Unamuerte and I were discussing Mrs. Lovett and that gave me the idea for this short fic. Thanks Jas ;)
For quite some years, Mrs. Lovett had known that forgiveness is a strange thing. Benjamin Barker was the first person who had made her aware of this.
Although she had worked in the pie shop that had been her husband's and later her own for almost as long as she could remember, interacting with customers day after day, she wasn't exactly fond of human beings. Most of them were rude, impatient, and sometimes even mean.
The baker's anger was easily provoked and in the old days customers had realized quickly that they could better be careful not to damage the dishes on which she served the pies and gossip about her only when the auburn haired woman couldn't hear it.
There had been one man however who she just couldn't be angry with for long, whether he paid rent a week late – again – or walked – again – right into her shop on Saturday evening, often mere minutes after she had finished cleaning the floor, without bothering to wipe his feet.
As years passed, times became harder than they had ever been and she had to worry about things that were quite a bit more unpleasant than a few broken dishes, envious words that were spoken just a bit too loudly and muddy footprints.
Nellie remembered every woman at the market who refused to give her a little of the food that hadn't been sold that day and would be thrown away later anyway, just like the image of every man who gave her only a few pennies after he roughly had had his way with her was printed in her mind for the rest of her life.
When the former Benjamin Barker returned, Nellie Lovett had become a cold and insensitive woman who couldn't care less about the world and its inhabitants. Her own survival was the only thing that mattered and she was willing to do anything to achieve the happiness that had been denied her for too long. And so she lied, plotted and schemed.
Mrs. Lovett couldn't forgive the men and women who had belittled her and had taken advantage of her in the recent past, but she could bake them into pies and watch those being eaten. She found out, just like Mr. Todd, that vengeance is sweet indeed when forgiveness is impossible.
She should be annoyed because a certain barber expected her not only to run her own business, but to do a lot of the work related to his demonic plans as well. But yet, when she washed his blood soaked shirts, cleaned the gore in his tonsorial parlor and chopped up his victims, she simply didn't mind.
Sometimes he did things that had nothing to do with taking revenge, things that didn't seem to have a particular reason but hurt her nonetheless in one way or the other. But even when he yelled at her, slammed her against a wall in her very own house or placed a knife against her throat, she just couldn't be angry with him for long and always forgave him almost immediately. Not once did she think that perhaps she shouldn't accept Mr. Todd's unpredictable, unfair and dangerous behavior the way she did.
She hoped that her dedication would make him notice her, that he would realize how much she cared for him. One kiss would be enough to make her happy, just one, and a few genuine words of affection would probably make life worth living. Really, if he would only actually look at her once...
But even when it was becoming horribly clear to her that he probably would never do such things, this didn't prevent her continuing the devilish work. In fact, it gave her some strange kind of satisfaction. Indeed, they did deserve to die.
It was harder though to continue bearing the more and more insufferable way that he behaved; not because he was physically harming her, but because she loved him even though he didn't care for her at all. The pain in her heart hurt her more than his hands or razors did.
When the demon barber found out the truth about his not so dead wife at last, it became clear to her that forgiveness was something that Mr. Todd had completely forgotten about a very long time ago. She had expected that he would at least see that she had deceived him to protect him, to prevent him from suffering even more.
Obviously, he didn't. But even though he blamed her, this didn't mean that she returned this feeling. She understood him, she really did; she too had experienced cruel and lonely years and had fought for her life, only in a different way than he had. Besides, in the depth of her broken heart she knew that she would've done the same thing to anyone who would've lied to her about the barber's fate.
And thus, even when he pushed her into the burning oven, Mrs. Lovett couldn't help but forgive Sweeney Todd in that very last moment of her life.