Little Lake

There were few places that reminded Mr. Todd of his sweet, dead Lucy. The room that they used to live in was the most important one that was left. But no matter how safe and peaceful their home had been to him once, those memories were ruined now, soaked by the blood of his victims and filled to the roof with desperate cries for help that never came.

The barber could think of only one other spot that his wife and he used to be very fond of: it was a small lake, just outside the city of London and close to the farm where Lucy had grown up. They had called it their little lake; it was small, hardly a lake but more some sort of pond, and during all the times they had been there, they had never seen anyone else who also sat down near the waterside or simply took a relaxing stroll around it.

Mr. Todd had thought that it would be a relief to be back by the lake. It had been, at first. He had found it to be exactly the way he vaguely remembered it, as if it was the only part of the world he had known once that hadn't changed for worse.

It was just as quiet and beautiful as he recalled it to be. Even his changed, blood-thirsty soul enjoyed the warm sunshine, the humming of the harmless insects around him and the gentle breeze that caressed the leaves of the countless trees and his face. The beauty of the bright water and the large, brightly colored lilies that crowned the surface of it hadn't decreased.

Killing people seemed to be the only thing that he could still enjoy, but as he watched the oblivious frogs and dragonflies, he was simply happy to look at them and didn't feel the tendency to take their lives, just like the life of his wife was stolen from her. For once he didn't feel as if killing others, no matter who or what they were, could avenge the woman who had suffered so much by the hands of others.

He had thought that the place would disappoint him somehow, but to this pleasant surprise the small lake and the trees and grass that surrounded it had a very calming influence on him. In fact, when he closed his eyes, he could almost make himself belief that his wife was right next to him, that she was sleeping lightly at his side in the shadow of a tree during a sunny and warm afternoon just like she used to do. Almost.

And so the barber shut his eyes, pretending that his Lucy was right next to him. It was warm and there was hardly any wind, the sky for once without a single cloud; it was truly a rare English summer day. And thus, it was no surprise that he had slumbered, his folded coat beneath his head and the hard ground beneath his body more comfortable than his bed in Fleet Street had ever been since he had returned to the city that had taken so much from him.

For once, it wasn't extreme heat, a whip breaking his skin or a screaming woman that he had dreamed of. In his state of almost sleep his mind had reminded Lucy just like she had been fifteen years ago; sweet, young and beautiful. The dream almost made it seem as if she was right next to him after all; the weight of her head against his shoulder and her arm resting on his stomach seemed real. He could see her, if only he'd open his eyes and turn his head.

Foolishly, he did so. But the woman he had been dreaming of wasn't the one he saw.

Mr. Todd blinked rapidly, but it was not an illusion. There was a woman by the lake, but she wasn't Lucy. He did recognize her immediately however, but her appearance was so unexpected that it took his eyes a long moment to persuade his brain.

But no matter how unlikely it seemed, there was no way to deny it. The auburn curls and pale skin were just too recognizable, even in the current situation.

His eyes widened and he had to swallow a groan of frustration as he watched Mrs. Lovett, wondering how on earth it was possible that she showed up here of all places. Not only was this a spot that hardly anyone knew, let alone visited, but this was also the place that belonged to Lucy and him. In his eyes, Mrs. Lovett simply didn't have the right to be there.

The barber wondered how she had gotten there, what kind of cruel irony had helped her find her way to the place where he couldn't only reminiscence the past, but also escape from the meddlesome and talkative baker.

For a moment he actually thought that she had followed him for some reason, but this horrible possibility luckily could be dismissed almost immediately. She hadn't seen him; he had settled himself against a tree trunk in the shadow of several big trees, just like Lucy and he used to do. He had liked sunlight, but Lucy's skin had been too pale to endure it for long. Even though he had expected to detest the sunlight after having endured fifteen years of the merciless rays of the Australian sun, he had realized that he did still enjoy the gentle British beams of sunlight as he had walked to the lake.

If Mrs. Lovett had seen him, he'd know. For some reason, she simply couldn't stay away from him and always bothered him at the most unlikely hours and for the strangest reasons. This Sunday morning for example she had showed up in his room with a pie that she had baked for him and just hadn't left him alone until he had reluctantly eaten it.

