Author's Note: Good evening everyone! I am back with a brand new story! I realize that it's not an update to an existing story, but I felt that writing a brand new tale would give me a fresh start. I want to be able to write my best, and I feel that this is necessary for me to 1) get back into writing, and 2) get a fresh look on how I want to write/further my current and future stories. Putting myself into a new perspective, as it were.

I want to thank anyone and everyone who has read my stories, or is just now beginning to. You have no idea what it means to me and how much I appreciate it.

Without further ado, I hope you enjoy my newest Sweeney Todd story!

Disclaimer: I do not own Sweeney Todd. Sweeney Todd is the property of Tim Burton, Stephen Sondheim, and Dreamworks Studios. Below is merely an interpretation and appreciation of characters.


Chapter One


-November 21, 2000-

Rain pelted the window as she stared out unblinkingly. Her dark tresses were pulled back in a loose braid, the black ribbon holding it in place barely noticeable. Her green eye pierced through the glass. Trying to make out the blurry figures moving back and forth. She was dressed in her Sunday best, waiting, hoping her parents would walk into her room telling her it was time to go to the park before her violin lesson. She heard the door open behind her and turned quickly towards it, her heart skipping a beat.

Her spirits fell just as quickly as the social worker walked in.

The little girl looked back out of the window, hugging her violin case closer to her. She was fighting the tears that threatened to fall. Sadly, she couldn't keep her small frame from shaking.

The social worker walked over, grabbing the girl's coat, and put it over her shoulders. "Clara," she said. "It's time to go."

Clara's bottom lip trembled. She didn't want to go. If she went, then that would make it real, and she didn't want it to be. She wanted to wake up from this horrible dream. Clara wanted to go to the park and play violin with her family. She wanted her mommy and daddy.

The social worker, Ms. Hayes, slowly took the violin case from the girl, placing it on her bed. She helped her into her matching black coat and led her outside to where there was a car waiting for them. As they rode off to the church, Clara watched as her home grew smaller and smaller, knowing that was the last time she would ever see it as a happy home, a haven.

Just as today was the last day she would she her parents…as she watched them being lowered into the ground.

As they finished burying them, she walked up to their graves and placed two roses there. Clara said a silent good-bye to them. Once she was in the car again, and they were driving away, she finally released the tears she had been holding back.

By the time she was taken to her grandmother's home, she had fallen into a fitful sleep.

-Fifteen Years Later-

"£26.66, love."

She stopped her musings as the clerk gave her the total. A small rustling and clinking of coins later, she handed off her payment, stuffing her change and violin strings into her bag, she managed a small "Thank you" as she headed out of the shop. A cool breeze assaulted her, causing her to pull her coat closer to her. As she looked around her, the signs were clear as day…winter was coming.

Clara Williams shivered as she walked to the edge of the sidewalk and tried to hail a cab. Tried…and failed. When no one would stop, she gave up and started making her way through the streets of London to her small flat. Feeling another small breeze, she was happy with her decision to buy a set of strings instead of the string she needed. It would save her the trip later when another string on her violin broke.

Then I won't have to deal with anyone, came her grumpy thought.

Clara nearly had a heart attack when she heard someone honk at her. She jumped back onto the sidewalk as a car drove pass, its driver flipping her off as it did. She wished that she had thought to tell him to back off the drink, especially at this time of day, but he was long gone. She shook her head as her heart rate lowered. She crossed the street and pulled her keys out as she headed into the safety of her apartment building. Well, as safe as it could be.

Clara sighed. She had hoped to be in another apartment—a better apartment—by the time her final semester was over. With the holidays looming ahead of her, she didn't see that happening. Everyone would be hoping for handmade wreaths for their doors, and Mr. Lyle would need someone to help arrange and deliver them. It would be hard work, but she would get it done.

You can do this, she thought to herself. With your paychecks for winter and spring, you'll be out of here by summer.

It was a lofty goal to be sure, but Clara was determined. She put the key into the lock on her door and headed into the warmth of her home.

