It had been two days since Toby had seen Belle. She hadn't returned to him the previous day like she had promised but he was not angry with her, he simply had the thought that her aunt found out and had forbade her from leaving for house for sometime. He prayed it wouldn't last long and that she would be back.
In the late hour of the morning, Toby wasn't expecting many customers so, when he heard the door open, he was surprised. An older man came walking in and Toby realized that he had never seen him before.
"Hello, sir," Toby said from behind the counter. "Can I help you with anything? Care for a pie?"
The old man shook his head, "No, thank you, son. I came to deliver a message," the old man fumbled through his coat pockets and pulled out a letter. He placed it on the counter in front of Toby.
"Oh, thank you," Toby said as he opened the letter.
"The Madame was worried that you couldn't read. She was going to 'ave me read it to you!" The man laughed.
"Oh, I learned a while ago," Toby smiled and looked down at the letter.
It has been called to my attention that you and my niece have the gull to spend time with one another without a single soul knowing it. I am not sure how long this has been going on but it needs to cease at this very moment. I refuse to allow my niece to spend her days alone with a total stranger whom I know nothing about- but, I am willing to let her spend time with someone who I am well acquainted with. I believe my niece very much enjoys your company and I can't help but think you feel the same way. For this very reason, I am inviting you to spend this evening with us in our home. Dinner will begin promptly at six o' clock. I expect you no later or I will forbid Mr. Josephs to open the door for you.
~ Ms. Elizabeth Marsden
"Do you think you can come to dinner?" Mr. Josephs asked when Toby finished and had set the letter down.
"Of course! Tell her thank you for the invitation," Toby said.
Mr. Josephs gave him a quick bow. "I will, sir!" And soon, Mr. Josephs had left.
Toby took the letter and went into the other room and did, what looked like, a dance of happiness.
Wait! Does this mean I am courting Isabelle? And all I need is her aunt's approval? Toby thought. He was unsure of his and Belle's situation but whatever it was, it was just going to get better from here if he made a good impression to her aunt.
Toby decided to close up shop so he can spend all day preparing for the dinner. He ran up to his room with the biggest grin on his face. Once he was in his room, he began ransacking his wooden chest filled with his clothes; there weren't very many. He began to become frustrated when he realized that he had nothing that would reach Ms. Elizabeth Marsden's standard of what was dinner attire and what wasn't. He did find something that would have to do, though. He found a black vest, a white shirt for underneath and a pair of black trousers. The nicest shoes he had were his black leather boots. When he put his outfit together, he thought he looked presentable for dinner and that's exactly how he wanted to be.
Belle quickly went downstairs so she can check the time for the fifth time in the past hour.
"Isabelle, do not run! If you fall down, you'll be sorry," Aunt Elizabeth warned when she heard heavy footsteps descending down the stairs.
"Sorry!" Belle said as she hurriedly skipped into the drawing room to see the clock. It was half past five.
"Don't skip around either; your dress is far too long, you may trip and greet him with a black eye," her aunt said.
Belle sighed and looked down at her dress. She had chosen a lovely shade of blue that matched her eyes and looked well with her blonde hair, which was in a lovely up do with strands of curls falling on the side.
"You look nice, Isabelle." "Oh, thank you, Aunt Elizabeth. I hope he thinks so, as well," Belle blushed.
Toby stood in front of the door, motionless. He had suddenly lost all confidence in himself and couldn't even get himself to knock on the door. He did not want to let Belle down though, so he closed his eyes tightly and knocked on the door, prepared for whatever was to come.
The familiar Mr. Josephs answered the door. "'Ello, Mr. Ragg!"
"Hello, Mr. Josephs," Toby greeted, smiling because he just noticed that the old man had the same cockney accent that Mrs. Lovett had.
"The ladies are in the drawing room. I'll announce your arrival. Follow me." Mr. Josephs told him as he began walking. Toby nodded and followed Mr. Josephs slowly because he was in awe of the house. He noticed that the staircase railing had carvings all along the sides and the walls held portraits that he thought only existed in churches. Then again, this was the first time he had been in someone's house. Maybe all upper class had paintings like that.
Mr. Josephs stopped abruptly in front of a door way and announced, "Mr. Tobias Ragg is here."
Belle shot up from her seat and saw Toby standing next to Mr. Josephs. She thought Toby was the most handsome man she had ever laid eyes upon. Aunt Elizabeth could never feel the same way. She was already horrified with his outfit of choice because never in all her years had she seen a man show up to dinner wearing an old, worn out looking coat, vest, shirt and trousers. She thought his boots were horrendous, as well. She saw that he did have an attractive face and his hair was styled nicely so, she admired his effort in that, at least.
Toby wanted to run up Isabelle at that very moment and shower her with compliments on how beautiful she looked. He used common sense, though and went up to her, bowed, kissed her un-bandaged hand and told her that she looked beautiful beyond words.
Belle giggled. "Thank you, Toby-""Ahem!" "Oh, thank you, Mr. Ragg," Belle corrected when she heard her aunt's ahem of disapproval.
"You're welcome, Miss Marsden," Toby smiled and turned to Belle's aunt. "You must be Isabelle's aunt. It's a pleasure to meet you and thank you so much for the invitation."
