Well I am back with this my second fic. I have absolutely no idea where this came from but ever since I had the idea it has just continued to grow and grow. And now here is the first chapter. Not much happens in this chapter but seeing as a lot of this fic is about my OC I thought I needed to introduce her properly. I hope you all enjoy it. I will try to reply to every review that I gain.
I'd just like tp say a big thanks to my lovely Beta Bellatrix Nellie Le-Lovett for checking over this for me. If you haven't read her stuff you should. It's fab :)
DISCLAIMER: I, sadly, do not own Sweeney Todd, Mrs. Lovett or any of the other characters from the movie.
Chapter 1 – Ten Years and Eleven Months
She didn't know how, but she'd done it. Despite the usually drunk husband, the arrest of her tenant, his wife going mad, losing Joanna, and the death of her husband, Nellie Lovett had managed to raise her daughter into a beautiful young woman.
Looking at her now as she glided around the shop, glowing with life and youth, Nellie couldn't believe she had any part in creating this angel. But then of course, the girl's father had a lot to do with it.
Nellie had often found it strange how the girl had begun to look less and less like her and more and more like him as she grew older. As a young child, she was the spitting image of her mother, dark auburn hair that fell in tight, frizzy ringlets, almost white skin, and always shorter than other children of her age. But as she got older, her hair fell from its ringlets to soft chocolate waves and loose curls, her skin brightened and now looked like porcelain and she grew taller, now standing a few inches above Nellie. There was one thing however that never changed, her eyes, her father's in every respect. Big, brown and beautiful. Nellie had often feared they'd give away her true paternity but somehow no, she remained the only person apart from her late husband who knew that Caroline Lovett's father was in fact Benjamin Barker not Albert Lovett, not even Caroline knew, not even the man himself had known before he was arrested.
Sometimes Nellie couldn't help but get distracted by watching her daughter like this; she reminded her so much of her father. She watched her closely as she floated round the shop clearing plates and filling tumblers of ale, chatting happily with customers as she went. That was another thing she'd inherited from her mother, her inability to be quiet. She was always talking to, or more commonly at, someone. Nellie could trace pretty much all of her personality traits; she was loyal and hard working, something which she could see in both herself and the girl's father, she had a knack of knowing when good manners were required and when light hearted joking was called for, something she definitely got from her father, but she could also be terribly disorganised and chaotic, which were without question the traits she inherited from her. However, there was one side of her she'd never been able to work out. Caroline could be, when she wanted to be, cold, distant, temperamental and quick to judge. Nellie had never been like this, she was always ready to give anyone a chance; admittedly she held grudges if anyone abused that, but she never pre-judged, and as far as she was aware, neither had her father. However, she rarely saw this side and thanked God for that, she had to admit, she didn't particularly like that side of her daughter, she always felt slightly unnerved when she got in one of her moods.
"Mum?" a voice brought Nellie back form her thoughts, "Mum, can yer fill tha' up fer me?" Caroline asked from the other side of the counter as she passed the empty ale jug across to Nellie.
"Oh, sorry love. Miles away." She replied, taking the jug and turning to the barrel behind her to refill it. She wiped the back of her hand across her forehead; she hadn't even noticed Caroline approaching the counter.
"Yeh, I could see." Caroline joked, a cheeky grin on her plump lips. Nellie turned back around and handed her the full jug.
"Ain't yer ol' mum aloud ter let 'er mind drift away from time ter time?" She asked, placing her hand on her lower back and bending over as if to look old and stiff, "I work too 'ard fer me age I do dearie." She added in a croaky voice.
Caroline paused thoughtfully for a moment, a serious expression on her face before grinning and replying "Nope" as she span round and lost herself once again in the mass of dinnertime customers.
Nellie shook her head despairingly before turning back to rolling out a large pile of pastry, glancing up every now and again to catch a glimpse of her daughter attending to one customer or another. She smiled proudly as she began to beat the stubborn pastry with her rolling pin, eyes not on the direction the object was being flung in, but on Caroline as she dealt with one of the regular drunks.
