It had been quite a while since Mr. Todd's barber shop was cleaned properly and, because her working day had been relatively quiet thus far, Mrs. Lovett went to the barber's room after both their shops were closed for the day to get rid of even the most aggressive splatters of blood.
As she entered Sweeney's room, she found it empty. It surprised her; usually the man was sitting in his barber chair, brooding, or he was standing next to the huge window, staring outside, or just pacing around the room. He probably couldn't stand being in the room any more, and it didn't surprise her. The place had once been beautiful and inviting, but now that such sad things had happened there and it had been totally neglected for almost fifteen years, it was just another depressing room in Fleet Street.
But still, it was where the barber was staying now and so the baker wanted it to be as nice as it could possibly be. Mr. Todd didn't share that thought, but she had persuaded him that customers, who expected to come for an actual shave, might get a bit suspicious if they saw the blood of their predecessors all over the wall. This way, she had found an excuse to have access to his personal domain quite often. With the excuse of cleaning, she was able to spend several hours a week extra with the always silent yet intriguing man.
It disappointed her at first that Mr. Todd wasn't there, but then she realized that his absence did have a major advantage. Now that he wasn't there to protect his possessions from her curious eyes, she finally had the chance to take a look at them.
All thoughts of cleaning forgotten, she quickly walked to the corner where she presumed he kept his personal belongings. Part of her realized that it was pathetic, but she was desperate to actually know something about the man her adored barber had become after being banished, since he would never tell her what had happened to him and how it was possible that he had changed so much. Benjamin had never been the kind of man to keep many souvenirs and Sweeney would certainly be no difference, but still, she was sure that there was at least something in his room that could give her some bit of information about him.
The photographs of Lucy and Johanna were the first things that she saw, but she already knew those since they had been there for many years already; Mrs. Lovett had thoroughly investigated the room the last decade, hoping to find something that could remind her of Benjamin, but Lucy had sold everything, except for the photographs and their frames, to make ends meet.
After the photographs the baker found some clothes and a few razors, but except from that, she could find nothing that belonged to Mr. Todd. It almost seemed that, not only his body, but his soul, too, was absent because of the lack of personality in the room.
Sighing in disappointment, Mrs. Lovett toyed with one of the razors she was still holding. As she stared at the glistering metal, wondering why the man was so obsessed by it, she realized that there was one place she hadn't checked yet. Probably, there was nothing of importance there, but one could never be sure.
Seconds later she knelt down on the floor and removed the lose plank, thus revealing the hidden space beneath it. At first sight, the secret place seemed to be empty, but as she looked closer, the baker saw there was an object stored.
Knowing that she shouldn't, both because it was none of her business and that the barber could be back at any moment, she picked up the thing to see what it was.
As the dimmed daylight fell onto the object she was holding, her jaw almost dropped as she realized what it was. The object in her hand was a notebook. Not just a notebook, but Benjamin Barker's notebook. At least, assuming the label on the front wasn't lying.
Casting one glance at the door to make sure that Mr. Todd wasn't there, she sat down in the barber chair and, after one last moment of hesitation, she opened the notebook carefully.
She held her breath as she saw the first page. The paper was completely filled with a drawing; besides the fact it was Benjamin's, there was another reason why she was mesmerized by it: it was by far the most beautiful drawing she had ever seen. She had never known that Mr. Barker liked to draw, and she could never have thought that he was so extremely talented.
On the first page, it seemed as if he had created an entire world on the paper, so high was the realism of it. He had drawn a park; it was a location that Mrs. Lovett didn't recognize, but doubtlessly it was somewhere in London. It looked incredibly realistic, as if he had just made a photograph of the scenery and had pasted the entire thing on the paper, but as she looked closer, she could vaguely see the lines of pencil and the light differences of the shades of the places that he had colored later.
Because Mrs. Lovett was so mesmerized by the technique of the work, it took her a while to realize that Mr. Barker hadn't only drawn a small lake, grass and a lot of trees. In the background of the drawing was something else: a person. She was pictured so small that it was impossible to recognize her with absolute certainty, but the lightest hint of yellow told the baker that this must be Lucy.
After studying the piece half a minute longer, Mrs. Lovett turned around the page so she could examine the next drawing. This one looked like the previous one, but the difference was that Lucy had now obviously been Benjamin's main focus. Her face filled most of the page, and only the background was filled with trees and the sky now. She wasn't looking at Mr. Barker, and Mrs. Lovett wondered in what circumstances the baker had drawn the other woman. Did they already know each other? Were they already in love? Had Benjamin actually drawn this in the park, or would he have made them later from memory?
