So I'm going through a slight Sweeney Todd obsession phase at the moment and this idea popped in my head the other day when I was watching the stage production on DVD. For the sake of the story I'm going to pretend that the Judge doesn't enter right the beggar lady is killed like in the musical.
Disclaimer: I do not own Sweeney Todd.
Enjoy, and review!
"I HAVE NO TIME!" Sweeney roared, lifting his blade high above his head, preparing to end the deranged woman's life. She let out an unearthly screech at the sight of the silver razor and covered her eyes with her filthy, shaking hands.
Todd's blood began to race in his ears as he watched the pitiful, cowering woman before him.
What's stopping you? Sweeney asked himself in frustration. He had done this countless times before, in fact, death should come as a relief to this confused woman. What sort of life had she lived? London would go on living with one less half-crazed beggar lady roaming the streets. He would be doing the world a favor; he would be doing her a favor! Then why couldn't he do it?
He was unable to pin point the exact reason he seemed unable to end her life. He found himself looking down upon the woman with pity, which enraged him. He did not feel pity for the world showed no pity to him. He did not show mercy, not to a damned soul in London. He had learned the ways of the world, to be less naïve towards the known cruelty of mean as the young sailor lad he had encountered had been.
The filthy woman was muttering to herself, head bent as if in prayer.
"Enough of this!" Sweeney told himself, raising his razor once more. The woman's crazy eyes flashed upwards, at last connecting with the barber's.
The razor slipped from Sweeney's grip and clattered to the dusty floor. His eyes widened and he took a step back, fighting the urge to scream.
"Don't I know you from somewhere?" he gasped.
The woman put her hands back over her face as she began to shift her weight from foot to foot, making an odd moaning sound.
She was hardly recognizable, filthy from head to toe, practically wearing rags for clothing, but there was no doubt of her identity. Her yellow hair, almost completely hidden under her old hat, and those eyes.
"Could it be? Oh god in heaven…" Sweeney moaned. The old woman snapped to attention then and threw her arms straight up in the air, revealing her familiar eyes.
"BEADLE! BEADLE!" she cried, spinning around and dashing towards the door.
"Wait…wait!" Sweeney cried out hoarsely, grabbing her arm.
"UNHAND ME DRESS, DEMON!" she screeched in a panic. She pointed a shaky finger at him.
"YOU! YOU WHO RESIDES WITH THE DEVIL'S MISTRESS!"
With a yank she freed her arm from his grip and scurried down the steps. The barber followed close behind her without thinking. All thoughts of the Judge were out of his mind. He watched the woman stumble down the steps and trip on the last one, her hands falling in a puddle.
He rushed down the steps to where she was crumpled on the ground and helped her up by snatching her wrist. Several droplets of rain began to fall from the sky, hitting her nose.
"MISCHIEF!" she cried, trying to free herself. "OH LORD ABOVE, SAVE ME FROM THE DEMON!"
She ran towards the street in front of the pie shop, her barber close behind, still clutching her delicate wrist.
"DEMONS!" the woman screamed.
The rain began to come down more ardently and patches of the dirt that were on her face began to wash away with it as the Beadle's blood began to wash away from the barber's face. The barber could see her pale skin more clearly now with the excess dirt rid from her face. She looked back to the barber and her eyes widened, as if he was a different person than the one she had been running from only a moment ago though she still didn't recognize him.
"Oh sir, sir, there are demons about! Haunting me! Oh sir, make the demons go away!" she cried, her free hand beginning to claw at her own cheek.
The barber looked into the face of the woman who was becoming more and more recognizable by the moment. She was no longer addressing him as the demon, but instead addressed a third party.
"Oh sir, destroy the ghosts! Just end the demons!" she pleaded to the stranger.
The barber released her wrist and moved her hand away from her cheek so she couldn't hurt herself. The woman closed her eyes tightly and began to whisper the word 'away' to herself repeatedly.
"Away, away, away, away, away…"
"I'll make them go away…Lucy. I'll make them go away," the barber promised at last, suppressing a sob when he said her name. This wasn't his Lucy…not anymore. But she was still his wife.
"But first let me tell you a story," the barber said as if he were speaking to a child.
Lucy whimpered and nodded, still terribly confused.
"There once was a barber and his wife…and she was beautiful. The barber, his wife was his reason and life and…and…that remains true to this day. You see, this barber and his wife made vows to each other, to stay by each others side for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse until…until…" he choked on the last word, unable to get the phrase out.
"That barber loves her to this day…"
Lucy looked up slowly, water droplets clinging to her face and yellow hair.
"I think I've heard that story before," she said to herself. Her eyes widened a bit more. "Don't I….don't I know…don't I know you f-from-"
Suddenly she collapsed to her knees and wrapped her arms tightly around the barber's legs, beginning to sob uncontrollably.
"Oh woe! I am not well! The ghosts, they haunt me! They lurk, they haunt, and they kill me, sir! Oh demons! Oh I am not well…dear Benjamin…forgive me Benjamin!" she sobbed into her husbands knees.
The barber froze as that one word escaped her lips. Benjamin. She had remembered, if only for a moment, a brief moment of lucidity where she had remembered her husband, and addressed him as such. The moment she had said that word, Sweeney Todd died. Sweeney Todd, the man who had been blinded by revenge against those who wronged him, those who wronged them. He was no longer that man, and he became Benjamin Barker once more. Benjamin Barker, barber, father, husband.
She looked up at Benjamin pathetically, tears streaming down her pale cheeks.
"He took Johanna," she cried, still apparently remembering who she was for a moment. "I'm sorry."
"Oh Lucy, what have you done to yourself?" Benjamin moaned.
There was a moment of silence as the two looked into each other's eyes, the barber and his wife reunited at last after fifteen long years.
Somewhere during the silence the recognition had drained out of her eyes and the confusion set in once more.
"Demons…demons! Oh misery!" she cried again, loosening her arms from his knees and shuffling backwards.
Benjamin lamented in the fact that that brief moment where she had recognized him had passed, and the small hope that had built up within him that perhaps they could at last make up for lost time was diminished. This woman was not Lucy, nor was she a deranged beggar woman. No…his wife was trapped somewhere in between those two people, haunted by the events of the past thought she didn't exactly know what they were. He realized at once that that was what the demons were; his wife's demons were the memories of the past. They were trapped within her.
"Kill the demons…kill the demons!" she wailed again, closing her eyes. Benjamin kneeled beside his wife on the street.
"I'm going to slay the demons, Lucy. I'll make them go away…God as my witness I'll make them go away," Benjamin Barker said through a choked voice as he reached inside his back pocket.
Lucy's distant expression brightened and she rested her hands on his shoulders.
"Oh kind stranger, you are sent from heaven! My guardian angel!" she said, thanking him.
"For better or for worse, Lucy," he said. He silently went behind the kneeling woman who continued to look straight ahead. He rested a hand on her shoulder, as she looked ahead, and suppressed a sob.
"'Til death do us part!" Barker cried, eyes blurry with angry tears. There in the street, with one swift movement, he brought the blade across her neck, putting his wife out of her misery.
"We shall be together in death," Barker said through unashamed tears. She fell backwards into his arms as her breath became labored.
"I do," she managed to whisper with her dying breath before closing her eyes. She had found peace at last.
Barker cried over the body then, cursing his cruel fate as the rain washed her blood down the empty street. Nothing mattered anymore, not the Judge, not Mrs. Lovett who he realized must have known she lived from the beginning. Not even Johanna, the daughter he had never known. Hopefully she would find her way in the world, perhaps with Anthony.
His wife lay dead in his arms and he couldn't avenge her death because she had died at his own hand. Cruel irony!
That didn't mean he didn't have his own demons. He had his own ghosts of the past invading his mind. Now that Sweeney Todd was dead, he couldn't remember how to be Benjamin Barker again. Not without Lucy. His life lay cold and limp in his arms and there was nothing more to accomplish. No way out.
"'Til death do us part," Barker whispered before he slid the razor across his own neck, destroying his own demons at long last.
Together in death, for they hardly had the chance in life.