Most mothers would jump to the defence of their fifteen year old daughter as a fat old drunk grabbed their wrist, but Nellie had taught the girl well, and now simply watched as Caroline whipped round, pretending to be pulled by the force of the man's grip, and poured half of the newly filled ale jug into his lap. She had to stifle a laugh as the cursing man quickly released Caroline's wrist and tried desperately to brush the liquid from his trousers. This of course didn't work and only made it worse. With the man suitably dealt with, Caroline turned and swiftly made her way to the other side of the shop, a badly suppressed grin plastered across her face.
Nellie chucked, her eyes locking with Caroline's for a moment as the girl glanced over in her direction, a smile still lighting up her pretty face, before she turned back to a customer again, filling their tumblers with the now half empty jug of ale.
A loud thud drew Nellie's attention away from Caroline and back to the rolling pin which she'd just succeeded in bringing down heavily on the top of the counter, completely missing the rather battered looking pastry. Frowning, Nellie glanced up to see the customers on the nearest tables watching her, expressions of bewilderment on most of their faces. Smiling slightly at them, she dropped her rolling pin and tried to gather the pastry into one pile again, peeling the beaten strands carefully from the top of the counter.
"Get a bit carried away did yer?" Caroline's amused voice came from the side of the counter. Nellie cocked her head to the side just in time to see Caroline disappear into the short corridor between the shop and the kitchen with a stack of plates balanced on each arm. Chuckling, Nellie took up the knife lying on the counter by the mixing bowl and began to scrape desperately at the counter top, peeling sticky flakes of pastry slowly off and adding them to the big pile.
A few moments later, Caroline reappeared at the side of the counter, arms folded across her chest. "We're runnin' out o' pies." She commented thoughtfully as she watched her mother's continuing battle with the pastry, "We only got one tray left. I wanted what we 'ad this mornin' ter last tomorrow lunch as well. No chance o' tha' 'appenin' now." She added, sniffing and frowning as she watched her mum get more and more agitated with the pastry.
Nellie stopped scraping the counter top and looked up at her daughter, "Don't worry love. We'll sort it out I promise." She tried to reassure her daughter, but in truth, not really knowing what they would do. A girl of fifteen years shouldn't have to worry about whether money was coming in, or more often not coming in, however her fifteen year old did. Business was slow and meat prices were ever rising, meaning pies were limited and a busy evening meant rations for the next day. Of course they very rarely got these busy days. Nellie continued to look at Caroline until a smile appeared on her lips.
"Maybe we should put Mrs. Mooney out of business and steal all the local cats." Caroline commented, a mischievous glint in her brown eyes. Nellie chuckled, turning back to her beaten pastry.
"If ya like love. But I ain't going ter be the one who 'as ter chase 'em round an' catch 'em. Them pussy cats is quick yer know!" She said as she scraped at a particularly stubborn blob of pastry, "'An besides, I don't 'ave the 'eart ter stand 'an chop 'em up. Would you?" She asked her daughter, briefly glancing up to look in her face.
Caroline frowned and pouted slightly, an adorable pout that resembled the one her father wore whenever he was thinking about something. "S'pose not." She chuckled, resting one hand on the counter and the other on her hip, "I'd want ter keep 'em all anyway." She added with a smile and a longing glance at her mum.
"Yer not 'avin' a cat." She said bluntly, repeating the same answer she'd given her daughter every other time she'd hinted, or asked straight out, whether they could have a pet cat.
The smile disappeared from Caroline's face to be replaced with a frown, "Why not though. It'd get rid of our rat problem." She said, lowering her voice over the last sentence to avoid the customers hearing. Nellie stopped scraping and looked quickly round to see if anyone had heard Caroline's comment. Luckily, it appeared it had gone unnoticed.
"We do not 'ave a rat problem, just a slight one with persistent bugs with death wishes." She said quietly, "An' even I know cats don't eat bugs, no matter how abundant they appear to be."
