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The Colony

Chapter Text

June 3, 1790

The colonists watched from the shore as the frigate Scarborough sailed into the bay. They had been long awaiting news from home, supplies, and most of all, the doctor they were told would be coming. It would be the first doctor they ever had and he was desperately needed. Among the female prisoners there were midwives, women who could stitch a wound, and those who claimed to be healers by way of homemade remedies and magical touches. Today, however, marked the arrival of a real medical doctor. He would have real instruments and could attend to broken bones and serious illnesses of which both the prisoners and their captors suffered regularly.

When the first row boat finally arrived on the shore, it was piled high with crates which the prisoners were ordered to unload and take to the quartermasters hut. Lizzy watched from a safe distance as James and Tommy were enlisted to haul crates. The quartermaster supervised as he checked the provisions against the list that he'd sent back to England almost a year ago. He looked out toward the frigate where a second rowboat was being loaded - this one with people. Most likely they were new prisoners and additional personnel.

"You'd better hurry about, then," he told the ship's mate who captained the rowboat. "I want the rest of my supplies unloaded and brought ashore before dark."

"They's ain't no more," the mate told him in a thick cockney accent.

"What are you talking about?" the quartermaster demanded. "This is less than half the provisions I requested."

The first mate shrugged. "Tha's wot the King sent," he pointed to the crates. "Tha's wot you's gettin'!"

James sidled up to the quartermaster after having returned from bringing the first crates up to the storage area. "Is that all we're getting? They sent us to this godforsaken place as punishment and now they're going to starve us, too?"

The quartermaster turned to James with derision. "Quiet!" he hissed at James. "Keep your voice down or you'll start a riot. That happens and yours will be the first rations reduced."

James and Tommy eyed each other in fear. They knew what it meant. It meant that everyone's rations would be reduced anyway. James was already hungry. Marston had been stealing his food. With rations reduced, who would Marston be after next? And how long would he survive with his own rations in Marston's stomach?

Lizzy saw the look of fear in both their eyes and asked what it was. The three of them kept their heads close and their voices low as they discussed the situation and began hatching a plan to ensure that none of them would go hungry - at least not starving anyway.

When the next rowboat came in to shore, Governor Phillip and Sergeant Timmins came down to await its arrival. They wanted to be present when their long-awaited doctor first set his feet on the shores of the new colony. The new doctor was deserving of a proper welcoming. The two men, stood waiting in their polished dress uniforms. They wanted the doctor to get the best impression as he arrived. They knew that soon after his arrival, he'd know the truth about the conditions of the colony. They were worried that the doctor, upon seeing the colony, might change his mind and prefer to take his chances by returning to the sea and to England.

The ship's first mate and his crew dragged the rowboat farther onto the beach. The Governor and the Sergeant craned their heads expectantly, examining the faces on board the row boat. This boat however, was filled only with the ragged and dirty faces of prisoners. Closer to the front were a group of twelve men, and near the back were five women. Of the women, only one was clean and properly dressed. It was this woman who was first ushered off the rowboat. The first mate offered his hand and made sure that she did not fall or get her petticoats wet as she stepped ashore.

"Why is this woman not shackled?" Major Ross demanded as he pushed his way between Phillip and Timmins.

"This is the doctor's sister," the first mate explained as the thin, delicate woman approached them. The woman removed her bonnet to reveal her dark auburn hair and blue eyes. Her skin was alabaster and smooth, free of the blemishes of poverty.

Governor Phillip stepped forward and offered his hand. The woman held hers out to him. Phillip took it and kissed the back of it tactfully and properly, bowing to her in greeting.

"Sansa Stark," she offered.

"Mistress Stark," Phillip addressed her bowing his head slightly. "Will Doctor Stark be brought to shore on the next rowboat?" he inquired, double-checking the faces amongst the prisoners who were still waiting to be allowed on shore.

Sansa took a deep breath and lifted her chin with an air of dignity and strength. "I'm afraid my brother will not be joining us," she declared. "Robb's health faltered in the voyage. We buried him at sea more than three months ago."

Governor Phillip tried to hide his expression of disappointment and replace it with something resembling sympathy. Of, course he was sorry for this woman's loss, but the colony desperately needed a doctor. With the words locked in Phillip's throat, Sergeant Timmins stepped forward and offered his condolences.

"I'm sorry for your loss, Mistress Stark." He nodded to her curtly. "But why have you come ashore to tell us this? Would you not have preferred to stay aboard the Scarborough and returned to England?"

Mistress Stark took a deep breath and fortified her emotions. "Gentlemen, it has been a long and difficult voyage. Perhaps we could discuss this in a more comfortable setting?"

Sansa dabbed at the little bit of her exposed skin in as lady-like a manner as she could. At least while at sea there had been ocean breezes by which to cool herself. In the stifling confines of Governor Phillip's accommodations, the amount of perspiration she was producing was very unlady-like. She was offered a glass of what she supposed was meant to be cold tea, but Sansa couldn't imagine anything ever being cold in this place.

"Believe me, sir, if I had better options, I would most certainly choose them," she explained to the officers. "I shouldn't imagine anyone wanting to be here of their own accord." Sansa fanned herself.

"Then why don't you return?" Timmins asked. "Surely the sea is a better option than for a young woman of breeding to remain in a place like this? Would you rather not go back to England?"

"If you could conjure the saints to whisk me away and ensure my safe arrival on England's shores in a week's time, I would be eternally grateful. However, you and I both know of the journey. We were at sea for 252 days, sir. It is a hardship I'd prefer not to endure again so soon." Sansa shifted uncomfortably in her chair. Her layers of skirt and petticoats were making her legs sweat and chafe.

"Even if I did have a mind to return, that would not be possible. The Scarborough is not returning directly to England. She has been chartered for exploration to the east. To a place I believe they are referring to as New Zealand?"

Timmins and Phillip looked at each other uncomfortably. "What are we to do with her, sir?" Timmins asked the Governor. Phillip eyed the young girl with concern. He would not be able to guarantee her safety here, not in this place among these sorts of men. She might not be safe even from the soldiers and other officers.

"We'll have to find an appropriate use for her, but -" Governor Phillip began.

"I will be your new doctor," Sansa suddenly declared. The officers looked aghast.

"You?!" Major Ross proclaimed with distaste.

"Yes, me," Sansa insisted as she stood in defiance before the men. "My brother Robb took care of me since I was very young when our parents were stricken with the pox. Because of their illness, Robb was determined to be a doctor, to find cures for illnesses, to find remedies, and to heal the sick and broken," Sansa explained. "As he learned and advanced in his practice of the healing arts, I worked as his assistant. As a result, I learned everything that he did. Perhaps a woman cannot legally be called a doctor, but I have the same knowledge and skills. My brother also schooled me in the identification of herbs and plants. He taught me to make salves, plasters, teas, and medicines. Robb taught me how to test the merits of unidentified species of flora and fauna."

The officers in the room gazed at each other in wonderment before returning their gaze to the young woman before them.

"You need a doctor and I need a home," she told them. Her voice made it clear that they weren't being given much say in the matter.

"This is a rough place, Mistress Stark. We may not be able to guarantee your safety or your ..." The Governor lowered his eyes with the discomfort of having to discuss such an improper topic in front of such a proper woman, but she needed to understand the vulgar facts of the situation. "Of your innocence."

"I am the only doctor in this place," Sansa informed them. "If any harm comes to me, you will not have a doctor for very long. Make sure your men know that. Make sure your prisoners know that and I will treat all of them equally and respectfully."

Sansa hoped in her heart that that would be enough, but she feared that it wouldn't. Not by far.

Chapter Text

Mistress Stark was shown to her quarters. In preparation for the arrival of a colony doctor, a large and sturdy cabin had been built for him. It was large enough to encompass living quarters for the doctor as well as a medical office where patients could be tended to and procedures performed.

It certainly wasn’t the best accommodations Sansa had ever lived in, but then, as she wandered the colony and observed her surroundings, she realized it wasn’t the worst living situation, either.

Mistress Sansa was given adequate rations befitting her class and social rank with the other “citizens” of the colony. In the short time she’d been here, she quickly became aware of the social levels. At the top were the Governor and his officers. Below that were the citizens. Citizens were those free inhabitants who had been brought to the new colony for the benefit of the rest. That included Mistress Stark, the officer’s wives, the Reverend Johnson and his wife, and the free family members that had accompanied prisoners. Below the citizens were the prisoners. Even among the prisoners, there was a social hierarchy with some being much lower than others.

On the first day of her arrival, Sansa was given a quick tour of the colony and introduced to its most important inhabitants. It was explained to her how daily life worked and rules were given for her own safety.

On the second day, Sansa got her cabin in order. Medical supplies and instruments were unpacked. Her personal living space was arranged and made as comfortable as possible.

On the third day, Sansa saw her first patients.

A man name Tor McKillip was her first patient. Tor had been using a machete to clear undergrowth from an area where trees would be cleared for lumber and to prepare the colony for expansion. When Tor had whacked at a thick bush, the machete had gotten stuck, in the process of wrenching it free, he’d ended up whacking himself in the forearm with the blade. Fortunately, the whack had not been a strong one and the wound was not deep. Sansa washed the wound with salt water and stitched up the skin. Tor hadn’t so much as flinched when she sewed his skin, but rather sat there watching her with fascination. These were extremely tough men, she realized, and that frightened her.

Her second patient was a man named James Freeman. According to Captain Collins, James had fainted while working in the same area as Tor McKillip. James had been working to clear the deadwood and vegetation that had been removed by Tor’s team.

James had been brought to her by Major Ross. Sansa quickly realized just what kind of man Major Ross was. Not only did he leer at her suggestively the entire time he was in her presence, he claimed that James was an idler, attempting to get out of working even though the prisoner's hands were rough and raw with fresh cuts. Sansa finally had to ask Major Ross to leave so that she could attend to her patient in private.

Sansa pulled down the bottom of James’ eyelids and examined the pink fleshy area beneath his eyeballs. She cautiously pressed her head against his back to listen to his heartbeat. She examined his gums.

“Why did you faint?” she asked him. The tone of her voice suggested she already knew the answer.

James shrugged. “Don’t know.”

Sansa narrowed her eyes at him and pursed her lips. “You need not be afraid of speaking the truth to me,” she informed him. “I’m here to ensure that everyone remains healthy. There will be no prejudices here,” she said pointing to the floor beneath them. She waited, but James didn’t speak.

“Why did you faint?” she asked again.

James shrugged. “Heat. Hard work,” he suggested. “I suppose a man could use more to eat when he’s doing that kind of work,” he said stubbornly.

“ ’Tis even more difficult when the man isn’t eating at all.”

“What are you saying?” James asked feigning ignorance. Sansa crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow.

“I was told that prisoners here are treated fairly. If that is not the case, I need to know. Are prisoners being denied their rations?” Sansa asked severely.

James shook his head, refusing to speak.

“When was the last time you ate, Mr. Freeman?”

“Everyone is given their rations. Every morning we give our rations to the cooks and they –”

“I know how it works, James. That’s not what I asked. When was the last time you ate?”

James ignored her and stood to leave. As he made his way to the door, Sansa realized that James Freeman was afraid. Of who or what, she had no idea, but she was determined to find out.

“You need to eat, James. If you don’t, you’ll get sick first, then you’ll die.”

Before James disappeared through the door flap, he turned back to look at Mistress Sansa. Again he shrugged apathetically, then he left and went back to work.

Sansa was awakened in the middle of the night. Suddenly, a hand covered her mouth and a heavy body pressed down on top of her. She struggled, but the man on top of her was strong and determined and she was unable to move or fight back.

“Lie still,” Major Ross whispered suggestively. “Make things easier for yourself.”

Sansa managed to free her mouth from his hand. “Touch me and I’ll scream,” she warned.

“Scream, and I’ll just say the prisoner who was about to rape you got away,” he threatened. “A fresh young cunt like yours won’t last very long in this place. Best just to get it over with.”

“Get off me!” Sansa shouted, threatening to break the covering silence of the night.

“If don’t let me fuck you, I’ll pass you to someone who will. There are rapists here, Mistress Stark. Men who would fuck every hole until they used you up and ripped you apart. Men who would enjoy your screams. I have men who are waiting in line for a chance at one of the women. How many do you think your fragile little body could handle at once? Two? Three? More? I’m sure they wouldn’t mind sharing as long as they got their turn to fuck you hard and make you scream.”

“Get. Your. Hands. Off. Me,” Sansa growled. “Don't ever touch me, you disgusting bastard.”

With a hard shove, Major Ross pushed himself off of her. Sansa pulled her linens up to her chin. “Don’t ever come to me to ask for help,” she warned. “You are a loathsome, repulsive, foul human being. If you become ill or mortally wounded I will gladly watch you writhe until your death.”

Major Ross smirked cruelly at her. “You’ve made your decision. I hope you can live with it.” He slinked out of her cabin and into the darkness leaving Sansa alone and cowering. Every sound in the night made her tremble in fear. How would she protect herself if Major Ross acted upon his threat? Would it be possible for her to appeal to Governor Phillip or Sergeant Timmins? As it was, the officers were spread thin guarding the prisoners. Sansa did not yet know of the alliances between officers, soldiers, and prisoners, so she would have no idea who to trust, or who would be in league with whom.

