I wrote this for my best friend and biggest fan, Milly. Happy Birthday my dear.
Nellie opened her eyes that morning to a dashing smile and the smell of simmering jam. "Happy Birthday, pet." She smiled pushing herself into a sitting position on the mattress.
"Thank you love." She took a whiff of the aroma around her. "You didn't have to make me breakfast dear."
"It's no trouble." He mumbled a bit shy. She smiled warmly sliding out from under the covers and placing her feet into warm slippers. "Though apparently I have a habit of burning most things." She chuckled and he left the room to check on breakfast, speaking of burning.
Nellie looked down at her chilly feet in the lavender slippers and realized she soon won't be able to see over the round of her belly. Running her hand over the swell in her gown lovingly, she stepped into the kitchen.
"It smells absolutely divine love." She mused, "Need any help?"
"I can manage." He hastily set the table and poured her a cup of black tea.
"You said last night you had something special planned. Fancy sharing that with me?" Nellie said blowing on her cup of tea before taking a sip.
"Don't spoil the surprise, my dear. Tuck in." He spoke placing a plate of eggs, and rolls with raspberry jam in front of her.
"You're turning into me, I'm afraid." She laughed.
"I rented us a boat." Sweeney said. She almost chocked on her bite of scrambled egg. "Only for two hours. And if you're feeling well and able."
"Yes. I'm perfectly able." She squealed, excited. "Oh Sweeney, you shouldn't have, I'm so happy. It looks to be a perfect morning for sailing as well."
"It's not sailing, we won't go out too far."
Once breakfast was eaten and she planted a kiss to his lips then rushed off to get dressed. Sweeney waited on the settee for her. He considered displaying her gift to her before heading out to shore but thought it best to wait until afterwards in case they got drenched in sea water.
"We'll get to spend Christmas at my aunt's this year."
"Since we'll be down there anyway. The baby will come around that time." Nellie stared out over the waves. The waters were calm, not too many waves tugged and pushed at their boat. "The doctor said it'd be early to mid-February, he wagers anyway. This child will be born with the sea in its heart. I can feel it." She sighed in content, stretching out her arms letting the Autumn sun radiate off her pale skin.
A small smile stretched the corners of Sweeney's mouth. "How can you be so sure?" He spoke continuously rowing the paddles through the waves.
Resting with the palms of her hands laid flat out behind her, she turns her head away from the sky to smile at him. He had a twinkle of affection in his eyes that turned to alarm when something brown and wrinkly was approaching them in the water.
Nellie looked over the boat's edge. "What's that?" She wondered.
"Why, It's a seal." She smiled brightly. "They're harmful things ain't they?"
"I wouldn't take any chances." Nellie leaned further out to get a better look, Sweeney grabbing ahold of her arm, he had stop rowing in case they disrupted the mammal's path. The seal swam closer to them, Nellie had leaned away as it stopped to look at them outside the boat. "Aw, look, it came to say hello."
Sweeney wrinkled his nose. "It's like a dog but uglier."
"We'll be nice to it love."
The seal and Sweeney had a long staring contest for a time before the unthinkable happened and it hopped into the boat to join them. They both shrieked and yelped, the boat rocking side to side. Half the seal's body was resting on top of Sweeney's chest. The look on his face was priceless. "Nellie! Help! Get it off of me, it's all slimy and... gah."
She was frozen in shock for a few before her lips curled into a smile and she couldn't help it anymore. She threw her head back cackling madly, holding her ribs as the laughter took her breath away. "I'm feeling sexually threatened over here, dear. What's your new girl's name?" She continued to chortle.
"Its name is GET OFF ME" he bellowed.
After her laughter subsided a bit and tears swam in her eyes, Nellie brushed her arm at the seal and the creature eventually plopped back into the sea, swimming away from the two. Sweeney gasped with relief and readjusted his vest and charvet. Nellie continued giggling. He picked up the paddles again. "I'll show you sexually threatened. Wait till we get back to the cottage." He grumbled, embarrassed over what happened.
"I'm not the one who seduced an aquatic mammal." She teased.
"I didn't seduce anything."
Nellie bit her lip and leaned forward in the boat for a kiss. "Ey, that's where you're wrong." She muttered huskily.