His lack of enthusiasm wasn't caused by his doubts regarding the pie (she made it clear to him justs too often that she wouldn't give him the remains of his victims), but his uncertainty regarding the baker's motive for treating him the way she did.

But now, she stayed on the side of the small lake where she had appeared from between the bushes; luckily for Sweeney, that was on the complete other side of where he was sitting. She didn't even look in his direction, making clear that she hadn't seen him and probably wouldn't notice him in the near future either.

The barber should be relieved because of this, and he was, but the fact that she left him alone for the time being didn't mean that she should be there at all. This was his place now that Lucy wasn't there anymore to share it with him and Mrs. Lovett had no right to be there. Getting up and telling her this however didn't seem like a good idea. She never listened to him at home when he insisted on being left alone by her and she obviously wouldn't do so now either.

Inwardly cursing his landlady and wondering if there would be a day that he could have some breathing space and didn't have to endure the endlessly chattering woman's company for more than a few hours, he sat back in the shadows of the trees surrounding the lake. He wasn't going to let her ruin this living memory.

As far as he knew, Mrs. Lovett was a woman who rather aimlessly fluttered from one object of interest to the next; surely she couldn't be enchanted by the lake like he was. She would doubtlessly leave within half an hour at most, unable to see the beauty of the smooth surface of the water and the plants and trees surrounding it; surely she wouldn't appreciate the quiet sounds of the animals that were living in and around the lake.

Sweeney closed his eyes, pretending that Mrs. Lovett wasn't there, and tried to fall asleep again; when he'd wake again the baker would doubtlessly have gone and in the mean time, he might be able to dream of his Lucy again now that he was at this spot that had been so magical to both of them.

But even as he shut his eyes, his landlady was still undeniably there. The bugs weren't heard and neither were the countless frogs in the clear water of the lake; they too were too much aware of the stranger sitting close to the waterside. They had stopped making their natural sounds as soon as Mrs. Lovett had arrived; before that, they hadn't been aware of the human already sitting there, because he made no sounds himself and had hardly moved at all.

Time passed and for once, Sweeney was painfully aware of it. He couldn't sleep, and he knew that he wouldn't have been able to do so if the baker hadn't been there. But now that she was, his incapability of finding true rest was even more frustrating.

He opened his eyes once more but there were few changes. Mrs. Lovett was still undeniably there, but she was sitting on some sort of plaid that she had spread over the sand that was next to the water. The barber inwardly groaned again as he realized that the baker wasn't going to leave soon after all.

Any other person probably would've either somehow removed the woman from the location that had been so heavenly before she arrived or had either left himself, but Mr. Todd wasn't like any other person. He made himself more comfortable against the tree-trunk, staring daggers at the oblivious baker in the hope that the landlady could somehow feel his disapproval while making sure that she couldn't see him.

Finding out that the baker intended to stay for at least a while was a bad enough discovery, but the barber soon found out that it wasn't the worst one yet. After a few minutes of sitting still on the plaid and taking in her surroundings, Mrs. Lovett proved to be as restless as usual when she stood up again and began walking around the lake.

After she had set a few steps, she clearly became aware of the frogs. Disturbed by the baker's initial appearance, they hadn't continued their croaking yet but made their presence clear by jumping into the water when the noisy woman came too close to them for their liking.

Mr. Todd rolled his eyes as he saw the amused smirk on his landlady's face when she realized that she was causing havoc among the unsuspecting frogs. Almost as if she somehow sensed how much he was annoyed by her immature behavior and wanted to irritate him even more, she picked up a branch and began poking in the muddy water, trying to find more to disturb.

It was probably a good thing that the barber was very fond of the place and didn't want to ruin it with Mrs. Lovett's blood, for otherwise he probably wouldn't have been able to prevent himself from simply killing her to free himself from her insufferable personality after all.

Retreating further into the shadows of the trees to make sure that his landlady didn't see him accidentally, he fumed as he watched the childish game of the baker. The battle of wills in which Mrs. Lovett was unknowingly partaking turned out to be harder than he had thought, but Mr. Todd wasn't the one to give up.

The baker was meanwhile shaking with laughter as more and more frogs fled away from her, croaking indignantly when they jumped back into the water of the small lake. She was so busy poking the stick in the water and watching the frogs go in all possible directions at high speed, that she failed to notice a branch of a large tree that was growing directly next to the lake.

