"As The World Falls Down"
Although Johanna continued to long for her dear Anthony's return, her newfound routine of helping Mrs. Lovett around the shop proved to be a great distraction as it kept her too busy to even think. However, it had now been raining for the last three days which meant the only customers that visited Mrs. Lovett's pie shop were those seeking to escape the tumultuous downpour outside.
It was a particularly wet and dreary day and Mrs. Lovett's Meat Pie Emporium was now littered with numerous pots and pans as the rain had not let up at all which unfortunately resulted in various leaks to issue from the ceiling. This, of course, was due to the poor conditions of the space Mr. Todd occupied directly above which was neglected for years.
"Oh dear," Mrs. Lovett said with a sigh, noticing yet another leaky spot in the ceiling before placing a bucket beneath it, "Mista T must be swimming up there."
Johanna said nothing, too distracted by the birds twittering in their cages that had been brought in from the courtyard. While she was gentle and soft-spoken by nature, recent events cast a shadow over the beautiful young woman as she stared forlornly at one of the feathered creatures.
Meanwhile, a similar expression was being worn by the barber upstairs as he stood at his usual post in front of the window. He watched the rain pelting down the panes and paid very little attention to the water that occasionally dripped onto him as he remained lost in his thoughts.
Later on in the afternoon, his thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a piano accompanied by very muffled yet melodious singing that seemed to be emanating from downstairs.
He tried to ignore the noise but soon his curiosity got the best of him and he decided to go investigate the source of the incessant jovial tune. As he made his way down the stairs and towards Mrs. Lovett's parlor, the music grew nearer and he was able to make out the lyrics of what was being sung.
"Sweet Polly Plunkett saw her life pass
Flew down the city road, crying
'I am a lass who alas loves a lad
Who alas has a lass loves another lad
Who once I had
'Tis a row dow diddle dow day
'Tis a row dow diddle dow dee …'"
As the scene before him came into view, he saw Johanna and Mrs. Lovett sitting together at the piano, grinning from ear to ear and out of breath from singing and giggling.
He kept his distance and watched from the doorway with piqued interest, marveling at the broad smiles the two women wore. It had been a long time since he heard anything so cheerful it was almost foreign to him. Sure, he had heard the drunken tunes of sailors and men on the street but for some reason this was different and he would never admit that hearing Johanna and Mrs. Lovett's laughter and seeing their flushed faces made him almost forget what he was brooding about to begin with. Unable to tear his eyes away from the scene before him, he stayed in the corner of the doorway so he would remain unnoticed.
"I haven't laughed like this in goodness knows how long." Mrs. Lovett said to Johanna as soon as their laughter died down a bit.
"Nor have I." Johanna replied honestly. "Actually, I don't know if I ever have."
Touched by the young girl's words, Mrs. Lovett cupped Johanna's cheek affectionately, "You're too sweet, dear."
Johanna looked back at Mrs. Lovett, "I mean it."
The sincerity in Johanna's voice took the baker by surprise and was in turn painfully reminded of Toby so she quickly took her hand away and cleared her throat. "Well now, what shall you play me next?"
Still standing in the corner of the doorway, Mr. Todd felt awkward having witnessed such a tender moment between the two. He had no idea that the pair had gotten so friendly, after all, Johanna hadn't even been with them for a full week. Then again, Mrs. Lovett had always been rather personable and he supposed it wasn't necessarily a bad thing for the two to get along given the circumstances.
As Johanna began to play another tune, Mr. Todd took this as his opportunity to head back upstairs unnoticed only to realize how frigid it was up there in comparison to Mrs. Lovett's warm parlor.
Hours later, once Johanna had finally fallen asleep, Mrs. Lovett shut the door to her bedroom, securing the girl inside, and went to sit in her chair in front of the fire.
The rain was still falling steadily outside and she wondered how her beloved barber was managing upstairs as she had not heard much from him since the uncomfortable incident in his shop a few days prior. Not to mention, she knew the man must be freezing.
Certainly don't want him to catch a chill, she thought to herself, biting her lip as she contemplated going up to at least check on him.
Oh, bugger it. She wrapped her shawl around herself and went, candle in hand, up to knock on Mr. Todd's door.
