READ THIS to avoid confusion: Parallel time is the idea where we all have counterparts living in another timeframe, and they each lead a different life than our own. Since Sweeney Todd ended with practically all the characters dead, and because I didn't wish to make my story about anything that had happened during the movie, I decided that the only way I could effectively create an original storyline would be to use the parallel time idea.

As I've already stated, the counterparts of real time are very different in parallel time and often have different relationships, circumstances, and events than those we're familiar with; because of this, you will find that I've made Lucy and Nellie Lovett sisters instead of acquaintences, and Sweeney won't have his name yet since he won't need revenge until later. And...uh...I'll shut up now. :-P Enjoy!

CH 1: A Rude Awakening

The skies of London were an ethereal blue that morning, several light wisps of clouds floating about and creating the appearance of airborn cotton candy. For one man, this serene ambiance swelled within his heart and deeply stirred the jubilant emotions inside his soul, for he at long last would be reuinted with his beloved Lucy.

Although it had pained Benjamin to be apart from his dear wife, the honorable Judge Turpin had granted him the position of head barber at a highly presitigious parlor in France, so he'd naturally found that he couldn't deny the honor of such a blessed opportunity.

So now, with a parcel for Lucy under his arm, Benjamin jauntily made his way up the steps to his home before giving an eager knock. Teaming at the seams with excitement, he could barely prevent the large grin that insisted upon making its presence known; that is, until the door opened to reveal...

"Nellie" Benjamin greeted. "What are you doing here? Is Lucy unwell?"

Nellie Lovett gave him a mournful look with her soft brown eyes, her frizzy head bowing as she found that she could not answer him. He'd looked so warm, so happy...

"Nellie" Benjamin tried again, "why are you dressed in that manner? Where's that pink frock you'd always wear?" Scrutinizing the lacy black gown that currently adorned Nellie's curves, the barber swallowed as he conceded that she was dressed for mourning. Besides the drab apparal, her eyes were horribly blood-shot, and her otherwise lovely complexion was sallow and pale. Nellie had been a beautiful woman back in her prime, but at the moment she genuinely looked her age. What had happened during his absence to change her so?

Fearing the worst, Benjamin sternly demanded, "Nellie, where is your sister? Why won't you tell me where my Lucy is!?"

With tears welling amidst her soulless eyes, Nellie shook her head before bemoaning, "Oh, Mr. B, I can't tell ya, I jus' can't! Ya look so 'appy, an' I don't wanna ruin that..."

"Tell me, damn you!" Seizing Nellie's shocked form by the shoulders, Benjamin gave her a rousing shake just as the maid happened to enter the premises.

"Oh! M-Mr. Barker..." she breathed, her features growing deathly pallid as she placed a hand to her heart. "I wasn't expectin' ya back from Paris so soon...I take it ya've 'eard the news, then?"

Frustrated, Benjamin released Nellie before snapping, "No, I have not, Lavinya -- what the bloody hell is going on around here?"

Looking to Nellie with genuine fear in her eyes, Lavinya slowly stepped forward before revealing, "It's Miss Lucy, sir...she's gone."

"Gone? Gone where?" Benjamin feverishly demanded. "Come on, out with it, you silly woman!"

Bursting into tears, Lavinya placed her head in her hands before wailing, "Oh, she's dead, Mr. Barker, she's dead! An' lil' Johanna's gone, too!"

"No..." With a sensation akin to losing all feeling in his limbs, Benjamin's grasp loosened and his gift fell to the floor with a soft crash. In accordance with this action, a fury akin to the fires of hell suffused his otherwise docile gaze, his hands forming into two tight fists as he seethed, "How could you both let this happen? How!? I left you two in charge of caring for my family, but you damned fools couldn't even do that!"

With tears rolling down her cheeks, Nellie shook her head before arguing, "But Johanna's still alive, Mr. B...she was taken away from us soon after Lucy passon on. We naturally lost our case, 'cause Judge Turpin was in charge a' the decision."

"Judge Turpin? What in blazes do you mean by that? He's my friend!"

Biting her lip, Nellie meekly sustained, "I ain't so sure a' that, Mr. B...'e fought really 'ard ta keep Johanna to 'imself, an' ta this very day, I still can't figger out why that was."

Benjamin felt as if the air had been sucked straight from his lungs. "W-what?" he wheezed, suddenly feeling terribly light-headed. "Why would Turpin do that to me? He knew I was still alive and able to care for my child!"

"I don't think 'e cared, sir -- if ya really wanna know my opinion, I think 'e sentcha outta town for other reasons" Lavinya solemnly revealed.

Scowling, Benjamin hotly demanded, "Other reasons? What on earth do you mean?"

With a sigh, Nellie turned and entered the drawing room before unlocking a cupboard, her gloved hand removing a leatherbound book before she solemnly returned to the foyer. "'ere, read this" she urged. "I found it amidst Lucy's belongings after she died...I think it might shed some light on some things."

"What is it?"

"'er diary."

Growing rather fearful, Benjamin opened the worn book before beginning to read the words of his beloved wife. As he did so, his features couldn't help but harden at what he saw...

A/N: Sorry for it being so short, but I needed to end it here since it'd make more sense if I did so. You won't understand that now, but yeah...you'll see. :) In the next chapter, I'll shed some light on what happened to Lucy, and how that nasty Judge Turpin was involved.

And I know this is dorky, but I looked up the word "nightshade" and thought it was cool how these definitions kind of related to my story/Sweeney Todd in general (especially the second and last one):

Nightshade

Dead"ly\, a. 1. Capable of causing death; mortal; fatal; destructive; certain or likely to cause death; as, a deadly blow or wound.

2. Aiming or willing to destroy; implacable; desperately hostile; flagitious; as, deadly enemies.

Thy assailant is quick, skillful, and deadly. --Shak.

3. Subject to death; mortal. Obs.

The image of a deadly man. --Wyclif (Rom. i. 23). (Credit to dictionary dot com)