Sansa realized that her safety would have to be assured through her own devices. She would have to watch carefully to discover the secrets that would help her ensure her safety and survival. The secret she sought would come sooner than she expected.

Chapter Text

Sansa dipped her bread in the salt water and chewed it off. The bread was hard and course, but she also knew that it was healthy and would provide the nutrition she needed to remain healthy. Sansa cut off a thick slice of hard cheese and placed it on top of her bread, chewing the pieces together. It was nothing like the fine meals she’d eaten in England, but it was far better than the meals the prisoners subsisted on.

When she had safely consumed her simple morning meal, Sansa ventured outside her cabin. She knew better than to eat her meal in view of anyone else. Not only was it cruel to eat such a luxurious meal in front of grown men who would eat only a small, pathetic fry cake for their entire day, Sansa also knew it would be dangerous. In addition to the men Major Ross had described to her, there were also men who would be willing to kill for something as precious as a piece of cheese.

Sansa wandered amongst the prisoners as they waited their turn for the cooks to make their fry cakes. When she caught sight of James Freeman, her interest was piqued. His eyes darted about nervously as he approached a woman named Anne.

The female prisoner took his bowl and scraped the batter into her skillet. James waited patiently eyeing his food, his fingers nervously picking at a thread on his shirt. He glanced around as though he expected to be attacked.

When Anne was done frying the skillet cake, she handed it back to James, but he never got a chance to taste it. From nowhere, James was pushed roughly aside and his fry cake taken. The thief was taller, stronger, and more muscular than any other man she had ever seen. He wore a leather apron and was covered from head to toe in black greasy filth. The man had a scruff of growth that surrounded a menacing scowl. His short, curly brown hair stuck in all directions. His arms and face glistened with sooty sweat.

“Who is that man?” Sansa asked Mrs. Johnson.

“He’s Marston. That’s the blacksmith,” she told Sansa.

Sansa watched as James sank dejectedly into the sand. He didn’t appeal to anyone for help. The soldiers who were responsible for guarding the prisoners had watched the scene unfold and did nothing. After some casual inquires and idle talk, it didn’t take Sansa long to realize why.

Everyone … everyone, was in fear of Marston. The only way to control or discipline him, would be to kill him. No one, not even the governor would allow that to happen. Marston was the only blacksmith and he had a particular set of skills that no one else had and which they desperately needed. If anything happened to him, it would be the beginning of the death of the colony.

It was his job, pounding molten steel and working in a sweltering forge, that made him as strong and durable as he was. It also took a lot of physical labor to do the job he did. That sort of labor, especially in a man his size, required a lot of food.

Marston was just as hungry as everyone else. The only difference is that Marston had the power to do something about it. For some reason, he had singled out James to exert his dominance over the other prisoners. Every man feared him; no one wanted to take James Freeman’s place.

 After a week of her new life in this Australia, Sansa was invited to dine with the Governor, his officers and their wives, and the Reverend and Mrs. Johnson. Sansa and Major Ross eyed each other nefariously from across the room. Major Ross had taken to fulfilling his needs with a girl named Kitty, but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t follow through with his threat. And for that, Sansa lived in fear. However, she was also keeping quiet, observing, and gathering the information she would need to create a plan to protect herself.

From her dinner amongst the colony elite, Sansa learned of the goings on within the social order of the prisoners. The officers were debating what to do – if anything – about the situation between Marston and James Freeman. During an interrogation, it could not be proven that Marston had been stealing food from James – no one except a starving man was brave enough to accuse Marston of anything.

Major Ross suggested letting the situation handle itself. “Will anyone really care if James Freeman dies?” he asked the room.

“If James Freeman dies, who will Marston steal food from next?” Reverend Johnson asked. “How many prisoners have to starve to appease the blacksmith?”

“You’re assuming that Marston is guilty,” Sergeant Timmins stated. There were murmurs all around, but no one refuted or confirmed the issue.

After dinner, Sansa asked Corporal McDonald to walk her back to her cabin. She was aware that Kitty wanted to be with him, but that Major Ross had commandeered Kitty’s services for himself. In fact, she had an “appointment” with him at this very moment.

Corporal McDonald was more than accommodating in accompanying Sansa until she felt safe enough to continue on her own. As she passed by the far end of the couple’s barracks, she heard hushed voices holding a desperate discussion. Sansa recognized the voices of James Freeman and Lizzy, and so assumed that the third voice belonged to Tommy.

The plan that they had hatched was a desperate one, but it was the only way for James to ensure his own survival. This was the final bit of information Sansa needed to form her own plan. All she needed now, was to find out if Marston was a bargaining man. Sansa needed to know if he was smart enough to make the right decision based on his immediate needs.

If he wasn’t, if Marston was an illogical brute with no sense of self-preservation, she would let James and Tommy execute their plan. She might even help them if James would agree to be her protector.

Tomorrow, Sansa would offer her bargaining chip and see if Marston was a gambling man.

Chapter Text

Sansa approached Marston’s forge from behind the canvas wall at the rear. She had observed Lizzy approaching ahead of her and Sansa wanted to hear the conversation that was about to take place.

Sansa positioned herself at a seam in the canvas where the stitching had begun to unravel. With her face pressed against the sooty canvas, Sansa watched and listened.

“How can you stand the heat?” Lizzy asked leaning on a wooden post a safe distance from Marston. The blacksmith pounded a bar of molten steel with his hammer, his face hovering directly over the intensely blazing fire. Sansa heard the repetitive clink! of steel on steel as he hammered the softened metal.

“What do you want?” Marston grumbled in Lizzy’s direction. He ignored her as he pumped his bellows. Sansa could hear the renewed rush of the flames.

“Do you think James Freeman could kill you?” she asked.

“No,” Marston answered brusquely continuing to ignore her.

“Could Tommy?”


“The two of them together?” Lizzy asked.

“No,” Marston said shaking his head with finality.

“I think they could.”

Marston contemplated Lizzy’s words for a long moment. A flicker of concern swept across his face, but it quickly disappeared. “Is Tommy involved?”

“They’re friends. You’re stealing his friend’s food. Steal someone else’s.”

Marston turned back to his fire and pumped the bellows again. “No.”

“If Tommy tries to kill you and he fails, he’ll get hurt.”

Marston turned slightly towards Lizzy, but continued with his work. “Yes.”

“If he succeeds, he’ll get hanged.”


“I want neither to happen. Is there anything I can do to prevent them?”

Marston suddenly stopped and turned toward Lizzy with a curious look. He gazed over the length of her, suddenly interested in what she had to say. “Perhaps.”

“What?” Lizzy asked.

Marston slowly strode toward her. “Do not play games with me, girl.” Sansa watched as Marston explained exactly what he would do to her. He grabbed her roughly and fondled her suggestively. When Lizzy recoiled from his touch, Marston knew he’d made his point. He let Lizzy go and watched her scramble away like a wounded animal.

When Marston turned around to go back to his work, he found a different woman waiting. Marston suspected that the delicate little Mistress Sansa had something to do with James, Tommy, and Lizzy, but he hadn’t seen them together. He wondered briefly what her role was in all of this.

Obviously, Mistress Sansa hadn’t yet learned the rules. Marston would love to teach them to her.

Sansa kept her distance. She had seen Marston’s threats to Lizzy, but Sansa had an advantage. She had something that Marston would want. Of course she realized that all the men in this place wanted to bed a woman, but rather, this was a matter of need. A man’s need for sex could be fulfilled in a number of ways that didn’t involve raping or hurting someone else. Food however, was a different story.

“Lizzy couldn’t convince you to stop stealing food from James,” Sansa said. Marston went back to heating his steel bar in the fire, turning it repeatedly so that the metal would heat evenly.

“No,” he answered in his typical, uninterested fashion.

“Perhaps I can,” Sansa told him. Marston looked up and ogled her.

“Tommy’s woman is experienced. She’s had her share of cocks in her.” He returned his attention to the molten bar of steel and pulled it from the fire. Marston laid it on the anvil and repeatedly struck it with his hammer, slowly flattening the metal. As he placed the steel bar back in the fire, he returned his gaze to the mistress doctor. He snorted.

“Do you know what I would do to you?” Marston left his fire and slowly stepped toward the young woman. “What do you think would happen to your delicate little cunt if I raped you?”

Sansa held her ground, determined not to show him any fear. She’d witnessed his idle threats to Lizzy and how he’d been satisfied when Lizzy had scuttled away in fear. Marston lifted a soot-covered finger to stroke her cheek leaving a greasy black smudge. Marston licked his lips vulgarly.

“You’ve never had a cock before, have you?” he murmured threateningly. “Do you think I would enjoy tearing your little virgin pussy and fucking you until you bleed?” Marston put his face close to hers and licked his lips slowly and suggestively. “Oh yes, I would,” he advised her.

“I have something to offer you,” Sansa said, slightly shaken but trying not to show it. “But that’s not it. My innocence will remain intact until I see fit to give it up,” she informed him.

“Oh, is that so?” Marston asked as he returned his attention to his work. He didn’t want to allow the mistress to tempt him. She was the colony doctor and for harm to her, there would be serious consequences. Even for Marston.

Relieved be at a safe distance from the blacksmith again, Sansa took a deep breath. “Why do you steal food?” Sansa asked.

“Because I’m hungry.”

“What would it take for you to stop stealing food?” Sansa asked. Marston didn’t answer, but his head snapped up as he glared at her. The mistress doctor had just informed him that she wasn’t offering her body, so what did she have to give him? He thought for a moment, suddenly dreaming of cheese and bread and meat.

Fuck it! If he was going to dream, he may as well ask for wine, too.

“A full stomach,” he finally blurted and he began hammering the steel bar again.

Sansa stepped cautiously toward him and displayed a wrapped bundle she’d kept hidden behind her back.  Leaning where she’d been at the corner post by the canvas wall, Marston hadn’t even noticed that she’d concealed her hand from him. Marston stopped what he was doing and watched as Sansa peeled back the edges of the ragged cloth.

Inside the fold of the tattered fabric were a hank of bread, a small bit of cheese and a small but thick slab of greasy meat. Marston swallowed hard. That was more than he’d seen five men share at Christmas last year. He reached out and tried to snatch the feast from Sansa’s hand, but the mistress was faster.

“You’ll have a full stomach,” she promised. “Leave James Freeman alone. Stop stealing his food.”

Marston eyed the prize, then he eyed the Mistress Doctor. “And if I don’t?”

Sansa shrugged her shoulders and began to rewrap the bundle in her hand. As she threatened to turn away, Marston straightened, setting down his hammer.

“What’s in it for you?” he asked her. So she told him. Sansa needed his protection. With Marston as her bodyguard, no man – officer or prisoner – would dare to interfere with her.

“When do I get my food?” he demanded.

“Every morning. Early. Before the others are up. I don’t want them to become aware of our arrangement. You’ll eat your food, then you’ll go to the cook lines with the others to get your regular rations.” Marston and Sansa eyed each other warily.

“If anything happens to me,” she warned, “our special arrangement will no longer be available and you’ll go back to eating mealy fry cakes with the rest. It will be in your best interest to protect me.”

Sansa stepped closer with the bundle of food in her hand and tantalizingly displayed under his nose. “If James Freeman’s food is stolen – if anyone’s food is stolen – I’ll assume you will no longer be in need of our arrangement.”

As quick as a blink, Marston’s hand darted out and grabbed the thin delicate wrist that was holding the bundle of food. “If I don’t get my food,” he growled menacingly, “I’ll assume you are no longer in need of protection.” Marston yanked her body toward his. He put his other arm behind her back and pulled her roughly against him. “And then I’ll take what I want,” he snarled close to her ear. His tongue snaked out and licked then delicate skin on her neck.

Sansa turned her face directly to his. His rancid breath and the stink of his sweat made her eyes water, but she didn’t flinch.

“Then I suggest that we both hold up our end of the bargain,” she said. Marston let her go, tossing her aside as he wrenched the wrapped meal from her fingers.

Sansa waited in her cabin until the officer brought James Freeman to her. She had ordered an officer to present him under the pretenses of checking on the state of his health.

“Leave Marston alone,” she told James. James recoiled in surprise. “I know what you’re planning and I want it to stop.” Sansa didn’t even wait for James to respond.

“I don’t want Marston touched. I have plans of my own for him.” Sansa handed James a small cloth pouch. James knew it was a ration bag containing fry cake flour. He looked dumbfounded.

“Marston won’t steal your food anymore. I do not want him touched. Is that understood?” Sansa asked. James nodded.

“I assure you,” she told him, “You’ll never go hungry again.”

Chapter Text

Marston lay in his cot staring into the darkness. He listened to the snores of sleeping men, and the groans of men who were taking care of their own needs in their own way. He listened to the coughing and the whispers of men who couldn’t sleep.

Marston wasn’t sure why he couldn’t sleep. Perhaps he’d been unsettled by the thought that someone had wanted him dead. He’d grown too confident in his own strength and intimidation. It had never occurred to him that someone might come after him. He’d believed that the others were too afraid of him. Apparently he’d been wrong. Fear was one thing, but desperation could make any man overcome his fear and do something about it.

