Sweeney Todd stood at the grave of Eleanor Lovett. It had been only three years since that fateful day had occurred. The day that had deprived him of a hidden friend, yet granted him his trust towards the world once more. He thought of time and how slowly it seemed to have gone by when he was in prison, yet how quickly the days turned to nights now that he was a free man once again. Time seemed to be a mockery.
Toby had left them the day his mother-figure had been brutally murdered. The boy was taken care of by the law until he "slipped away," as they said, and departed for what seemed to be forever. Johanna had sat by her window, observing every person she could find in the street, hoping that one of them was a young boy who wore scuffed shoes, a brown jacket, and a messy head of dark hair that always made her grin. She did not spot him.
Finally, the boy came by on a particularly dreary day. He knocked upon the door and simply asked for food after a long day of shuffling through the streets, famished and exhausted. The moment Todd had laid eyes upon the child, he noticed that the boy's hair had begun to grow gray and his eyes were pink from lack of sleep. Johanna had seen as well. She stumbled outside and knelt to the floor, slowly wrapping her arms around the boy and crying as she held the back of his neck in her hand. All the boy did was return the embrace and frown when her tears stung his open wounds.
Even after his harsh beatings under the degrading hand of Pirelli, the boy had been able to cling to his innocence, like a lost sailor clinging to his lifeline in a rampant sea. Now, Tobias was a distant and experienced adolescent. Nothing could be done to bring back the child within him.
Toby's visits became more frequent until he finally lived in the Barker's home once again after the family's heavy persuasions and pleas.
The home now seemed empty. Mrs. Lovett's pie shop had been closed, forcing the family to live off of money from the barber's customers and the saved sum that had been left from the meat pie business. Money was not a problem; it never had been.
The repetitive and steady beat of a knife upon a cutting board was now a distant memory. Mr. Todd could swear that at night, when all was calm, he could hear the faint sound of dough being beaten upon a marble counter. The sound would cease the minute he went down to inspect its source, leaving the man with an immense pain filling his heart.
Sweeney Todd had believed with an earnest desire that the reunion with his wife and girl would have gained his old self back. In his heart, he knew that he would never be the man he once was. Benjamin Barker would not be his whole, but the man that he once was always remained inside of him, brining him a soothing comfort when he felt the horrendous grips of hate clutch his mind and soul.
Eleanor Barker grew to be a loving child. Of all the members of her home, she favored her father with all of her being. The child would cling to his sleeve, raising her dimpled hands to his waist and tugging at the trim of his vest, a sign that she wanted to be held. The barber would scoop her in his arms and hold her to him, sometimes undergoing pain when he saw Benjamin through her brown eyes, and always grimacing when he thought of the dire situation which had given his daughter her name.
"Sing!" she would implore her mother and sister when Todd was at his profession. The women would slowly serenade Eleanor with the most glorious of songs, some speaking of undying love and affection, while others consisted of sacrifice and hopeless adoration. When Mr. Todd heard one of their soft voices wavering with the melodious sound, he could not control the shivers that travelled through his spine and made his eyes mist.
Johanna was no longer a child of nature, but a strong and "modern" young woman. The girl would never cast aside her horrific past, and she used her weakness as her only strength. She spoke freely of the rights that a woman should be granted and had absolutely no desire to search for a man to simply lean upon. She desired love, and could only find that from her parents and the comfort of her childhood friend. The female spent her days perfecting her skills in sewing, stating that she had been granted years of practice, and selling any material at the market. Toby stared at her hands when they were holding the needle, a sort of longing clouding his eyes. It would not be until he was older that he would propose the idea of marriage to the girl and would receive an anxious "yes."
Hesitance had ceased between the barber and his wife. No longer did he stray from her gaze or clench his fists when he thought of holding the woman. No, he embraced his desires and would hold her and breathe the scent that radiated from her skin and colored his memory. Every touch and every kiss increased his protection over this woman. He would lie down and die for her.
And yet, the void in all of their lives remained. Sweeney Todd now stood at Eleanor's grave, staring into the stone of death that had selfishly claimed her name upon its hard surface. Todd leaned forward and caressed the gentle swoop of the E in her name and then travelled across the letters until he had reached the end of the tombstone. He could not bear gaze at the date that was chiseled below that name.
Guilt embraced his sorrow, guilt that he had caused the death of this woman; guilt that he had caused the deaths of numerous innocents.
Guilt that he had committed crimes because of the crime that he did not do.
Wind tore through the leaves that lay scattered over the floor, brushing past each stone with a soft shudder.
Kneeling to his knees, Todd began to speak to the stone and run his fingers over the earth. "Eleanor," he whispered to the ground. "I am sorry. I have harmed so many…and I confess to these crimes here and now. I apologize because I wish to make amends with all that I have wronged…I wish to look at myself in the mirror and have respect, however small it may be, for the man staring back at me.
"I am also here to thank you. You believed in my return when no one else did. You remained loyal and true until the day I returned to my home, assisting me in my hours of darkness and despair. In truth, you were the only one there for me…and because of you I have regained my family. You are the reason I have been reunited with the sole purposes of my existence." He paused and clenched a handful of dirt in his hand, allowing it to slip through his fingers.
"You don't deserve this…you never have. None of us did," he said in a voice on the verge of breaking.
Now, the wind blew to his face, flowing over his skin like a soft hand upon his cheek. He placed his fingers upon the spot and continued.
"I wish for you to know that we are not bad people, Nellie. We have done horrible things, yet we were all driven by one motive and one motive alone. We both were driven by love." The last of the dirt slid from his fingers and scattered across the ground.
"I think upon the times where I have sworn that I will never forget, nor will I forgive," he let out a small chuckle. "Surprisingly, I have managed to forgive the town, the law, and the world."
Sweeney placed his hand upon the cold surface of her tombstone but kept his head bent.
"But I can never forget."
He stood to his feet and tore his hand away from the stone's surface.
"I never forget the horrors I had been meant to face, the hell I had to endure, nor shall I forget the many faces I have seen. I never will forget you face Eleanor Lovett."
He turned for the grave and began to exit the cemetery. As he walked away from the grounds of death, a strong wind blew across the yard, carrying leaves and debris as well as Benjamin Barker's last words.
"I don't want to forget."
And that, my faithful readers, is the ending to our story.
Writing this story was so much fun! I laughed, I cried, and I wrote this particular chapter while listening to the song Nearer My God to Thee! Bring the tears!
I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. It's hard to say goodbye (this sucks!) but as Arnold would say… "I'll be back!" Please consider reading any new stories that I make and I implore you to leave a review suggesting what you would like to see in any of my future stories. All I ask is that you leave one and tell me your exact thoughts on this story, be they good or bad. I want to thank you all who have reviewed (there have been so many) and I want you to know that I appreciate every word you have expressed to me on my first fanfiction story. Thank you so much, you guys.
All my love,