A/N: This is a collection of drabbles to amuse you all in between uploading my other fics. Not sure if they qualify as drabbles, but oh well.
The circle was lit.
It was a dead winter night. The city had shut itself up. No one stopped in or passed them by.
The candles were laid across the bare floor in the shopfront.
"You sure we gonna do this love?" Nellie asked, glancing up and down the floorboards. Her eyes swam over the flecks and specks of blood collected there.
Sweeney nodded. His hands were still coated with the blood of fifteen men. And yet somehow he still believed his wife would want to speak to him, wherever she was, blowing somewhere over the hills and beyond the trees in that grey land of the dead.
"What comes next?"
The baker breathed, closing her eyes as the breath of the night shot through the open door. London was alive with invisible life. The best they could do was to savour it.
"We must call 'er up."
Sweeney stared at the black circle drawn in the middle of the floor.
They had moved the heavy kitchen table, and now sweat coated him as a second skin. The baker also was drenched, her pale arms like melted candle wax.
She pouted, kneeling on the edge of the circle. "That's right love," she urged, taking his arm and putting the blonde lock of hair in the centre. "Let it go."
Sweeney grimaced. He allowed the lock to rest there. "My love."
"She's gone," the baker said, "but I s'pose they never quite go. Mrs Mooney an' me did this little ritual for Albert when 'e passed on six months ago."
He had enough of her chit chat. The night was stronger than them both, and if it could not call Lucy up now, it never would.
"I blow the candles out?" The barber looked at her uncertainly.
The baker nodded, drawing her arms close around his. "Not before you burn the hair."
He lifted the lock as carefully as if he were slicing a vein, and held it over the nearest candle.
The yellow lock met the bright flame, and they fused together until the hair singed and turned to ash. He imagined Lucy's fragrance unfurling into him, but the scent never came.
"That's it," came the low tones.
He became aware of a woman holding him. Which one, he was unsure.
Their eyes shut simultaneously, as the wind drew right around them both.
"She's here," Sweeney said, mouth quivering in the same candle-like taper.
"I know," she echoed. Her lips were close to his mouth.
In another lifetime, they might meet.
His eyes flew open. "The candles, Mrs Lovett, quickly! Before Lucy is lost forever!"
You don't know she already is, Mrs Lovett thought miserably. She helped him blow the candles out anyway, all twenty four of them.
"Now you talk to her," she instructed. "Prob'ly best not ter mention the Judge," she added.
The barber blew, and the last candle went out.
This is what comes of loving the dead, the widow thought, scraping her knees against the frozen floor.