"Sit back down, you'll fall in the water."
She didn't move, her butt remained hovered in the air until she'd get what she wanted. Knowing this he sighed and kissed her. She sat back down, content with herself. On the way back to the shore, Sweeney grumbled about his clothes. "I'll have to change now." Nellie looked away snickering. The poor thing got soaked and was shivering.
"I have an idea of something we can do when we get home." She spoke.
"You'll see." She said with a wink. He scoffed and kept rowing, a smile spreading to his lips. It had been a fun morning.
"I'd like to play some rounds of Ecarte." She said once they stepped over the threshold of their cottage. "What say you, love?"
"In a gambling mood, huh." Sweeney spoke. "Since it's your birthday, you think you'll get lucky?" He smirked.
"I keep telling you not to doubt my talents." She smiled. She had taken the deck in hand and seated herself on the floor behind the coffee table, splitting the cards in two stacks to shuffle.
"One moment, I'd like to change out of this wet vest." He spoke looking down at the cloth in disgust. Poor thing he'll never want to rent a boat again after this morning. The incidence caused for a good laugh though.
"Don't bother." Nellie said causing him to shoot her a curious glance. "I have an idea to make this game more interesting." She smirked widely.
"The loser of each round, has to remove an article of clothing."
There was silence for a moment as he pondered her words in amusement and she devilishly smirked, cocking her brows at him. He took the bait and sat on the floor with a sigh, facing her on the other side of the coffee table and crossing his legs in front of him. She smiled playfully and weeded out the cards needed for Ecarte, which requires a 32 deck with two to six removed. She then shuffled the cards in a dovetail quick and perfectly. Something Sweeney always fancied watching people do with their cards but could never shuffle too well himself.
The players usually cut to determine the dealer but with today being Nellie's birthday and all Sweeney allowed the honor to her. Not that it'd help, he thought deviously.
Sweeney watched Nellie so carefully across from him, he paid little attention to his own deck. He vaguely remembers playing rounds of whist and poker when Lucy and Albert were present on Fleet Street. The woman had a poker face that could fool anyone and she always finds ways to cheat. Her eyes flashed to his, waiting for him to make the first move. He tried to ignore her burning stare. She tends to beat him in almost every game they play. He was determined this time. He made his move and watched her. He had the lucky deck and besides, he didn't need to beat her at game of Ecarte to remove a corset.
With a sigh of content, he ended up winning that first round, just as he predicted. He stared at her, raising his brows, wondering which article of clothing she'd remove first.
"Oh bugger," she muttered slapping her cards down. "My feet have been killing me anyway." She said beginning to unlace her boots. That does technically count as clothing. Still, Sweeney wrinkled his nose. Two could play that game.
The next round, his cards were terrible causing Nellie to win. He thought of being cheeky as her and kicking off his boots as well, but remembered his slimy vest. He unbuttoned and discarded the already dry anyway fabric onto the tan with flowers etched on top carpet.
Luck returned to him and Sweeney won the next two rounds. Nellie was now short a petticoat and corset. A rich navy, simple house dress remained. Under that was one of his own linen shirts, that she's become accustomed to stealing, and her bloomers and stockings.
"And you accuse me of cheating." Nellie grumbled, her head resting on her knuckles as she leaned on the table, waiting for him to make his move. "I'll have to seat closer to the fire place at this rate."
"I'll be sure to warm you up." He spoke glancing her way. "After I win."
She scoffed loudly. "Was this what you had planned for my birthday, love? To get tackled by a seal and watch me remove my clothing over a card game?"
"The boat ride was not your only surprise. And you're the one who suggested this game, not I. So, no cheek just because you're losing."
His brows suddenly knit in concern as she sighed lightly, holding a hand to her stomach as if she'd be ill. "Can't tell if the little bugger is finally moving or if it's just gas." She swallowed and placed both hands on the table preparing to stand up. "You know, those little flutters you hear about."
"Never been pregnant, so I don't know." He turned his attention back to the cards in his hands. She gave him a smack on his arm before placing her deck of cards down and standing up onto her feet. "I need some milk." She stated with a hand over her stomach, heading towards the kitchen.
He waited for her return. "You didn't touch my cards, did you?"