Perhaps, Marston thought, he’d been unsettled by the feeling of a woman in his arms. Lizzy had struggled and been repulsed by him, but still, she was a woman and he’d had his arms around her, felt her warmth and her curves against his body for the barest of moments.

Then that Mistress Doctor had shown up. She was even more beautiful than Lizzy, but not in the same seductive way as an experienced woman like Lizzy. It was the doctor lady’s innocence and purity that had got him aroused. Her thin, delicate features and virginal manner had made him want to take her, to make a woman out of her, to show her what he could do to her, just as he’d threatened.

Marston grew restless. He had to piss. He always did at this time of night. In the heat of his forge, he sweat so much that he drank water constantly. It always made him have to get up in the middle of the night. He wished he could wait until morning, especially with a full stomach for the first time in years. He might’ve had a good deep sleep for a change if he didn’t have to wake himself up to go for a fucking midnight stroll every night.

Marston walked along the men’s tent with his hand brushing the canvas wall so he could find his way back in the dark of the moonless night. About halfway he stopped suddenly when he heard his name.

“We’ll wait ‘til Marston gets back from pissin’ then we’ll go.” Marston recognized the voice of Samuel Roach. His name adequately described the type of person he was – a loathsome and violent predator with no concept of morals or right and wrong.

“Who gets ‘er first?” asked a voice that Marston didn’t recognize.

“I do,” Roach whispered. He said something unintelligible then, “ … tart only has one cherry.”

“Ross better pay up good for this or we’s like as get sick and die writhin’ for all that doctor wench would do for us,” said  a third voice.

“Where the fuck is Marston? It can’t take that long to piss in the wind.”

“Scream!” Marston growled.

Sansa froze in her bed, petrified to make so much as the tiniest movement. Marston lay on top of her in the dark, his face pressed close to hers as he held his hand over her mouth. Sansa didn’t bother to struggle. The man was too strong and too massive, his weight bearing down on her.

Marston looked down into the wide frightened eyes as the Mistress Doctor stared back at him pleadingly.

“Scream, for fuck’s sake!” he yelled in a whisper. But Sansa didn’t dare. He was taunting her to make it worse for herself. She knew he would delight in watching her try to fight him and then punishing her for it.

How could she have been so wrong about him? Marston had agreed to take the extra food in exchange for protecting her. He knew that this – what he was doing to her now, would break their agreement. He’d have to go back to the fry lines and meager rations like everyone else. At least, that’s what he knew. He didn’t know just how little time he’d have left. Sansa would help James and Lizzy and Tommy kill him, then she’d help them get away with it. Sansa wished she could ask his dead corpse if it was worth what he was about to do to her.

Marston uncovered Sansa’s mouth and ripped back her bed linens. He grabbed her hard by the wrists and forced them back over her head pinning them together with one hand. With the other, he slapped her across the face with almost all his strength. Sansa cried out, whimpering as Marston straddled her on the bed.

A slight creak pricked Marston’s ears. Marston paused and looked back toward the door flap of the Mistress’s cabin. He knew the three wouldn’t have waited very long for Marston to return to his cot, but he hadn’t expected them so soon. He was determined to keep his privileged meals and full stomach.

Marston ripped the doctor’s night dress open, forcing himself to look away as he did it. He didn’t want to be tempted by what he would see. He then threw himself on top of her covering her small thin body with his large wide frame, letting his full weight rest on her. He could feel the young woman struggle beneath him, but for her own defense, she would not cry out.

Grabbing her face with his hand, he squeezed her cheeks hard with his strong fingers. “Scream!” he yelled at her. “I like it better that way.” Marston waited until he heard another creak from her doorstep. Then, he roughly reached down between their bodies, mashed together on her pallet, and pulled at the string of his breeches. He yanked them down in the front as Sansa finally found her voice.

“No!” she cried as she struggled. “No! Please!” she gasped between sobs. She looked up in desperation as three men entered her cabin. Marston looked back to watch the disappointment in their eyes.

“She’s mine!” he shouted at them.

Sam Roach boldly stepped toward the cot where the doctor lady continued to struggle under Marston’s weight.

“Ross told us we could ‘ave ‘er,” Roach said. Sansa gasped knowing that she was done for. No one was here to help her, instead they were fighting over who would have the privilege of raping her first.

Marston jumped to his feet and held his breeches up around his waist. He approached the much smaller man and looked down on him. He lowered his face over Roach’s and growled slowly.

“She’s mine,” he told the three men. “You want her, you’ll have to pay for her.” He knew that they couldn’t. These three were at the lowest rank among the prisoners.

Roach and the two others looked at each other silently making an agreement between them. It wasn’t worth it. The Mistress Doctor wasn’t worth going against Marston – not even the three of them together. Despite the fact that they were backing down, they stuck their chins up, puffed out their chests, and retreated.

After they had backed out the door, Marston turned back to the cot to see the doctor curled up in a ball and cowering away from him.

“Time to see just how ripe that cunt is,” he said loudly. Marston grabbed her by the ankles and yanked her down the cot. Sansa struggled as Marston lay down on top of her but kept his breeches on and pulled up.

“No! Please, no, Marston!”

Marston leaned close to her ear and whispered, “Scream louder.”

Sansa struggled as Marston put all his weight on her. He pulled open her ripped night dress and groped at her breasts. Sansa fought and twisted. She began to thrash wildly, screaming at the top of her lungs, wailing and pleading and screaming. Marston slapped her across the face again, hard enough to suddenly silence her. Sansa lay there defeated, the fight gone out of her.

Marston rolled over on the bed beside her and tied his breeches. He made himself comfortable and went to sleep.

Chapter Text

Trapped between Marston and the wall, Sansa didn’t dare move. She feared waking him and provoking his wrath. The huge man snored deeply, but she feared that if she tried to sneak away, tried to climb out of bed around him or over him, that she might wake him.

It seemed as though days had passed before he finally woke. He climbed off the bed and stood looking down at her. The Mistress Doctor was still cowering in the corner, grasping at the torn front of her night dress, trying to hide her nakedness from him.

“Where’s my breakfast?” he demanded.

Sansa looked aghast at him. “We had a deal,” she hissed. “You were supposed to protect me.”

Marston leaned down close to her. “Were you raped?” he snarled at her. “Is your precious innocence still intact?” When the Mistress didn’t answer, Marston stood straight and cracked his knuckles. “Those three men were sent by Major Ross. Did they ravage you?" Marston shook his head. "Did I?”

“No. Your virtue is still yours and a deal’s a deal,” he told her. “They won’t be back. They think you belong to me. They think I’ve had you.” He threw himself into the chair at the small crude dining table and slammed a hand flat on the table top.

“Remember what I told you. If you don’t keep your end of the arrangement, I will take what’s mine.” He narrowed his eyes at her and pointed to the table top. “Where’s my breakfast?”

Sansa slowly and cautiously climbed off the bed. Her whole body trembled as she removed her torn night shift and began to dress herself for the day. As she attempted to smooth back her hair, she felt a painful knot on her cheek. In a small piece of broken looking glass, she examined her face. Her fingers quivered nervously as she touched the lump under the slowly darkening skin above it. She would have a black eye. Sansa stuck her tongue to the corner of her mouth and taste the blood from her swollen split lip.

Hesitantly, the doctor lady straightened herself and turned to open her pantry box. From the small wooden box, she removed and cut a slab of bread. Sansa unwrapped a cloth bundle that contained a large wedge of cheese and cut a slice. She served the food to Marston with a tin cup filled with salt water to soften and flavor the coarse bread. She sat across from him and watched him eat. They threw glares across the table, never taking their eyes off each other.

Sansa lifted her skirt and petticoats as she waded into the cool water. Not far into the water was a large flat boulder where she could sit while washing herself. This was the women’s washing spot and there were already a dozen women splashing water on their faces, and rinsing their hair and their mouths.

Sansa stayed away from the others. She felt ashamed of the situation she’d gotten herself into. These women were tougher than she was, they’d been through much more, and had rougher lives. Sansa could only guess at some of their hardships. They would have no sympathy for her.

Dipping her feet back into the water, Sansa reached down and cupped her hands to splash water on her sore, swollen face. She used the water to smooth her disheveled hair so that she could more easily braid it. As she was weaving her plait, Sansa heard someone wading through the water toward her. She looked up to see Anne, holding her skirts above the water as she approached.

With an expression that showed no concern or sympathy, Anne said, “Who did that to you?”

Sansa looked up from the corner of her eye, then back down into the water. “Marston.”

Anne stood looking at her for a moment, nodded abruptly, then turned to wade back to the group of women where she’d been washing herself.

Sansa walked among the prisoners who were lined up for their morning meals. She could feel the stares and hear the whispers among them. Sansa looked up at their faces. None of them were sympathetic or shocked, but quickly went back to minding their own business. Amid the faces, Sansa caught sight of Marston waiting in line. He stared directly back at her. Sansa quickly turned her head and walked in the opposite direction, almost bumping into Mrs. Johnson.

“Oh, my heavens! Dear girl,” she gasped upon seeing Sansa’s face. “What on earth happened to you?” Mrs. Johnson took hold of Sansa’s hands and held them tightly in hers. Sansa couldn’t stand the sound of phony naiveté in the older women’s voice.

“Please, Mrs. Johnson. Let’s not be coy. I think you’re well aware of what happened to me.”

Mrs. Johnson’s face turned serious and genuinely sympathetic. “I cannot aid you in your situation,” she told Sansa throwing a glance toward Marston. “But I do believe that even in this place, we must maintain an air of dignity, manners, etiquette, and chivalry.” She squeezed Sansa’s hands. “If there is anything I can do to help,” she offered pausing to take a deep breath, “… within the realm of heavenly law … please don’t hesitate to ask.” Mrs. Johnson nodded and quickly stepped away to return to the cabin she shared with her husband.

“What happened to her?” James asked Anne while he waited patiently for his fry cakes to cook. After his starvation diet over the past weeks, James added a bit of extra to his helping today. Anne was making two fry cakes for him this morning.

Anne flicked her eyes toward the Mistress Doctor. “Marston,” Anne told him. That was all she needed to say.

Corporal McDonald stuck his head in through Sansa’s door flap. “One of the men needs to see you,” he told her. Sansa nodded and motioned for the prisoner to be ushered in. She was surprised to see James Freeman enter and take a seat on her bench. She took a deep breath and walked over to him.

“What’s the problem?” she asked tersely.

“Stomach ache,” James said loudly. He nervously glanced at McDonald who stood watch near the door. James leaned toward her and whispered under his breath. “Is it true? Did Marston do this to you?”

Sansa ignored him and motioned for him to lie down on her examining table. She pressed her fingers into his belly and he moaned painfully.

“We’ll go ahead with our plan,” he whispered desperately. “With Marston out of the way Tommy and me will make sure no harm comes to you.”

Sansa stopped what she was doing and looked down at James, her face stony. “Leave Marston be,” she said with ice in her words. “I told you. I don’t want him touched.” Sansa moved her fingers along the sides of James’ belly and applied pressure. He grunted with a jolt.

“You’re fine,” she told him in a normal speaking voice so that Corporal McDonald could hear her. “You haven’t eaten in over a week so you decided to treat yourself to extra this morning, didn’t you?” James nodded.

Sansa stepped back and motioned for James to get up. “You’ll be fine tomorrow.”

James began to follow the corporal out the door. Before he disappeared, he turned back toward the doctor with a questioning glance. Sansa shook her head at him. “Don’t,” she mouthed silently before James disappeared.

Chapter Text

Marston came for his breakfast every morning. After a week, Sansa had convinced herself that their arrangement had been broken. It wasn’t about the rations or the food, she had plenty to fill her own stomach. She just wasn’t so sure that Marston deserved it.

“Why should I keep feeding you?” she finally asked him. Marston looked up at her with a mouthful of bread and cheese. He took a sip of salt water, and rolled the food around in his mouth until it softened. He narrowed his eyes.

“A deal’s a deal,” he grumbled at her. His voice was low and menacing with warning.

“You’ve done nothing more for me,” Sansa kept her eyes down, afraid to look directly at him. Marston dipped his last bite of bread in the cup of salt water and swallowed it loudly. He stood abruptly shoving his chair across the floor. He slowly made his way around the table to Sansa. He could see a nervous quiver run through her delicate features.

Marston suddenly grabbed her by the hair and wrenched her head back forcing her to look up at him. “Suppose I tell everyone I’ve gotten tired of you and I’ve had my fill,” he threatened.

Anne, Lizzy and a few other women strolled purposefully across the compound toward the back of the officer’s huts where they would hang the laundry to dry. Their arms were loaded with freshly washed breeches and shirts.

As they came near to the forge, they looked up and smiled politely to Mistress Sansa who was coming toward them. Sansa smiled back and asked if they were all quite well. They knew that no matter their ailment or physical complaint, the new female doctor would treat them all equally and with kindness. Some women even came to see her when they had no physical complaints, but needed a sympathetic ear to voice their worries and concerns.

“Fine. Thank-you, mum,” one of them said quietly.

Suddenly the group of women was shoved aside as Marston charged through them. He grabbed Sansa by the wrist and pulled her away through the compound and into the woods beyond his forge.

