Disclaimer: "Sweeney Todd" characters property of Stephen Sondheim, Dreamworks, Warner Bros., et. al. Used here without permission for entertainment purposes and no profit is being made.
Any resemblance to elements of other works of fan fiction (e.g., words, phrases, scene elements) is entirely coincidental, since DojoGhost simply can't read everything that's out there. No plagiarism intended in any respect. To the best of my knowledge, this plot is my original work.
A/N: Welcome dear readers! I'm trying something completely new here and I'm not sure how it fits, so please review and let me know what's working and what isn't (in a nice way, of course).
Chapter 1 is up as well, so be sure to go and read that after the Prologue :)
Special Note: I'm in an exceedingly demanding program at school, plus I have a job at said school; so fair warning, updates will be sporadic at best. I'll do my level best to not write any evil cliffies ;)
What Manner of Dream?
"Johanna! Darling, I'm home!"
Anthony dumped his bag just inside the door, casting his gaze about for any sign of his wife. "Johanna?..."
It might be a good thing she wasn't answering him: it gave him time to approach the hall mirror and make sure the cut he'd received at work today wasn't too visible. It was only superficial – he'd laughed at it when it had happened; he'd had much worse when he'd been a sailor – but Johanna…she was so frail, so perpetually anxious in her mind, she'd surely think too much of it. It didn't look too bad, but as an extra precaution he pulled some hair into a strategic position to cover it.
He was grateful for his job at the shipyard. Nothing could compare to sailing the open ocean; but work at the Chicago Shipbuilding Company was steady and it paid well enough to support a small family. To be honest – Anthony mused as he went in search of his wife – he'd been grateful they'd even been able to get out of England. Scotland Yard had been most emphatically displeased when he'd insisted on getting Johanna out of the country; but thankfully a sympathetic physician intervened. The young woman's mental state was such that an abrupt and absolute change was in dire order, lest it begin to take a toll on her physical health as well. With a promise to keep in touch and return if needed, Anthony had spirited his beloved away on the American-bound vessel of a good friend from the Merchant Navy who'd branched out into private enterprise. That man, as ship's captain, had performed the wedding ceremony on board. He'd also arranged for Anthony to find work at the brand-new and promising CSC, building steel-hulled ships.
She wasn't anywhere downstairs, so Anthony ascended to the small second floor, calling "Johanna?" as he went and soon regretting it, because he spotted her lying on their bed, turned on her side, sound asleep to judge by her deep, even breathing.
He grimaced, guilty for doing anything that might disturb her. The doctor said she needed rest. Sometimes Anthony wasn't so sure of that…the nightmares she had…the times she'd wake up screaming, as if she were being murdered right that moment, in her own bed…
"No, Anthony…they never go away…"
That was what she'd said. And she'd been right. Anthony ground his teeth at the thought that he had been the one to take her to that madman's lair…he had been the one to almost get her killed…Johanna had told him that only a woman's scream had stopped the barber from ripping her throat that night…
"Are you certain it was Mr. Todd?" he'd asked her – many times – and she'd always answered identically each and every time – the man had started to shave Turpin, so he had to have been the barber; and his weapon of choice was a razor. Then she described him to Anthony, quaking as she did so – the pallor of the man's skin, contrasted with the reeking crimson of her guardian's blood; his jetty hair and eyes, like ebony ice; his gravelly voice as he sneered, with mock cheerfulness, "Everyone needs a good shave…"
Anthony hadn't been able to believe it at first. Mr. Todd. It seemed impossible. He'd known the man to be taciturn and tense, even to have a good strong temper. But this?...And that woman he lived with…God, what they'd done…what the constables had found…
Anthony squared his jaw, entered the room, and sat gingerly on the edge of the bed, careful not to wake his precious Johanna. She was muttering in her sleep, her brow crinkling, her breath coming more raggedly. Another nightmare. Anthony sighed and reached out, tenderly stroking her lovely yellow hair.
"Maybe the ghosts don't go away," he said softly, his own forehead creasing with determination. "But I'll keep you safe from them, darling. I promise you."
He leaned down to brush her cheek with his lips, and smiled when she calmed at his touch.
"I promise you."