There's always Hope
Mrs. Lovett still couldn't believe how the relationship (or former lack of it) between Mr. Todd and herself had changed during the past few months. When Anthony Hope had rudely interrupted the relatively intimate moment the barber and she had shared a while ago, when she had told Mr. Todd that the two of them could have a life together, she had felt that the last bit of hope that Sweeney would ever give in to her feelings was gone.
During the night that the demon barber completed his revenge by killing the Judge and the Beadle, Mrs. Lovett had been afraid that it was all over for her at last when the corpse of the beggar woman had somehow ended up in her bakehouse. However, to her eternal gratitude Mr. Todd hadn't recognized the woman and had just tossed her in the oven, along with the Beadle Bamford and Judge Turpin. In retrospect she realized this was quite ironic, but at that time Mrs. Lovett had other things to care about.
Anthony and Johanna had managed to escape from the Judge before he was killed, but now that Mr. Todd's two main reasons to live were gone, his unexpected mood swings became worse, just like his aggression, and thus it was even harder for the tiny baker to handle him.
But to her surprise, the man started to change gradually after a few weeks. It was not that one day he spontaneously declared his undying love for the baker, but the woman hadn't expected this anyway; in spite of all her fantasies and dreams she was a realistically thinking woman and she knew Mr. Todd well enough to know that he would never do that sort of thing.
However, after a few weeks of not killing his customers and not having to worry about vengeance or being found out, the barber started to actually reply with more than an uninterested grunt or one syllable if she asked him something and some time later, he thanked her if she did something for him and even accompanied her to the park or to the market every once in a while.
And now, almost four months after the last murder in the tonsorial parlor, the barber and the baker were enjoying a quiet dinner to celebrate Mrs. Lovett's birthday. This turned out to be the 'surprise' that Mr. Todd had promised her that morning when he had congratulated her.
Though it probably hadn't been his intention, the baker couldn't help but notice that the relatively dark room, which was lit only by a few candles and the absence of Toby (she wondered briefly where he was, but chose to think about it later) who usually joined them during meals, made their dinner seem rather romantic.
For once, Mrs. Lovett didn't mind that they hardly talked to each other; the ambiguous glances that the barber cast on her every once in a while were better than any conversation she had ever had. The woman was glad that she had decided to wear the rather exposing dress that she had bought a while ago; in spite of everything she was still hoping that she could impress Mr. Todd this way and it seemed to be actually working now.
Perhaps it was just because of the numerous glasses of wine they drank, but to Mrs. Lovett it seemed as if there was some strange kind of expectation in the air between Sweeney and herself. But except for the unfamiliar way the barber was looking at her, nothing suggested that he was finally starting to see her as someone who was more than just his landlady and his friend.
Ignoring his strange looks because she presumed they probably don't mean anything anyway, she just continued enjoying Mr. Todd's reassuring yet exciting company and after another hour, when the last glass of wine was finally empty, they both felt that it was time to end their dinner.
As the two of them stood up simultaneously, Mrs. Lovett expected Mr. Todd to head back to his barber shop immediately after saying a few words of goodbye, but instead of doing so, he lingered near the table, as if there was something he wanted to say before he would leave her.
"Mr. Todd?" the woman asked, wondering why he was still there.
"Nellie," he said, "I want to thank you."
"For what?" she asked in surprise, because she expected, in spite of the pleasant evening, everything but this. "You are the one who did all this for me."
"That's not what I meant," he replied softly. "I'm not talking about the food, but about you. You have looked after me all these months, you took care of me. I'm grateful for that and I realized only now that I have never thanked you before. But..."
"But what?" Mrs. Lovett asked, her voice almost inaudible. "What is it?"
"Lately," the barber continued, looking anywhere but at her, "I find myself enjoying your company. Really enjoying."
Mrs. Lovett stared at the barber, wide eyed, not believing that he was actually saying this to her. Was it the alcohol that made him say this? Was he teasing her? Or did he mean it?
"Mr. T," she muttered, breathless, "I... I don't know what to say."
"Just for now, you don't have to say anything," he whispered.
The barber stepped closer and slowly moved his hand to touch her cheek. Mrs. Lovett's mind couldn't process it yet, but her heart knew that this was the moment she had waited for so long. She held her breath in anticipation and closed her eyes; the knowledge that he was going to kiss her at last almost caused her to faint. As if he was aware of this, the barber pulled her closer to him to support her body now that her knees were going weak. The woman's heart was pounding in her chest as the last second in which Mr. Todd's face was separated from hers passed. As his lips gently brushed hers, love and euphoria welled inside of her; absolutely no one could stop them now, not even...
"Mr. Todd!" a too familiar voice yelled, "Mr. Todd!"
Only before Mrs. Lovett even realized who was screaming for the barber, said man had already distanced himself from her and in the few seconds before the door to the parlor was thrown open, the two of them stared awkwardly at each other.