The next one confused Mrs. Lovett even more, because it was almost the same one as before, but now Lucy was looking straight ahead, as if she had been making eye contact with Benjamin as he had been drawing. Had this really happened, or had it been a fantasy of Mr. Barker's?
Mrs. Lovett turned another page, thus revealing the next drawing. It had, unsurprisingly, Lucy on it again. But now Benjamin hadn't portrayed her in the park, but in his own room - the same one she was sitting in right now. The decoration and the furniture had changed during the years but the wallpaper hadn't and that's how Mrs. Lovett recognized it.
Lucy was sitting on a couch now, a bit stiffly as if she wasn't at ease, and it made the baker wonder once more whether the scenes were spontaneous or posed.
Seeing how many more pages there were, the baker spent less time watching each and every single one of them intensely and moved along quicker. All the drawings were of Lucy anyway. The barber had drawn her when she was sitting in his room a few times, then there were a few more of her in the park, and...
Mrs. Lovett held her breath as her eyes fell on the next drawing. It was a drawing of virtuous Lucy, lying on a bed and obviously covered by nothing but a grey sheet.
The baker couldn't believe seeing the woman like this, even not when a similar drawing followed, and another one. On each one more of her body was revealed, until Lucy was drawn completely naked.
Mrs. Lovett didn't want to see all this, but she was fascinated by the portraits of the other woman and the man who had made them. Was this all real? She had never thought that Mr. Barker would be the type to draw something like this, but then again, she had never thought him to be a man who was such a talented artist in the first place.
Because she was so focused on the drawings in the notebook, she didn't notice how the artist himself entered the room.
After observing his landlady for a few seconds, Mr. Todd cleared his throat loudly, causing Mrs. Lovett to jump at the sound.
"Mr. T!" she said as her face colored rapidly. "What..."
"I see you found something you weren't supposed to find," he snarled, wondering why this woman just couldn't leave him alone, even if he wasn't even in her house.
"I'm so sorry," she muttered, "but I woz jus' cleanin' an'..."
Sweeney raised his eyebrow, letting her know that way that he didn't believe her. He felt like shouting at her for intruding his privacy, but as it caught his attention how carefully she handled his notebook, he calmed down a bit.
"Do you enjoy the view?" he asked mockingly, but not necessarily unfriendly as he saw at which pages she was still looking.
"I'm so sorry," she repeated, "but I woz just curious, I woz. I couldn't 'elp it."
She walked to him to hand him back the notebook, but instead of pulling it from her hands and ordering her to go away, he gently prevented her from walking away by touching her shoulder briefly.
"Would you... like me to tell you something about them?" he asked her, referring to his work. He was glad that there at least someone seemed to be interested in this past, even if that person was Mrs. Lovett.
"Yes, I'd love that," the baker replied, not believing that the barber was actually proposing this to her.
"Alright," he said, gesturing her to sit down on the big trunk in the corner of his room that had once contained Pirelli's body, seeing that that was the only place where two people could sit next to each other.
As she sat down, looking up at him expectantly, he hesitated for a few moments, but when he read the sincere curiosity in her eyes, he joined her. He flipped back to the first page, but as he was about to tell something about the very first picture he had even drawn of Lucy, he realized that he was removed so far from Mrs. Lovett that his landlady couldn't see his drawings.
With a bit of reluctance he moved closer to her, so they were at least sitting actually next to each other. He looked up at her, somehow expecting her to start fussing over him which she seemed to do every time as he allowed her to come into his personal space, but all she did was looking at the drawings with unhidden fascination.
Sweeney didn't know how to start what he wanted to say, but as he returned his gaze to the work that he had created more than twenty years ago, the right words automatically found their way to his mouth.
"This is when I saw Lucy for the very first time," he began speaking. "That day was the first sunny day of the year and my father gave me permission to go to the park instead of helping him in his barber shop. I took this sketch book with me and I sat down on a random bench just to draw the view. When I had almost completed it, a girl arrived and decided to sit down on a bench in that one place that I hadn't finished yet. I was annoyed with her because she had ruined my work, or that's what I thought at first. But as she just stayed sitting there, I decided to include her in the scenery."
As the barber's voice continued, Mrs. Lovett's brain was trying to deal with the previous information. She was surprised to hear that Benjamin's and Lucy's meeting had been quite random and that the younger version of the barber had even been annoyed with her for a while. The baker had always thought that their meeting had been the perfect example of love at first sight and that they had met at a party or something like that.
