A/N: Hello readers! My apologies, I had some issues with this platform so I could only update on Ao3. Now that it's all fixed, I've posted here all the remaining chapters at once and I plan to post the grand finale in both sites. To the new readers, I hope you like this fic that's almost like my little baby. Feedback is much appreciated! Xxxx
26th October 1887
Sweeney Todd ran down the stairs as fast as his feet could carry him upon hearing Mrs. Lovett's horrific scream, his heart hammering in his chest at the thought of her being in danger. He usually ignored those feelings, ignored the possibility that he was beginning to care for someone that wasn't Lucy; for none other than the annoying chatterbox that lived downstairs, his devout business partner and his ardent lover. But now that the judge was dead… maybe he could give her a chance.
He swiftly opened the metallic door of the bake house, only to find an agitated Eleanor Lovett dragging the corpse of the judge to the oven.
"Why did you scream?" Sweeney asked, concern lacing his deep voice.
"He was clutching onto me dress but he's finished now" she replied and offered him a playfully evil smirk before returning to her task at hand, pausing every few feet to catch her breath.
Sweeney observed her. She looked tired. The bags under her eyes were darker and her skin was paler than usual except for her flushed cheeks due to her proximity to the blazing oven. He sighed, knowing fully well that the last steps of his revenge had taken a toll on her too and he'd just noticed now. Although he'd woken up to her vomiting for a few days, he just assumed it she was anxious and let it be. Now as he watched her stop dead in her tracks to pinch her nose with her knees slightly buckling as if she were going to faint, he wasted no time in rushing to her side. Her health was important to him, especially now that she was the only one left. The one who would never leave him.
"I'm here" he whispered reassuringly as he wrapped his arms around her waist to steady her. He walked with her to the nearest wall, and leant against it, his arms still around her. He saw her take deep breaths with her eyes closed and fearing she would pass out right there, he asked her whether she would like to go upstairs and lay in bed for a while.
"No need, love. It was just a dizzy spell, it's bloody hot down here" she replied calmly and finally opened her eyes. What he saw in them unsettled him. It was love, love in the deepest, purest form. "But thank you for caring, dear."
"Of course" he simply said, hypnotised by her big chestnut eyes that glowed in spite of the dim light. He gulped, it was too early for those feelings and he wasn't ready. He wasn't sure he would ever be ready to love again, but he couldn't deny the warmth in his chest and the quickening beat of his heart as his own eyes met the baker's. She was so damn alluring and he was always hungry for her. But this time, it felt different. He'd never wanted to kiss her more.
A rat running in the sewer below them broke the spell and Sweeney was quick to avert his gaze. There were more pressing matters at hand than his confusing feelings that were probably just the heat of the moment, the adrenaline of having finally killed the judge. Nothing more. Speaking of the judge, he reckoned they had to get rid of his body as soon as possible, as the authorities would come searching for him in a matter of hours. Seemingly reading his mind, Eleanor disentangled from his half embrace and walked over to the judge to continue what she was doing. But Sweeney stopped her before she could grab his arms again.
"Here, let me do it" he offered and she attempted to protest but he roughly grabbed her arm and she relented. "Open the door" he pointed to the oven and lifted the cold dead arms of the man who ruined his life. As he dragged his victim to meet his ultimate end, Sweeney stepped on something soft and fleshy and looked down to see the corpse of the beggar woman he'd killed in a haze before the judge arrived. Looking properly at her now, he could see something familiar. With his foot, Sweeney moved her matted grey hair out of her face, and he was speechless. He'd recognise that face anywhere. "Lucy."
He hastily dropped the judge and knelt beside his beloved, cradling her head in his arms. "Lucy, Lucy, my love, Lucy. What did I do?" he lamented, his tears pricking his eyes for the first time after fifteen years of numbness. How could he not recognise his own wife? The love of his life, the single reason his heart was still beating? And now she laid dead by his own hand. But he'd thought Lucy was already dead, she told him she was dead. Holding the lifeless body of his wife, he turned to look at the baker. Her hand over her heart, her eyes wide in fear, she knew exactly what she'd done. She knew Lucy lived and chose to lie to him. Lucy's blood was on her hands.
"You knew she lived. You lied to me" he said in a low voice.
