Author's Note: The sixth and final installment, in which Sweeney Todd has another epiphany before dying. So, it starts with Benjamin Barker and ends with Sweeney Todd, like bookends or something. Pretty fancy, huh? Anyway, the title's from Edgar Allan Poe's "Annabel Lee," but you probably knew that.
Disclaimer: I don't own Sweeney Todd. Or a can opener that works properly, which is getting to be a problem.
Warnings: Murder, blood, grief, and references to suicide. If you saw the end of the movie, though, you know what to expect.
Chapter Six: My Darling, My Darling, My Life and My Bride
Back when he was Benjamin Barker, he knew a few magic tricks. They were nothing fancy, but he could amuse his neighbors and Lucy's little cousins by picking the right card or making a coin disappear. Of course, Sweeney Todd has no interest in such frivolities. He sees the sins of his neighbors—the butcher's greed, the grocer's cruelty, the used-clothes dealer's licentiousness—and he has no interest in entertaining them. As for children, he finds their company unbearable. With his old eyes and fondness for gin, Toby is a far cry from the baby girl he remembers, but the boy is still a painful reminder of what he lost. Sometimes, he wonders how Mrs. Lovett can coo endearments to the boy and tousle his hair, all the while involving him in their foul if righteous schemes. It disgusts him, but he can hardly expect her to know the difference between a child and a lapdog.
He wants to amuse neither her—no doubt she'll take it as a sign of love—nor Anthony, although he's still enough of a child to enjoy that sort of thing. Never mind that they're the closest he has to friends, save the ones that all fit in a velvet-lined box; he has a calling that leaves no room for diversions. If he wanted to play his tricks again, though, he could do it as though he'd never stopped. All it takes is skillful hands and a good memory. He's always been blessed abundantly with both qualities.
In a way, he supposes, he still works a dark magic on his customers. Pay no attention to me, he silently told the audience at the marketplace. Yes, I challenged Pirelli, but I am nobody from nowhere. Watch him. Look at his cape and his charts, listen to his bragging. Then, when they looked back to him, he'd already finished shaving his man. He didn't just prove himself faster than Pirelli; he made it look like he could give a shave in the blink of an eye, just by speaking quietly and keeping his head down after the initial challenge.
Now that Mrs. Lovett's started selling the new meat pies, he uses her for misdirection. Look at my lovely assistant, Mrs. Lovett, with her fancy new dress and her white breasts pushed up to high heaven. Listen to her endless, cheerful chatter. Taste her meat pies. Aren't they good, ladies and gentlemen? Nobody notices when the occasional man goes up the stairs and never comes back down. Now you see him; now you don't.
Sweeney Todd is quick and clever. He can manipulate anyone with a quirk of his mouth, a deferential tone, a look that lingers a second too long, a seldom-raised voice, or whatever the occasion calls for. Maybe he's too clever for his own good, though, because the greatest trick he ever plays is on himself. He doesn't even realize what he's done until he's sitting on the bake house floor, holding his dead wife in his arms while his own blood drips into the cut on her throat, the cut that he made.
Now you see her; now you don't.
Truth be told, he barely thought of Lucy after learning that she'd poisoned herself. He couldn't bear to remember her, not directly. He realizes that, now that the light is fading fast and Toby's footsteps are a distant memory. It's almost funny. The boy that Mrs. Lovett wanted to play the son in her readymade family really does take after him, killing to avenge the woman he loves and even using the same weapon to do it.
Look at Turpin, he told himself. Remember what he took from you. Imagine the fear in his face when you confront him; picture the blood spraying from his throat. Don't think of Lucy, except in terms of your vengeance. Don't think of your sweet, shy wife, who is lost and gone forever. Look at her portrait to fuel your rage, but don't wonder what she was thinking in those last moments before she drank the poison. Don't ask yourself how she could have done it; don't ask yourself how bleak the future must have looked to her, how the poison must have seemed like the only option. Easier to think about blood and vengeance; you can do something about that, at least.
But now she's here, in his arms, dead yet undeniably real, and he can no longer banish her to a corner of his mind. Nor does he want to.
"I forgive you, Lucy," he says, or tries to. His voice barely comes out as a rasp. "I forgive you, and I'm so sorry."
Author's Note: And that's the end. I really enjoyed writing this, what with all the different character perspectives, and I hope you enjoyed reading it. Remember to be kind to unpopular characters and have a pleasant evening.