As she recognized the voice of the man who had just prevented Sweeney from kissing her, Mrs. Lovett felt as if she was about to explode because of the frustration and disappointment she felt.
Not him again, she thought desperately, not Anthony bloody Hope.
Then, Anthony himself burst into the room, completely oblivious for the moment he ruined once again; in fact, he didn't seem to be aware of Mrs. Lovett at all.
"Mr. Todd, my friend," the young man said, hardly able to pause between words, as if he was desperate to speak them as soon as possible. "I have wonderful news!"
"Well," the barber muttered, obviously having trouble focusing on what the other man was saying, "that's..."
Before he had the chance to search for the right, feigned polite words, Anthony had continued talking already.
"It's about Johanna," he said, thus immediately getting the barber's attention.
"What about her?" Sweeney asked, fearing his daughter was in danger again.
"What is it?" the barber said, almost yelling himself now.
"She has agreed to marry me!"
If Mrs. Lovett hadn't been completely devastated because of another ruined moment between herself and the man she loved so desperately, she would've noticed how Mr. Todd began talking to Anthony, reluctant at first but apparently more enthusiastic as the conversation progressed. It was only clear to her that neither of the two men seemed to even notice that she was in the room too. From Anthony she hadn't thought any better, but from Mr. Todd, whose attention she had been privileged to receive almost all evening...
Tears welled in her eyes and unlike last time, she couldn't bring herself to stay in the room any longer and pretend nothing was going on. Not wanting to embarrass herself in front of Mr. Todd, just in case he would accidentally look in her direction as he was discussing the wedding of his daughter with the young man, Mrs. Lovett fled to her bedroom where she covered herself beneath the blankets of her bed as if she could hide herself from the world that way and thus pretend all this hadn't just happened.
In her own little world of misery and self pity time didn't seem to exist anymore, but half an hour later there was a knock on the door of her bedroom. However, the baker wasn't aware of this as the dripping of hot tears on the pillow and the slow beat of her own heart seemed to be the only sounds that still existed.
Only when someone kneeled down next to her bed, she realized that she wasn't alone anymore.
"He's gone," Sweeney said quietly.
Mrs. Lovett, who had hoped that Mr. Todd had a better reason to come to her than only to tell this, merely shrugged and turned around in bed, so her back was facing the barber now.
"So what?" she asked.
She tried not to show how much Anthony's untimely arrival had hurt her, but this attempt failed miserably and she was awkwardly aware of the fact that Sweeney noticed this too.
"I'm sorry Nellie," Mr. Todd said, placing a hand on her shoulder. "I could lecture him about the purpose of doors, especially ones that are closed, and the fact that is polite to knock before one enters, but... he had news about my daughter. I can't just ignore him, even though I might want to do that. After all, he's the one who saved me when I was floating in a sea on the other side of the world and, apparently, he's going to be my son-in-law."
"That's just so good to hear," Mrs. Lovett replied, angrily wiping the tears away.
"Nellie," the barber said in a gentle tone that would've suited Benjamin Barker, "I'm not here to tell you that. I'm here to continue what I was about to do when Anthony arrived."
"That's not funny," the woman muttered angrily between two sobs, "don't say those things unless you mean them."
"What makes you think I don't mean them?"
"Well, all the wine you drank for example, the fact that you..."
Mr. Todd sat down on the bed and moved towards the woman, who sounded as if she was about to start an endless ramble.
"So you think I'm drunk?" he asked, not knowing if he should be amused by this remark of hers or not.
"I don't see why else you would almost kiss me, but decide not to because of Anthony, and come back to me once he's gone to... to... mock me."
"It takes more than a few glasses of wine to get me drunk," Sweeney said. "And you think I'm mocking you?"
"Yes!" she yelled as anger overwhelmed her, throwing a pillow at the barber's direction. "Why else are you speaking about kissing and not simply doing it?"
"So that is the problem?" he asked, cocking his eyebrow. "I wanted to take things slowly, but..."
Before Mrs. Lovett even realized what was happening, she found herself lying on her back on the bed, pinned down by the barber's body.
Once more the man was staring at her, but he didn't try to hide his interest like he had done earlier that evening. Soundlessly he wiped the remains of the tears from her face and then cupped her cheeks gently with his hands.
"We both know you aren't Lucy," he said quietly. "Months ago you said that we could have a life together, different than what we might want, but something at least. Back then, I didn't believe you, but now... I do."
"So it seems there's hope after all," Mrs. Lovett muttered in disbelief as she stared up into Mr. Todd's dark eyes, "even when Anthony is around."
"So it seems," the barber replied as he carefully caressed her hair.
"Mr. T," the baker still managed to say, "what if Anthony storms in again?"
"Don't worry, my pet," Sweeney said, smiling a bit. "I locked the door. No one will interrupt us this ti..."
Before he could finish his sentence, the words were muted by Mrs. Lovett's lips against his own as they surrendered themselves to a hungry kiss at last.