Sansa stumbled along behind Marston as he dragged her behind him. She protested but Marston only gripped her wrist harder, hurting her. When they were safely beyond a wall of tall grass and out of sight, Marston threw her to the ground.

“What are you doing?”she hissed at him. She propped herself on her elbows but made no move to get up.

“I’m earning my food,” Marston told her. He stood in front of her with his sooty fists balled on his hips and stared down at her. Her leered at her as he gazed upon her pale skin and fiery hair, wanting her, wondering what it would be like to have a pretty little thing like that. Marston licked his lips, but didn’t move.

After a few moments, Sansa felt confident enough to push herself up into a sitting position. She sat and waited, but Marston did nothing. He just stood there, filthy and sweating, ogling her seductively. His sweat glistened in the bright sunshine. There was not one inch of him that wasn’t covered in black oily scunge. His curly hair stuck up in all directions uncombed and untamed where it wasn’t pasted to his damp forehead.

Marston reached behind him and untied the strings of his heavy leather apron. He lifted it off over his head and threw it to the ground beside Sansa. He continued to gaze at Sansa suggestively.

When enough time had passed, Marston reached down, grabbed her by the wrist and yanked the doctor to her feet. He sank his fingers roughly into her hair and pulled a handful free from her plait. He looked her over for a moment, but wasn’t satisfied, so he grabbed at her bodice strings and pulled at the ends so they’d come untied. He loosened her bodice and pulled down the neck of her underdress.

He paused for a moment at the sight of her pale skin. The swell of her smooth unblemished breasts took his breath away. He reached out to touch her. Marston traced a finger along the curve of her flesh leaving behind a greasy smudge. When he realized he’d left his filth on her, he wiped his whole hand across her chest. Black streaks crisscrossed her cleavage.

When he felt she looked acceptably molested, Marston untied his breeches, stooped to retrieve his leather apron, grabbed the doctor by the wrist, and hauled her back toward the forge. As he stepped back behind his anvil, Marston made a show out of tying his breeches before returning to work.

Sansa straightened and tightened her bodice as she stepped through the tall grass and back out into the openness of the compound. It occurred to her to wonder how long their arrangement would last before Marston decided to dispense with the ruse and act fully toward his needs. Heading for her cabin, Sansa hastily smoothed her hair tucking the loose ends back into her plait.

Marston had earned his breakfasts for a while longer.

Chapter Text

Marston awoke suddenly in a fit of panic. He froze and cautiously looked around at the other men, but they were deep asleep. He’d worried that he might have cried out in his night terrors and awakened them, but if he did, no one had heard.

He lay back in his cot, drenched in sweat despite the cool of the night air. Marston closed his eyes and the dream drifted back to him. He’d been standing in a stable in a pile of hay. When he’d looked up, she was there. Chelsea’s dark chestnut curls hung over her shoulder as she stepped seductively closer to him. Marston closed his eyes. When he opened them again, the young girl was wrapped around him, pawing at him, kissing him, grinding her body against his. He closed his eyes and shook his head feeling his body burst into flames. He could hear the crackle of the burning wood and the roar of the fire. But this time when he opened his eyes, he was surrounded by a wall of fire. Beyond that wall of fire was his family, screaming for help, but before he could do anything, the roof collapsed around him and they were silenced.

Marston bolted off his cot, stumbled out of the men’s tent, and plunged into the darkness of the night gasping for air. The tropical breeze wafted over him causing the coolness on his damp skin to give him a chill, but he was still sweating from the panic of the dream. He walked to the edge of the shore and stepped into the sand where the gentle waves barely washed over the top of his feet.

Why, after all these years, had the dream come to him? Why now? As he stared out into the infinite blackness of the ocean sky, he suddenly remembered Gwen. And then Karen. Both had come to him for protection. Both were now in their graves.

Then Mistress Sansa had come to him. A tingle of nervousness crept over Marston’s skin. Everything he touched, he realized, ended in death. Would he be responsible for her death, too? Marston clenched his fists in anger. He was stuck in an impossible situation. If he continued to protect her, surely God would punish him by bringing death to her as well. But if he didn’t protect her, her death would be guaranteed, it would be violent and it would be painful. No matter whether he decided to protect the Mistress Doctor or leave her to the wolves, there would be blood on his hands.

Sansa watched from her darkened doorway as Marston’s shadowy figure crept silently through the compound. She knew it was him by his size. No other man here came close to his height or breadth. In the ghostly light of the moon, however, he seemed like any other ordinary man out for an evening stroll.

Creeping silently through the night, Sansa followed Marston to the shore. She watched from afar, hidden from view. For a long while, Marston simply stood, unmoving, staring out across the ocean. Suddenly, he looked down at his feet. He slowly bent, reached his fingers into the sand then straightened tossing a large rock up off the palm of his hand and catching it again. In a flash of movement that caught her off guard, Sansa jolted as Marston let out a snarl and threw the rock as far and as hard as he could. In continuous motion, he bent and picked up another, and another, and another, whipping the large stones with all his might, bellowing with rage, until he was worn out.

The huge man dropped to his knees and pounded the sand with his fists. Sansa could hear his heavy panting breath. It sounded like the growl of an animal warning an enemy away. When he’d caught his breath, Marston pushed himself to his feet. He staggered drunkenly, turning back toward the men’s tent. Sansa watched him until she could no longer see him, then returned to her own cabin.

Sansa paced the floor of her cabin chewing her fingernails. It was well after dawn and the prisoners were about to muster for count followed by their morning meals. Marston had not come for his breakfast. The doctor had received a rare helping of pork and meant to share a small bit of it with her protector, but he hadn’t come.

Sansa peeked out the door flap and watched the prisoners gather in the center of the compound. The count was done and the men and women were released for their personal time. Sansa scanned the crowd until her eyes happened upon the tallest one of them. Marston stood in line with the others awaiting his regular rations. He didn’t attempt to steal food from James or anyone else.

The doctor retreated beyond her door flap and chewed her nails. Why hadn’t Marston come? What had happened last night that had sent him into such a rage? Sansa was concerned and confused. She would just have to visit him at the forge and find out what was going on.

Marston looked up from his hammering and saw the Mistress Doctor standing by the rear post of his forge, half hidden behind the canvas wall. He glanced up quickly then went back to focusing on his work.

“What do you want?” he grumbled without looking at her.

“You didn’t come for your breakfast this morning.”

Marston tried not to think about his stomach. It pained him, the grumbling and emptiness making him irritable even more so than usual. He placed his piece of metal back in the pit and pumped the bellows sending the flames higher and hotter only inches from his already sweat-slickened face.

“I had meat for you this morning,” Sansa told him.

Marston tried not to imagine the taste of the salt pork in his mouth, but he swallowed a mouthful of drool and licked his lips. As he pulled the molten metal from the pit and placed it back on the anvil, he turned his back to Sansa and said, “I can’t help you anymore.”

Clink! Clink! He hammered at the steel.

Sansa gasped, suddenly afraid. “Why? Is it something I have done?” She waited, but he ignored her. “I’ve kept my end of the bargain.” Marston wouldn’t look at her. Sansa approached behind him as the blacksmith placed the flattened bar on a pile of finished pieces behind him.

The doctor swallowed hard as she placed her hand on the warm damp skin of his arm below the elbow. Her touch made him bristle, but he turned to look at her.

“Do you want more?” she asked suggestively. Marston looked her up and down. He was angry, but not with her.

“Don’t want anything from you,” he said jerking his arm away from her.

“I still need your help,” she pleaded.

Marston whirled on her pushing his face close to hers and snarled. “You won’t get any help from me! I won’t have your death on my hands,” he shouted. Marston immediately felt a ripple of guilt pass through him when he saw the look of fear in the Mistress Doctor’s eyes, but he forced it away, pushed it down deep and hardened his heart. Not only was he angry with her for putting this responsibility on him, he was angry at himself for accepting that responsibility in the first place.

“Please, Marston. Can we not discuss this?” The quaver in her voice was unmistakable. Her breath hitched as she tried to control her panic.

Marston turned his face away, grabbed another steel bar from the pit and slammed his hammer onto it. “I’ve got work to do,” he said with a deep rumble. When she didn’t move – Sansa couldn’t move, her legs were frozen – Marston turned back to her, his face twisted and bitter. “Fuck off!” he yelled.

“Is everything all right here, Mistress?”

Marston and Sansa both looked up to see Corporal MacDonald standing in front of the forge. Sansa forced a smile, dipped her head in a sort of curtsy and stepped haltingly through the forge making to leave. “Thank-you, Corporal. The blacksmith and I were just discussing the merits of hard work to a healthy constitution.” As she brushed by Marston’s shoulder, she whispered, “At least do me the courtesy of keeping silent. Let the others believe that I still belong to you.”

The Mistress Doctor had barely gotten the words out. Marston had heard the fear in her voice and it had made his fingers tremble. The blacksmith pretended to ignore her and slammed his hammer against the steel bar. Even the strongest steel, he realized, could be bent and broken.

Chapter Text

Marston did, in fact, do Sansa the courtesy of not speaking of his association with the young lady doctor. He did not confirm, deny, or even speak of his relationship with her. For many days thereafter, it was assumed that she still belonged to Marston, but certain members of the colony began to notice that he no longer visited her.

In an appeal to their arrangement, Sansa often sneaked into the forge before dawn. When Marston would arrive to begin his day, he occasionally found a small wrapped bundle containing a bit of cheese and bread or a small chunk of meat. He did not thank her for it, did not even acknowledge her, but neither did he turn down the gift.

In the coming weeks, Sansa began to notice a frightening trend in the ailments of her patients. With the increasing heat of summer, there were more injuries from arguments, fights, and violence. In addition, more of the prisoners were suffering fatigue, fainting, heat exhaustion, and temporary illness from colds, aches, and pains. Sansa also noted that it was only the prisoners whose rate of illness increased.

As the doctor became more familiar with the long-time resident prisoners, she questioned them at length about their day, their work assignments, and all things concerned that might affect their health. She had developed a tentative friendship with Tommy and Lizzy and James. Tommy and Lizzy were notably happier and healthier, but they were also married – two of the few prisoners who’d been allowed to do so.

Sansa spent a lot of time with James as he ushered her around the compound and accompanied her to the various work areas where teams of prisoners were clearing the land, cutting trees, building, and various other jobs. He explained what the different jobs entailed, the work conditions, the dangers associated with each, and voiced the most frequent complaints the men had.

James became a sort of envoy between the doctor and the working men and women of the colony. It would be almost a hundred years before the first organized workers representatives formed an organization, but in practice, Sansa became an advocate for the colony laborers.

With her information gathered, and a solution in mind, Mistress Sansa paid a visit to the Reverend Johnson and his wife.

Marston looked up from his work to see James Freeman and Mistress Sansa involved in an animated discussion as they strolled through the compound. He couldn’t take his eyes off the two of them. He’d seen them together frequently, talking and laughing, sharing secrets. Something burned within him.

Marston continued to pound a flat bar around a circular form, bringing his hammer down and striking the softened metal, but he could not take his eyes off the happy couple and his anger seethed. Was she playing him? Was this some sort of game to entice him to envy with the one man he hated?

Marston hated James Freeman and Mistress Sansa knew that. James had plotted with his friends to kill Marston and now the lady doctor was prancing about with him.

He should have been paying attention. He knew better, he had learned early in his apprenticeship, and yet Marston could not tear his gaze away from Sansa and James. He could hear the sound of his breathing as his rage increased. Marston brought his hammer high over his head and brought it down hard with every ounce of his strength, imagining that the steel bar was James Freeman.

Sansa and James started, jolted from their conversation at the sound of the scream. They whirled to see Marston falling to the ground, taking the fire pit with him. The blacksmith managed to roll away as the dry grasses ignited within the forge. James sprang into action and threw Marston’s water trough on its side, dousing the flames before the fire could spread.

Sansa hurried into the forge behind James. While James was making sure the fire would not rekindle itself, Sansa dropped to her knees beside the thrashing Marston. He writhed and yelled under his breath, hiding his left hand inside his leather apron. She could not get him to lie still or show her his hand.

When the fire was no longer of concern, James attempted to help Sansa examine her patient, but he alone could not hold Marston still. Corporal MacDonald and another prisoner came to their aid. Even with the three men lying on top of Marston with their full weight bearing down, the blacksmith could not be made immobile, but it was enough so that Sansa could remove his leather apron and pull his injured hand free for examination. She was horrified.

Marston had brought his hammer down on the last knuckle of his left hand, smashing the smallest finger and tearing the last bone of his hand away from the rest. Sansa knew that she would be able to fix it to some degree, but Marston’s hand would never look or work the same again.

“Here, drink this,” she told Marston. Doctor Sansa handed Marston a tin cup half filled with a milky liquid in it.

“What is it?” he asked, hesitant to trust her.

“It’s poppy milk,” she informed him. “If you don’t drink it, you will feel every bit of pain as I try to fix your hand.”

Marston reluctantly drank from the cup. It wasn’t long before he began to feel calmer and more relaxed.

“Will I still be a blacksmith?” he asked. Sansa leaned over him and observed his face and eyes. She needed to be aware of how his body was responding to the poppy milk. Sansa suspected that he may need more, considering the size of him.