Caroline couldn't help but laugh at this comment, "What if we mysteriously acquired a rat problem?" she asked innocently, eyebrows raised and eyes wide. She watched her mum frown and slowly turn her head to face her. Biting her lip, she tried to stop herself smiling at Nellie's expression.
"An' how may I ask, are you thinkin' we'd acquire this 'mysterious rat problem' eh?" she asked, eyebrows raised and head cocked to one side, a teasing glint twinkling in her hazel eyes. Caroline lost her innocent look momentarily as she tried to desperately come up with an excuse for the sudden appearance of many many rats taking up residence in their shop. Eventually, her frown disappeared and was replaced by the innocent smile again.
"Lots of rain." Caroline said simply, "And lots of rats looking for shelter?" She added slowly, her answer not sounding quite as convincing out in the open as it had in her head. Nellie laughed and pushed the girl on the shoulder in the direction of the waiting customers.
"Get on with some work Caddie." She said affectionately, "An' yer not 'avin' a cat." She added as the girl collected her jug of ale from and empty table and resumed her rounds.
It was usually late by the time the shop had been closed up for the night and was tidy for the next day. Nellie was very meticulous in making sure everything was left in such away for maximum ease the next morning. The reason for this was not so they could get the shop open as early as possible, although this was a lucky advantage of her system, but so Nellie could get out of bed as late as she could in the mornings. When Nellie was satisfied with the tidiness of the shop and the preparations for the next day, the two girls would retire to the parlour, enjoying the prospect of an evening on front of a roaring fire to help them relax.
This night was no exception, and saw Nellie stretched out on her favourite chair in front the fire with her feet on the foot stall and Caroline curled up on the couch with a thick novel. Nellie sighed contentedly, the gentle crackling of the fire lulling her into a light doze. Caroline looked up at her mother, smiling amusedly.
"What ya grinnin' abou' Caddie?" Nellie asked, eyes still closed. Caroline frowned and closed her novel, balancing it carefully on the armrest of the couch.
"'Ow did yer know I was grinnin'?" She asked, fidgeting to get comfy on the old sofa. She watched as her mother smiled and opened one eye.
"I got eyes in the back of me 'ead." She replied, closing her eyes again. Caroline stifled a laugh, trying to keep her voice from showing her amusement.
"The back of your 'ead's against the 'ead rest. Even if yer did 'ave eyes there, yer wouldn't be able ter see me." She commented, uncurling her legs and stretching them down the couch.
Nellie paused for a moment, a frown making its way over her forehead, "They're more on the side than the back, so they can still see yer missy, even when me 'ead's on the 'ead rest." She said, smiling slightly but still keeping her eyes closed.
"Right, right, course." Caroline said, shaking her head as she picked up her novel again and flicked back to the page she was reading. A few minutes of comfortable silence pursued before either broke it.
"Yer never told me what yer was smiling abou'." Nellie said, shifting so she was resting more on her side. Caroline looked up from her book.
"No, ya distracted me by telling me the immensely fascinating tale of yer extra eyes." She said, smiling up cheekily at her mum. Catching the teasing in her voice, Nellie opened her eyes and looked straight at her daughter, only to see a mischievous grin on her lips that lit up her face so prettily.
"Well my tale 'as finished so ya can tell me now." She said, transfixed by the glint in Caroline's eyes.
"Forgotten it now." She replied flippantly with a dismissive wave of her hand. She loved winding her mum up, it was so easy, and the long dark nights sped by quicker when filled with their carefree laughter.
Nellie frowned and sat up straighter, "Well get thinkin' missy, I can't be amusin' yer during the day, I want yer workin' not loungin' round grinnin' at me." She said, stretching her arms up into the air.
Caroline smiled, rubbing her forehead with her hand to hide it from her mum, "Yer amuse me during the day anyway. We spend more time laughin' an' jokin' an' singin' in the shop than we do actually workin'." She replied, shaking her head at her mum's comment.