When she set another step in the mud at the edge of the lake, her back was facing the direction that she heading for, which included the branch that Mr. Todd had seen already.

As she moved, the baker suddenly found her path blocked by the part of the tree that she hadn't seen. Losing her balance on the muddy ground and her arms moving wildly around her for unavailable support, she fell face-first into the lake.

Sweeney sat very still for a moment, not having expected that to happen. Suddenly intrigued, he watched the water at the spot where Mrs. Lovett had fallen into it. A moment later she resurfaced, struggling with the long stalks of the submerged plants that were growing inside the lake and had both gotten wrapped around her limbs and stuck in her hair.

Muddy water dripping from her now truly messy curls and shrieking with shock now herself, his landlady was quite a sight to behold. Sweeney vaguely realized that this was the only hilarious thing that he had seen since one and a half decade and in spite of himself, he burst into laughter.

The sound was rather unsure at first, his body not really knowing how to laugh anymore. But it re-learned quickly and before Mr. Todd knew it, tears of laughter were running down his cheeks as he clutched his sides.

Mrs. Lovett looked up abruptly at the sudden sound, her soaked dress and shock apparently forgotten for a moment. But because he was still sitting in the shadow between the trees, she couldn't really see him.

It shouldn't come as a surprise, but Sweeney was still rather shocked when the baker made her way right trough the small lake to approach whoever was laughing at her and he was face to face with the baker a few seconds later. But still, he couldn't stop laughing and he blamed his humor-depraved being for the rather ridiculous outburst.

The baker stared at him, an expression of surprise on her face when she recognized him.

"You!" she said, clearly not sure whether she should be happy or upset to find him hiding near the lake where she had thought to be alone, laughing at her expense.

But still, Mr. Todd couldn't stop laughing as he took in her flabbergasted and soaked appearance.

Then, a huge grin appeared on the baker's face and she began laughing with him.

"You are a horrible man," she managed to say, and for once, he wasn't detested by the clear affection in her voice that was obvious even when she playfully scolding him.

Sweeney was so shocked by his own reaction that he only noticed the water from the lake that she had kicked towards him when the cool liquid hit him.

Water soaking his hair and clothes too after the well aimed kick, Mr. Todd glared at the woman who was laughing even harder than before. His initial thought was to put a razor against her throat after all, if only to really scare her, but as he looked at her he knew that he couldn't do it.

There was something that he did want to do however, and before he could stop himself, he quickly stood up and kicked into the dry sand beneath his feet, causing a generous amount of sand to fly at her. A gentle gust of wind blew most of it away, but a second later quite a bit of the surface of the wet skin, hair and clothing of the landlady was covered with a fine layer of sand.

Still laughing as she tried to wipe the sand out of her face, the baker accepted the unspoken challenge. She scooped up as much water as she could with her hands and threw it in the barber's direction. Sweeney hadn't predicted anything less and quickly stepped behind the tree that he had been sitting against earlier, successfully avoiding most of the liquid.

The sudden developments had a rather strange influence on Mr. Todd. The current situation vaguely reminded him of something he had known once, something he once had enjoyed. His own desperate situation momentarily forgotten after the harmless but unexpected and tempting provocation, his subconscious wanted only one thing: beating the baker at her own game. Not because doing so could make it possible for him to punish her for disturbing one of his few peaceful moments, but simply because he wanted to.

As soon as the water had hit the tree, Mr. Todd re-appeared from behind the trunk and run towards the water as quickly as he could. Reaching the edge of the lake, he made a kicking motion into the water, sending a huge splash to the baker. Mrs. Lovett was clearly taken by surprise and only fully understood what was going on when she was soaked by the water of the lake once again.

The barber found himself grinning once more during the moment of triumph and even as the baker took advantage of this by throwing another few handfuls of water at him, he couldn't help but smiling.

The animals that usually populated the area had all disappeared quickly at the unexpected and strange behavior of the two human beings and even if other people would've seen them, they probably would've shaken their head in wonder upon seeing the two grown ups behaving like they were just innocent children who didn't have a care in the world.

