Part Seven

I just wanted to send a quick message of thanks for continuing to read my story. I would have ended this story quite some chapters ago if it weren't for your ongoing support, it is so very appreciated. Also, a quick thank you to Josh Groban for recently reminding me just why I continue to be obsessed with his indescribably beautiful voice and why he is the truly perfect Sweeney! Not to mention the times that he kissed Annaleigh and scooped her up and spun her around. Thank you to Annaleigh Ashford for being adorably hilarious, and for basically giving Josh Groban two mini lap dances, lol. She had me in tears by the end of ALP. I really saw some of Angela in her, Sondhemin knew precisely what he was doing when he chose them both, flawless. Thanks also to Gaten Matarazzo for showing me why Farrah Fawcett hairspray (for any readers that are also Stranger Things fans) is a far better hair choice than… others. Anyway, enough gushing, enjoy.

The first three days of the wake had seemed to rush past, but the fourth and final seemed to move at a snail's pace. Nellie had no family of her own to come and offer their respects, and Albert had only his sister, her family, a few cousins, and their families. Some of the Lovett's friends came around along with the Lainey's, a couple in the building next door that they had become good friends with. Lucy had come down occasionally, but remained upstairs for the most part, which was fine with the baker as she was confident that the barber's wife would cause a debacle if she stuck around. Nellie simply accepted everyone's words of comfort, busying herself by constantly rearranging the multitude of bouquets situated around Albert. Fortunately, Albert's two great-nieces kept her busy as well. Their youthful innocence and curiosity made them constantly play with the veils that covered the mirrors and downturned photos of Albert around the house. When Nellie explained their purpose, however, their eyes immediately widened, and they shuttered at the thought of their great uncle's soul being "trapped".

The funeral itself was quick and very scant. The procession had been small and sombre. Nellie was relieved to have wisely chosen her bombazine dress for the burial as the rain would have likely soiled her crape gown. She couldn't help but smile as the rain poured down, hoping the belief was true and that her Albert was at peace in Heaven. The attendees had shared a few small words and watched with utter silence as the butcher's coffin was lowered into the ground. Even the young girls and Johanna remained silent and didn't dare to fidget in the slightest. Everyone offered her some consoling words, then joined her in the shop with funeral biscuits and a small amount of comfort food that they had prepared. They spoke shortly about Albert and told Nellie to come to them if she needed anything. She thanked them and watched as they left, fixing, and absent-mindedly playing with the decorated black wreath hanging on the door. Then grabbed the bottle of wine that Albert's niece had kindly brought for her immediately after closing the door. She sat in the quiet solitude of her shop as the setting sun cast shadows around her darkening shop. There was no more Ben, no more Albert, Nellie felt truly and utterly alone at this point.

Lucy didn't seem to want to make anything easier, either. The morning after the funeral, Nellie brought up Lucy her breakfast. She put the tray down on Lucy's bedside table as the blonde was still in bed. She was at the door but stopped when she heard Lucy's choked whisper, "Now do you understand?" Nellie turned to face her; her brows narrowed. "Now do you understand what it's like to lose someone that you care about Mrs. Lovett?" Eleanor took the chance to take a closer look at the blonde. She still looked like the elegantly pristine woman that Benjamin had left behind. Eleanor could feel it, though, it wasn't noticeable to the naked eye, but the loss radiated off of the woman like a malodour that wouldn't evanesce. "Then again, you have never known that kind of pain, have you? You didn't really love Mr. Lovett, not like Benjamin and I loved one another." Nellie could feel her hands slowly ball into fists, but she quickly hid her frustration from Lucy's sight, interlocking her hands instead.

Damn the woman, no one seemed to know just the right thing to say to get under her skin quite like Lucy Barker. And all the while, still managing to make herself seem like the only one who knew how it felt to suffer. Nellie looked down at her hands and thought over her next choice of words carefully before she said something that she may regret. "I know that you're 'urtin' Mrs. Barker, so you're clearly not aware of what you're sayin'. You may be right about Albert, though we did love one another in our way, we were not in love like you and Mr. Barker. You're wrong about me not knowing how much it 'urts to lose someone that I truly loved, though. I lost me mother, father, and my best friend in the whole world, all by the time that I was nine years old. Albert's been the one person that I've known I could trust completely for a very long ti-"