"... she just kept sitting there," Sweeney continued, "and I became curious, because I wondered why a girl like her would remained sitting in the same spot for an hour without actually doing anything. I wanted to approach her, but I didn't dare to. So instead, I moved to a place from where I could see her better but where I was still relatively far away from her; I didn't want her to know I was watching her."
Mrs. Lovett smiled sadly as she imagined how a young Benjamin Barker was observing the beautiful Lucy, not knowing yet that she was the love of his life. Luckily the barber was unaware of this, and continued talking.
"She just kept sitting there and automatically I started to draw her. I was so focused on the work that I didn't notice that she caught me looking at her every few seconds. Before I even realized it, she was standing right in front of me."
For a few seconds, Mr. Todd stared off into space as if he was recalling the memory – or trying to – and Mrs. Lovett took the opportunity to fantasize a bit herself. How wonderful it would've been if it would've been her who would've approached Benjamin like that, and not Lucy...
"I had expected her to be angry because I secretly had been drawing her, but she told me that she was honored and requested me to draw another one, as a present for her. Of course, I was very happy because of this reaction and while I started to fill another page with her face, we started to talk. The conversation was rather casual at first because I didn't dare to ask her personal things, but after a while she told me that she was unhappy because of her arranged marriage to some older man who she detested. They weren't married yet, but the "happy day" would follow only a few weeks later. I felt sorry for her, but I didn't know what to do except for giving her a portrait of herself like she had asked me to."
As he talked, Mrs. Lovett's eyes wandered over one of Lucy's drawing and now that she heard this story, she realized that she could actually see the grief and fear in Lucy's eyes. And, between two pages, she saw that another page was torn; that must've been the drawing that Benjamin had made for Lucy.
"As we were talking, we didn't realize how quickly time was passing and before we knew it, it was getting dark and we both had to go home. Because I didn't want her to go through the growing darkness all alone, I walked her home. While doing so, we passed the house where I lived with my parents and I told her that if she ever wanted to have another portrait of herself, she just would have to come there and ask for me. I remember that I actually hoped that she would come for something more than a drawing, but I didn't dare to bother her now that she was about to marry."
The barber closed his eyes and sighed deeply and Mrs. Lovett realized that the next part of his and Lucy's story would be of great importance.
"When we were close to the street where she had told me she lived, she suddenly pushed me against the wall and before I could stop her, she..."
"Wot did she do?" the baker asked, really curious now.
"She... she kissed me," Sweeney said, as if he still couldn't believe it. "I didn't see it coming, especially because I didn't expect something like that from such an innocent looking girl. I was too shocked mesmerized to kiss her back; only when I actually understood what was happening, she pulled back and tried to run away, probably because she thought I had rejected her by not kissing back. But for some reason I didn't want her to go away, so I took her arm and, as she turned around to face me again, I did kiss her. I had never kissed a girl before and if I would've had the time to think about it, this would've scared me and I would never had the courage to kiss her, but then I did. Somehow it felt so right and I knew exactly what to do."
Mr. Todd stared off into space and his landlady knew that he was now totally unaware of her presence and that he was mentally still in that street, kissing the girl who was now reduced to a crazy beggar woman.
"When I let go, I was afraid that she was angry with me because I had treated her in such an inappropriate way, but she was smiling. Only then she seemed to start to realize what she had done and before I could react, she ran away fast. When I was recovered from shock and surprise, she was gone already. I thought I would never see her again but in spite of that, I spent the next days thinking of nothing but her."
The barber fell silent again and the baker could imagine the young Benjamin late at night, lying awake in his bed, thinking about the mysterious girl who he couldn't forget.
"I went back many times to the place where I had last seen her and once spent an entire afternoon sitting near the place where we had kissed, hoping that I would see her again, but it didn't happen. My parents must've been worried about me because I was acting so differently and they had no idea why, but I wasn't aware of it at all. And then, one week later, she showed up in my parents' home."
Even now Mr. Todd was smiling because of that memory and inwardly, the baker melted because it was such a relief to see something else than disgust and hate on the man's once - and in an odd way, still - beautiful face.
