulled it out, burying her face into it and inhaling that scent that was still there—blood, sweat, dirt, but there, underneath it all…him.

She stroked the rough fabric, trailing her fingers along each and every stain, including the bloodstain, dried and crusted and probably impossible to launder out now. She stuck her finger in the hole she'd found near the shoulder, lightly danced across the patch he'd sewn on near the hem. She loved that he could take care of his own clothes so she didn't have to constantly worry about them, only wash them when he got over enthusiastic with his killings and splattered blood everywhere.

She did love him. She truly did—loved every bit of him, even the rough way he'd have her every night. She wanted him so badly, wanted him to come 'round and want to be with her, not simply in her all the time. She wanted him to be as madly and as desperately in love with her as she was with him. And surely he was on his way to doing just that. Surely…surely it wasn't unrequited anymore. He had to feel something for her, what with how often he was fucking her. Love led to sex, so surely sex could lead to love, no matter how brutal it was.

Surely Mr. Todd would eventually come to love her. He'd have to…he just had to.

She'd talk with him in the morning. She'd bring up Lucy, she'd bring up the possibility of marriage. Surely he'd at least display interest. Or at least admit that he needed to let go of Lucy Barker and move on.

Surely he would.