"Why would I do such a thing? Do you think so low of me, my dear?"
"Wot, you've never cheated at a game before, love?" She leaned over the coffee table towards him. "And I think very highly of you darling." She pulled his chin up so she could plant a big kiss to his lips that he returned whole heartedly before the thought occurred to him. He opened his eyes, seeing her hand pressed over his cards. He broke the kiss, pulling away from her sharply.
He snatched her wrist in his grasp. "Keep those delicate hands of yours on that side of the table, pet." He growled.
She simply chuckled in an adorable, apologetic way and sat back down. "I couldn't resist, love sorry." She beamed.
Luck was on her side and she ended up winning that next round. She set down her empty glass of milk triumphantly with a bright smile.
Sweeney smirked beginning to untie his charvet. His fingers halted as his wife let out a shrill yelp across him. "That doesn't count!" She demanded.
"It's an article of clothing." Sweeney protested.
Bastard was doing this on purpose, Nellie fumed. "It is not, it's an accessory." He stared at her in silence, his brows cocked before he continued loosening the charvet, tossing it onto the floor.
"Shall we continue?"
"That doesn't count." Nellie insisted. "You're clearly cheating and..."
"Are we going to keep playing or not?" He demanded interrupting her.
She arched her brow and kept her mouth shut. She shuffled and dealt a new stack, keeping a devious eye on her husband. She cursed eternally. Her cards were terrible. That round didn't last and Sweeney was smirking at her to remove that house dress.
While looking right in his eyes, she swiveled forward a bit. His expression turned curious as he couldn't quire see what she was doing on the other side of the coffee table. She seemed to be struggling for a moment before she sat back on her rump with a content sigh and held up the bloomers for Sweeney to see.
He narrowed his eyes at her, placing the stack of cards down. "Should we have another round? Or should we… Ack" Her sentence was cut short and a squeal escaped her lips. Sweeney had tossed his shirt over his arms to the side and practically launched himself over the table to pin her down. He crashed his mouth onto hers and tugged at the laces of the navy dress. As much as he loved seeing her in his linen shirts, her pulled the cloth over her arms before placing his lips back to hers. He picked her up, moving her to the couch so she'd be more comfortable. He cupped her back with his right arm and his lips kissed the length of her milky neck as his thrusts caused her to moan in delight.
They somehow ended up back on the floor. Nellie's cheeks were rosy from laughter and pleasure, but Sweeney still asked if she was alright after they landed on the tan carpet. Both, laid on their backs, staring up at the ceiling in content. "I won." Sweeney spoke, still out of breath.
"I'll allow it." Nellie laughed. She gasped and shot into a sitting position. Sweeney rose himself to join her, his hand caressed the smooth skin of her back. "Pet?"
Her right hand was over the swell of her belly. Just as fast, she looked to Sweeney. "It's not gas, its moving." She almost began sobbing in joy. "The little bugger is moving. Oh Sweeney." She grabbed his hand placing it onto her stomach just to push it away again. "Oh, you won't be able to feel it, but Sweeney can you believe it?" He placed his hand back to her stomach regardless. "Our baby," she cried.
It was a good morning, indeed.
"We need to go to the market, love. I'm out of carrots." Nellie chimed from within the kitchen.
"Sweeney dropped the newspaper that was hiding his face. "Carrots?"
"Yes. Carrots." Nellie spoke rummaging through the pantry.
"Of all things, woman."
She huffed, looking at him once more. "They're for the child." She said, pouting her lips.
The newspaper was closed and placed on the table, "Very well." He said standing up, patiently enduring the kiss to his cheek. "If it's for the child."
"I'll need more flour as well." Nellie spoke while throwing a coat on noticing the autumn breeze that had picked up since they were last out.
The marketplace was busy on that Friday afternoon, it almost felt like being in London again. They strolled over the cobblestones; Nellie's arm linked through his.
"Beautiful day," she commented. Sweeney only grunted in agreement. "We should hop in the boat again, eh?" She grinned in his direction as he frowned at that notion.
Before he could answer, a woman dragging her daughter along by hand stepped in front of the two. "Afternoon," the woman began shyly.
"Why has your shop been closed so much?" The daughter demanded causing her mother to look aghast and Nellie to laugh.