In addition to the damage to his hand, Marston had some burned tissue on the right side of his face. When he’d first fallen, he’d swooned into the fire pit, but at least had the presence of mind to roll away from it. The burns were not deep or disfiguring, but there would be permanent scarring that she had no recourse to fix.

“You will still have the use of your hand.” Sansa took his other hand in hers to comfort him and urge him to relax. “You still have three good fingers and a thumb that will work just fine. The smallest finger doesn’t have that much strength anyway.”

Sansa reached across his chest and gently lifted his damaged hand. “I won’t take your finger. It’s not necessary. It may or may not have some functioning, but I will make it look much like the rest of your fingers, though it may be twisted.” She set his hand down again and pulled down on the skin beneath his eyes. Marston was still too lucid.

The doctor mixed some more poppy milk with water and gave it to him to drink. Sansa watched as Marston began to drift and fade.

“Marston, can you hear me?”

The blacksmith nodded, his head bobbling about on his shoulders. “Aye.” Sansa went to the other side of her table and poked gently at his damaged hand.

“Ow,” he said with no real commitment.

“What color are my eyes?” she asked, turning her back.

“Blue,” he mumbled. “Like the sky.” Such added commentary was very unlike the nature of the blacksmith. The Mistress Doctor smiled to herself and began to prepare her sewing kit and forceps. It was time to ask him the tough questions.

Chapter Text

Sansa watched as Marston slept. He’d done well, staying awake through the doctor’s work on his hand. Occasionally he moaned or hissed when Sansa hit a nerve within his flesh, but he moved very little only writhing in pain once, but not so much as to affect Sansa’s work.

When she was done sewing the flesh, splinting his finger, and bandaging his hand, the small young doctor helped the massive blacksmith onto her cot. Her only purpose was to steady him on his feet as he moved across the floor. She prayed that he wouldn’t stumble and fall, knowing that she would never be able to support him, but he made it easily to the cot and lay himself down. When he was comfortably reclined, Sansa gave him another tin of poppy milk to send him to sleep. He needed the rest.

It was still early evening as she sat at the bedside, washing him down with a damp cloth. The young doctor was curious to see what the blacksmith looked like under all that soot and sweat. Marston breathed steadily and deeply, his eyelids fluttering as a dream passed across his mind. In such a relaxed state, the fierce and brutal Marston did not seem nearly so dangerous and violent.

Sansa quietly bathed him. She carefully dabbed at the tender burned skin on the right side of his face and wiped gently to the left side of his brow and cheek. She opened his shirt collar and wiped his chest and arms. His skin was covered in a thick matte of soft brown hair. She watched his chest rise and fall as she dampened his skin. When she picked up his good hand to wash it, Marston parted his lips and sucked in a deep breath, a pleasant expression on his relaxed face.

Paused in her bathing, Sansa wondered what it would be like to kiss those lips, to feel his mouth on hers. Cautiously, she looked over her shoulder toward the door flap, but all was quiet. The compound was at rest for the evening.

The young Mistress Doctor leaned forward over her sleeping patient and pressed her lips to his. Marston instinctively responded, opening his mouth and moving his tongue. Sansa touched her tongue to his and felt her skin grow warm with a flush. She pressed her mouth harder onto his, tasting him, feeling their warm breath mix as he returned her kiss.

Leaning with her arm across his waist, Sansa felt his flesh stirring, becoming rigid. She sat up and watched his face. Marston absently licked his lips, his eyes still closed and in a shallow slumber. With caution, Sansa moved to the side and lifted his shirt to uncover the string of his breeches. Keeping her eyes on his face, Sansa untied the knot and pulled the rough fabric down as far as she could.

Tearing her eyes away from his face, Sansa let her gaze wander down the length of him to where her hand rested between his legs. She sucked in a sharp breath at what she saw. Although not completely aroused, her kiss had given him an erection. It lay across his belly at angle. She tentatively reached out a hand to touch him, delicately caressing the darkened skin, flush with the blood that pumped through him. To her fingertips, he felt both hard and soft at the same time. Her brief touch made him twitch and she watched it move slightly as he grew more aroused.

Her breathing came faster and deeper as she picked up Marston’s hand, opened her blouse and placed his fingers against the soft mound of her flesh. His erection twitched again, beginning to lift away from his body as it increased in size. She felt her own body respond as a moistness developed between her legs.

Marston moaned. Sansa watched his face as he licked his lips. His brow creased as though in concentration and his eyelids fluttered. She reached down again and wrapped her fingers around his hardening shaft. In his sleep, Marston gasped, and his eyes opened. He blinked sluggishly and closed his eyes again.

The touch of him and the feel of his warm fingers on her breast made Sansa tingle with desire. She wanted to know what it would feel like to have his hands caress her skin in delicate places that had never been touched by a man. She closed her eyes and imagined how it would be with him, to lose her virginity, to feel him inside her.

Sansa swallowed hard as her heart pounded at the thoughts that flitted through her mind. Her wetness increased as she thought of him, of what he could do to her, what he could do for her. She realized this might be her only chance to lose her virginity without it being taken by force, and without violence by someone who would delight in the cruelty of hurting her and making her scream in pain.

Standing beside the bed, Sansa undressed and climbed onto the cot beside the blacksmith.

Chapter Text

Sansa straddled Marston’s wide strong chest and slapped him across the face. The blacksmith’s eyes fluttered sleepily, but didn’t open. She slapped him again, harder. Marston blinked lifting his head to gaze at the woman sitting on him. His eyes were glassy but he seemed clear enough in thought.

“Marston,” she said.


“Can you sit up?” she asked. Marston pushed himself up on his elbows, gasping briefly when he accidentally put pressure on the side of his left hand.

“What do you want?” he asked groggily, blinking and threatening to close his eyes again. Sansa slapped him across the face once more.

“Look at me!” she told him. Marston opened his eyes wide suddenly realizing that the Mistress Doctor was naked and straddled over him. He sat up more.

“I want you to have me,” Sansa said to him. Marston seemed suddenly awake as he stared back at her in disbelief.

“What are you talking about, girl?” His tongue was thick and hard to control, but his words were clear. Sansa rolled off of him and lay in the cot stretched out beside him.

“I want you to take me.”

Marston looked down at the slim beauty of the woman beside him. Her breasts were pert and firm with small dark nipples that were stiff and ripe. Her smooth pale skin was flawless, taut at her belly, and soft around her curves. A small neat triangle of hair pointed down between her legs.

Sitting up on the edge of the bed, Marston realized he was hard, his cock already loose and rising from the opening of his breeches. He pushed his pants to the floor. With only one hand to use, he struggled to remove his shirt so Sansa helped him off with it. When he was naked, he lay back beside Sansa and rolled to face her, his damaged hand safely tucked behind him.

With his good hand, he roughly caressed Sansa’s breasts but not so forcefully as to hurt her. They were soft and warm and they swelled at his touch making her nipples stand higher. He rubbed a thumb over them and wondered how they would taste. Marston rolled closer, moving his head to her chest, and sucked at the hard pink tips as his fingers traced down across the ridge of her hips and the smooth flat skin on her belly. He moved his fingers lower and Sansa spread her legs for him.

A large course finger rubbed against her moist warm lips, working its way inside until he could feel her wetness. She oozed with desire and Marston felt himself grow harder. He groaned as he slipped his finger inside her and felt Sansa’s body become tense. Her body trembled under his touch and she sucked in a sharp breath as he pushed his finger deeper.

Damn, she was tight! Her small body squeezed his finger as he stroked the walls of her. His hand quickly became slick with her juices as he pumped the tight, wet hole. He continued licking and sucking her nipples and slowly, Sansa began to relax. When Marston felt the muscles of her cunt loosen, he pulled his finger free and massaged his fingertip over the swollen nub of her clit. Sansa gasped feeling her herself gush with hot liquid. Her lips quivered and clenched needing something to squeeze so Marston pushed two fingers inside her. Her body tensed again, but responded nonetheless as he gently fingered her.

Sansa breathed deeply trying to relax. She lay back and felt Marston’s face on her chest, the scruff of his beard rubbing against her as he took her nipples between his teeth. Her heart beat harder as her body responded to his touch, the slick wetness that seeped around his fingers as he readied her for that larger and harder part of him. She was nervous, but her delicate tissues throbbed with heat as waves of desire swept over her.

Still groggy and muddled, Marston moved cautiously, swaying unsteadily as he positioned himself over Sansa and settled between her legs. He looked into Sansa’s pretty, worried face as he pressed his cock against the opening to her. He leaned down and kissed her hard and deep, their tongues wrestling amid hot, sweet breath as Sansa wrapped her arms around him.

“You want this?” he asked her slurring his words slightly. She nodded, biting her lip uncertainly. Even if she had said no, it would have been too late, Marston would have taken her anyway.

Marston pulled himself forward feeling the hardened knob of his cock parting her swollen lips. Sansa whimpered feeling the pressure of him pushing into her. He was so huge and hard, and she was so small and tight, that he knew it would be difficult to break her. He moved forward into her and Sansa whimpered, but he could not enter her. She was too tight. He grabbed her by the shoulders and shoved harder, grunting, but his huge swollen cock wouldn’t break through. Raising himself up on his elbows, Marston bore his weight onto her as he grunted loudly and slid into her, finally feeling her virgin skin tearing around him.

Sansa arched her back and cried out as she felt Marston plunge inside her. A bolt of pain shot down her legs, but it quickly disappeared as she felt Marston move into her. She forced herself to relax, concentrating on the feeling of the soft hair of his chest on her breasts as he laid himself on top of her and moved against her pushing his cock deep. His erection was huge and she could feel all of it inside her. She reached up to his head and ran her fingers through his dark, soft curls of hair. Marston looked at her then, his grey-green eyes foggy with poppy milk, but she thought she saw a ghost of a smile cross his lips.

Slowly he pulled his shaft out and thrust back into her feeling her cunt tighten, making him grow painfully hard inside her. Marston was woozy, because of the drug, because of his racing heart, because he wanted badly to fuck her hard and rough, but his body was hard to control and his mind muddled. He pumped his cock into her feeling it slide along her tight wetness. Sansa relaxed and let Marston move over her, let him push himself deeper. Her heart beat faster, her breath panting and hot. She wrapped her arms around him clutching at his skin, pulling him deeper as he slid his rigid shaft in and out of her.

Marston watched her face soften, her full lips were pouting and red like her hair and he wanted her. He kissed her hard, tasting her lips and her breath. He kissed her neck and shoulders. He backed down as he withdrew from her so that he could suck her nipples and squeeze her breasts. His cock throbbed begging him to fuck her hard. Marston moved faster, thrusting deeper. He tried to hold back, but he wanted to pound her. He felt Sansa’s body move under him squirming. He held his thrusts and began to grind his hips against her sinking deeper as she pushed up to meet him. Her quim was hot and enflamed and tingling, drawing him deeper still. Sansa raised her legs around him, clutching at him. Her small body trembled as she groaned and grabbed at his hips urging him to fuck her. She whispered his name and he felt his cock expand inside her tightening her around him until his erection was almost painful, sweetly painful and he let himself go and fucked her hard and fast. Sansa shuddered, crying out as he drove his cock hard and deep, grunting as he pounded into her. He needed to cum, but he only grew harder tightening against her walls.

Sansa bucked beneath him, rocking her hips, her quim slick as her juices sucked him deeper. Sansa’s whole body trembled violently as she shuddered with wave after wave as she came, the walls of her cunt squeezing and convulsing around his enormously swollen shaft. She cried out, a deep throaty sound that made Marston’s cock throb. He began to groan, fucking her faster, harder, slamming his shaft deep. Marston felt Sansa’s breasts press into his chest as he rocked against her. He opened his mouth and roared as the head of his cock exploded, spraying the inside of her, squirting his seed deep. With a final loud grunt, he pushed hard into her, emptying his load. He teetered over her gasping for air, trying to control his panting breath and racing heart.

Careful not to put his full weight on her, Marston fell to the side next to Sansa, spent and immediately drowsy. The drug had been too powerful and he could no longer keep his eyes open. Looking beside him, he saw Sansa smile, beautiful and radiant before he finally closed his eyes and drifted into a deep sleep.

Chapter Text

Bright daylight streamed in through the spaces between the door flap and its frame. Marston squinted and raised his good hand to shade his eyes from the piercing sunshine. He blinked rapidly and smacked his lips. His tongue felt thick and dry and his head throbbed with excruciating pain.

“Here, drink this.”

The blacksmith looked up to see the Mistress Doctor standing over him. He sat up and took the tin cup from her. He tilted it back and drank the cool water in one long gulp. Sansa took the cup, filled it twice more from the pitcher and handed it back. Marston sipped it more slowly.

“The poppy milk can make you very thirsty,” she explained. “Because of your size, I had to give you more than normal.”

Marston moved to stand up on wobbly legs, but let himself collapse back onto the bed when he realized he was naked. He turned his head slowly to look for his clothes. Turning his head too quickly made him dizzy and nauseated, and made his head pound painfully.

Sansa went to her pantry cupboard and set about preparing a bit of food for him. Marston took this time to wake himself up and clear his head as he found his clothes and put them on. When his head was suitably clear, he stood and took careful steps to the little dining table, not fully trusting his legs. Sansa set a plate before him containing a bit of oatmeal and a thick slice of bacon. She sat down opposite him and waited for him to begin eating.