Mrs. Lovett rapped lightly on his door, and when no one answered, she pushed the door open quietly and noticed at once that the room was pitch-black.
"Mista T?" She whispered, shining the light of her candle around the room.
She discovered him almost instantly sitting in his chair with his head slumped slightly to the side, apparently fast asleep.
She sat the candle on his vanity and pulled her shawl tightly around herself, it was very chilly in there indeed.
She knew he probably wouldn't take too kindly to being woken up but she really didn't like the idea of him sleeping another night in this cold, damp room.
She couldn't help but stare as the man she yearned for so desperately slept peacefully before her. He looked almost serene as she watched his chest rise and fall with every breath. She moved to lean over him and brushed his hair away from his face.
"Mista T?" She said again, a little louder this time.
She put her hand on his arm and shook him gently causing him to sit up suddenly in his chair.
"What?" He muttered, sounding slightly disoriented.
"It's just me, dear. I'm sorry to wake you but you'll catch a chill if you spend one more night up
here with this weather."
He took a moment to adjust to his surroundings and blinked as he glanced around the room.
Mrs. Lovett cut him off, knowing full well what he was about to ask."Downstairs, safe and warm, where you should be. Come on."
"I'm fine." He said grumpily.
"Don't be silly." She protested, "'Sides, she's sleeping, ya won't even see her. Just come down and sleep in a nice, dry bed for once."
He furrowed his brow at her before looking over at the steady stream of water that fell directly onto his cot.
"I've been meanin' to get this place fixed up. Should be easier to do now that we don't have anyone rotting in the bakehouse." Mrs. Lovett remarked in a casual tone. She picked up her candle and moved towards the door. "Come on. Don't want to leave her down there alone for too long."
He sighed and got up from his chair before wordlessly following her downstairs.
"Care for a drink before turning in, love?" Mrs. Lovett asked as soon as the two situated themselves in the parlor.
Mr. Todd muttered something that Mrs. Lovett interpreted as a "yes" and went to pour them a few glasses of gin.
He walked slowly around the room and took in Mrs. Lovett's eclectic collection of knickknacks. His eyes skimmed over a small array of books sitting on a shelf, the Holy Bible being one of them. He trailed a finger down its spine.
He wondered how people could pray to a God that has evidently forsaken them. Their omnipresent deity that left them here to rot and suffer in this unappeasable abyss, in a world devoid of goodness. Ignorant fools... Where was their God now?
"Here ya are." She handed him his glass.
He took it and sat down on the settee in front of the fire.
The two sat in silence for a while, until it was uncharacteristically broken by none other than Sweeney Todd.
"Do you believe in God, Mrs. Lovett?"
His question caught her off guard and it took her a minute to calculate a response. "I don't know. I suppose I did, a long time ago."
She took another sip of her gin and sat down beside him. "Then again, I suppose there must be some sort of divine, higher power in order for such evil to exist in the world. After all, without darkness, there would be no light."
Though he did not say anything, he did, for once, listen to her response.
"Well, if there is a God, our reckoning will surely be an interesting one, to say the least." She chuckled.
For years he made his bed in charnels and coffins and had since concluded that Hell must be one's own self, therefore he found the idea of facing any sort of "reckoning" amusing.
He couldn't help but smirk at her remark as they both finally managed to catch the other's eye. This was short-lived, however, because the barber almost immediately averted his gaze back to the fire.
Silence fell over the two once more as she looked into his abstrusely black eyes and watched the flames reflecting in them dance like hellfire. If only he knew how she would walk in the burning Pandemonium forever if it meant she could be with him… Her heart was so full of him, she could hardly call it her own.
In his pre-slumberous haze, he felt her head rest on his shoulder and for once did not make any attempt to shake her off, allowing her to warm his ever cold insides.
And as the rain continued to pour outside, they melted together, bleeding to death from invisible wounds.
FINALLY. Why do these take me so long?
Thanks to Ally for helping me figure out a song for Johanna and Mrs. Lovett to sing. It is called
"Parlor Songs" from the original Sweeney Todd musical.
Also thank you to those of you still following along with this story. Your reviews are much appreciated and welcomed.