At this comment, Nellie stifled a grin, lying back against the chair and closing her eyes again, "Excuse me. But I think we work just as much as we laugh, joke and sing. It's what I like ter call an 'ealthy balance." And with that she sighed contentedly and sunk down in the chair, an almost smug grin on her lips.
Running her thin hand through her hair, brushing gently across her frowning forehead with each comb of her fingers through the tangled tresses, Caroline looks down at the photograph balanced on one knee, drinking in every tiny detail as if she may have missed something one of the other hundreds of times she assumed this position on the end of her bed. Sighing, she propped the elbow of her free hand on her knee and rested her chin in the palm, knocking the photograph fluttering to the floor as she did so. With a frown, she left off her hair combing and stretched down to retrieve it before placing it back on her empty knee. Her mind was absent of all thoughts and pictures apart from the photograph in front of her at that moment. Slowly she rolled her chin from side to side in her palm, her eyes never leaving the creased eyes of the smiling man on the page. She never much liked his expression in this picture. But then again, it was the only picture she had of him, apart from the awful, staged head shot in the shop, and she definitely couldn't remember his usual day to day expression, so for all she could tell, maybe this was his day to day expression. Her gaze fell from his eyes to his curled lips, lack of defined chin and over his bulging chest and abdomen, slowly tracing down over his short legs before finishing at his feet stood firmly on the wooden floor.
Today, the 18th May 1846, marked one month until the 11th anniversary of the death of her father, Albert Lovett. Ten years and eleven months she had lived without him. This photograph and the scarce and shaky memories were all she had left of him. He was a man of little meaningful possessions, owning only a few trinkets that had been lost over the years since his death. Gently, Caroline ran her thumb across the photograph, dislodging the fine covering of dust from its settling place.
Sat here staring at the man who was her father, she felt not love or grief for his loss, only curiosity. She was barely over four and a half years old when the man passed away, meaning her recollections of him were few and far between. But it wasn't the lack of memories that confused her, but those memories themselves. She'd never asked her mother about them and whether they were true or mere stories and twisted memories from her childhood, she discussed most things with her, but not this.
The thing that baffled her the most was the way her father acted around her. Her mother had always told her that Albert was a kind, loving, attentive father; however, that description was almost the complete opposite to what she could remember. He was not unkind or cruel; he never laid a finger on her in a harmful way, but he was often awkward around her, on occasions ignoring her completely, and she wouldn't describe any of his actions towards her that she could remember as loving.
Slowly, she slumped back, laying herself on the bed, her arms coming to rest above her head as one of the most vivid memories she had of her father drifted through her mind.
It was late. Caroline knew this not because she could hear the clock chiming and work the hour out from that, no, Caroline did not know the hour, only that it was a late one. The real reason Caroline knew that it was late was the fact that the room was dark. She was perched, legs swinging slowly, on the end of a bench pulled out from underneath a table in the middle of the shop, and from her vantage point, a small flickering candle held carefully in her hands in her lap, she could she neither the corridor down to the parlour or the shop front door. And this was how she knew it was late.
Her mother had left her here with the task of looking after the candle, while she brought the last batch of pies up from the bake house ready for the early morning customers the following day. Not wanting to let her mother down, Caroline's gaze fell back to the candle cradled carefully in her lap, her small tubby fingers fitting perfectly round the circular base of the brass holder.
Caroline sighed heavily, her leg swinging picking up in pace until she realised it was making the flame flicker, so quickly ceased her movements and sat perfectly still. A loud crash followed my muffled yelling drifted from the direction of the bake house. The little girl frowned wondering what her mum was getting up to. A few moments of silence pursued and Caroline deliberated going down and seeing what had happened until she remembered her strict instructions.
"Wait 'ere Caddie. Sit 'ere on this bench." Her mother had said, helping her daughter up onto the bench, "And look after me candle for me. Can ya do tha'? Make sure it doesn't go out Caddie, and I'll be back as soon as I get the tray o' pies, understand?" To these instructions, Caroline had nodded frantically and taken the candle carefully in her little hands, cradling it as if it may break.
