Mrs. Lovett heard a sharp rap on the door of her meat pie shop. It was ten o'clock at night. Who in their right mind would come calling at ten at night?
"We're closed!" she called loudly, hoping whoever it was would leave. She had no such luck, as there was an even louder knock on the door. Mrs. Lovett shook her head and got up to see who had the nerve to come knocking at this time of night.
She pulled open the door to her shop to find a worn down, gaunt, haunted-looking man. He was of average height with thick, wavy, pitch black hair that had a streak of white running through it. His eyes were sunken and had dark circles around them - but the eyes themselves were a beautiful chocolatey brown. Mrs. Lovett would know those eyes anywhere...
She looked the man over quickly, taking everything about him in, all the while keeping her face stony and impassive.
"Can I 'elp you, sir?" she asked, sounding irritated.
"I wanted to inquire about the room above your shop. Is it available for rent?" asked the man, no emotion showing on his pale face.
"Oh," said Mrs. Lovett, "I wouldn't want to rent that place to anyone. Some say it's 'aunted." The man just stood there, so Mrs. Lovett launched into the story that she always told prospective renters.
"There was a barber and his wife, you see. 'E was an artist with his knife, but they transported 'im for life. Barker, 'is name was, Benjamin Barker."
The man cut in. "What was his crime?"
Mrs. Lovett though a minute, then answered. "Foolishness. 'E 'ad this wife, you see. She was a pretty little thing, silly little nit. 'Ad 'er chance for the moon on a string, poor girl. And there was this judge who wanted 'er like mad. Every day 'e'd send 'er a flower, but she just stayed cooped up in her room," said Mrs. Lovett solemnly, gesturing to the room above the shop. "She wasn't 'avin any of that - all she did was sob. Then, one day, the Beadle called on 'er and said the Judge blamed 'imself for her plight, and 'e wanted 'er to come to 'is house. Of course, when she went there, poor dear, they were 'avin' this masquerade ball, and there was no one she knew. She asked for Judge Turpin, but she couldn't find 'im. He was there, but not so contrite. The Judge, being a man of power, does whatever 'e wants and gets away with it. The things he did to 'er. . ."
"NO!" screamed the man suddenly, his face full of anguish. "Would no one have mercy on her?" he said shakily.
Mrs. Lovett smiled slightly. She had been correct in her assumptions about the man's identity.
"So it is you," she whispered, leaning closer to the man sitting across from her, "Benjamin Barker."
"Where is Lucy? Where is my wife?"
Mrs. Lovett answered quickly, "Poisoned 'erself. Arsenic, from the apothecary 'round the corner. I tried to stop 'er, but she wouldn't listen to me."
The look on Benjamin Barker's face - his sunken, dark, skeletal face - was indescribable. Mrs. Lovett's heart ached for the man, but at the same time she hoped Lucy wasn't the only reason he returned. Benjamin took a deep breath - Mrs. Lovett couldn't imagine his pain. He opened his mouth as if to say something, but shut it quickly.
"And 'e's got our daughter," said Mrs. Lovett quietly.
"'He'? Judge Turpin?"
Mrs. Lovett nodded sadly.
"Fifteen years, I've sweated in a living hell, dreaming one day I might come home to a wife and child!" shouted Benjamin.
Mrs. Lovett, trying to find a way to pacify him, said, "It certainly is good to see you, Ben. Though I can't say the years 'ave been too particularly kind -"
"No," said Benjamin in a tone of deadly calm. "That man is dead. It's Todd now, Sweeney Todd. And he will have his revenge."
Mrs. Lovett stood up and smiled faintly at the man who had now declared himself as Todd.
"Well interesting choice of name, no doubt, but I don't suppose anyone'll recognize you, what with this white bit," she muttered, gesturing up at his hair. "Come on," she said, "I'll show you to your room."
They went outside into the darkness, finding the staircase more by memory than sight. When they reached the top, Mrs. Lovett took out a key she hadn't used for fifteen years, but remembered the feel of it in her hand. She pulled open the door, which creaked loudly from lack of use. She entered a room which had fallen into disrepair, the wallpaper peeling, the floorboards squeaking, and the windows positively plastered with dust. The large bay window on the slanted wall looked down onto the street below. Mrs. Lovett moved to it, taking out a handkerchief and wiping away fifteen years worth of dust. She turned back around to see where Todd was, but realized he was still standing in the doorway as if he were afraid of the ghosts he would encounter by entering the room.
"Come in, love. Ain't nothin' to be afraid of."
Todd walked into the room cautiously, looking in every corner, inspecting every bit of his old life that had been left behind. The bed he and Lucy had once shared was still on the far end of the room, Johanna's bassinet still sitting next to it. Mrs. Lovett saw the anguish Todd felt chill her very being. A good man like that shouldn't have to go through what he did. Todd walked toward the bassinet and uncovered it to find Johanna's favorite doll. Mrs. Lovett remember entertaining Johanna with it, and she wouldn't go anywhere without it. Mrs. Lovett bent down and cleared her throat loudly. Todd spun around and knelt down in front of her and helped her with the floorboard she was trying to pry up. She pulled out a box that Todd knew all too well.