Lucy got out of bed and putting on her robe, walked over to her vanity and began to fix her hair for the day. Nellie couldn't stop her jaw from dropping at what she saw on the table, Lucy saw this and asked what was wrong while Nellie figured that she knew full well. "What in the world are ya thinkin', Lucy? The libertine sod sends your 'usband away for life, and you're acceptin' flowers from 'im? Are ya completely daft? If I were in your position I would be going to Turpin and demandin' that he set things right, he knows 'ow unfounded his charges were against your 'usband! Honestly, I had been talking to Al about it all, and I think Turpin wants somethin' from ya, somethin' just as under'anded as he is an-"

Lucy rolled her eyes and put her hands on her waist. "For your information Mrs. Lovett, they were only left outside of the door, and I planned on burning them anyway. Second, I'm only showing the man kindness to get information about Ben from him. If I'm decent to him, I'm sure to convince him to lighten Ben's sentence." Nellie frowned at this, unsure that Lucy had the best scheme in mind. She knew that Lucy could be very naive, and Turpin surely had a mind that was more than capable of ensnaring her. Nellie was going to warn Lucy of these concerns until Lucy's next words. "Regardless of what you may wish, Mrs. Lovett, Benjamin is my husband and not yours! You have no right to speak of my personal life with anyone, even your late husband. If I ever wish to hear a loose woman's opinion, I will be sure to ask you. So refrain from getting involved in my business and mind your own. After all, if you hadn't been so focused on my Benny, your whale of a husband might still be alive." She then spun in her chair and refused to further acknowledge Nellie's presence in the room.

Nellie instantly had a strong yearning to criticize Lucy for her acidity. How dare she speak of her and Albert so scornfully. Lucy may be able to play the sweet and innocent woman well, but Eleanor Lovett had been on the receiving end of her toffee-nosed character enough times. "Now you listen 'ere, Lucy Barker! You're strugglin' right now, I understand that. That certainly don't give ya any right to be so bloody churlish towards me, or to say anythin' so crude about Albert. I am sorry that Mr. B is gone and that you're sufferin', but that don't mean that ya can be so sniffy towards me, just actin' like a spoilt little…" Starting an argument with the woman certainly wasn't going to help the matter, so Nellie pushed down her frustration, and, being the bigger person, quietly left the room instead.

Only after slamming the tonsorial parlour door behind her and taking some safe steps away did she bite down on the material of her dress sleeve and let out a muffled howl. She had only tried to warn Lucy of what she believed to be Turpin's true intentions towards her. Maybe Lucy was right, maybe Nellie had no right interfering and telling Lucy that she could be in danger. Let the silly little nit deal with whatever comes of this. She rolled her eyes and let out a sigh, understanding that hostility and passive-aggression were only going to worsen the situation. So instead, she took a deep breath and made her way back down to the pie shop.

It wasn't long before Nellie realised that things around the shop were more difficult with Albert gone. Before, she simply got the meat for her pies from Albert, so it came to her completely free. Having to find another butcher to provide her with satisfactory meat proved more difficult than she first believed. Then there was the question of payment. The better the meat's quality the more expensive it was, which meant that if she intended to use good quality meat, it wouldn't last for too long. She had some savings from both her and Albert's businesses. Albert had even been dear enough to leave her a fair deal of money. She knew that it wouldn't keep her living comfortably for the remainder of her life, but if she made practical choices, she could make it last for a bit if her shop kept getting stable business, and no one could say that Nellie Lovett wasn't a practical woman.

Nellie bounced Johanna as the infant cried in her arms. She still didn't concur that Lucy Barker's decision was the most sagacious, but she was right that this was her family. After weeks of Turpin sending rejected bouquets to the woebegone blonde, he had instead sent the beadle to escort her to a lavish ball at his manor. According to Mrs. Barker, he had sent a letter desiring to meet her to express his repentance for his wrongdoings against Benjamin and herself. Lucy originally deliberated on if she should burn it like she had with his tokens of 'affection.' Instead, she responded in the affirmative, but only with an earnest need to have an audience with him. Eleanor didn't like the idea one bit, with the knowledge that this was just him having her on as he had before. If he truly felt any amount of penitence for what he did to the pair -knowing full well that he did not- he would have approached her himself or would have already done something to remedy the situation. Nellie wanted to scream at the blonde for being so nescient as to fall for the man's tricks again, but knew that the berk still wouldn't listen.

Nellie had offered to go in place of Lucy. Lucy had only scoffed, asking how it would look if the barber's pathetic jezebel were to go instead of her. Nellie spun around, grabbing onto Lucy's arm and spat through grit teeth for the blonde to get the thought out of her thick skull that there was anything between herself and the barber -omitting the tense kiss that she had given him just a few weeks prior- but Lucy only began to whinge again. Her musings were interrupted by Lucy's near screaming voice calling her name. "Are you listening to me Mrs. Lovett? I told you to watch Johanna while I go meet with the judge." She continued to fix some loose hairs that had fallen in front of her face.