Even if he would've been watched by Turpin himself, Sweeney wouldn't have noticed it. He was caught up in the completely unexpected moment of fun, forgetting the annoyance he had felt for the baker only moments ago now that he was trying to throw as much water as he could in her face and to prevent her from doing the same thing to him.

The sound of splashing water and their laughter filled the air of the warm summer day and if Sweeney would've had a moment to actually think, he would've had to admit to himself that this was the happiest moment he had known for a very long time, even though he shared it with Mrs. Lovett and she was the one who had started it in the first place.

Being stronger and somewhat faster than his landlady, Mr. Todd was able to approach her in the lake even when the baker kept trying to keep him away from her by throwing water at him. The petite woman was forced to retreat to the other edge of the lake and Sweeney made his way through the waist-deep water to follow her.

When the water became more shallow, Mrs. Lovett gained more speed than he did. Sweeney thought she was going to try to find cover on this side of the lake and grinned because he knew that there was nothing to hide behind or between except for a few bushes. Knowing a way to defeat his landlady, he increased his speed and prepared himself for pursuing her over the clearing.

The baker however had another idea. Before heading for the open space before them, she turned around abruptly before making her way out of the lake and kicked once more a splash of water to him. When he was fully hit once more, she turned around again and hiked up her soaked skirt to make it easier for her to run.

As she did so, Mr. Todd stood still for a moment, savoring the feeling of the cool water against his now flushed skin and the sound of her voice that wasn't unpleasant now at all.

Then he stepped out of the water himself and followed her as she run forward. No more water there to distract and delay him, all he had to do was run after her and catch up with her in order to beat her.

Doing so wasn't difficult at all; except for the fact that wouldn't have been able to return to London in the first place if it hadn't been for his excellent physical condition, she was held back by the fabric of her dress that restricted her movements both because of the tightness of it and the weight now that it was soaked with water.

Sweeney outrun her within only a few seconds and when he was right behind her, he thought of nothing but the satisfaction it would bring him to see the expression on her face as soon as she would realize that he had won their spontaneous game.

Having done so numerous of times before when he was fighting for his survival, Sweeney lunged forwards and reached for her legs, grasping them as he fell and thus effectively dragging the baker down to the ground.

A moment later he found himself lying on top of the baker, his face buried in the wet material of her dress and his arms wrapped around her waist. The sound that he heard wasn't one of bewilderment or perhaps amusement, or something even remotely like that.

The baker was groaning and only as he quickly removed himself from her, he realized that he had intuitively used a way to stop her that was much more suitable to free himself from either fellow prisoners or guards than for beating a woman during a game.

The baker was now lying on her belly in the dry sand and as if that wasn't bad enough yet, his body had fallen heavily atop hers. Because of this his own body had been shielded by hers and although he was still just as soaked as he had been before, he wasn't covered in sand like his landlady.

Horrified by what he had done, he kneeled down next to Mrs. Lovett, gently helping her to sit up. The entire frontal part of her body, her face included, was covered by sand now that he had pushed her in it, just like he had expected. The guilt that he felt at seeing her desperately gasping for air and trying to free herself from the thick layer of sticky sand came however as quite a surprise for him.

"I'm sorry," she managed to say in between coughs, "I shouldn't have... challenged you like that."

"It's not your fault," he replied, wondering how she could possibly think that anyone else than he himself was to blame for her current state.

She wanted to object but clearly was unable to do so. Realizing that she could hardly talk, let alone see or breathe now that sand was stuck to her wet face, he wiped as much of the now muddy substance away as he could.

However, this didn't have the desired effect and as the baker's attempts to inhale air instead of sand and see her actual surroundings instead of the layer of sand that he hadn't been able to remove became more and more desperate, Sweeney knew that he had to help her.

Whether their spontaneous and completely irrational behavior earlier shouldn't have happened in the first place was something that he would have to decide about later, just like he couldn't go looking for an answer to the question whether Mrs. Lovett had crossed a line just yet. No matter whether she had deserved it or not, she was hurt now and he was responsible for that.

Sweeney Todd wasn't very comfortable with this knowledge and even though he couldn't decide whether he still blamed the baker for invading his lake or not, it didn't matter at that moment.

The barber stood up and tried to pull Mrs. Lovett on her feet as well. Both their hands were covered with sand now and ironically, only a few good splashes of water could help her now. But since they had ran away from the lake only a minute earlier, its water wasn't within reach anymore. They had to walk back in order to free Mrs. Lovett from the sand, but getting her on her feet was easier said than done.