She looked around her small flat as she put her coat, keys, and bag away. It wasn't much, but she did what she could to make it hers. Not that she had much to begin with, but she did try to make what she did have look nice. Clara went to the kitchen to make some tea so she could hopefully relax before her violin lesson that afternoon. While the water was boiling, she grabbed her strings from her bag and checked her phone to see if she had any messages. There was one missed call and a voicemail.

When did I get a phone call? she pondered as she checked her voicemail.

When she finally heard the message, her heart sank.

"Hi, Clara. This is Mr. Hampshire. I was just calling to inform you that I will have to cancel today's lesson. My daughter is running a fever and we had to take her to the hospital. We will continue lessons tomorrow if everything goes well. I hope you can understand. Have a good afternoon, and don't forget to practice! Bye."

Clara hung up and put her phone down on the counter. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, counting to ten. She understood him completely. She wasn't mad at him for needing to take care of his child. She was mad at herself for getting upset about her cancelled lesson.

What am I going to do with my afternoon now?

The singing of the kettle broke her from her thoughts. She put the tea bag into her teapot to let it brew for a few moments while she came up with a back-up plan. She would practice as he instructed, but she usually only took an hour to do so. Clara looked at the clock. It read 2:15 p.m.

What was she going to do with all that extra time?

Clara needed to think of something. She needed something to keep her busy. She knew that she wouldn't be able to handle it if she couldn't. Her eyes went immediately to her calendar, searching for some clue to what she could do with the rest of the afternoon.

Her eyes and mind brightened when she found her answer.

Clara quickly picked up her phone and dialed the number, hoping they would pick up. After the fourth ring, there was an answer.

"Lyle's Floral Shop. This is Lyle. How can I help ye?"

"Mr. Lyle? This is Clara."

"Oh, hello, Clara," a grizzled voice replied. "What can I do fer ye? Is everythin' alright?"

"I was wondering if you needed any help in the shop this afternoon."

-xxx-

Mr. Lyle shook his head as Clara walked passed him and clocked in. She was a stubborn one, he knew that, he didn't realize that she was that stubborn. By the time she was done tying her apron she was at the register helping a customer. The old man chuckled and went back to assisting a couple in arranging bouquets for their wedding.

When they finally finished the wave of customers that had rushed in, Mr. Lyle wiped his brow and turned to Clara. "Yer ganna run yerself ragged at this rate, poppet."

Clara looked at him, her brow furrowed. "What do you mean?"

He watched her as she arranged the carnations. "Today was yer day off. Ye should be taking that time ta be relaxin' or playin' yer violin."

"Mr. Hampshire's daughter is ill, so he cancelled our lesson. And practice usually only takes an hour."

"Then read a book, or study! I'm sure exams are comin' up soon."

He wasn't wrong. He professors had already begun posting reviews on the student portal so they could access study materials. Clara knew, however, that studying would be the last thing on her mind.

She shook her head. "I've got plenty of time to study. Besides, I really need this."

Mr. Lyle began to argue. "Wot about—"

Clara grabbed a hold of his hands, her eyes pleading him to let her stay. "Please, Mr. Lyle."

The old florist sighed. He looked at her and noticed the tears forming, though he could tell that she was trying so hard to fight them. He understood why she was so determined to work, so determined to stay out where others could keep her occupied.

It was the anniversary of her family's deaths. And she didn't want to be alone.

"Alright, fine," he finally said. He pointed to one of the stands and added, "Make sure all of the flowers are takin' care of. And be sure ta arrange tha' bouquet fer Mrs. Everly's gran'daughter. She wanted Narcissus Paper Whites an' Montecasino Aster."

Clara gave him a small smile. "Thank you."

He waved her off and headed to his desk for a small break.

He was getting too old for this.

-xxx-

Clara stretched and took off her apron, getting ready for her end-of-day duties. "Well," she yawned out. "That was quite the rush."

"I reckon it was," Mr. Lyle commented. "Perhaps it was a good thing ye asked ta come in, lass."

"It was a day well spent, if you ask me."

