If there was something that Nellie Lovett had learned in life, it was that the ones you love always leave you sooner or later.
The very first one who had left her was her young brother. He had died of an unknown disease when they both had been infants and time had even taken the smallest memories of him away from her. She often wondered how it would've been like when he had been there when she grew up, if they would've been able to bear the burdens of life together.
Her father had been next. One day he had left their house and had never come back. The reason for this was still unclear to Nellie, but it didn't matter. She couldn't recall him and she didn't want to, knowing that the lost memories wouldn't be pleasant ones. Sometimes ignorance truly is bliss.
Then there was James, the only person who didn't scold when she was climbing in trees again or ran through the streets in a way that was considered to be inappropriate for a woman, no matter how young. He was the only one who believed her when she said that she couldn't breath properly when wearing a corset. He was the dearest friend the girl had ever had and one day, he was sent to the workhouse because of a bread that he didn't steal. She didn't know where he was sent to and she never saw him again.
She remembered her mother in more detail, even after all those years, probably because Nellie had been older when she died and because her mother hadn't only fulfilled the role of both parents for a decade, but had been her friend as well. Being the striking image of her mother, Nellie had also inherited her mother's optimistic and tough nature. But no matter how many years passed, the baker never stopped longing to feel her mother's warm embrace once more and hear the soothing words again that were lost now forever.
Marrying Albert Lovett was the only sensible thing to do when she had found herself an orphan on the streets of London, the only way that ensured her of daily meals and a roof above her head. She had known him since her early years and although she had never really paid attention to him until he had asked her to be his wife, he had been a reasonably good husband. She had mourned him when he died, and not only because she was a widowed baker now who couldn't make a proper pie and didn't have any family to rely on any longer.
Before Albert's health had begun to decline rapidly, someone had come into her life for the very first time. It had been long ago, but she remembered exactly how he stepped into the pie shop on a rainy spring morning, asking her where he could find the owner of the room upstairs. Rainwater had been dropping from his long, dark hair onto his pale and beautifully shaped face. Benjamin Barker. When she saw the barber who would define the rest of her life for that very first time, she was lost already, knowing somehow that this was the only man she would ever love.
He too was taken, something which was almost even harder to process for her than for his actual wife. She had known that Benjamin Barker could never be hers, but his smiles and gentle words, his patience and understanding where things she had had, and although it wasn't as much as she longed for, it was more than she had ever received before. Losing him was almost harder to accept than the losses she had suffered earlier in her life combined. As if it wasn't bad enough, she couldn't even grieve for him like she needed to, not without hurting the few people who still surrounded her. Her forbidden love for the barber was a secret that was hers alone to bear.
Little Johanna had disappeared next. Nellie had always had the desire to be a mother one day, but because she didn't have any children of her own and because the child was fathered by the man she loved and was growing up in her house, Mrs. Lovett liked to think that Johanna was hers in a way as well. But she was taken by guards only a few days after Benjamin had been banished on false charges. The baker hadn't seen her since, nor did she know where the child was taken to, no matter what she tried to find out. She wept for the innocent, beautiful Johanna, even though Mrs. Barker said that she didn't have the right.
Even Lucy had gone – or at least, the woman she used to be had, the barber's wife who Nellie thought she could perhaps be friends with now that they both couldn't have the man they loved. It was not that both of them had anyone else to turn to anyway. But the yellow haired angel chose another way than Nellie ever would. Once the poison had damaged her, Mrs. Barker too was gone.
During the years that followed, no one left her anymore. The only reason for this was that she didn't let anyone come close enough to her to make her notice their absence when they actually disappeared from her life.
And then, Sweeney Todd returned. She still couldn't tell whether there was some part of Benjamin Barker left within him, but it didn't matter. All that she knew was that she loved him, even more than the man he once had been, because he had become like the kind of person she was. They both had struggled and fought for survival, having lost everyone who mattered to them, except for each other.
Lucy wasn't really there anymore to keep them apart and although his expected outburst when he heard of the cruel fate of his wife and child had shocked her after all, she was sure that he would change soon enough. For years he had lived for a wife who he couldn't remember and a child that he hadn't seen grow up. Now that even his last hope was taken from him, he would have to begin to let go. There was only one person he could possibly turn to now that his entire world was destroyed. She knew too well how it felt, just like she knew that neither of them would have to be alone again. They could accompany each other, heal each other, love each other – she was absolutely sure of it. She felt that she was given a second chance, and she felt that this time, it was going to work – this time, he wouldn't leave her; this time, she would find lasting happiness.
And then there was Toby. A part of her had screamed that it was all too good to be true. But as the dream that she had had for so long finally seemed to become true, she didn't question her seemingly good fortune. He was like the son she had never had and every day she grew fonder of the honest and hard-working boy.
After a few months she had found out that everything was too good to be true. She wouldn't have been able to do it in any other part of her life, not even for Benjamin. But now that Sweeney Todd was demanding it, the sacrifice was just as horrible as it otherwise would've been, the only difference being that she was willing and able to make it now. Toby had to disappear too now that he had found out the truth about the unnaturally pale and black-haired barber with the too dark and bottomless eyes.
Everyone had gone, leaving her all by herself. Everybody, except for one person. Sweeney Todd was different. He almost didn't seem human, being so much stronger and more enduring than all other people she had ever known. Hadn't he survived hell itself for fifteen years, only to return to the world of the living? He had been there during months that were darker than that any human being could endure, and he was still there, with her, the woman who had helped him get his vengeance. In spite of everything that had happened to both of them, he hadn't left her.
And when their singing voices entwined and they danced through the bakehouse, the bodies of Judge Turpin, Beadle Bamford and the woman who once had been Lucy Barker laying dead and soulless on the blood-stained basement floor, she was very certain that he never would.