As Sweeney tried to help her stand up, the baker groaned with pain, making it clear that he had done even more damage than he had initially feared. There seemed to be something wrong with her leg, but getting the sand off the now panicking baker was more important.

Mr. Todd half dragged and half carried his landlady towards the lake and as soon as her feet felt the water, she dropped herself and frantically splashed the liquid in her face. She didn't stop until the last bit of sand was washed away her eyes, nose and mouth. Mr. Todd could do nothing but watch and felt rather useless as he was doing so.

After a long moment, the baker sighed deeply and buried her face in her hands, curls of muddy hair hiding it from his intent gaze.

"Are you alright?" he asked awkwardly, placing a careful hand on her shoulder and wondering how he could make clear to her that he was truly sorry for what he just had done. Performing the actual tackle however was a lot more easier for him than to apologize.

Mrs. Lovett luckily accepted his implicit apology, but even then she kept sitting in the water, head bowed and looking more forlorn than he had ever seen her.

Remembering that she had trouble walking, he realized that this was a good moment to find out what was wrong with her leg.

Sweeney sat down next to his landlady and moved his hands towards her right ankle, intending to start his check for injuries there. However, the baker who usually couldn't stay away from him, turned her back to him, even though the gesture obviously hurt her.

"I'm just trying to help you," he said, but even as he spoke he realized how bizarre the words sounded when they came out of his mouth.

"Don't bother," she replied, her face still hidden behind her dirty hair. "You don't have to pretend to care."

"But I..."

Sweeney was bewildered when it dawned on him that he did care. Not just because he was directly responsible for the baker's suffering, but because he didn't want her to be in pain. Somehow, their rather bizarre 'game' had completely changed his opinion of her in a matter of minutes.

For a moment he allowed himself to wonder how on earth this could've happened. But as he watched the woman sitting in front of him, he realized that she wasn't the woman who he knew her to be. The Mrs. Lovett he was forced to deal with daily was a baker who didn't cease her annoying chatter and, even worse, tried to persuade him way too often that she could make him happier than his dear Lucy ever had.

The mere idea of course was a profanation, but the Mrs. Lovett who he was looking at now had just made him laugh in a way that he couldn't remember any longer. She had made him forget about his stolen life for longer than anyone or anything else had ever done and she had helped him to genuinely enjoy something without even being aware of it herself.

"I do care," he said firmly.

Not allowing her to reject his help once more, he sat down right next to her in the shallow water and touched her ankle with careful fingers. She flinched, causing him to believe for a moment that this part of her body was causing her pain, but then he realized that it was the fact that he was touching her that upset her.

"I won't hurt you," Sweeney said, again realizing how bizarre it had to be for her to hear those words coming out of his mouth. But she seemed to be afraid of him, and he didn't blame her after what he had just done to her. It hadn't been his intent however to cause her pain and he wanted her to know that.

Intuitively whispering words of comfort to her of which he wasn't aware that he still knew them, he continued searching for injuries. Luckily, she remained calm when he moved his fingers over her calf as gently as he could, probing expertly to detect any abnormal reactions of her body.

Although he would've rather gone back to the colony than being in a situation like this with his landlady mere minutes ago, he wasn't repulsed now at all. In fact, it was almost a pleasant experience. It felt almost good to find out that he was still capable of helping people, something that his former self had been so fond of, and because Mrs. Lovett actually seemed to be one of the few people who actually deserved it.

Sweeney found the spot that was bothering the baker rather soon. To his relief, it was just below the hem of the skirt that was still hiked up to her knees. He carefully examined the spot, realizing that he hadn't thought that he would ever use the medical skill that he had been forced to develop in order to survive for anyone else than himself now that his family was gone.

"There seems to be no serious damage," he said after a minute. "Your knee must've hit the ground a bit too hard when I... well. Except for a bruise, this should be over soon."

She nodded, moving some of her hair out of her face. Only as she saw her small but grateful smile, he realized to his horror that his hand was still resting on her knee. He withdrew it quickly, but didn't feel as uncomfortable because of it as he would've expected.

It seemed to Sweeney that he had helped the baker now as much as he could, but when he saw the state of her hair and clothing, it was clear to him that he wasn't done yet at all. Especially her long curls were a mess now that the mud in it began to dry.

"Let me help you."

Before she could stop him, he guided her upper body downwards, until her hair too was in the water. The barber hoped that the long curls could be freed from the sand just like she had cleaned her face earlier.

A few seconds later he helped the now squeaking baker to get back in an upright position. Her hair however was even wetter than before, but not cleaner at all.

"If only it were so easy," she muttered, clearly not having expected a good result herself. "I'll just wash it at home."

"If it's even still possible by then to do so," he replied, not even wanting to think of what her hair would look like if the mud would stay there for at least a few more hours.

"Do you have a better idea?" she snapped.

Although he usually wouldn't have been aware of anything but his own annoyance caused by the sound of the woman's voice, he understood her frustration now and actually realized that he had caused it.

"We might as well try to wash your hair here; we don't have any soap but at least this water is cleaner than anything you can find in the city."

Mrs. Lovett obviously didn't want his help but he didn't allow her to refuse it. It was clear to him that it was not the prospect of washing her hair in the lake's water that bothered her, but the idea that he was the one going to help her. But he had attempted to persuade her of his good intentions once already and he didn't intend to keep doing so. Before he knew it, he would be suspicious of his own sudden worry for the baker's well-being himself.

Not wanting Mrs. Lovett to strain herself now that she was injured already, he moved closer to her and begin taking the pins from her hair. He collected them in the pocket of his shirt while he watched with something close to fascination as the dark curls were released one by one. Even though they were far from their usual, fiery state, they were rather intriguing.

Once her hair wildly framed her face, he helped the still reluctant baker to lean back once again. This time he didn't simply push her back once her hair had been in the water for a few seconds, but he changed his position until her head was resting against his knee.

Now that her head didn't need to be supported by his arms any longer even as her hair was still in the water, he gently ran his hands through the long curls, freeing them from the dirt at last.

Mrs. Lovett looked very suspicious and uncomfortable at first, but soon she sensed that he truly meant no harm and gradually began to relax. Sweeney himself was initially hardly aware of this however; he was too focused on the sensations that spread from his hands to the rest of his body as he carefully cleaned the baker's hair and head in the pleasantly cool water.

Even though he wasn't fully aware of it, let alone had given his hands permission to do so, his touches became slower, less effective, but more tender and inquisitive after a while.

When he looked at the baker's face at last and saw that she trusted him, that she enjoyed his caresses as much as he did, it dawned on him that there was something very strange going on between the two of them.

But it didn't matter, not yet anyway, not now that her delight in his rather unorthodox way of helping her made her look so comfortable and happy.

Even as the most stubborn bits of sand and mud had disappeared from the baker's hair a long while ago, Mr. Todd kept running his hands through it, the texture and the color pleasing him more than most things he could still remember.

Her back and neck got sore because of the unusual way she was leaning back against him eventually, but even as she told him so and she sat up again with his help, they didn't move away from each other.

Either of them seemed to have decided that it was alright for her to sit between his now slightly parted legs and lean back against his chest, and the other hadn't objected. Completely unaware of the passing of time or the fact that there was a normal, cruel world just outside the wood that surrounded the lake, the two of them remained sitting in the water.

It shouldn't have come as a surprise to him that the baker began falling asleep. He usually tried not to think of it, but she worked very hard for both of them and after the odd developments of the afternoon, it wasn't strange that she was sleepy.

Besides, their surroundings had a very calming influence as well, and their current position turned out to be a rather pleasant one. Even Sweeney's own eyelids felt suddenly rather heavy now that his body was caressed both by the water and the still warm sunlight and Mrs. Lovett was sitting back against him.

Thinking of his family and the revenge that they deserved still wasn't something that occurred to him. For a blissful while, the baker and he just sat there together. Now that she was so close to him he felt better than he had done during his entire stay by the lake, even before Mrs. Lovett had arrived.

Her body relaxed more and more against his own as she gradually fell asleep. Accepting this seemed to be the only the right thing to do but even if it wasn't, Sweeney would've been reluctant to break the contact.