He couldn’t. The smell of the food turned his stomach. His broken hand throbbed. His head throbbed. The skin on his face burned. With his good hand, he pushed the plate of food away, his face showing the disgust he felt in his stomach.

“You need to eat. You need to get your strength. The food will help get rid of the headache and the effects of the poppy milk,” she explained pushing the plate back in front of him.

Marston pursed his lips and swallowed hard. The mere thought of putting anything into his mouth made his stomach want to heave. “I can’t,” he grumbled pushing the plate away again.

“Samuel, you need to eat,” she pleaded.

Marston’s head snapped up causing a bolt of pain to slice through his temples. “What did you call me?”

“Samuel. That is your name, is it not?”

Marston glared at her, a low simmer of anger starting to rise within him. “How do you know my name?”

“You told me. You are Samuel Marston of The Grays in London.”

“What else did I tell you?” he asked suspiciously, his anger rising.

“You told me everything. You were falsely accused of rape, but branded a thief. You lost your family in a fire. You told me of the offer that brought you here and of your passage on the Charlotte.”

Marston breathed heavily, never taking his eyes of the Mistress Doctor. He felt warm and dizzy as the blood rose up his neck and into his head, the pain behind his eyes excruciating. He gritted his teeth and let out a snarl. “That’s none of your fucking business,” he growled low and menacing.

He shoved the plate of food away from him and swallowed another cup of water. “I’ve got work to do,” he grumbled. He pushed himself up from the table too quickly. Sansa, knowing what would happen, quickly jumped to her feet and rushed around the table to his side.

“Samuel, no!” she gasped as Marston stumbled and swooned. With his good hand, the blacksmith grabbed the back of the chair for support and slowly lowered himself into it. Sansa kneeled next to him and held his hand.

“There will be no work for you today,” she informed him. “You need to rest and let the poppy milk leave your body. Stay here, get some sleep and please eat, Samuel.”

“Don’t call me that!” he yelled. “My name is Marston.”

Sansa stood up next to him and looked down into his face as though he were a small petulant boy. “What do I have to do to get you to eat?” she asked.

Marston grabbed her around the waist and roughly pulled her against him. He reached behind her and squeezed her ass. “You could let me spend the day fucking you,” he suggested rudely. “Or is your virtue still too precious to you?” Marston licked his lips and leered at her.

Sansa smiled queerly at him and pushed herself away slightly to look into his upturned face. “Do you remember anything from last night?”

Marston stared at her blankly. He stared at her for a long time, his mind working, tiny bits of memory flashing, coming together and knitting themselves into a recollection that he began to recognize. His eyes trailed down her body as he remembered lying with her, touching her smooth soft curves, kissing her, and finally, breaking her.

When his eyes met hers again, Sansa could see a troubled mix of emotions pass through his expression. His hands began to tremble, the quake working up his arms and into his chest until his entire body shuddered uncontrollably. Marston stood on shaking legs, stepped back and slapped Sansa hard across the face knocking her to the floor.

“I could have had you any time I wanted,” he bellowed. He leaned down, grabbed her by the arm and dragged her to her feet. “I could have raped you a dozen times,” he snarled, his face only inches from hers.

“Then why didn’t you?” she shot back. “Yes, you could have raped me a dozen times. You could have come in here and had your way and stolen my food. There’s nothing I could have done to stop you, but you abided by our arrangement.” Sansa waited for his reaction, but there wasn’t one. “Why didn’t you rape me, Samuel?”

He squeezed her upper arm with dangerous strength. He was hurting her, but the doctor did not protest. “Don’t call me that!” he shouted, drool falling from his bottom lip.

Sansa did not back down. “You didn’t rape me because you are Samuel Marston. You are not a rapist. You’re not even a thief. You became a thief because that’s what this place forced you to become.”

Marston released her from his grip so quickly, that Sansa stumbled backward. He began to turn away but whirled back to face her, his rage taking over him. “I didn’t want this!” He stepped closer pointing a finger in her face. “I didn’t want you!”

“Then why were you jealous when you saw me with James Freeman?” Sansa asked slyly. Marston seemed surprised and taken aback, but quickly changed his expression to one of fury.

“I hate James Freeman. That fucker wanted me dead. Him and his friends.”

“He wanted you dead for his own survival. If it wasn’t you, it would have been him, starved to death because of you.” Sansa stepped toward Marston and he retreated from her. “You were jealous of him because you did want me. If you cared nothing about me, you would have let it be known that I was no longer yours. You would have let the wolves come after me.” Sansa stepped closer and Marston retreated again.

“If it was James Freeman you hated, then why did you strike your own hand with your hammer?” Sansa finally stepped back. She crossed her arms and glared at him. “I don’t believe that it was purely accident or carelessness that caused your injuries.”

“You think I did this to myself on purpose?” Marston hollered raising his broken hand to her. “Do you think I give a fuck if you choose James Freeman?”

“I did not choose James Freeman. Did I lie with him?” Sansa asked. “Was it he who took my virtue?” Sansa shook her head. “No, it was you who took my innocence. It was you I chose to lay with.”

The Mistress Doctor crossed her arms and glared at Samuel Marston. Her pale features were flushed with anger. “You have had me and now I belong to you.”

“Then why were you with him?”

“You shall find out soon enough,” Sansa told him.

Marston rushed forward on uncertain legs and grabbed Sansa by her hair pulling her head back awkwardly. “Don’t play games with me, girl,” he snarled.

Sansa controlled her anger and allowed her face to relax softening her features. She stared up into Marston’s face. His expression was frozen with contempt and rage and confused emotions. Without warning, Marston kissed her. His lips were hard and aggressive on hers, his passion hungry and desperate, but there was no kindness or fondness there.

Marston ended the kiss abruptly, forcefully throwing Sansa backward onto her cot. He slowly turned and staggered toward the door.

“I need to be away from you,” he mumbled.

“And you shall be,” Sansa informed him coldly as she pulled herself off the cot to stand up. “Stay here and rest. I have errands to run and patients to check up on. I’ll be gone most of the day. When your stomach settles, please be sure to eat something.” The doctor gathered her rough cloth bag filled with medicines and salves and bandages and brushed past him to leave.

Before she walked out the door, she turned back to see Marston making his way slowly to the cot to lie down. “I will tell no one of your secrets or your circumstances.” Sansa watched Marston roll over on the cot, turning his back to her. “But when we are together, I will call you Samuel.”

Sansa walked through the door flap and began her rounds with the women at the laundering station where there were few complaints. From there she went to the clearing grounds where she tended to cuts and scrapes on the men’s hands caused by the course vegetation that they were removing. She checked in on an officer who had come down with a fever, and then a colicky baby in one of the family barracks.

When the Mistress Doctor finally returned to her own cabin at the end of the day, Samuel Marston was gone.

Chapter Text

The Mistress Doctor awoke early, ate her breakfast and hurried about her cabin making preparations. There was so much to do, and very little time. This morning, the prisoners would be given an Early Christmas gift.

It was only December 3rd and the heat was nearly unbearable. Sansa tied on her wide straw hat to block the assaulting rays of the summer sun as she hurried out the door. She arrived at the hut of the Reverend Johnson and his wife just as they were emerging. They joined her as they made their way to Governor Phillip's cabin. Inside, the Governor was conferring with Sergeant Timmins and Major Ross. This worried Sansa as she feared they would go back on their agreement.

“Why should this woman,” Major Ross uttered with distaste as he pointed to Sansa, “be allowed to dictate policy?”

“We’ve been over this, Major Ross. Do you want this colony to thrive? Or would you prefer it if all your prisoners died of consumption and malaria and starvation? This is not a slave colony, Major, it is a penal colony.”

Reverend Johnson piped up. “Is it not our duty to turn these thieves and rapists into God-fearing men and women? Should not their punishment include the cleansing of their souls and giving them the opportunity for salvation?”

Governor Phillip glanced back and forth between the Mistress Doctor and the Reverend. As he was about to speak, Mrs. Johnson unexpectedly stepped forward and spoke. “If we do not honor the day of His Lord, will we, the oppressors suffer His wrath for allowing the souls of these men to wither and turn heathen?”

“Where there is no worship, surely the devil will invade the hearts of men,” Reverend Johnson added.

“And those hearts will wither and die from exhaustion and illness,” Sansa concluded. The three of them stood shoulder to shoulder indicating that they would not back down from their cause.

Governor Phillip took their words into consideration just as he had the first time they presented their position on the matter. Slowly, he nodded and rose from his chair. Phillip buttoned his dress coat and turned to Sergeant Timmins.

“Muster the prisoners,” he ordered Timmins with a nod.

Governor Phillip stood before the crowd of dirty faces that were waiting expectantly for the pronouncement. They were not happy faces, for they expected to hear of reduced rations, longer work hours, or both.

The Governor gestured to the Mistress Doctor and the Reverend who stood close by. “Due to circumstances which have been presented to me by Mistress Stark and Reverend Johnson, it is decreed that Sunday shall be reserved for observance of His Lord our Father.”

As the pronouncement was being made, Sansa’s mind wandered as she searched the crowd for Samuel Marston. She knew immediately that he was not in attendance. Among the other prisoners he stood out easily, but he was nowhere to be seen.

Mixed emotions were had by both Samuel Marston and the Mistress Doctor. The blacksmith had made it clear to Sansa that he wanted nothing to do with her, that he did not want the responsibility for her safety and well-being, that he didn’t want her in his life. Sansa wasn’t sure that she wanted such a man as Marston in her life either, but no matter the cold, steel-hearted man he had shown himself to be, in some miniscule fiber of his being, he had wanted her, and she had seen that in his eyes.

It was that wanting that made him want to push her even farther away. It was that denial that made Sansa want to prove to him the kind of man he truly was. He was not a rapist or a thief. He was Samuel Marston, wrongly accused, wrongly convicted, and unjustly doomed to a life of torment in this godforsaken place at the end of the earth.

Suddenly, Sansa found herself jostled about with brief hugs, words of thanks and her hand being forcibly shaken by large rough hands and small feminine ones. Sansa looked up at the faces around her, coming back to her senses as the prisoners smiled and thanked her for her part in giving them the God’s day of rest that they were so entitled to.

As quickly as she could, she accepted the kind words and tore herself away. Sansa had some important business to attend to. Finally parting from the crowd, the Mistress Doctor turned to find a young man waiting for her.

“Jonas,” she called hurrying her steps toward him. She took a small cloth from her pocket and handed it to the boy. Jonas thanked her and unwrapped a small bite of cheese which he gobbled greedily. “Come with me, Jonas. We must hurry before Marston attempts to cause himself more damage.”

“Yes, mum,” he answered politely. As they walked, Sansa tried to hide the grin that threatened to betray her face. Jonas stared up at her with wide adoring eyes.

“Now , Jonas, no matter what Marston says or does, don’t mind his gruffness. Pay no heed of his threats. Just do as you are told quickly and to the best of your ability and there will be nothing to be afraid of. Do you understand?”

“Yes, mum.”

When Sansa and Jonas arrived at the forge, Marston was already there trying to get the fire pit in order. The heavy cast iron bowl lay at an odd angle as he could not force it back into position with only one hand. His bandaged hand was of no use. When he saw Sansa and the boy approaching, he glanced up quickly, caught her eye and then quickly looked away.

“What are you doing here?” he asked irritably.

“Marston, this is Jonas Martin. He’s 13 years old. He is a builder from a family of carpenters, however, he did apprentice for a blacksmith for a short time. He knows the tools and he is very familiar with the work. He’s intelligent, strong, attentive, and he learns quickly.”

“I don’t need a fucking boy that I have no time to teach.” Marston refused to look at Sansa as he picked up tools and put them in their proper places.

“Marston, you only have one good hand. This boy has two. His two good hands will take the place of your damaged hand until you can use it fully again.” She turned to Jonas and gestured toward the fire pit. “Seat the pit properly then load it with coals and wood. When you’re done with that, figure the sums of steel you’ll need to make the box of nails that Mr. Campbell requested.”

“Yes, mum.” The boy nodded to her with a wide smile and doe eyes. He immediately set to the task that was asked of him.

Sansa turned back to Marston and took him by the arm, leading him a safe distance away to speak privately. “Samuel, you may not have heard the news, but Sunday has been declared a day of rest for all.”

Marston stared down at her with only coldness in his eyes.

“I was hoping you and I could spend some of that time to speak of our … situation,” she said hesitantly.

“There is no situation,” he told her with venom in his voice. “You’ve brought me the boy. I need nothing more from you.” Marston leaned down close beside Sansa’s face and whispered in her ear. “If I need a fuck I’ll get it from some other whore.”

Sansa did not try to hide the shock and fear that swept across her face. Marston seemed to regret his words almost immediately, but he couldn’t take them back. He turned away leaving her there, bewildered and stunned and began his work with Jonas.

Chapter Text

It is a dangerous thing to have too much respect. It is especially dangerous if that respect belongs to a woman in a world ruled by men. Mistress Stark had more of it than certain members of the Governor’s unit felt she deserved.