"But she wasn't alone," he continued. "Her father was with her... and he was furious. He yelled at me and my own father, saying that Lucy had broken off her engagement with the man who she had been supposed to marry, the man she didn't love, because she wanted to marry me instead. My father became angry, too, because this all had been going on without him knowing it and he suddenly was confronted with a man who was almost mad with anger, but luckily my mother interrupted. She persuaded them to have an actual conversation before they would do things that they would both regret later. As our fathers discussed the situation in the parlor, they sent Lucy and I, and even my mother, to the kitchen. I had expected my mother to be angry with me too, but contrary to my father, she said that if I really loved Lucy, she was happy for me. Lucy herself told me that even though marrying me was the only way to escape from a man who would probably hurt and mistreat her for the rest of her life, she wanted to be with me because she was falling in love with me. A few minutes later our fathers called for my mother and they continued talking while we were left in the kitchen. Lucy was so scared; I think she was sure that her parents still would make her marry that other man. I could do nothing but hold her while I prayed that our parents would come to an agreement so Lucy and I could wed; not only for her, but for myself as well. Even though I was still so young I understood that what Lucy and I were already feeling for each other was an unique thing that we probably would never find again. In retrospect, I don't know how my mother has been able to persuade the men, but a few hours later Lucy and I were officially engaged."
"Why did ya accept?" Mrs. Lovett asked, in spite of the barber's passionate story still wondering how a relatively young boy could make such a big commitment in such a short time. "I mean, ya didn't even know 'er and ya would spend – were supposed to spend, sorry – the rest of yer life wit' 'er."
"I can't explain it," Mr. Todd said slowly. "It's just a feeling. Once in a lifetime you meet someone and you just know that you want to spent the rest of your life with that person. When Lucy was standing there in my parent's parlor, so desperate and sad but beautiful and strong at the same time, I didn't even doubt for one second."
The baker had to blink fiercely to prevent herself from crying. How horribly well she knew 'that feeling'... she had experienced it for so long, and the man who was trying to explain it to her was sitting right next to her, totally unaware of her feelings for him.
Luckily the barber turned around the page so he didn't notice the two tears that run down Mrs. Lovett's cheek before she had the chance to wipe them away quickly with her hand.
There were more drawings, but gradually something started to change – or rather, someone. Lucy's belly was transforming and the baker knew that those were made when the yellow haired woman was pregnant with the barber's child.
"How wonderful those days were," Sweeney said, hardly audible because of his pent up grief. "It seemed as if every day was a new paradise in which existed nothing but my wife and unborn child. And when Johanna was born, it was even better because I wasn't surrounded by one angel, but two."
The barber's eyes were closed and although Mrs. Lovett wanted nothing more than move the conversation to a less painful topic, now she finally knew the story of the barber and his wife.
"Lucy," Mr. Todd whispered, as if his late wife could still hear him.
"She's gone now," Mrs. Lovett said softly, using the word 'gone' instead of 'dead' on purpose as she referred to the other woman.
"I know," he muttered, "but still... It's so much easier just to believe that she is still here with me, that everything is still so beautiful as it once was."
Probably not fully realizing his landlady was still next to him, the barber lightly brushed his index finger over image of his wife on the paper.
Then he unexpectedly turned the paper, causing Mrs. Lovett to cringe because the movement was quite rough and she was afraid he would damage his work. However, those thoughts were gone as she stared in horror at the drawing that followed after two white pages.
"Look," he snarled, the change within him as sudden as the change in his work. "Look. This is all I can do now..."
The baker's eyes widened in shock as she did what the barber ordered her to do. The beautiful, peaceful drawings with the soft lines and gentle colors... gone. If the newly revealed drawings wouldn't have been in his notebook, Mrs. Lovett couldn't have been able to believe they were made by the barber.
At first, she didn't really see what they were supposed to be, but as she looked closer for several minutes, she realized that this had to be Mr. Todd's memories of Devil's island. However, she couldn't really be sure of that since the paper was filled with nothing but harsh streaks of different shades of black. It was no actual drawing, more a hallucination, a vision of a landscape that didn't seem to belong on the Earth Mrs. Lovett knew.
"'T's 'orrible," the baker muttered, shocked by what she saw.
Realizing what she had said, she looked up at Mr. Todd, hoping that he wouldn't punish her for saying something like that about his work. But to her relief, he slowly nodded.
"It is," was all he said.
Mrs. Lovett's curiosity wasn't satisfied yet and as the barber didn't say anything anymore, she presumed he gave her permission to turn the pages.
She studied the drawings and again she found herself fascinated by them. The ones that had been made by the man that Mr. Barker had become were interesting in a very dark way, for they were not beautiful or even well drawn, but the rage and hidden fear that radiated from them, strangely intrigued her – just like the man that had made them.
After a few pages, the drawings became clearer, as if had taken Mr. Todd a while to familiarize himself with his new style and perhaps even his new-found self. The page was filled now with more than seemingly random lines; the baker could see that he had drawn landscapes on it. They were completely unfamiliar to her and it wasn't clear to her whether those were actually memories or that he had made it all up when he was back in London.
As she turned the pages, she was focused completely on the drawings and didn't notice that Mr. Todd was taking something from his pocket. Only when he started to speak, her mind came back to reality.
"This is what I bought today," he said, thus explaining why he wasn't in his room when she had entered it an hour ago. "Last night, the last of my old pencils broke and I realized that I wanted to have new ones, so I went to get them."
As he said this, he showed her a small box with ten new pencils.
"I don't know why I got them," he said quietly. "There's nothing left to draw. I wish I could draw Lucy, but... no matter how often I had created her image on the paper before and no matter how much time I spent watching and dreaming about her, I can hardly remember what she looked like. Even when I look at those old drawings, she just seems... someone. Someone I just vaguely realize is terribly important to me, but I'm incapable of feeling more than that."
At that moment, Mrs. Lovett felt that she could finally understand the barber and his frustrations. How horrible indeed it was to love someone who you once knew but is gone now. At last she understood the depth of the love that the barber felt for his wife, finally she realized that Lucy wasn't as silly as she had always thought, but just a woman who had found ultimate happiness at the least expected moment but had lost it in a just as unexpected way.
"I don't want to make drawings of Devil's Island any more," he whispered, "but it's the only thing that I can remember. The only thing that is left."
The baker looked at the barber's face, and to her surprise, she saw that tears welled in his eyes. Like always, she wanted to comfort him and this time, she felt that she might had the chance to break through the walls of defense he had created around himself.
Gently, she placed her hand on his shoulder and as he turned around to face her without showing any sign of hate or aggression, she carefully pulled him closer to her and embraced him.
Mr. Todd returned the hug and wrapped his arms around her and in spite of the barber's sadness, Mrs. Lovett couldn't suppress a smile now that she was holding the man she loved so intensely.
He didn't say anything but rested on his landlady's shoulder and she could feel a few lonely tears fall on her dress. The woman herself was silent too and she smiled sadly as she realized that the fact that her tenant's life had been destroyed was the only reason that he allowed her to come this close to him.
"I don't think ya should stop drawing, Mr. T," she said to him as she carefully ran a hand through his hair. "It's the only thing that ya still 'ave. Do ya want yer talent ta be killed by the Judge, too?"
"No," he replied, his voice partly muted because he was talking into the fabric of her dress. "But there's nothing left to live for, nothing left to draw... unless I want to sketch the Judge."
Usually Mrs. Lovett would've wondered if this was another sign of his depression or actually an attempt to joke, but now she had something more important on her mind.
"The Judge is not the only one 'ere, love," she said as she moved her hand tenderly of his back to let him realize that she was still there, just in case he wasn't really aware of her any more.
"But who would be crazy enough to just there sit there for hours so I can draw them?" Mr. Todd muttered.
"I am," she said, wondering if he was testing her or just really didn't know that she would gladly do this for him.
"Ya don't 'ave ta be that sarcastic," the baker quickly replied, feeling hurt.
"I didn't mean it that way," Sweeney answered just as quickly, surprised that he was actually apologizing. "I just thought... you have so much work to do and..."
"Even I need ta rest, Mr. T, and where can I do that better than 'ere wit' you? Downstairs I'm all alone anyway since Toby's either workin' or drinkin'."
"Well, if you're sure about that..."
"Yes, I am."
"Would you... would you like me to start now?"
"Yes," she replied, trying not to sound too eager. "If ya want ta, o' course."
"Yes," he muttered, absent-mindedly. "There are no customers here now anyway and since it's late already I highly doubt there will come one before tomorrow."
Mrs. Lovett had to suppress a sigh of disappointment as he quickly removed himself from her embrace, but because the tears on his cheeks were dried now and nothing but his slightly red eyes reminded of the emotional break down he had just experienced, she didn't really mind the loss of contact any more. It made her happy to see how enthusiastically he flipped through the notebook to find a blank page.
However, the baker felt suddenly horribly self conscious. If he was really going to draw her, that would mean that he would actually look at her, and at the very moment, she looked terrible. Her hair was a complete mess, there were dark circles beneath her eyes and now it dawned on her that she didn't only feel like a forty-two year old woman, but that she actually was one and thus probably looked that way as well. Besides, she had worked the entire day and this in combination with the early start she had made that morning and the exhaustion that was simply radiating from her, didn't make her feel better.
"Try to relax," he said gently, noticing her discomfort. "Even Lucy got used to it... eventually."
If Mrs. Lovett wouldn't have known better, she would've sworn that Mr. Todd smiled mischievously to her. She corrected herself, realizing that even though the pencils seemed to make him another man, he wouldn't actually make a joke.
"Where... where do ya want ta draw me?" the baker asked as she tried to prevent her voice from shaking. She should feel happy now that the man was finally paying attention to her, but it was a bit scary to have his eyes focused on her because she was afraid that the slightest thing could cause him to snap back to his normal, dangerous self.
His eyes scanned the room as the barber was looking for a good composition of his newest work and to her delight, Mrs. Lovett saw them sparkle lightly, in almost exactly the same way as when Benjamin Barker looked at his wife so many years ago. It was thrilling to see how even Sweeney Todd still could seem innocent now that he thought about something that didn't involve blood or pain.
"The chair," he muttered after a few minutes, "I think the chair will do."
He placed his hand on the small of her back to guide her towards the barber chair and Mrs. Lovett had to control herself so she wouldn't shudder because of the fact the barber was touching her that way.
He gently pushed her down in the barber chair and it reminded her of the moment he had almost thrown her into the chair. This moment couldn't have been more different: instead of aggressive and dangerous he was handling her now with more carefulness as if he didn't want to hurt her, even not accidentally.
"Make yourself comfortable," he said as he began sharpening a new pencil with one of his razors.
Mrs. Lovett tried to do as she was told, but how could she make herself comfortable in this situation?
Nervously, she straightened her dress and moved her hands to her hair to make sure that her long tresses were properly pinned against her head. As she was a little bit more confident of her looks, she sat up stiffly in the chair, trying to remember the poses of Lucy on the old drawings by the barber, because she didn't dare to ask him how he wanted her to sit in the chair.
When he looked up again she was sitting as much as a real lady as she actually could, but to her disappointment, Mr. Todd was shaking his head disapprovingly.
"That's not like you," he muttered. "You have to be like yourself, otherwise it won't work."
He stared at her intensely for a few seconds, making Mrs. Lovett feel even more nervous, and as he approached her again, she had to force herself to remain sitting still.
"It has to be more like this," he added as he moved his hands to her hair.
"Mr. T," the baker quickly asked, "wot are ya intendin' ta do?"
"Oh, I'm sorry," he said softly, embarrassed. "I wanted to change your hair a bit."
"That's quite alrigh'," the baker said, relaxing again.
"I should've asked," he replied. "May I now?"
Mrs. Lovett smiled sweetly to the barber and that was all the response he needed. Carefully, he reached for the pins in her hair and removed a few, so several strands of her hair came lose from its grip and fell down her face, like they usually did. As she felt the barber's hands in her hair, the woman involuntarily closed her eyes to savor the feeling of her hair between his fingers.
"That's more like it," Mr. Todd said a minute later, sounding more satisfied now.
He walked around her so he was facing her again and looked her critically again.
"You're still too tense," he concluded a little later. "Try to relax"
"I'm tryin'," Mrs. Lovett muttered, "but I have ta admi' tha' I'm still quite nervous."
"Don't be," Sweeney said, almost inaudible, while he walked back to the position behind her where he had been earlier. "Just try to relax."
The baker thought that would never be possible as long as he was standing so close to her. The barber placed his hands on her shoulders and, needless to say, this made her tense up only more.
The man felt this immediately and Mrs. Lovett was afraid that he would blame her because she couldn't be the way he apparently wanted her to be, but to her immense surprise, he didn't speak but began to massage her shoulders lightly. Whatever was running through her mind, it couldn't influence her body anymore since the feeling of Mr. Todd's hands on her shoulders and a part of her upper back, overwhelmed her and finally forced her to relax.
Vaguely she realized that the barber said something to her, but she was too caught up to hear it. Trusting him completely now, she just nodded to give him permission to do whatever he had in mind. A few seconds later, the man brushed the fabric of her dress, that she had just pulled up to look more proper, off her shoulder.
"You have to look like yourself," Sweeney said, explaining his action, "only that way I can make a good portrait of you."
Mrs. Lovett didn't mind anyway, especially now because, even though her shoulders were bare now, he just continued moving his palms and fingers over her now exposed skin to try to calm her tensed muscles.
In normal situations, she would become even more nervous because this kind of attention from the barber, but at that moment she felt so much at ease, so content, that she managed to relax completely at last.
"That's it," he said, a lightest hint of a smile on his face.