And here she still was, sat on the bench with the burning candle still in her hands resting in her lap. Becoming fidgety, she began to rock her head slowly side to side, finding the way the shadows cast on the floor by the small flickering flame amusing from different angles. Silence still hung over the shop; there was still no sign of her mother and no more sounds coming from the bake house. Sniffing quietly, Caroline slumped her shoulders, annoyed at how long her mother was making her wait.
However, she didn't have to wait much longer for a sound, only this one was not from the bake house, but from the shop front door. Caroline sat bolt upright again, the little flame bouncing around in her lap. She heard heavy boots step into the shop before the door was pushed shut loudly. Licking her lips nervously, she squinted into the shadows, trying to work out who the intruder was. Unlike expected, there were no footsteps the followed the entrance of the person, no one walked across the shop floor as Caroline had thought they would. The only sound that could be heard was ragged heavy breathing from the door. A sudden voice, croaky and slurred made her jump so that the candle slipped from her grasp and straight onto the floor, the waxy floorboards extinguishing the flame immediately.
"Nell." The voice said, slowly and with great difficulty. There was a pause filled with gasping breaths before the voice came again, louder and more impatient this time, "Nellie." Caroline swallowed, she knew this voice.
"Papa." She called softly, her eyes searching in the darkness for the man she knew was there but could not see. There was another silence, the breathing from the door slowing down and becoming less raspy.
"Caroline? What are ya doing up at this time?" The man asked, his voice slurred and slow. There was a pause as Caroline tried to work out what she was doing up at this time.
"Ma went down ter the bake 'ouse an' told me ter wait 'ere." She said, wishing her father would come over and help her find her candle and then help her relight it so she didn't get in trouble with her mum. There was a long pause where neither said anything; the air was filled with laboured breathing and the smell of whiskey. After a few moments, there was a loud shuffling from over by the door as Albert tried to walk into the shop without the aid of a person or a candle. "Der yer feel better now?" Caroline asked quietly when the shuffling paused. She could not see where her father was, but she could tell by where his voice came from that he was no longer by the door.
"What der ya mean feelin' better?" He asked, before a thud came from the same place as his voice had. Caroline decided he must be by the counter and the thud was him leaning back against it to take the weight off his bad leg.
"Well." The girl started, "Ma says tha' yer go ou' and have drinks tha' make yer feel better, tha's why were go out to in the evenin's, ter go an' 'ave them drinks." She explained innocently, her tired voice wavering slightly, "So I were just wonderin' whether yer was feelin' better now yer've 'ad yer drinks."
Again there was a pause, this time awkward and drawn out. Eventually Caroline heard Albert sniff before he answered with a slurred and quiet, "Much better." The shuffling commenced again, signalling the Albert was leaving - as hastily as his leg would let him - Caroline's company. The little girl squinted into the darkness, trying to see where her father was, but seeing only thick shadows around her. A few minutes passed in this way before the shuffling became muffled, alerting Caroline to the fact that her father had left the shop and was now nicely cocooned in the parlour.
Caroline sighed, her mother would be cross with her for dropping the candle. Carefully, she leant forward to look over the edge of her knees and onto the floor. She could just about make out the shadowy mass of the candle and its holder but she didn't dare hop off the bench and retrieve it, just in case her mother returned while she was on the floor. And even if she didn't return, and Caroline retrieved the candle and repositioned herself on the bench, she wouldn't have a reason for the flame being out. At least if the candle was on the floor, she had an excuse. So, accepting the fact that she would be in trouble when her mother returned, she slumped her shoulders once again and started her leg swinging once more, not having to worry about being too vigorous for the delicate flame anymore.
Caroline groaned as her back began to ache from the awkward position she was currently lying in. With a deep breath and a pained frown, she pushed herself up on her elbows and heaved herself back into a sitting position on the end of her bed. Running a hand across her face she sighed, her father couldn't be as bad as she remembered him being otherwise her mother wouldn't have described him as she did. There must have been happy days when he doted over her and played with her; there must have been. Mustn't there?
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