Aunt Elizabeth merely smiled and began walking out of the room. "Shall we all make our way to the dining room?"
"Oh, yes," Toby answered and held his arm out to Belle, who gladly took it.
"So, Mr. Ragg, tell me, is business well?" Aunt Elizabeth asked Toby, who was seated across from her next to Belle.
Toby finished cutting a slice of ham for himself and answered, "Business is wonderful. Since I reopened the shop, I've been getting a lot of business. Customers from all over London come just to have one of my pies," he said proudly.
Aunt Elizabeth wasn't impressed. "And how much do you make?"
Belle's knife skid across her plate, making an awful sound, as she cut a piece of ham. "Aunt Elizabeth that is certainly not a question one should ask," she muttered.
Brushing aside Belle's comment, Aunt Elizabeth continued to question Toby. "Well?" She asked, waiting for her answer.
Toby, who was already uncomfortable, answered confidently. "I make more than enough to get by."
"Good answered," Belle whispered to him with a smile.
"I thought so," Toby whispered back.
"And where do you live? Surely you don't live far from here. Isabelle never mentioned you had a home because the times she spends with you had been in the shop," Aunt Elizabeth asked as she took a sip of her wine.
"It's because the shop is home," Toby simply stated.
Aunt Elizabeth almost spat out here wine. "What?" She asked in utter disbelief.
"The shop is my home. The pie shop downstairs has the front room where the counter is and from that room, you can go to the outdoor seating area through the side door and then there's also another room which you can say is like my own personal drawing room. The barber shop is upstairs and it's a very large room so the far end of the room is where my bed and belongings are," Toby explained.
"I see…" Aunt Elizabeth muttered.
"This is a lovely house, by the way," Toby complimented.
"Oh, thank you."
Aunt Elizabeth was silent the rest of dinner and instead, watched Toby and Belle chat back and forth and laugh quietly with one another about who knows what. She could see that they fancied one another but she wasn't sure if she approved of the idea of Isabelle ever marrying him if he asked and it wasn't just because of Toby's social status or living conditions, it was also because she saw darkness in him. She didn't know why she felt that why but something told her that there was something off about this man. It was something that could be potentially dangerous but then again, she could be wrong.
"Well, I hate to rush off and leave such lovely company but I'm afraid I have to go," Toby announced as he stood from his spot next to Belle in the drawing room.
Belle stood, "It was a wonderful evening, Toby,"
"Indeed," Aunt Elizabeth said as she stood from her seat.
"I enjoyed myself very much. Thank you for everything," Toby said as he walked to the front door. Mr. Josephs had been holding the door open for him since Toby announced his leave.
"I'm sure we'll see one another soon, Mr. Ragg," Aunt Elizabeth said as she quickly went upstairs. "Isabelle, come along!"
"Oh, coming!" Isabelle said. She turned to Toby, "Goodbye, Toby," "Goodbye, Isabelle," Toby smiled and walked out the door, saying his goodbye to Mr. Josephs on the way out.
Toby walked away from the house grinning like a fool. He was in love with Isabelle Marsden. So in love in fact, that he heard her voice saying his name with each step his took.
"Toby! Toby, wait!"
Oh, maybe he wasn't imagining. He turned around and saw Isabelle running after him and before he knew it, she was in his arms and was kissing him. He returned her kisses with kissed filled with passion and longing. When the two pulled away, they were both breathless for air.
"You're aunt could very well be watching us from a window," Toby said with a breathy laugh.
"Oh, I honestly don't care right now," Belle smiled.
"Well, I do because I don't want her locking you up in the house for all eternity,"
"Oh, I supposed you're right. Goodnight, then. I shall try to see you as soon as I can."
Toby smiled and kissed Belle once before she ran back to her house. Toby happily made his way home and drifted off into a deep sleep.
Toby turned and saw Belle staggering over to him.
"Belle! What's wrong?" He said, running up to her. She stared at him and was trembling and suddenly, her dressed was covered in blood and she collapsed to the ground.
"Isabelle ?!" He screamed and knelt beside her. Then, a darker figure appeared behind him. Toby angrily turned around, knowing who it was.
"Why would you do this?!" Toby screamed at the figure.
The figure grinned and spoke with the low sinister voice that had haunted Toby since he was a child, "I did not do this, boy. You did."
"I would never do this! It was you! You murdered her just like you murdered Mrs. Lovett and everyone else!" Toby cried but then, he felt something in his hand. He slowly looked down and saw a bloody barber knife in his hand and realized his shirt was covered in blood; Belle's blood. Frightened even more, he threw it across the room. Toby sunk even lower to the ground and buried his face in Belle's blonde hair.
"I would never do this to anyone! I am not you, Sweeney Todd!" He hysterically cried.
The figure spoke, "Ah, that is what you think, Toby. What you don't realize is you are becoming me. Slowly but surely, those you know will slip away …"
"No!" Toby screamed as he awakened. He was breathing heavily and was covered in his own sweat.
"Oh, God," he breathed as he lifted the covers off of him and sat at the side of his bed. His hands were trembling just as they were in his dream, which felt far too real and he hated himself for allowing his mind to wander off into an evil place such as that. He sat in silence for a few minutes and tried to clear his mind. Once he composed himself, he lay back down in bed and closed his eyes, praying earnestly to not have another dream similar to the one before.