The baker's body was slowly sliding back into the water now that she was sleeping. Not wanting her to be uncomfortable sounded to Sweeney like a good enough reason to wrap his arms around her waist and pull her unsuspecting frame back against his chest.

The barber closed his eyes as well and enjoyed the moment as much as he could, not allowing himself to wonder how it could be possible that Mrs. Lovett made him feel like this just yet. But the way she made him feel so much at ease, almost content, was certainly something worth considering.

As the time passed and they sat together in the lake, the barber eventually began to feel cold because of the water's relatively low temperature. He remained sitting in the water for a moment longer however, savoring even the tiniest things that his senses noticed.

However, when his landlady began to tremble lightly as she was sleeping, it was clear that he couldn't stay there with her. Looking around, he saw the plaid that she had taken with her and realized that the pleasant afternoon didn't have to be over just yet.

With quite some reluctance he removed himself from her, supporting her body as he did so, and lifted her up once he was on his own feet. Trying not to wake her, he carried the baker out of the lake and headed for the plaid that was still lying in the sand next to the water. He was pleased to see that the spot wasn't covered yet by shadows and that both their bodies could get pleasantly warm there even as Mrs. Lovett just continued to sleep.

Even though he tried to move her as little as possible and be as quiet as he could, the baker woke when he was carrying her in his arms. Sweeney tensed as he felt this, afraid that she'd do something he wouldn't like – either she would be horrified because of their close physical presence because of the way he had accidentally hurt her earlier, or she would be overly fond of him like she usual was. He wasn't entirely sure which would be worse, but he had the strange feeling that he really wouldn't like it if she'd get out of his arms.

Her eyes fluttered open and she looked at him, just smiling as she did so. In spite of himself, he found himself smiling back.

"How did you get here?" he said, asking the question that had been bothering him since the moment that he had seen her by the lake for the first time. "Did you know this place already?"

They reached the plaid as he asked this and he sat down, still holding her tightly. Sweeney carefully lay her on her side on the fabric, the need to settle right behind her overwhelming him as he did so.

Not wanting to terrify her once again – or to encourage her too much – he placed one arm beneath her head, so she could use it as some sort of pillow. She immediately accepted the gesture and this persuaded him to lay down right next to her.

"I didn't," she replied, very carefully making herself more comfortable in his arms, as if she was thinking that he could leave at any moment or didn't believe that this was truly happening after all.

Wanting her to know that he was more than contented to be with her that way, he experimentally moved his free arm around her waist. He was quite shocked to find out how pleasant it was to hold her like that, and according to the quiet gasp that he heard, so was she.

"I hadn't even planned to go anywhere today" she managed to say. "I was still tired when I woke up this morning and because I didn't have to open the shop because it's Sunday, I decided that I might as well try to get some rest. But then the sun was shining again at last, Toby was playing on the streets with his friends and you had... disappeared. The house and the shop were empty, the work was done, and I didn't want to be there for the rest of the day, all by myself. So I wrote a note for you and told Toby that I was going out, and packed some things. I left the house and just walked. I found this lake and decided to stay here for the rest of the day. Or well, that was the idea."

Mr. Todd nodded as he listened to her; ironically, Lucy and he had found the small lake in the exact same way – coincidentally. It was also rather remarkable that he wasn't bothered anymore at all by the fact that the baker had planned to stay for the rest of the day, even though a few minutes of her presence had infuriated him not so long ago.

"I had no idea that you were here until..."

Both of them smiled as they remembered the moment that they had looked at each other for the first time that afternoon, right before they had begun throwing water at each other.

Mrs. Lovett yawned, which reminded Sweeney that he felt rather sleepy himself. He hadn't been able to sleep here when he was alone, not even when thinking of his sweet wife. But now that the baker was lying in his arms, sleeping suddenly seemed like a very easy thing to do.

As he was lying right behind her with his arms around her, he could basically feel how his landlady was falling asleep.

When he held her, he realized that it really had to be fate that had made her find her way to the lake. Sweeney Todd didn't like fate – not after what it had done to his family and to him. He resisted it after his loved ones were taken from him, doing the impossible in order to defy the cruel plans that life had made for him.

But now, when the wonderful summer day continued to enfold and Mrs. Lovett was sleeping peacefully in his arms, Sweeney Todd decided that he wasn't going to fight his destiny this time.