Now that my summer vacation started at last and I actually have the time to finish the one shots that I once began to write, I'll be posting a lot of 'once started but never really completed' one shots =D
Once again, I don't have a beta reader anymore so this story isn't proof read and corrected by a second person. I did my best not to make any grammar/spelling mistakes, but there'll doubtlessly be at least a few of them. If you see one, please tell me, so I can correct those errors =)
After Violets, this is the second plant/flower inspired Sweenett fic that I wrote. I got the idea for this one while 'killing off' fuchsias at work a while ago, when I realized the strange parallels between those lovely plants and Sweeney Todd.
By the way Sweeney Todd hastily made his way to her parlor, Mrs. Lovett could tell immediately that something was wrong. When the demon barber burst into the room seconds later, his face a mask of rage, she knew that something was very wrong.
"You," he hissed angrily.
Before she had the chance to do anything, he grabbed her arm and dragged her upstairs, to his barber shop, slamming the door behind them.
He never let her enter this room voluntarily and for a second, the baker hoped that he wanted to spend some time with her and just did an awful job showing his affection. But as he pushed her towards the windowsill, where a two feet tall plant was placed in a low dish with an inch of water, her hopes were destroyed immediately.
"What is this?"
"It's a plant," she replied, feigning cheerfulness. "I believe the merchant at the market called it a fuchsia, or something like that. I don't care what its name is though, I think it is beautiful and that is why I…"
"A plant," Sweeney hissed, interrupting her while staring daggers at the freshly green leaves and red and purple flowers, as if his mere gaze could reduce the living thing to nothing but a small pile of ash.
"Yes," she said, "to relieve the gl…"
He didn't even listen to her. Instead, he stepped towards the plant and while looking at her emotionlessly, he broke the three stems with his fingers as if he was breaking the plant's neck. Smiling devilishly, he threw the leaves and flowers at her feet, the roots and three stems that were broken just above the earth, remaining pathetically in the wooden pot.
"I'll say this only one more time," he said, his voice dangerously low, "I don't want your bloody plants. Do you actually think a few flowers will 'cheer me up' after what happened to my wife and child?"
"No, of course not," she tried, "but…"
"Out!" he yelled, pointing at the door, trembling with anger. "And don't ever show your face here again!"
Shaking with fear as she saw the look in the barber's eyes, Mrs. Lovett fled from the shop and rushed to her bedroom, where she surrendered herself to the grief that Sweeney's behavior had caused, and let the tears fall freely.
Of course she didn't cry because Sweeney Todd had just ruined a beautiful plant that had cost her a small fortune, or that he had forbidden her to enter a part of the building that she owned. It was the feeling of having lost him once again, that she had had her chance to get him to like her, but that she had failed.
And all that because of a plant, that she had only given him with nothing but purely good intentions. And now, he had said that he never wanted to see her again and judging by the look on his face, he meant it.
Burying her head into the pillow and sobs shaking her small frame, Mrs. Lovett wished once again that there would come a day that Mr. Todd would return her feelings.
Weeks passed slowly and Nellie did as the barber had told her. She didn't seek his company and pretended he didn't exist at all, just like he treated her all the time. The difference however was that he meant this and she failed at it completely.
Every time she saw him standing just outside of his shop, luring another 'customer' into the barber chair, when she saw a flash of him through the huge window of his room when she was serving pies outside, or even when she heard him pacing in the room above hers, longing pumped through her veins like poison.
It wasn't getting easier to pretend not to care about Mr. Todd like he had ordered to do; instead, it got harder and harder every day.
One morning, almost six weeks after Mr. Todd had killed the plant and her last hope with his mere fingers, the barber entered her shop violently and once again dragged her with him painfully, causing the tray with pies that she was carrying to clatter loudly on the wooden planks.
She couldn't even apologize to the customer whose lunch had just ended up on the floor. Before she had the time to realize what was happening, she was in Sweeney's room already. She was pushed in front of the remains of the ruined plant that were still standing there, as if they were a reminder of the barber's 'victory' over her.
"Witch," he hissed, shaking her small frame mercilessly. "How did you do it?!"
"Do what?" she asked, her fear somewhat lessening because of the barber's aggression, no matter how strange that was. She wasn't afraid that the barber would kill her, something he'd probably do. But if she had to go on living without the barber's love, or even without his mere physical presence, she rather didn't live at all. And what would be more suitable than her life being ended by the man who caused all her misery?
"This," he snarled, pointing at the brown stems of the plant accusingly.
At first, Mrs. Lovett didn't know what he was talking about. But when she looked more closely, she saw that there were new leaves growing out of the stems that she had expected to be long dead after the treatment they had received. The leaves were very small, but they were undeniably there.
"How remarkable," Mrs. Lovett mused aloud, scrutinizing the plant.
"It seems that nature is stronger than your tendency to destroy things," she added coolly. "This plant creates something new out of something that was ruined almost completely."
He let go off her arm as she said this, but she didn't care whether this was because of the words that she spoke or because of the coldness of her voice.
"If only humans were the same."
With those words, she turned around and marched out of the room, leaving a dumbfounded Mr. Todd behind. She didn't go back to her pie shop; Toby would have to deal with the customers all by himself just a bit longer. Instead, she retreated to her parlor, where she collapsed on a couch.
Unlike after the previous encounter with the barber, she didn't feel sad at all. A strange feeling of euphoria welled inside of her: she hadn't only defended herself verbally against him, leaving him speechless, but she actually felt good about it. Perhaps she could get over the impossible man after all.
