The gloom of Fleet Street was nothing new for Mrs. Lovett, but for some reason it seemed especially depressing today. 'Not the best way to start out,' she thought to herself as she pulled herself back up the stairs to her pie shop. "Toby!" She called for him, it was time to get up.
"Yes Mum." He mumbled, showing no signs of getting out of bed.
"Toby." She said softer, ruffling his hair. "'Ow are we gonna open if you don't get up? Aren't you gonna help me today?"
He shook himself awake and jumped out of bed. "Yes Mum! So sorry!" He felt terrible for keeping her waiting, after all she'd done for him.
"S'alright, dear. I had a hard time getting up this morning, me'self." She swallowed hard, and it felt like a million of Mr. T's silver razors going down her throat. "I'm just gonna go make myself some tea, alright?" She made her way to the kitchen and poured herself a nice, hot cup. Sighing, she put her hand to her temple. "It's going to be a long day," she whispered to herself.
Mrs. Lovett jumped. "A customer!" She breathed, forcing herself up to greet the first of the day. "Toby!" She called again.
The boy was always good about greeting and serving customers, and took his job very seriously. When she was sure the customers, who were now beginning to trickle in, were in good hands, she slipped away to her room. "Get it together, woman." She stared at herself in the mirror. "No time for weakness." But before she knew it, she was waking up from a nap she'd never meant to take. "Augh." She rasped, her throat raw. She forced herself up and walked herself out to the shop. There was nobody there, and it was dark out. How long had she been asleep? Why hadn't Toby noticed?
"There you are, Mum!" She turned to find him coming in from the market. "I was gonna wake ya, but you just looked so tired! I've gotten everything you asked for. We did quite a business today!" He continued to chatter on but she had stopped hearing him.
"That's nice." She cut him off. "I think I'll just go check in on Mr. T." But when she stood up, she felt a sharp, stabbing pain in her chest. She tried to ignore it, but it grew worse with each step she took. She was getting dizzy, unable to breathe. "Tob-" she whispered, sinking to the floor, coughing hard.
"Mum!" Toby ran to her side. "Let me 'elp you!" He tried to pull her up but she shook her head.
"I'm alright, love." She tried to smile. "Would ya just go an' fetch Mr. T for me?"
He didn't say a word, just went flying up the stairs and into Sweeney's lair. "Mr. Todd!" He shouted, waking the barber from a peaceful rest.
Sweeney glared over at him, but didn't say a word.
"You must come quick! Downstairs, Mrs. Lovett needs ya!" He charged back down, looking back to make sure Sweeney was following him.
"Oh Mr. Todd," Nellie looked up at him from the floor. "I'm dreadfully sorry to bother ya, I just..my legs gave out on me..." She trailed off into another coughing fit.
Sweeney nodded, his expression unchanging. He scooped her up and carried her to her bed. She sighed, breathing him in. She'd never really felt how strong his arms were until now. But as soon as they'd rescued her, they were gone. He was gone. She closed her eyes, exhausted, and shivered.