Without saying one more word, he took his pencils and his notebook and sat down right in front of her, on the floor right in front of the wall, so that he could lean back against it and he had to look up at her to see her. For Mrs. Lovett it was strange to see the taller man from her relatively high perspective, but now that the barber's eyes darted over her, that was the last thing she was aware of.
"It may take a while," Sweeney said, "but just try to remain relaxed and keep sitting still, alright?"
"Alright," Mrs. Lovett replied, though it was hard to do this without moving and because it was even more difficult to keep sitting still now that she wanted to dance with joy because of the sudden activity the barber and she were sharing.
It was simply delightful to see how much Mr. Todd focused on the drawing he was making of her. He really seemed more relaxed himself and she sensed that this was for the first time since his return that he thought not of the fate of his family nor of the horrors that he had experienced when he had been in banishment.
Time passed, but the woman hardly noticed. All the time, she was only aware of Mr. Todd sitting right in front of her, and the facts that his eyes studied her form intensely and that his right hand was putting everything he saw on the paper.
Although the baker was fully clothed, unlike some of the portraits with Lucy on it, it did somehow feel like she wasn't wearing any clothes at all since the barber seemed to look right through him with his dark eyes, that obviously didn't look as dead and empty as before anymore. Mrs. Lovett was very glad indeed that she had found something that seemed to cheer Mr. Todd up, especially since she could have a part in it.
Neither of them was aware of the fact that more than two hours passed. Neither one of them said a word, and for once Mrs. Lovett didn't mind. She was perfectly happy, sitting there while Mr. Todd had all his attention focused on her and she could watch him intensely with him noticing it. In fact, it was quite unusual that they were in the same room for so long without Sweeney becoming aggressive or annoyed with her.
After what seemed like only half an hour, Mr. Todd's hand, that had been guiding the pencil of the paper nonstop, finally came to rest. As he didn't look up at her anymore every few seconds, the woman realized that he had completed the drawing. However, she didn't want the unexpected moment to end yet and so she just remained sitting there, waiting to find out what Mr. Todd would do.
The man stared at the drawing for several minutes, causing the baker to wonder if there was something wrong, or that perhaps he realized only now that he had drawn her instead of his wife.
"It's odd," he muttered after a while.
Mrs. Lovett rose her eyebrow, urging him to say whatever he was thinking, but he just kept staring at the paper.
"Wot's odd?" she asked, not wanting to interrupt the barber's thoughts but extremely curious why he considered the drawing he had made of her 'odd'.
Instead of verbally replying her, he turned his notebook around so she could see his most recent piece of work.
Her mouth fell open when she saw his drawing of her. His earlier work was stunning, but to her this one was even more beautiful. His work was simply flawless, as realistic as possible, the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. Mr. Todd hadn't only caught her appearance, but seemed to have brought her soul to the paper as well. Even now that she saw the drawing from a little distance, she could recognize the longing for him in the eyes on the paper, and part of her wondered if Sweeney had noticed this feelings when he had been drawing her.
She stared at the drawing in absolute awe, once again not aware of the passing time. She was simply too overwhelmed by the fact that Mr. Todd had made such a beautiful portrait of her that she could actually look at. Usually she couldn't even stand looking at her own reflection in the mirror, but somehow Sweeney's drawing was an exception. For a second, she wondered if he had made her more beautiful for some reason, but as she studied the lines on the paper it was clear to her that he had probably just drawn exactly what he had seen, but that her current happiness made her look so much more relaxed, and somehow younger too.
The woman was unaware that Sweeney was scrutinizing her as she studied his work. In fact, she even didn't notice that he was pleased because he liked his drawing of her so much.
"Don't you see it?" he asked, as she didn't react to the thing he thought was most obvious.
Only when the barber flipped the page back so she could have a look at this second last drawing, she understood what he was trying to say. Instead of the harsh, seemingly random lines, he had drawn her in the same style as he had used for his old works, in the days when he was still Benjamin Barker and his wife was his only model. The only difference was that his drawing of Mrs. Lovett was black and white, just like his other recent drawings.
"'Ow did ya..." the baker asked, wondering how on earth it was possible that his drawing style was so much different than that of his other recent works.
"I don't know," he mumbled, mesmerized. "It just happened; I didn't even think about it. Perhaps... I didn't enjoy drawing my memories of Devil's Island, but it was something I had to do to get it out of my head. But I did enjoy drawing you, just as I enjoyed drawing Lucy. That's the only thing I can think of."
Mr. Todd kept staring at the drawings, as if the reason for the sudden change was somewhere hidden in the paper, but it was clear he couldn't find the answer.
As he shook his head, he looked up at his landlady again, and he seemed to realize something else.
"I want you to have it," he said to her, referring to the drawing.
"No," the baker said, shaking her head lightly. It was hard to refuse the generous offer, but there was something better than owning the souvenir of this already beautiful memory. "I want you at 'ave it. Jus' ta..."
She wanted to say that she wanted a drawing of herself in the same notebook as were he kept all his drawings of Lucy, so the barber would be reminded of her, too, if he opened the book to look at the images of his wife; but of course, she couldn't say that aloud.
"Ya 'ave ta know you're not all alone 'ere, Mr. Todd. I'm 'ere fer ya, whenever ya need me."
He looked at her and his genuine, sad smile caused the woman's heart to melt.
"Alright," he said, "I'll keep it. And... I want you to know, that..."
"Tha' wot?" the woman asked, very curious to what the barber had to say, but not sure she should interrupt him now that he was finally talking relatively freely to her.
"I want you to know that I'm glad that you were willing to listen to me."
The baker felt as if she was glowing with joy as Sweeney basically admitted to her that her presence did him some good.
"Any time," she muttered, hoping that he would see how much it meant to her that he allowed her to actually talk to him in the first time.
"And I must thank you," he added. "I really appreciate it that you spent so much time here just so that I could draw you."
"It's a pleasure," she murmured, knowing that the man would probably never know that she had enjoyed the experience extremely herself.
He offered her a hand to help her get up from the barber chair. She didn't need that support at all since she was perfectly capable of getting up on her own, but of course she gratefully took his hands so he could pull her up from the chair.
As she was standing on her two feet again, he didn't let her hand go immediately. Instead, he looked at her again, a small smile on his face and without a warning, he pulled her into another embrace.
Mrs. Lovett sighed in complete contentment as she could once again bury her face in the crook of the barber's neck. Now that he wasn't crying, it was even more enjoyable to have his arms around her, especially because he was stroking her back gently.
"I was thinking..." the barber muttered into her hair. "I thought that it was done, but perhaps I should color it later. Only if you want to, of course."
The woman had thought a few seconds before that she couldn't be happier, but now Mr. Todd proved her to be wrong by inviting her to repeat the creative activity.
"I'd love ta," Mrs. Lovett replied, as a huge smile appearing on her face. It was probably a good thing that the barber couldn't see this, since her face was still pressed against his shoulder and neck.
"Same time tomorrow?"
"I'm lookin' forward ta it," the baker said, gently removing herself from his embrace now, trying to hide some of the eagerness. Confronting the barber with too much enthusiasm and hidden feelings of love were the last thing she wanted – for the time being anyway. If she wasn't mistaken, she was making progress with the apparently lost barber after all.
"I'm looking forward to it as well," he answered genuinely.
Once more, they found themselves staring at each other; Mrs. Lovett wondered how she could possibly survive until the next time she would be in Sweeney's presence again and Mr. Todd was curious for the reason that his landlady seemed to be so extremely happy.
"Well, I believe it would be better if you'd go now," Mr. Todd said quietly. "It's quite late now and I think we could both use some sleep."
The baker wouldn't mind spending a few more hours in Mr. Todd's company, but she had to admit that he was right. It was already dark outside; they had already spent a lot of time together without even realizing it. She didn't feel tired at all, thanks to the unexpected events of the day, but she knew very well she shouldn't push her luck now.
"Good night, Mr. T," she said, still trying to get the huge grin off her face.
"Good night to you, too," he replied, smiling a bit himself now.
He walked with her to the door of his barber shop, which he opened for her, and while she descended the stairs, he remained standing there, watching her.
As she was downstairs again, she looked up to Mr. Todd once more, and to her immense joy, he was still watching her. This made her feel so warm and happy inside, that she was rather sure that the smile on her face wouldn't fade for quite some time.
The woman made her way back to her parlor, not actually walking but almost floating it seemed, and she collapsed on a couch as she arrived there. Although it was late, sleep was the last thing on her mind. She looked to the ceiling, knowing that the man of her dreams was there all by himself again now.
But somehow, she had the feeling that Mr. Todd wouldn't be alone for much longer. She would allow him to color the drawing of her tomorrow, and intuitively she knew there would come a day that he would allow her to color his life. This color wouldn't be one created by ink or pencils, but simply by the joy in both their lives when the barber would finally share in the love that she had felt for him for so long.