Major Ross felt belittled, undermined, and emasculated by the one woman who had dared to spurn and defy him. The more respect she got, the more the prisoners and officers alike loved her, the more he wanted to put her in her place. He had painful and brutal lessons for the Mistress Doctor, so he began to hatch a plan that would set a series of events in motion. In the end, Major Ross would make sure he was the one who was both feared and respected by every member of the colony.

Despite his threats, Marston could not stay away. He did manage to avoid the Mistress Doctor for an entire week, however, circumstance always found them in each other’s presence, though their attitudes toward each other were contentious at best. After a week of obligatory interactions and tense evasion, Sansa found herself in forced company with the blacksmith when Marston brought Jonas in to tend to a burn on the boy’s arm.

Marston waited by the door while Sansa tended the boy’s wound. She applied a salve and bandaged it.

“This isn’t such a bad burn,” she said to Jonas. He smiled up at her, clearly infatuated. Sansa suspected that Jonas had an ulterior motive for wanting the Mistress Doctor to tend to his wound.

“Why did you have Marston bring you?” she asked Jonas. “Were you not capable of coming on your own?”

The boy leaned as close to Sansa as he could get and spoke low. “I told him I was afraid of you so that he’d come along. I believe the blacksmith needs to be tended to,” he confided. “His hand stinks of rot.”

Sansa nodded. “I see,” she said throwing a perturbed glance in Marston’s direction. She knew all too well that it was just an excuse for Marston to be in her presence. No one feared her and certainly not a lowly boy of thirteen who had a crush on her.

When she was done with Jonas, she gestured Marston over to deal with him next. Sansa could smell the infection immediately.

“You should have come to me sooner,” she said curtly as she unwrapped the soiled bandages. When the wound was exposed, she recoiled slightly at the odor. Fortunately, it was not too late and she was able to clean and disinfect the tissue so that it could heal properly. She gently washed his hand, carefully working toward the infected area.

The Mistress’s touch was delicate and it sent an unwanted rush through Marston, but he fought it with all his might, pushed it away, and buried it inside.

“Just hurry the fuck up. I’ve got work to do,” he snarled. Sansa ignored him and did what she needed to do, taking her time to ensure all the infection was removed. Marston grew impatient and restless, so he took it out on Jonas.

“What the fuck are you standing there for, boy? Go on, get back to work!” he yelled. Jonas seemed disappointed that he could not remain in the Mistress Doctor’s presence longer, but he hurried away without protest. Marston was writhing inside. He didn’t want to be here or anywhere near the doctor. His restlessness turned to agitation as the flicker inside him grew into a roaring blaze of contempt. He could feel his pulse quicken and his temper rise. Sansa’s deliberate and unhurried manner made him that more enraged.

When the doctor finally finished bandaging Marston’s clean and now uninfected wound, she looked up to meet his gaze and was frightened by what she saw. The blacksmith’s face was a mask of fury.

Cautiously, she stepped back, but Marston was quick and rough as he grabbed her wrist and spun her around against him. From behind, he wrapped his arms around her and carelessly tugged at the throat of her blouse pulling it down. He thrust his hand into her dress and groped at her breasts, squeezing them roughly. Sansa tried to push him away, but Marston was strong and determined. He bit her neck as he rubbed her nipples squeezing them harshly. But even that unforgiving touch made Sansa’s body respond to him. Her breasts swelled as the surface of Marston’s roughened hand slid over them.

“Samuel,” she gasped pleading with him. She didn’t know if she was pleading with him to stop, or because she wanted him to continue. It wouldn’t matter. The sound of his name from Sansa’s lips made Marston harden instantly. He pushed her over the table and rubbed himself against her feeling his erection grow. He was desperate to be inside her and feel her hot wet tightness wrapped around him.

With uncontrollable urgency, Marston forced her down to the surface of the table and pulled up her skirts. He felt between her legs and knew that she wanted it, too. She was already wet and his fingers slid into her easily. Sansa groaned, not protesting, not fighting him. He pulled his fingers from her, ripped at the cord of his breeches and aimed the head of his cock to enter her. Sansa felt that quiver of pressure run down her thighs as she spread her legs wide for him. His hardened knob throbbed as he pressed it between her swollen lips. Sansa pushed backwards wanting him inside her, her quim hot and aching to be stretched wide. Marston grabbed Sansa by the hips and with a quick brutal thrust, he slammed his hardened shaft deep inside her. Sansa gasped arching her back so that he could fuck her hard and fast. He pounded into her making her small body shudder against him. Marston began to pant, his breath harsh and quick, matching the sound of Sansa’s gasps. When Sansa began to moan, he felt her convulse around him, tightening, squeezing, as her orgasm swept through her, driving him to the edge, her hips rolling and grinding sinking him deeper inside her. His cock began to throb. He grunted, slamming into her hard and deep finally feeling the head of his cock twitch and spasm as he filled her.

The blacksmith stood on shaky legs, resting his head on the Mistress’s back. With his damaged hand, he gently swept her long red hair aside to expose her neck. Beneath him, he felt her torso rise and fall in the same quick panting breaths that he was trying to control in his own chest. Marston leaned his head forward and touched his mouth to the spot where he’d bitten her. He sucked her soft delicate skin between his lips and bit down hard enough to make her wince.

Marston pushed himself up and tied his breeches. He didn’t say a word as Sansa straightened, smoothed down her skirts, and turned to face him. Her expression was regretful because she knew that nothing had changed between them. He was still angry and frustrated, unable to find peace within himself.

“Samuel,” she pleaded again. But Marston turned and left without a word or a look, cold and distant. She touched the tender welt on her neck that would be visible to everyone. Though he said and behaved otherwise, Sansa knew that she still belonged to Samuel Marston, for he had marked her and made her his.

Chapter Text

Sansa learned quickly that with rewards come consequences. As a result of the Sunday day off given to them, the prisoners were made to work harder and longer during the rest of the week to make up for it. Also as expected, and long overdue according to Governor Phillip, the rations were indeed reduced.

For Sansa, the repercussions showed themselves quickly as the prisoners complained of empty bellies and ailments caused by their hunger. Irritable from lack of food, arguments occurred often. Incidents of ration theft increased. Fights broke out. Injuries skyrocketed not just from the fights, but from carelessness caused by muddled minds that were more focused on food than on their work.

Living by the strict oath taught to her by her brother Robb, Sansa did all she could to help those who were in desperate need of it, often giving up bites of her own rations. If the prisoners could survive on less, so could she.

On Sunday, Sansa attempted to pay a visit to Marston. She knew he wouldn’t acknowledge her – he never did. When she passed by the forge, Marston would always turn his back on her. When she tried to speak to him, he would ignore her, make loud noise or yell at Jonas to drown her out. But this Sunday, Sansa had come to deliver disappointing news. She needed to tell him that she had no more food to give him. The Mistress had never stopped leaving her small wrapped bits of bread and cheese for him until yesterday. The need was so desperate that she’d given it all away.

But when she went to the forge, Marston was nowhere to be found and no one knew where he was. The Mistress Doctor returned to her cabin to find Samuel Roach waiting for her. Upon first sight of him, she recoiled in fear, but her fear quickly turned to disgust when she realized why he was there.

Sam Roach was glassy eyed and wobbly with a thick stream of blood running down the back of his neck. Both eyes were blackened with one swollen shut and his bottom lip was puffed and split. He looked ashamed as he propped himself up – ever so gingerly – onto her examining table. He kept one arm wrapped around his midsection indicating that he most likely had broken ribs as well.

“Dear God, Sam, what happened?”

Sam Roach looked up from between his knees. “I fell down,” he told her resuming the examination of his feet.

Sansa shook her head in disgust. She approached Sam from the rear and looked closely at the wound on the back of his head. She stepped around the table in front of him and lifted his chin so that he would look her directly in the eye.

“Who did this?” she demanded.

“I told you, I fell down.”

If Sam had told the Mistress he’d been in a fight, she would have believed him. Fights and even severe beatings were common especially at Sam Roach’s class among the lowest prisoners. But he’d lied. The only time anyone ever lied about a beating was when it had been laid upon them by an officer. Sam Roach was well aware that the Mistress Doctor knew that.

“Bullshit!” Sansa said. “I know what a rifle butt to the head looks like. Who did this to you?” As Sansa waited for him to answer, she began tending to his wounds. Sam wouldn’t say a word. Sansa quickly became exasperated.

“Fine. If you won’t tell me who, then at least tell me why.” She stood before him, not allowing him to look away until he answered. Sam’s eyes began to glisten and Sansa’s heart was immediately torn by the sight of Sam Roach, of all men, with tears in his eyes. It was the first time she’d witnessed one of these hardened convicts expressing such emotion.

“I’m sorry, Mistress.” He swallowed hard. “I’m sorry wot I done to you before – almost done to you,” he corrected himself. “Knowin’ wot I knows now, I would take it back if I could.”

The genuine regret in his voice made gooseflesh prickle on Sansa’s skin. Her heart wrenched painfully. Sam Roach shook his head. He suddenly looked Sansa square in the eye, his words careful and deliberate.

“If someone asked me to do that again, I would say no.” Sam took a breath never breaking eye contact with her. “I would say no and I’d pay dearly for it.” Sam moved to climb off the examining table, grunting painfully as his feet reached the floor. As he straightened, his stomach growled loudly.

Before he could turn to leave, Sansa reached out and touched his arm. “Wait, Sam,” she told him. The Mistress Doctor went to her pantry box and removed the last small bit of her coarse loaf. Knowing that Sam’s teeth were bad, she dipped it in the salt water and handed it to him.

“It’s all I have left,” she told him. Sam tried to refuse, but Sansa placed it in his hand and urged him toward the door.

That night, Sansa lay awake in her bed, her mind circling over Sam Roach’s words and his unbelievable change in attitude toward her. Did Major Ross really hate her that much? What had she done to deserve this? Should she tell Marston and ask for his help again? If she did approach the blacksmith, would he even hear her or would her pleas fall on deaf ears?

Sansa closed her eyes and tried to sleep. Her body needed the rest especially now that her own rations had been so drastically reduced by the needs of others. She focused on the sounds of the night, the wind through the trees, the distant sound of the waves on the shore.

Jolted awake by a sudden loud thump, Sansa sat upright and listened but heard no more. The sound had come from just outside her door. Frightened and nervous she crept from her bed and cautiously approached the door flap of her cabin. When she peered outside, a lifeless lump of man lay at the bottom of her steps. When she moved closer to see who it was, she discovered Major Ross lying in the dirt unconscious with a knot the size of a fist swelling at the side of his head.

Thinking of the only officer she trusted completely, Sansa ran to fetch Corporal MacDonald.

Marston looked up from his anvil to see Mistress Stark striding purposefully toward the forge. Holding a chisel between the good fingers of his wounded hand, he struck a length of heated steel rod severing an inch of it from the end. Jonas stood next to him holding the steel rod in place. He turned it slightly at Marston’s prompting as the blacksmith repeated the process again and again.

“Building is going fast, mum,” Jonas informed her. “Mr. Campbell has asked us to make more nails.” Marston ignored her as he continued severing the segments that would eventually be pounded into nails.

“That’s good to hear, Jonas. Do you wish you were a carpenter again instead of here?” she asked nonchalantly.

“No, mum,” he told her flatly with a quick upward glance toward Marston. Sansa tried to keep the smirk from her face. “I think I’d rather be here,” he told her. This time there was adoration in his voice.

“Jonas, why don’t you take a break from this ungodly heat and rinse yourself in the ocean?” she suggested. Jonas was hesitant, but Sansa waved him away with a flap of her hand. Before Marston could protest, Jonas had scampered off. The blacksmith grumbled an epithet under his breath and turned to his water trough to rinse the sweat from his face and his hands.

“Samuel, I have something to ask you and I need an answer. It’s important,” Sansa told him. She hoped that Marston would acknowledge her this time, that he would actually speak with her. Marston stepped toward her until he was only an inch away forcing her to look straight upward into his face. The blacksmith looked down into her beautiful face. Her deep blue eyes were wide and silently pleading with him. Sansa parted her lips slightly creating a pout that made him want to kiss her forever. He wanted to hold that pale, flawless face in his hands and never let go, and he hated her for it. Marston closed his eyes and suppressed his rage but it was too much even for him.

Damn, her! Why couldn’t she go and leave him be to live his life of torment without adding to it. Marston clenched his teeth and squeezed his eyes shut and tried to shake her from his head but she just wouldn’t go.

“Fucking hell!” he bellowed snapping his eyes open. He snatched Sansa’s wrist and dragged her through the tall grass behind his forge. He pulled her along behind him taking long strides over the rough terrain so that she stumbled along behind him trying desperately to keep up. She kept tripping on the edge of her skirt, but Marston would simply haul her up by the arm and dragged her farther into the bush.

When they reached a grassy clearing, Marston threw her down to the ground and began to untie his breeches. As he knelt down and pushed her skirts up to her waist, Sansa gently placed a hand against the base of his throat.

“No,” she told him quietly. Marston sat back on his heels watching her face. He saw no fear in her eyes, but the word had caught him off guard. This was the first time a woman had ever said “no” to Samuel Marston.