Nellie recognized them both immediately. "Rosetta, be polite." Her mother told her squeezing her hand. She looked back to the Oakley's apologetically.
"It's quite alright," Nellie said, she looked down at Rosetta. "The shop will stay closed for a while I'm afraid, dear. While I have my baby."
Rosetta smiled warmly. "Would you like to come by for tea sometime?" The mother said. "Sorry, I don't think we ever met properly." She stuck out her hand for Nellie to shake, "Alice."
Nellie shook her hand. "Margery. And this is my husband, Sebastian." Sweeney nodded his head to the woman, patiently waiting for this encounter to end. "I would love to have tea sometime." Nellie said and he internally frowned in annoyance. He looked around at the passersby's. They'd be standing here chatting all afternoon, wouldn't they? The two women continued chatting, exchanging addresses and all. The buzzing people around them never slowed and their conversation didn't cease even when a couple of men accidentally bumped into the girl and her mother causing the doll Rosetta was holding to land on the stones. She made to bend down for it, but Sweeney beat her to it. Taking the wooden doll in hand, he looked into her big blue eyes as he handed it to her. Rosetta hugged the doll to her chest with a smile and even gave Sweeney a little curtsey.
He placed his hand to Nellie's lower back, hoping she'll remember his presence so they can get the bloody carrots and flour and return home. Rosetta followed Sweeney's lead and tugged on her mother's hand.
"Yes, my love?" Alice said bending down to be closer eye level to her daughter. This caused Nellie to smile warmly, her hand subconsciously going to her stomach.
"They're going to run out." Rosetta said tugging on her mother's hand once more.
Alice smiled to the two. "I promised her ice cream on the way home. Lovely talking with you, I'll stop by sometime." Alice waved to Nellie and Sweeney as Rosetta waved herself before dragging her mother away.
"Aren't they lovely?" Nellie mused.
"That girl reminds me of...".
"Johanna." Nellie finished for him. "I noticed that the first time I saw her in the park."
"Are you sure inviting strangers into our home is a good idea, pet?"
"How do you mean?"
Sweeney looked around at the crowds, this wasn't the time nor place for this. "We'll discuss this more at home."
"I know what you're going to say, love." Nellie was seated with her feet up on the settee trying to take her boots off while not being able to reach her laces like she used to from lying flat on her back. "I need help." She pouted with a sigh, dropping her feet.
The settee sunk under Sweeney's weight by her side. "You took them off fine this morning." He spoke, his fingers unlacing her boots.
"I was sitting differently than." She placed her hand over her belly. "Maybe the child grew while we were out."
"It's all those carrots you scarfed down as soon as we got back."
She chuckled, her boots landing on the wooden flower boards. She shifted her weight, leaning her back against the pillow. "You're going to say, that we're fugitives and we shouldn't have friends, eh?"
"Well, it's not very wise." Nellie pouted while thinking. "What do you need to make friends for? You have myself, the child. We'll be traveling to your aunt's soon." Sweeney tried to cheer her up. "Speaking of, have you received word from her yet?"
"No, I haven't." Nellie leaned her head back, closing her eyes. "I'm exhausted already. My energy saps so easily now."
"I have a present for you. Then you can take a short nap." Sweeney spoke.
Nellie's head lifted up, "A present? I thought the boat ride was my present?" Sweeney stood from the couch. He returned momentarily with a box in his arms. "Oh love. There's no need for this." She exclaimed.
"No need for a husband to buy his wife a birthday gift?" He handed the box to her.
Nellie sat up, swinging her feet to the floor and removed the lid. She almost dropped the box upon seeing the crimson dress. "Oh lovey", she held the dress up, her mouth agape. "It's beautiful."
"It's a maternity dress, it might be a bit loose, but I figured you'd grow into it." She kissed his cheek, excitedly rushing to try it on.
A few minutes later, she came from the bedroom, the red gown hanging loosely off her frame, but still fitting rather well in other places. "How do I look?" Nellie said with a twirl.
Sweeney eyed her closely, "it's a bit loose." He commented. "You look beautiful." He pulling her into an embrace.
