Disclaimer: I do not own Sweeney Todd.

Mrs. Lovett was asleep on a cold autumn night when high-pitched, horrible laughter rang throughout her house.

It woke her up in an instant, sending terrible chills down her spine. She considered waking her husband for help, but decided against it. Instead, she lit a candle. She rose without waking Albert, put on a dressing gown over her nightie, and left her bedroom.

"Who is it?" she called, frightened.

There was no answer except laughter.

"Lucy, dear...? Is that you?" she whispered into the darkness of the hall that connected her flat with the Barker flat. "...Did you have fun at the party?"

At those words, the laughter abruptly choked off, which scared Mrs. Lovett more than the actual sound had. Black silence filled the hall. She raised the candle, but the person was hidden in shadow.

"I had a lovely time, Nellie" came Lucy's voice. It sounded strangely hoarse and crackled, as though she had been screaming.

As though she had been screaming...?

Mrs. Lovett took a step forward, raising the candle even higher. At last, her pretty young neighbor was bathed in light. And the sight was more horrible than Mrs. Lovett could have ever imagined.

Pink dress ripped, so badly she was holding it onto her body to cover herself. Rouge smeared. Alcohol spilled all down her front. Golden hair ripped out of its pins, damp and hanging wildly about her white face. Bloodstains on the knees of her stockings. A bite mark on her shoulder.

Lucy's hands were shaking so hard it looked painful. Her eyes were wide and blank, her chest heaving with rapid breaths. Her arms, neck, and left cheek were dotted with bruises (and heaven knows how many bruises she had, in other places). She was rocking back and forth slightly, tears leaking from her eyes.

And she was laughing.

Mrs. Lovett thought she was going to be sick.

"Oh my God, Lucy," she whispered slowly. "What happened to you?"

But she knew what had happened. Even if Mrs. Lovett hadn't known what kind of a man Judge Turpin was, it was obvious by the state of the woman what had happened.

"It's funny, Nellie. Isn't it funny?"

Mrs. Lovett just stared in horror.

"They laughed. They thought it was funny."

At that, Lucy began to laugh even harder. The out-of-control, strident sound bounced off the walls of the narrow hall.

She laughed so hard she couldn't breathe. She laughed so hard that saliva dribbled from her mouth onto the front of her ruined dress. She laughed so hard tears streamed from her eyes, leaving streaks of white in the dirt-and-rouge muck.

It was ghastly.

Mrs. Lovett found herself paralyzed as Lucy's insane smile slid off of her face, and turned to a look of disbelief and horror. Her hysterical giggles turned to heaving sobs. Her hands left her dress, letting it fall open and expose her torn chemise.

Lucy fell to her knees. And Mrs. Lovett didn't move and didn't shush her, not even when her whimpering morphed into full-blown screams of misery. Mrs. Lovett, shell-shocked, didn't comfort her.

She didn't know how.

Lucy, running her shaking fingers over the vicious bite mark on her shoulder, just screamed and screamed and screamed.