"No, no, I never lied. I only said she took the poison. Never said she died" she answered and he stood up. He walked menacing towards her and she recoiled until her back hit the wall. The same wall they were leaning against only a few minutes before, when he thought he could feel something for her, that perhaps they could move on together. The bloody deceiving bitch almost fooled him into falling for her. Angrily, he grabbed her throat and squeezed lightly, he wanted to drag it out as long as he could. He wanted to make her suffer, to beg her for her life before he ultimately claimed it. She deserved to die.
"She… was not in her right mind. Poor thing, the arsenic messed with her head, it did. Ended up in bedlam, didn't know herself. Wouldn't have known you. I wanted to spare you the pain, you'd suffered enough" she tried to explain as his grip on her throat grew stronger. He enjoyed the panicked look in her eyes. "I did it because I love you. She couldn't have cared for you like I do" she continued and he blinked twice upon hearing her words. So she just thought that just because she "loved" him, everything would be alright, she could get away with lying about his true love just because she "loved" him. In her twisted mind, she probably thought he'd eventually fall madly in love with her and forget about Lucy all together, and she would take her secret to the grave. If she weren't a conniving bitch, it would almost be amusing how delusional she was.
"Of course, my pet. You're a bloody wonder" he released her throat and spun her around in an improvised dance. "Eminently practical yet appropriate as always. As you've said repeatedly, there's no point in dwelling in the past."
"Do you mean that?" she was unsure and she had every reason to be, as he was set on killing her. Yet he wanted to play with her before he did, he wanted to deceive her just like she had, it would be more satisfying for him to watch her face in her last moments, when she realised that he never meant it, that he never loved her like he loved Lucy. In fact, the only feeling left in his heart was hate.
They continued waltzing around the bake house, getting closer and closer to the oven. Unexpectedly, she kissed him squarely on the lips. Time seemed to stop as Sweeney navigated the conflicting feelings coursing through him; the warmth, the fire, the passion only she could ignite in him with a simple touch of her lips and the underlying tenderness every time she did it. But it was because of those very same poisonous lips that his Lucy laid dead on the floor next to them. Her lies had killed her and now she had to die too. He pulled away and made the mistake of looking into her eyes full of hope. She'd lied to him; she'd ruined his life. And there she was, still hoping for a happy ending. Well, her ending would not be a happy one if he could help it. She deserved it.
He moved closer to the oven, it made no sense to prolong the inevitable. The sooner she burned like the witch she was, the better. She must have realized what was coming for her, because the same terrified look returned to her eyes. In one last desperate attempt to fight for her life, she moved both their hands to her stomach. "Please, Sweeney. It's innocent". He froze. Her words could only mean one thing: the bitch was pregnant. With his baby.
It all made sense now, her dizziness, her sickness… Sweeney couldn't believe he hadn't noticed before, hadn't even contemplated the possibility despite the frequency of their encounters. Of course, it was because she'd lied about that too. He vividly remembering her telling him she was barren after a botched forced abortion while she was still married to Albert. He'd actually took pity on her then, never able to be a mother despite her very evident love of children. It was in fact the first time he saw her in a different light: as a person who had experience suffering too. But apparently it was yet another lie, to pressure him to continue their sexual explorations now that he was confident there was no risk. In any case, he reckoned it was his fault, for falling for her cheap whorish tricks. It was probably her plan all along, to trap him, to force him into marrying her and forgetting his family. He should have known better, should have resisted her, or not trusted her so blindly and used some protection but it was too late to cry over spilt milk. The spawn of Satan, of the demon barber and the devil's wife had already been conceived.
It couldn't live. The world didn't need another pitiful creature, tainted with their sins. Even if he spared its mother's life for the remaining months of her pregnancy, she would have her comeuppance sooner or later and he, assuming he still had the will to live, would not care for anything that had come out of her, out of their sickening and twisted relationship, marred by abuse, and lies and deceit. The creature would end up in a hospice, later on in a workhouse and condemned to a life on the streets if it lived to adulthood. It had to die, better to spare it the suffering. After all, it was innocent, just like she said and another innocent life did not deserve to be ruined by the vermin that inhabited the world. Just like Lucy's, Johanna's, just like his very own life. It had to die before it was too late.
He roughly removed his hand from her stomach and grabbed her by the shoulders, pushing her closer and closer to the oven. He was no longer looking at her but at the red flames that would soon consume her body and any life it could harbour. It had to be that way, it had to end. All the misery, all the lies, all their evil. With one last glance into her eyes, he pushed her into the oven. But before he could savour the sight of her burning, darkness enveloped him.