A/N: This is how I would have ended Sweeney Todd. Well, okay, maybe not....the original ending is pretty darn good, although sad. But this is how I would have liked for it to have ended.

Five big waltz steps and she would be in the oven. He could almost feel the heat radiating from it, although it was a little hard to separate the oven's heat from the warmth of the woman he held so vice-like in his arms. He loathed her, despised her for the deceit she was capable of. As they waltzed towards the flickering flames, he thought of what sweet revenge it would be to hear her screams.

Three steps. She looked so blissfully unaware of the fate that was about to befall her. Todd struggled against the urge to just attempt throwing her into the fire from there, remembering the one useful thing the woman had taught him: wait.....

One step and it would be finished. Nellie Lovett's eyes opened in confusion when she felt the fire's heat, and that confusion quickly turned to fear as she realized what her 'love' had in store for her. Before he could push her away, her hands clenched around his shirt collar, pleading silently with him to spare her. He was forced to look her straight in the face, and he stared down at her helpless expression with her eyes so full of terror -- and love.

The next thing Sweeney knew, his lips had met with hers, and he was kissing her with a hungry passion as all-consuming as the flames that danced behind her. For a moment, she continued to clutch his shirt, terrified that this was merely another trick to catch her off-guard, but in almost no time she had melted into his embrace, returning the kiss. Fleeting images and memories raced across his mind; the way she was always putting him ahead of everything else, the first time he had taken her to bed, the almost childlike rapture on her face when she spoke of the sea, the silly way she played that harmonium every evening, the look in her eyes when he found out the truth about Lucy --

"No!" he shouted suddenly, tearing himself away from her and practically throwing her aside. She quickly righted herself and moved as far from the oven as she could, once again frightened by the mood swings of this angry tyrant of a lover. "You lied...." he repeated for what felt like the tenth time that night, his eyes never leaving her face.

For once, she was silent. There was no chattering out silly excuses, no rattling on her reasonings. Just silence. After a long moment with only the crackling flames to greet their ears, she said quietly, "Would you have been happier knowing the truth?"

His first instinct was to answer yes, but he stopped for a moment to think. He had planned for only one of two things; coming home to find Lucy and Johanna waiting for him, or to find his wife dead of grief. The possibility of her being a lunatic never even entered his mind. Lately, he had even come to terms with her death and with losing Johanna. All he wanted was his revenge on the Beadle and the Judge; he didn't even have a very strong desire to see his daughter anymore. His life had begun to fall into place again, and he had even allowed Nellie Lovett to enter his heart, although he did make sure to keep her on the outskirts. He had held a vague idea of using his razors for their given purpose after they disposed of the Judge; between the money already coming in from the meat pies and the profits he would make as a barber, they could afford to buy real meat to put in the pies. As long as they could have kept Toby from telling, and as long as no one started to really believe the beggar woman...

Suddenly, the cold hard truth hit him. He could never have loved Lucy as the crazy hag she had become. He was still in love with the pure, beautiful young woman he had been taken away from fifteen years ago. He had loved her for her beauty and her virtues, but he had never loved her personality. She was a meek, obedient, quiet wife. She hardly spoke, hardly ever even left her sewing by the window, but he had been content to watch her in all her pristine loveliness. But without her beauty, would he have loved her?

"No." Sweeney answered finally, allowing his clenched fists to drop to his sides, and he had to fight back the tears threatening to sting at his eyes when he realized the truth about his feelings. "No."

Mrs. Lovett relaxed visibly, and she began to step towards him carefully, still keeping a safe distance from the oven. "I never hated her." she said quietly, her eyes slightly downcast. "I...I resented her, because you loved her and I was just the landlady.....and I loved you..." Her voice cracked slightly, but she went on. "And she just....she was nothing but beauty. She didn't even want a child! Of course she loved Johanna once the little girl was born, but....she never even acted like she loved you, just sat there, she wasn't happy and she told me she didn't like it here, and....I'd be twice the wife she was!" she finished desperately, repeating the argument she had used minutes earlier. She stopped moving forwards and stood there, waiting to either be accepted or shunned.

For the first time in fifteen years, Sweeney realized he had been loving something that didn't really exist. He had been in love with Lucy's beauty, with her charm, but....she had never been a wife to him. She had been a bauble, a trinket to show off and to put on a shelf to look at. When Judge Turpin and the Beadle coveted that ornament and sent him away, he burned with a vengeance born not of love, but of jealousy. All those years in prison camp, as he learned to appreciate things for more than just their outward appearances, he had been wanting a wife to come home to. And he had unknowingly found that in Nellie Lovett.

"Nellie...." he started, surprising her by using her first name out loud. She took another step towards him and opened her mouth to speak, her eyes tearing slightly as she realized she was being forgiven. But before she could utter a word, a door slamming upstairs combined with voices interrupted her, and Mr. Todd grabbed her hand.

"They can't find us." he said, pulling her towards the steps that led down to the catacombs. For a moment, she didn't move, shock and joy mixed on her face in a wondering smile. "Now!" he ordered, although his tone lacked the fierceness if usually held. She obeyed silently, but not before stopping to pull Judge Turpin's full change purse from his pocket and tucking it down the front of her dress. Eminently practical and yet appropriate as always....

Sweeney Todd turned to look at his dead Lucy one last time where she lay on the bake house floor, but he no longer saw any trace of beauty on her pale, aged face. With that last look, he turned and descended the steps that would lead to freedom and a peaceful life by the seaside, shutting the door firmly behind him.