Eleanor rolled her eyes and picked up Johanna. "Course I will, Mrs. Barker, I love Johanna. I'm 'appy spendin' time with this little bug, and am happy to take care of 'er. I ain't daft enough to go off and meet with the man that shipped me 'usband off for life. I know that ya want answers, Lucy, but this certainly isn't the way to get 'em. You're just willingly walkin' into another trap of 'is, and I can't always 'elp you out of the problems that ya create for yourself." She gave the infant a light kiss on the forehead and ran out the door, ignoring the baker's last-minute attempts to intervene in her plan. Of course, there was a rather slim chance that she could be wrong and absolutely nothing would go wrong, but Nellie's instincts were telling her that she should have done more to stop Lucy from agreeing to meet with Turpin. Maybe tying the daft woman to a chair or locking her up in the barber shop would've proven better approaches?

Two hours passed; Mrs. Lovett was serenading a sleeping Johanna when she heard a door slam. Mouthing an obscenity under her breath so as not to rouse the infant, she rushed to the door and ran downstairs to see Lucy on the floor with her back against the counter. Her legs were pulled up to her chest and her lower lip was quivering, her cheeks wet with freshly shed tears. Eleanor immediately had the urge to tell Lucy that she should've heeded her warning, but instead, she got down to her level and took the lachrymose woman's hands in her own. Nellie edged her way closer and, much to Lovett's shock, Lucy threw herself onto her lap and began to soak Nellie's lap with her tears. A modicum of Nellie's previous feelings of boastfulness now receded as she frowned at the broken woman in front of her, slowly beginning to rub the sobbing woman's back. Once Lucy had calmed a bit Nellie would ask what had happened, for now she pulled the hysterical woman from the floor and helped her to climb the staircase to her and Ben's flat.

Nellie helped Lucy to disrobe and dressed her in her nightgown, Lucy being far too shaken to do this herself. After being informed of the ordeal that the woman had been through that night, she completely understood Lucy's distress. After Lucy had chronicled what had occurred, the baker felt a freezing shiver spread through her body. She knew that feeling all too well after Turpin had nearly done the very same to her, but she had been lucid and had her wits about her, so she was easily able to protect herself. As Nellie had speculated, Turpin's desire was not to aid Lucy but to deceive her even further. Their meeting turned out to be an extravagant masquerade ball, and the more distraught Lucy became among the enormous sea of masked strangers without any sight of the judge himself, the more plastered she became. A man in a bird mask finally approached her, quickly revealing himself to be Turpin, but before she had any time to react, he had thrown himself on top of her. At this point in Lucy's recount of the event, she began to break down again and Nellie had no need to hear any more.

Nellie opened her eyes to the sound of a bird's winsome trilling. She slumberously turned her head to take in her surroundings, rubbing the back of her aching neck before it hit her that she had fallen asleep against the end of Lucy's side of the Barker's bed. The long night before finally replaying in her mind. Nellie had finally managed to ease Lucy to the point where she had fallen asleep, either that or she had cried herself to the point of lethargy. Dragging herself to her feet, she took Lucy's clothes and slowly brought them down to wash them. Searching through her pockets, it was the glass bottle that she produced which made her raise her brows. She nearly dropped it when she saw the etchings on the front, and upon going through the rest of Lucy's clothing, she eventually came out with another vial.

Without a second though, she sprinted upstairs and shook Lucy awake. She wrapped an arm around Lucy's waist as she all but dragged the woman quietly out the door so as not to wake the still dozing Johanna, carrying her down the stairs and into the dark space behind the staircase. She told a groggy Lucy to stay put while she ran into the shop. She returned with a tall glass of water and a tray of the remaining pies that hadn't sold the night before, not caring if they were going through putrefaction, in truth, that might be even better for her purpose. She watched closely as Lucy downed the water, then opened Lucy's mouth, a fire blazing in her eyes as she ordered her to start eating. "Why should I eat all of your rancid, unwanted pies?", Lucy demanded, scrunching up her face and turning her face away. Lovett took out one of the bottles of arsenic and held it out in front of her eyes. Lucy's face immediately turned a ghastly pale and she looked everywhere but at the baker's face as the baker castigated and shouted lividly at her. She glowered and crossed her arms, "Ihavenoideawhatyou'reinsinuating!" she quickly blurted out without taking a breath.

Nellie returned the gesture and gave a silent scoff. "You are a terrible liar, Lucy Barker. Now, as I sees it, there's two options, either I can get a doctor and we can go to 'ospit-." Lucy broke in, tossing her head side to side, claiming that if the doctor knew what she had planned to do, she'd be thrown into the asylum. "Or you can eat these until you sick all over the ground, it may get some of the poison out." She turned up her nose at the baker's suggestion at first; Lucy Barker absolutely refused to eat the repulsive pies that Nellie Lovett called food. "Lucy, if ya choose not to do one of these things, you will get sick. If it don't kill ya, it will surely do somethin'. Ya may be stubborn, bust so is I, so what will it come down to, hmm?" Lucy rolled her eyes before reaching out and snatching up one of the pies.

It wasn't long before Nellie was holding back Lucy's long yellow hair while the woman sicked up in the darkened corner of the outdoor staircase of the building. Lucy continuously gave the baker a hard glare as the woman's rage simmered to reprimands like a mother scolding her child. If Eleanor Lovett mentioned the word "senseless" one more time, Lucy was going to throttle her. Lucy wasn't a complete idiot, somewhere in the back of her very confused and troubled mind, she knew that her actions were thoughtless and damaging to Johanna. The loss of Benjamin, the alcohol, and Turpin's sadistic treatment of her led to a very grave lapse in judgement. She also had to admit that Mrs. Lovett had a point, but despite the fact that vomit seemed to be pouring from her, she had too much pride to admit this fact out loud.

Over the next couple of weeks, Mrs. Lovett couldn't turn a blind eye to Lucy's worsening capricious behaviour. She would find the woman wandering around the house, and when Nellie asked what was wrong, Lucy would claim that she was looking for her Benny. In the very beginning, Nellie had felt only mildly bothered when she would have to constantly remind Lucy that the barber was gone, but this was very quickly replaced with trepidation. These sentiments only worsened when Nellie learned that Lucy had completely forgotten to give Johanna her breakfast one morning and had left her in a soiled nappy. Eleanor wanted to be furious, to scream at Lucy to be more responsible for Johanna's well-being, if not her own, but she couldn't. Anything that she would say to the woman these days either seemed to fail to reach her or went completely disregarded. Nellie had no idea what was happening to Lucy or her deteriorating retention, but she knew that she didn't like it one bit. Soon enough, she found that she would be looking out for not only Lucy's welfare, but for Johanna's as well.

Months passed and Eleanor was finding it nearly impossible to keep the shop running smoothly, as most -if not all- her time and focus had transitioned entirely to supporting both mother and daughter. From the beginning symptoms it didn't take long for Nellie to realise that Lucy's outlandish behavior was the poison's taking control over her lucidity. The woman barely left her bed any longer, forcing Nellie to bathe her like a child and to then practically drench her with perfume and other pleasing scents to make her smell tolerable for as long as possible. She wouldn't feed Johanna, it even seemed that she would forget about Johanna entirely at times. She couldn't count the number of times Lucy would look around lackadaisically asking, "Johanna, oh where did I leave her again?", before dropping her head back onto the pillow.

"Lucy, ya really can't be doin' this. I know you're not well; I know ya've been sufferin', but Jo needs 'er mother. She's two now, and moves about like a bleedin' beast, she does. I can barely keep up with the little bugger. Came up 'ere with your lunch yesterday and caught 'er playin' with one of Ben's razors like it was a toy, luckily the thing was closed up and she didn't 'arm her little self, so I 'id 'em away. You need to watch 'er though, she's your daughter and you're takin' absolutely no responsibility wiv' her. I know that it's a lot of work, but ya can't be selfishly lyin' around moping day in and out, not with a bleedin' child to raise!" Lucy could barely take care of herself, how was she supposed to care for her own daughter? Nellie could convince Lucy to get up and eat something and to possibly even go on a short walk with her and Johanna, but even that would become a chore at times. So, the baker would be left with Johanna as well as the shop, leaving her utterly knackered each night with the added responsibilities. Nellie had to admit that she didn't completely mind the situation, however. She had the opportunity to spend more time with Johanna now, whom she'd begun to feel even closer to now than ever before. Plus, Nellie always felt her heart swell by the toddler's name for her, "Aunlie", finding the still learning girl's inability to correctly pronounce "Aunt Nellie" humourously adorable.

Despite the fact that Nellie was doing just about everything on her own, she somehow managed to maintain some control over the chaos that had become her reality. Unfortunately, the same couldn't be said for Lucy Barker. She would either spend all day in bed or drag herself about the flat chuntering to herself. There had even been a few worrisome times when the baker had overheard Lucy having a boisterous dialogue with the air, occasionally catching her bring up the barber's name. She wouldn't interrupt the blonde when these "discussions" occurred, not wanting to upset her more than she already was and to start an argument.

It was now a year to the day when Benjamin had been sent away, a year without any news; possibly no news was good news? Nellie Lovett always preferred to remain optimistic. She couldn't even be sure that Lucy was aware of what day it was, but she wasn't going to say anything that might place her in a worse case of shock. This morning, she had brought Lucy her breakfast, making sure that she ate it all, and left her to continue sitting in the lightly dusted rocking chair that had gone unused since Ben had been shipped away. She had asked if Lucy wanted to join her and Johanna on a walk, but the woman just stared at her with a vacuous gaze as she rocked back and forth, her mouth soundlessly moving. Eleanor crouched down and placed her hands in Lucy's lap, but still got no response. This time, instead of trying again, Nellie simply released a deep sigh and left her to her rocking.

Nellie came through the door, smiling as Johanna played with more than ate the pear that Nellie had given her for a snack after their walk. When Johanna had finished mashing the fruit into a paste, Eleanor giggled as she cleaned the girl's mush covered mouth. "Now, 'ow 'bout we take ya up to visit mummy? That smile of yours will make 'er feel so much better, don'cha think?" Johanna grinned and began to tug on the baker's hand, springing up every step to the flat upstairs.

As soon as she opened the door, Nellie stopped short, looking around the tonsorial parlour. She didn't have the foggiest notion of what it was, but something felt very wrong in the air. She hadn't expected to see Lucy in Benjamin's former tonsorial parlour, of course. On the other side of the door that led directly to their bedroom, however, Nellie could typically hear Lucy either rambling to herself or her quiet snoring if she was asleep, now there was an abnormal silence. She gave it a light knock. "Mrs. Barker, you asleep in there, dearie?" When there was no reply, her knocks became slightly louder. Johanna tugged on the baker's dress as Nellie jiggled the knob and the door easily opened.

Her eyes landed on the bed but found it deserted and they quickly scanned the room but found it just as empty. She finally spotted a torn piece of paper with "Gun ot for wak" written on it in nearly illegible chicken scratch, taking Nellie longer than she would admit deciphering the message. She allowed herself to calm down and brought Johanna back downstairs. Had the poison also affected her spelling and penmanship abilities? Though she didn't have much knowledge of Lucy's parentage, she had always come off as a well-born woman, so there was little doubt that she'd received an education. Nellie shook her head of these thoughts and put on the kettle for a cuppa as she watched.

Nellie had fed, bathed, and changed Johanna into her sleeping clothes. She listened to Johanna's soft sleeping noises as she paced around her flat, her eyes occasionally drifting to the ticking grandfather clock in the corner of the parlour. She had attempted to start her baking for the next day's customers earlier, and had enough for at least the lunch rush, but was no longer able concentrate after some time. How could it possibly be nearly seven now and there still be absolutely no sign of Lucy. She had already gone upstairs twice, hoping that Lucy was up there and she had simply missed the woman's return, only to find a still empty and slowly darkening room. Over the last three hours, Nellie's curiosity had slowly progressed to panic, she eventually gave up. She crept into her bedroom and stroked Johanna's cheek to rouse the tyke. "Wake up little big, we're goin' for a little walk." Johanna rubbed her eyes and, too tired to ask questions, quietly stretched out her arms for Mrs. Lovett to pick her up. The pair ran next door to ask her neighbour, Mrs. Lainey, to watch the tot while she was searching for Mrs. Barker. Mrs. Lainey had insisted that her husband accompany Nellie, reminding her that the dark London streets were not a safe place for a woman to be alone.

They searched down every nearby street and walked through every alley, Mr. Lainey made sure to keep a firm grip on Nellie's shoulder at these times. She would occasionally offer him a sad smile of gratitude; they kept up a conversation in order to avoid any uncomfortable silence. After what felt like hours passed, Nellie let out a strangled cry and slid down the wall of a nearby building, rubbing her hands over her weary face. "Blimey! Mr. Lainey, I've no idea what to do. After everythin' that Lucy's been through, I know that she weren't feelin' all that right up there." She tapped her finger against her head. "I thought that she'd be fine alone for a couple of hours while I took Johanna out for a bit, then I came back to find 'er gone. I mean, the note she left only said that she'd gone for a walk. What if something terrible 'appened to 'er? She could've been taken by someone, could've been raped, could've been murdered, and it's all me fault!" Mrs. Lovett grabbed onto her curls and screamed in her lap as hot tears began to stream down her cheeks. It was true that the baker and the barber's wife had never quite gotten along, but she had promised Benjamin that she would take care of his wife. What would Ben do if he could know how she had broken her promise to him?

