Rating: R for some sexuality and character death

(And life is for the alive, my dear, so let's keep living it—just keep living it—REALLY LIVING IT!)

They are walking down the coastline.

There were no guests tonight, and Toby is fast asleep in his bed. That left them to do what they wished with themselves, and Nellie Todd had fancied a seaside walk—after all, the moon is full, and provides quite enough light for them—or anyone, really—to walk by.

The sand is not warm, but it is dry where they are walking—Sweeney didn't want her to get her skirts wet; he rather fancied the dress she had, and insisted she not ruin it with seawater. It was a good thing he had—she was so giddy she could have run out into the sea proper and gotten the whole thing wet.

The waves were not crashing—they were gently lapping up on the shore in tiny waves, creating a constant, soft sigh that she periodically echoed, her arm looped through Sweeney's, her head resting against his shoulder. He looked straight ahead, but she could see that smile playing at the corners of his mouth.

Mrs. Todd misses the seagulls—when it was daytime, they cried mournfully all up and down the seaside, drifting lazily across the water and sand. She loved to hear their cries—to just sit with Sweeney on the beach, listening to the soft and wistful sound of the sea, the sound of Toby playing with the other children. But the night was filled with other sounds that she loved—crickets were singing, and the air smelled somehow different—it always smelled different at night. She couldn't explain it, but somehow, when the air was not baked and cooked by the sun, it smelled somehow…better.

So Mrs. Todd smells the air, smells Sweeney's musky scent, and she smiles.

She finally cannot resist it any longer and carefully lifts her skirts to her knees and pads down to the water's edge, leaving footprints in the already cold and wet sand, waiting for the next wave—when it comes, it washes over her feet. She shivers as the cold water comes in contact with her warm flesh, and then she feels a presence behind her, and Sweeney wraps his arms around her waist from behind. She looks down and behind her, seeing his rolled up pants, and she giggles—how adorable he looks.

They stand in the water for a moment or two, letting at least three waves roll in and dance about their ankles, before she shivers again and he gently tugs her away from the water.

"You'll catch your death," he says, and she cannot help but feel touched by his concern. He is always so concerned for her well-being, and so protective of her. Why, just yesterday she'd had to make a large batch of meat pies all because he'd felt somebody had looked at her in a highly improper way. Oh, her dearest Sweeney and his silly little impulses. She'd had to have a talk with him about that.

"Let's go back," she whispers. Sweeney looks down at her, smiling indulgently.

"All right, darling," he purrs, and they turn and slowly make their way back to the cottage.

Along the way, Sweeney says little, but what he says is enough. By the time they reach the cottage, she's all aflutter, and his gloved hand grasps hers softly and leads her back to the bedroom. Once there, he embraces her tenderly and kisses her lightly on the lips.

"Your hair is beautiful tonight," he whispers, so not to wake Toby in the next room. Mrs. Todd smiles.

"But it's red, Sweeney," she says in return, knowing what he will say.

And he does not disappoint. He tugs a curl momentarily before letting it bounce back into place. "Red is beautiful, my love. It took me a long time, but I learned to appreciate it. You look so beautiful in red."

And he kisses her again, slowly reaching down and lifting her up into his arms as if she were a bride again. She wraps her arms around his shoulders, gazing longingly into those deep, endless pools that are his eyes, and he carries her to the bed, gently setting her down on top of the blankets and the sheets.

The pace is slow and he is tender—just as she'd always imagined he would be. He presses down against her and moves inside of her, his arms around her, his muscles tight and rippling and she clings to him, taking in little gasps of air with each gentle thrust. She trails her fingers up and down his back, feeling the sweat there, splaying her fingers against his shoulder blades. He kisses her, his pace quickening, and then the most amazing feelings sweep over her, and she shudders and sucks in a breath, her entire body quivering as he pushes up on his palms and pushes deep inside of her, and even as she utters a cry muffled against the back of her hand—they mustn't wake Toby!—his eyes squeeze shut and she feels him spill inside of her, and she can't help but smile yet again at that precious part of him she gives her every time they make love like this.

And suddenly it's all over, and he lowers himself down on top of her again, careful not to let his full weight rest on top of her before rolling them both onto their sides, his hands caressing up and down her waist, the gentle curve of her buttocks, back up her back, and ending on her arms.

"Tell me you love me, Sweeney," she whispers, caressing his face, gazing adoringly into his eyes—those eyes, the eyes she'd first fallen in love with, those impossibly deep, impossibly dark eyes…

But then gasps when she feels his grip crush her upper arms, and he casts her violently from him—and she hits the shelves of the oven, smashing them beneath her with a great and terrible crash. Flame licks up her dress, her legs, her stomach, her chest, her face. The flames consume her as she screams in pain and in horror, and there is Sweeney, staring at her, drenched in the blood of his last and final victim. There is only hate there, hatred, revulsion, disgust—all hers.

He turns, leaving her to scream in agony and horror—it was all so unfair! It wasn't supposed to be this way—!

But then, even as she stares into his black, empty, pitiless eyes…the iron door slams shut.

Mrs. Lovett was dead, just another pile of ash to mix with the ashes of her pies.

Author's Notes: Homage to Ambrose Bierce's "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge."