Lucy Beckett clutched her mother's cross to her chest. Mother had always told Lucy it would protect her from all who meant her harm. Lucy snorted. So much for that now. Maybe if Mother had been wearing it instead of Lucy, she wouldn't be dead. Lucy had been in London for what seemed like ages now. She had lost track of time entirely as she wandered the cold cobblestone streets, avoiding the eyes of others who looked at her curiously and trying to keep the ghosts out of her mind. Lucy was thinner now than she had ever been, even when her parents were alive and the three of them had lived happily. She clutched her grandmother's shawl to her shoulders, shivering. Lucy took a quick glance up at the sky. Damn. It was getting dark already. The only truly scary part of living on the streets of London was nighttime when all the shifty folks emerged from their dark hiding places.

Putting her head down, Lucy walked faster and faster until she ran straight into something wide and hard. She tumbled to the ground and looked up. Leering down at her were three boys, maybe two or so years older than her. Realizing she had walked straight into the biggest one's chest, she was suddenly filled with fear. Lucy stood up quickly. "I-I'm very sorry, I wasn't watching where I was going and - "

"That's alright sweetheart, we don't mind a bit," The big one said, stepping around to block her escape. Lucy was now completely trapped between the boys with a tall iron fence behind her. If Lucy was scared before, she was even more so now. These were exactly the kind of people she tried to stay away from. Lucy smiled politely and attempted to brush past them.

"Leaving so soon? You'll 'urt our feelings! We 'asn't been with women for months," A boy with greasy yellow hair taunted, grabbing her shawl and pulling her backwards. The whole circle began to close in around her and Lucy cringed away from their hungry eyes.

"Really, I have somewhere I need to be - " she tried desperately.

"Don't lie to us, we've all seen you wanderin' the streets for days now," The big one said maliciously, his hand snaking up to take hold of her waist.

"It's not like you have anywhere better to go, little poppet," Someone else sniggered. The big one laughed harshly and pushed her down to the ground, leaning over her and clapping a dirty hand over her mouth to stifle her scream. They all laughed now, the sound echoing in Lucy's head. She struggled as her ratty dress was ripped and pulled over her knees. She squirmed and whimpered, fighting them and wishing for it all to go away. The boys laughed cruelly and cheered on their leader. Lucy's eyes filled with tears and she squeezed them shut. She felt her resolve crumbling. Just as her dress tore several more inches with a sharp ripping sound, the laughter stopped abruptly and the roaming hands on her thighs stopped cold. Lucy saw something metallic glinting in the light of the street lamps. It was now at the throat of the greasy-haired boy.

"Let her up," growled a low voice. The boy on top of Lucy looked up in alarm. Trying to seem in control of the situation, he snatched Lucy's arm and stood up, tugging her up and crushing her to him.

"Get out of here. This is our territory," he snarled. Although he tried to sound tough, Lucy could sense the fear in his voice." The other man stepped closer to the circle. He was tall with a handsome, but miserable face and crazy black hair with one white streak through it that surrounded his head like a thundercloud. His dark eyes had large, crimson circles beneath them, standing out from his pasty white skin. Despite his oddly deranged appearance, Lucy's eyes were drawn to the glimmering razor he gripped in his right hand.

"It would be so easy to slit his throat. . . " The man said softly, slightly cutting into the throat of the greasy-haired boy just enough to draw a few drops of blood. The boy cried out, his eyes wide and his face paling. "Make him stop!" the boy gasped. The other boys looked at each other for half a second before bolting away down the street. Just before the boy holding Lucy left, he dug his fingers into her scalp and yanked her ear close to his mouth.

"Have a good time with this one, at least we would have let you live," he whispered hoarsely and was gone.

The man looked after the escaping boys. He would have liked to chase them down, but it would have to wait. Sweeney Todd took one look at the girl, who was clutching the tattered remains of her dress close to her, and leaned down slowly to pick up the yellow shawl that had fallen to the ground. He held it out to her. Seeing the terror in her wide eyes escalate, he dropped his hand, still clutching the shawl. "I won't hurt you. I'm going to help you," he breathed, as if trying to calm a wild animal.

Lucy found herself surprised at the gentleness in his voice and eyes. She felt safer with him than with the boys who had nearly raped her. Still, she was wary of this stranger. He breathed in and tried to sound more conversational. "My name is Todd, Sweeney Todd."

"I'm Lucy," she replied shyly. At the sound of her name, it was almost as if something had struck him. He looked to be in a staggering amount of pain. Lucy felt a rush of sympathy toward this man and she stepped closer to him. "I am grateful for your help sir. I would be. . . much worse for the wear had you not stepped in." He nodded to her curtly, trying to distract himself from whatever it was about her that had startled him.

Sweeney Todd turned from her then and began walking in the opposite direction. He looked over his shoulder at her, his face blank as parchment. "Stay close," he murmured and started up walking again. Lucy jogged to catch up with him, holding the scraps of her dress around her.