Weeks turned into months and although Mrs. Lovett could never completely forget Sweeney Todd, life was bearable without the barber's presence. Corpses still ended up on the floor of the bake house every day, but at least she could continue baking her famous pies that way.
Her life was becoming one endless routine of work and sleep, but at least the terrible aching in her heart lessened a bit every day. The pain of not being with him didn't leave her completely and she knew very well that it probably never would, but at least every minute of her day wasn't dominated by the thought of Mr. Todd.
One morning however, a very pleasant surprise awaited her when she woke. Out of nowhere, a plant had turned up in her room, right in front of the glass of the window. When she rushed towards it to examine it, she saw that it was a miniature version of the one that she had given Sweeney months ago. The leaves were exactly the same, but this one was much smaller and there were only a few flowers.
Mrs. Lovett didn't know who had placed the plant there. Mr. Todd seemed to be the only one who had access to her bedroom and owned a similar version of the plant, but really…
The identity of the person who had been so generous was a mystery to her, for surely it couldn't be Mr. Todd. However, she was radiant with joy during the entire day because someone had bothered to give her something so beautiful.
The next morning, she found another fuchsia in her bedroom and Mrs. Lovett was becoming more and more curious about the person who bothered to give her those plants without even telling who he or she was.
Because it was a Sunday and she didn't have to work in the pie shop, she had the chance to sleep all afternoon and thus she was fully awake and alert when the evening began.
The baker settled herself in bed when the sky grew dark, pretending that she was asleep. She waited and waited, after several hours beginning to wonder if the plants only existed in her imagination after all.
But then, at about five o'clock in the morning, the door was opened very carefully and a person entered her bedroom quietly. She didn't recognize the person at first, but she could see that it was a man who was obviously carrying a plant with him. He placed it with care on the windowsill, while muttering something that she couldn't really hear.
However, she recognized the voice and she knew at last that this person was none other than Mr. Todd himself. But now that he turned out to be the person who gave her those plants, the mystery wasn't solved at all. If possible, the situation seemed even stranger now. Why would he, of all people, do this for her?
Having lost her fear of the barber months ago and in spite of her feigned indifference, Mrs. Lovett was quite desperate to find out what he was trying to achieve. She sneaked out of bed soundlessly and moved to stand before her door, blocking Mr. Todd's way out.
Sweeney was unaware of this. Only when he had arranged the three fuchsias that were now standing near the window in a way that seemed to satisfy him, he saw her.
"Mrs. Lovett," he said. Unlike in the past, his voice didn't contain disgust, or even annoyance. "You wonder what I'm doing here."
"I do indeed," she replied, wondering if the barber had actually understand her correctly for once, or that she was dreaming after all.
"Before you throw me out, let me try to explain."
She nodded, eager to hear what he had to say, and as she didn't interrupt him, he continued talking.
"The past few weeks I began to understand what you meant when you said that you wished that people could start all over again, just like those plants."
Sweeney took his landlady's arms, gently this time, and guided her towards the windowsill where the plants were standing in the early morning light.
"A customer of mine has knowledge of growing plants and in exchange for a free shave – a real one – he told me how to take care of the plant, and even create new ones out of the one that I... well."
For a few seconds, they were both silent. Mrs. Lovett stared at the fuchsias in awe, wondering how it was possible that those were created from the very plant that Sweeney had seemingly destroyed months earlier. But mostly, she enjoyed the fact that the barber had gone through all this trouble for her, no matter how strange that seemed.
"Isn't it odd," he said, looking at the baker from the corner of his eyes, "that from something that is almost dead, new life can come to exist?"
"It certainly is odd," Mrs. Lovett replied, wondering if Mr. Todd was aware of the double meaning of his words. As he continued talking, she realized to her surprise that he was.
"It seems that those plants are, in a way, like myself. I was broken, but still alive. Although I'll probably never see sunlight again, that doesn't mean I die. As long as I have earth, water and air, I continue to live."
They looked intently at each other, the fuchsias temporarily forgotten.
"Mrs. Lovett," he continued, his voice hardly audible and his face more human than she had ever seen it since the barber had returned to London. "Eleanor... All this time you have been my earth, water and air, that kept me going even when I didn't want to."
He slowly moved his hand to her and as she carefully stepped closer to him, he caressed her face gently.
"And you are like a plant as well," he whispered. "I can see that you can't remember what it's like to see sunshine, but yet, you keep going on. It seems that we are both incapable of finding any happiness or peace when we are alone. But…"
His words caught her totally off guard, making it impossible for her to think of a verbal answer. But words weren't the only way to react to his implicit suggestion.
She stepped closer to him, hoping that she hadn't misunderstood him, but he spread his arms, inviting her to approach him. As she did so, he pulled her against his chest, embracing her. He seemed to relax somewhat when she melted against him, and she sighed in delight when he whispered her name.
"Those plants can begin to live again. I... perhaps we can do so too."
Mrs. Lovett looked up at the barber as she heard those unexpected words coming from his lips. She could read loneliness and even despair in his eyes. Although she felt that he only approached her at last because of Lucy's absence and the desolation that he couldn't stand any longer, she was very, very grateful that he had realized at last that there was nothing she'd rather do than bring some life and light back to the empty shell of a human being that he had become.
She smiled as the barber wrapped his arms around her more tightly and caressed her hair. Together, they looked at the plants, both thinking the same thing. After many months of misery, the time had come that flowers and plants were welcome again in their house. Especially the one that she had given Sweeney a while ago, and the ones that he had given her so recently, would always have a special place. Those were the plants after all that had proven to both of them that even after pain and destruction, new life could begin.