Mr. Lainey got down on one knee and held onto her shoulders. "Mrs. Lovett, this is not your fault in any way. We'll keep lookin' and if we doesn't find 'er tonight, we'll go out first thing in the morning." Mrs. Lovett wiped her tears away and took the hands that the man offered her, giving him a whispered word of gratitude. "So, what exactly 'appened to Mrs. Barker, if I may ask? I've never seen a good deal of 'er, she's always seemed rather shy, but I 'asn't seen her for some time now. I only 'eard that Mr. Barker 'ad faced some trouble with the law." Eleanor nodded slowly, recounting everything to him, leaving out her own true feelings towards the barber.

They continued their search for another hour until Nellie began to visibly shiver, making Mr. Lainey roll his eyes and laugh under his breath. "How long did you plan on lasting out 'ere without a coat, Eleanor?" She gave him another small smile, shrugging her shoulders, and telling him that she had been too worried to concern herself with layers. As the pair began to make their way back to their respective properties, Nellie's stomach let out a roar of neglect and Mr. Lainey couldn't help letting out a deep laugh. "Come with me, it may be a bit cold, but we still have a bit left over from supper. Being all alone may not be best for you right now." Nellie nodded in agreement, and they continued on their way, though Nellie couldn't keep herself from constantly turning around or surveying her surroundings looking out for Lucy.

As Mr. Lainey had suggested, after a quick breakfast and feeding Johanna the next morning, the couple joined Nellie as she took Johanna for a walk while they also continued their search. Their search lasted a couple of hours until Johanna began to whine and squirm around in her pram, continuously kicking off the blankets that were shielding her from the cold weather. Nellie sighed and clicked her tongue, stating more to herself than the toddler that she wouldn't be uncomfortable if she didn't keep kicking away her 'cosies' as Nellie had started to call them. In time she knew that they'd have to take a break. Johanna was starting to get hungry for lunch and narky in need of a nap, plus Nellie had to admit that she was starting to get a bit chilled herself. She broke up the group and went back to the shop to put together Johanna's lunch. As Johanna ate, Eleanor kept her eyes on the window, even though she knew that the prospect of Lucy coming back over just the next few minutes was a poor one. Where and how far could a near barmy woman have gone?

Nellie's searching continued over the next week, but she was perfectly aware that she couldn't keep looking forever. She had been keeping her shop closed since she would go out looking for Lucy throughout the day, and because of this she was rapidly beginning to lose the money that she would normally be earning from her customers. She had even begun stopping strangers on the streets to ask if they had seen any sign of Lucy around the area, giving them all a description and telling them to bring her to the pie shop if they found her. She finally decided to re-open the pie shop that night, to an overflow of customers at that, keeping her exceedingly busy. Notwithstanding the copious number of customers, she would become easily distracted when she had to take care of a demanding Johanna or her mind drifted to the still missing Lucy Barker. When she took Johanna to bed that night, the toddler looked up at her with curious eyes. "Aunlie, is mummy gonna be back home soon? Did she forget 'bout me?" Nellie stroked the girl's warm cheek, pressing her forehead against the child's. Not knowing what else to say, she only told Johanna that mummy was away for a bit, but she would be home soon, kissing both of her cheeks before tucking the sheets tightly around the girl.

The next day was running smoothly, the flow of customers at the lunch hour was keeping her mind occupied. It had seemed that keeping the shop closed for the last few weeks had in fact made it only more desirable to the crowds when its doors were opened once again. Everything seemed to come to a lurching halt, however, when Mr. Lainey came racing into the shop, He caught his breath as he rushed to the baker, his hands firm on her shoulders, "We've got her Nell, we found Lucy!" Nellie stood frozen to the spot for several seconds before her neighbour's words fully sank in, she immediately announced that the shop was going to be closed, causing her customers to look around and whisper to one another. Mr. Lainey was kind enough to help her with the remaining customers and once the shop had emptied, she flipped the sign over and after grabbing Johanna, they all walked next door together.