Mr. Lyle nodded, but then turned serious. "Ye really should talk ta someone. I canna keep givin' ye hours every time somethin' goes wrong."

Clara sighed. "I know."

Of course, she knew. And he was right. She didn't know who else she could talk to. She normally would have talked to her grandmother about it, but she wasn't around to do so anymore.

Mr. Lyle scratched his head and put a hand on her shoulder. He looked up at her and said, "Go ahead and take off fer the night. I can handle closin'."

Clara looked at him quickly. "Are you sure?"

"As long as ye don't mind doin' the last delivery fer the night. Mrs. Everly said she needed tha' bouquet for tonight."

The young woman smiled and nodded. "Of course." She handed him the broom and clocked out. Grabbing her things and Mrs. Everly's bouquet, she headed out, managing a small, "Good night."

She missed seeing the old man's sad smile and wave.

Clara didn't mind making the delivery, since it was on her way home. With her luck, she managed to catch the older woman as she was heading out.

"Oh, Clara!" she exclaimed.

"Good evening, Mrs. Everly," Clara greeted her. "I have your order."

"Oh, thank you, love." Mrs. Everly smelled them. "Shereen will love these."

"I really hope so. Is she feeling any better?"

The older woman's smile shrunk. "Unfortunately, no. Doctors say that she'll have to stay overnight."

"How awful."

"They'll take good care of her. And Richard's over there to be with her, so that'll help her mood."

Clara smiled a little. "That is good. I'm glad Mr. Hampshire is taking care of her."

That means no violin lesson tomorrow either.

"I better head over to the hospital to get these to Shereen. Would you like to accompany me, love?"

"No, I better head home. I need to practice, and I have some cleaning to do."

Mrs. Everly gave her a sad smile. "Well, if you're sure."

The young woman reciprocated the smile. "Give Shereen my best and tell her I'm sorry I couldn't come to visit this time."

"I will, love. Good night."

Clara watched as her instructor's mother-in-law got into a cab and drove off before she continued down the street.

She had been close to the Hampshire's and Mrs. Everly since she began lessons with Richard when she was eight. It hurt to find out that their daughter, Shereen, had been born with a weakened immune system, so she would get sick often. Sometimes she would be in the hospital for days, and those tended to be the hardest days for them all, especially her. There was only so much one little girl could take.

I'll make it up to her tomorrow, she thought as she crossed the street to her apartment. I'll make her some sweet bread and play her something. She always likes that.

A small smile grew on Clara's face as she made it halfway across the street when she thought of that little girl's smile. Her own faded as she heard the screeching of tires.

She turned toward the sound, which was getting louder and louder with each passing second. For a moment, she couldn't move. She couldn't hear the beeping of the signal, letting her know that she only had five seconds to finish crossing.

Move you idiot! she yelled at herself internally.

Bright lights shone on her, making her pale skin look paler than it already was. She finally managed to force her legs to move her forward. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the car swerve. She ran faster, making it to the sidewalk. In the end, it didn't matter.

In the blink of an eye, she felt herself get knocked into the wall of the building directly in front of her as the car managed to swerve onto the sidewalk and into her.

Everything she knew faded to black.


A/N: Thank you so much for reading the beginnings of my new story. I hope you guys enjoyed it.

If you'd like to leave a comment, have a question, or even a suggestion, I'd love to hear it! Just click on the Review button, and I will address it as quickly as I can. I know in the past I haven't been that quick to responding to reviews, but I am working on it. But I really do love hearing from you guys! Let me know what you think of the new story!

For now, I am going to go ahead and start planning the new chapter for this story, as well as revisit my others. I am currently working on rewriting Chapter Two of Beckett's Hell, so keep an eye out for that one as well. I will keep you guys posted over on Facebook!

While I am on the subject of rewriting and whatnot, I am actually contemplating changing my pen name (username, whatever you want to call it) when I rework my profile page, since I am trying for a fresh start. Thoughts?

Stay yourselves and stay awesome!

-Xanthe :3