"Thank you, my love." She stood on her tip toes to kiss him. "No more surprises today, yes? You've done far more for me on my birthday than I did for you on yours."
"I did have one more surprise planned."
"Oh?" She smiled.
"It'll have to wait till after dinner though."
"I'll get that nap in then." She laughed.
"I had planned on taking you out to dinner."
Nellie shook her head a bit. "I don't trust my appetite for that. It's been all over the place still." Sweeney nodded. "I love you, thank you." She kissed him again before heading to the bedroom.
"I'll wake you in a couple hours."
She turned her head, flashing him a loving smile.
After dinner, and Nellie hardly eating anything, much to Sweeney's disapproval, he made a small lie and told her he would take her dancing. Nellie had changed into a dress more fitting. And they left the small cottage, her full of smiles.
Her smiles turned to grins when half down to the dance hall, Sweeney covered her eyes with his hands. "Sweeney." She shrieked in glee, "What do you have planned now?"
"You're not taking me to the dance hall, are you?" she asked.
"You talk to much my dear." Sweeney whispered in her ear.
"You've mentioned that before." He told her to watch her step as he pushed open a door. He removed his hands from her eyes and she gasped in joy as a crowd of strangers shouted "Surprise."
Nellie gasped and looked to Sweeney lovingly. Monica rushed over, flinging her arms around Nellie. "This was all your husband's idea." She sang, "Happy birthday, dear." She squeezed Nellie into another hug.
Someone handed them both some ale that they didn't even drink. Nellie grabbed Sweeney's hands and dragged him to the middle of the hall where the music was blaring. They danced and danced for hours. Only stopping for refreshments. Eventually, the stroke of midnight rolled around and Nellie declared herself to tired to continue with the festivities.
"Thank you, Monica, really." Nellie gleamed on her way out.
"Oh, my pleasure dear." The woman slurred; a bit drunk. "You're welcome in this inn anytime." She pointed at Sweeney who stood by Nellie's side. "I told him. I told him that you think he doesn't love you." Nellie looked surprised, frowning a bit she looked to Sweeney alarmed. He matched her expression. "I told him to make your birthday a grand one. And he has." She smiled, rosy cheeks and all.
"Thank you again." Nellie told her.
Sweeney grabbed a hold of her hand and he didn't let go until they stepped over the threshold of their cottage.
He remained silent as the pair got ready for bed. "Love?" Nellie asked.
He left the bedroom, returning seconds later with his sketch book in his hands. Nellie sat down on the bed slowly. Sweeney swallowed the lump in his throat. "She did tell me that." He said, "When I mentioned wanting to throw a surprise gala for you." Nellie frowned, looking a bit sad. She smiled nonetheless, an understanding. She opened her mouth to speak, but for once, Sweeney Todd beat her to it. "She also said that just getting a dress wasn't good enough. And its not like we have the money to throw around, so." He opened the sketchbook and pulled out his newest masterpiece. "I decided to paint you something." He displayed the picture to Nellie.
She almost burst into tears and sunk through the floor it was so beautiful. She held the drawing of the seaside. The same view of the ocean from their picnic spot on the hilltop. Sweeney and herself were tiny colored silhouettes atop the hillside, facing the ocean. Her fiery curls and his dark hair gleaming off the canvas.
Nellie started crying. She tried to speak but was utterly speechless.
She looked to Sweeney, the tears trickling down her face. "I'll find a frame for it." he spoke. "We'll hang it up in our home." His voice had been covered by Nellie's lips upon his. The kiss was heated, passionate, he could feel the love she felt for him radiate off of her in waves. He sent a shiver down his spine.
The kiss broke only for a quick moment. Knowing the sketch would be forgotten and fall to the floor as she ravaged his lips and other parts of him again, he set the painting on the bedside table and got the words out while he still could. "I made a promise to you Nellie, and I won't break it. I have to say, when we married," she swallowed, looking into his eyes, her gaze a bit saddened. "I knew I would fall for you. That I'd feel the same passion you've felt for me all these years."
"And?" she smiled.
"And. I didn't think I'd feel it so soon."
She smiled brightly, showing teeth. Sweeney opened his mouth feeling there's more he needed to say. "Sweeney?"
She leaned in closer to him, "Shush." And her lips were on his again.