Chapter Text

Sansa and Marston sat for a long moment and stared at each other. He, frustrated and angry, grew impatient. She, amazed that she’d said “no” to him and gotten away with it, watched his face for some sort of reaction.

Scooching forward on the grass, Sansa moved closer to Marston. He didn’t back away, but continued to glare at her. She shifted around to her knees and moved closer still. Marston narrowed his eyes and breathed heavily between clenched teeth, but he didn’t move.

Raising up on her knees so they were face to face, Sansa cautiously placed a hand on his shoulder. She paused for signs that the wild animal might suddenly attack, but he didn’t. In a swift smooth movement, Sansa brought her lips to his and kissed him. She closed her eyes and pressed her mouth to his, but he didn’t respond. Sansa moved her hand to the back of his head and played her fingers through his curls. When she pulled away from him, Marston still glared at her.

Defeated, Sansa dropped her shoulders. She’d hoped that giving him affection might make him see her differently, but it hadn’t worked. She fell back onto her ass and sighed deeply. Marston still glared at her.

The blacksmith dropped back onto his knees and reached out to grab the sides of her head. Holding her face between his huge hands, he pulled her close and snarled. “I … don’t … want … this!” he told her giving her head a shake. Then he pulled her face toward him and kissed her, with passion, with complete abandon. She could feel the want in his lips this time. There was desire there.

Marston pushed her back on the grass and she let him. Sansa parted her lips and felt his tongue touch hers, exploring deeply, tasting her. She wrapped her arms around him as he lifted her hips and entered her. He pushed deep inside her, moving his body over hers as she pushed up against him. Sansa could feel his hot breath on her neck as he moved his face beside hers. She rolled her hips, grinding against him as he thrust faster, growing harder inside her. Marston groaned and his erection grew, tightening her around him. He grunted with urgency as he fucked her, driving his cock deeper. Sansa gasped as his hardened shaft hit the end of her. She cried out as Marston suddenly began pounding her hard and deep. She could feel the forceful throbbing of him inside her as he released his load and filled her with his seed.

When he’d slowed his heart and caught his breath Marston stood and tied his breeches. The same sour expression covered his face. As he turned to go, Sansa struggled to her feet.

“Samuel!” she called after him. Marston stopped, hung his head for a moment then turned to face her.


“I don’t understand you!” Her frustration was evident. “Why do you do this? You take me as you wish then you refuse to speak to me or even look at me.”

“Isn’t that what you wanted?” Marston rushed toward her and yelled in her face. “Isn’t this why you came to see me?”

Sansa was taken aback. She closed her eyes and sighed deeply. She opened her eyes again when she had finally calmed herself. “I understand,” she said with a curt nod trying not to show her damaged pride. “You warned me that you would take what you wanted and so you have.” She brushed past him to go back to the compound, but Marston grabbed her arm and yanked her back.

“I didn’t want this!” he reminded her.

“Then why did you use me in this manner?” Sansa asked angrily.

“I didn’t use you,” Marston told her in a strangely calm voice. “You used me. You’re the one who came to me for protection. You’re the one who asked me to take your innocence when I was drugged with poppy milk. You’re the one who told Anne that it was me you belonged to. The biggest gossip in the colony." He huffed. "You made sure everyone knew.”

Sansa’s mouth dropped in stunned silence. She shook her head. “I didn’t know Anne then. Besides everyone would have known when Sam Roach told them, anyway.”

“Roach wouldn’t have said a word. Do you think Ross would have paid him for not finishing the job? He wanted Ross to think it was him so that he’d get his extra ration bag. You screwed that up for him,” Marston told Sansa pointing a finger in her face.

Sansa stared at her feet, her mind spinning. “I didn’t know,” she whimpered, overwhelmed with shame.

The blacksmith pulled at his hair in frustration. He closed his eyes and rubbed his temples. He began to walk away, leaving her there but turned back to her.

“When you came to the forge, you told me had a question for me. What was it?”

Sansa swallowed hard as tears rolled down her cheeks. It felt silly of her to ask her question now, but she did it anyway. “Someone left a gift at my doorstep last night. Was it you?”

Marston stared at her with disbelief, snorted, then turned and walked away.

The Mistress Doctor kept to herself and her duties attending to the sick and injured. She spoke little to anyone keeping her conversation to a bare minimum. Afraid that everyone knew of her schemes with Marston, she felt too humiliated and undignified to hold her head up. She kept her eyes down when she needed to pass the forge, often choosing to avoid it completely if she could. She never attempted to speak to Marston and would not even look in his direction if he was near.

Everyone began to notice that she was losing weight which was no different than anyone else who was on strict rations, but suffering a deep melancholy, she was often tired and made excuses to return to her cabin alone. Even Marston noticed the hollowness of her cheeks and the dark circles under her eyes. Her cheek bones were sharper, but her eyes more dull.

Mistress Stark watched the world carry on around her remaining at a distance physically and emotionally. James Freeman was seen more often with Anne. Sansa was aware that he’d secretly been in love with Lizzy, but he had finally moved on and was now enjoying Anne’s company. Kitty had cautiously begun to refuse Major Ross and given herself completely to Corporal MacDonald. Marston’s hand was healing well with no need for tending to by the Mistress Doctor. Jonas, no longer needed by the blacksmith, went back to his job as a carpenter, thankful to be away from the dreaded heat of the forge.

On Christmas Eve, Sansa stayed in her cabin preferring not to take part in any of the festivities. She went to bed early wishing that Marston was lying beside her. She fell asleep dreaming of the feel of the soft hair of his chest on her bare skin.

There was no hurry to get up this Christmas morning. Sansa had no more food left – she’d given it all away. If she couldn’t be happy, at least she had made someone else’s day better with an extra bite of bread or cheese. She lay in bed with her eyes closed debating whether to wallow in her despair, or get up and do something.

Stretching her arms wide, Sansa’s arm bumped something cold and hard. She opened her eyes and turned her head to the side to see a large green … something … on the bed next to her. Sansa sat up and picked up the strange object. It was some sort of fruit. It was heavy and dense, about the size of her hand reminding her of a large, strangely shaped apple. The thick, smooth skin was mostly light green with a splash of red near the stem at the bottom. A length of hemp twine had been wrapped around it like a parcel and tied in a bow. A tiny piece of parchment was attached to the bow. Sansa turned it over to see the letter “S” signed on it.

Chapter Text

Sansa got up and got dressed with a renewed enthusiasm for the day. This weird apple thing that Marston had left for her had given her hope. Perhaps, in the spirit of Christmas, he had forgiven her. Perhaps, Sansa could find it in her heart to forgive herself for all the damage she had caused.

It might have been better for all if I’d gotten back on the Scarborough, she thought.  No, she shook her head. If she’d gone back aboard the frigate, she would have been at the mercy of the ship’s crew with no other women aboard. And she wouldn’t have gotten back to back to England anyway until after the exploration of New Zealand. And she wouldn’t have been here helping people who desperately needed it.

I need to stop feeling sorry for myself. Sansa squared her shoulders and rushed out the door. As she shoved the door flap aside, Sansa nearly ran head first into Sam Roach. He smiled politely and nodded his head to her.

“Happy Christmas, Mistress Stark,” he said quietly.

“Thank-you, Sam. And Happy Christmas to you.”

Sam nodded to the large green fruit in her hand. “Aren’t you going to eat it? I thinks you’ll like it.” Sansa crinkled her brow in confusion.

“You’ve had one?”

“Yes. ‘Course, mum.” He held up his own hand to show her the second half of his own piece of fruit. The inside was an orange-yellow color and looked firm in texture. “We all got one. Hunting party came across them in a grove a few miles away across the cape. They brought back enough to give every soul one of these last night. You weren’t about last night so I wanted to make sure you got yours fair and square.”

Sansa stared at Sam Roach with her mouth agape. “This is from you?” she asked.

Sam nodded timidly. “Yes, mum. Thing is, you done so much for everyone here, givin’ away your own food. Even tendin’ to me as if I weren’t nobody different … even after that night I … well, you know. No need to bring that up again.” Sam hung his head in shame at the memory of what he’d intended to do to the Mistress Doctor. “I never apologized proper. I’m sorry, Mistress Stark. In the spirit of Christmas, could you find it in your heart to forgive me?”

A stab of pain went through her heart at this poor sad pathetic man who had been so desperate and yet now recognized the error of his ways.

“Of course I forgive you. Thank-you, Sam. What is it?” she asked referring to the fruit in her hand.

“They’s calling it a mango,” he told her. Sam then proceeded to show her how to eat it. Although she was happy for the gift, Sansa was sad that it hadn’t come from Marston. Even on this day of miracles, she could not muster the courage to go and face him. Instead, she sat on her doorstep and spoke with Sam Roach as they ate their mangoes.

The Mistress Doctor was surprised to learn that the history of Sam Roach was not all that different from Marston’s. Sam had been a grounds servant at the home of Governor Collins in Gravesend near London. Sansa knew that Gravesend was only across the Thames and a few miles away from The Grays, where Marston had come from.

Apparently, Governor Collins kept more than a few mistresses. Mrs. Collins had had enough of his wandering ways and so she tried to stab him with his own sword. Governor Collins was in a shameful way and in fear of losing the only woman he truly trusted and Mrs. Collins was in fear of being sent to a work house by her husband. In order to maintain the dignity of their status, together they hatched a plan to blame one of their servants. Sam Roach was unlucky enough to have approached his master at that moment to ask what should be done about the dying rosebushes. Sam Roach had been given an offer similar to that of Marston. However, being a slight man of small stature, Sam had to adopt ruthless ways to ensure his survival among the hardened convicts.

Unbeknownst to Sam Roach, the man’s sordid history gave Sansa some hope. Not all who came here had deserved to come. Not all were thieves, rapists, murderers, or men of violence. Ironically, she realized, some of these men and women had become criminals only after they were sent to prison. They’d had to do it in order to survive.

Sansa thanked Sam for sharing his tale and let him go to enjoy his day. If Sam Roach could have the courage to come to her and beg her forgiveness, then she, too, could swallow her pride and go to Marston.

 Just as expected, Marston was not at his forge. He was not anywhere in the compound. He was not in the men’s tent or down at the shore enjoying the beach and the surf with the others. Sansa was disappointed that she could not ask him for the same forgiveness as Sam Roach had asked of her.

Sansa had hoped, that on this day of rest and merrymaking, she would be able to find him alone so that she might speak to him privately. She wandered into the center of the forge and sat down on a small wooden stool behind his bench. Here, she would be hidden from view of the others while she sorted out her thoughts and the things she would want to say if she did see him.

Searching her mind, the Mistress tried to get at the root of her feelings. Why was she so depressed? Why did she care about a man who was so cold and distant and detached? He was violent and offensive and self-serving.

Sansa chortled to herself. Self-serving? Really? It was she who’d been the self-serving one. Why had she chosen Marston? She could easily have allowed James Freeman and his friends to kill Marston. Then, she could have used her position to protect James and in turn, he would have protected her.

For the love of God! Sansa threw her head back bewildered at herself. Marston was right. Was there no way she could have protected herself without taking advantage of someone else?

Her ears prickled hot with that last thought. Yes, admittedly Sansa had used him, she knew that now. But then why had he come to her again? He hadn’t needed to come to her cabin with Jonas that day. Jonas could have told her of Marston’s infection and she would have gone to him. But the blacksmith had come, he’d made an excuse to get rid of Jonas, then he’d taken her.

When she’d come to the forge to ask him about the “gift” that had been left on her doorstep, it was Marston who had dragged her into the bush with the intent of having her again. Sansa recalled how Marston had stopped when she’d told him “no.” She pictured their kiss, closed her eyes and felt it again. There had been passion in his lips, there had been wanting.

But then he’d told her he didn’t want this. Didn’t want what? Sansa wondered. Didn’t want to protect her? Didn’t want to be lusting after her? What?

Sansa rubbed her temples. If she was going to think about all the things she didn’t want … She didn’t want her parents to die of the pox. She didn’t want to come to Australia with Robb. She didn’t want him to die, leaving her alone on the Scarborough. She didn’t want to be in this place fearing for her life every day.

What about all the things that Sam Roach hadn’t wanted, or Marston. Samuel Marston hadn’t wanted to be accused of rape simply because he’d been too proper to shag a woman who tried to seduce him. He hadn’t wanted to be branded a rapist, or a thief, or made to choose between death and banishment. He hadn’t wanted those women on the Charlotte who had asked him for the same thing that Sansa had. And through all that, not once had he been given …

Sansa suddenly bolted to her feet. On a hunch, she circled around behind the forge to the wall of tall grass. The grasses were slightly parted as though someone had traversed them recently. She took a deep breath and followed the path into the bush.

Marston looked up as the Mistress Doctor pushed through the brush and into the clearing. His expression didn’t indicate that he was happy to see her, but he didn’t seem thoroughly pissed off, either. He sat on the ground leaning against a tree in the shade. He quickly looked away and cut another thin slice from his mango and slipped it in his mouth. He’d only eaten half of it, hoping to stretch it out and make it last.

Marston gazed off into the distance in the opposite direction from the Mistress. He wasn’t ignoring her, exactly, just not paying her any heed.

“Why are you here?” he finally asked, still looking away from her.

Sansa rushed forward to stand a few feet from him. “What do you want?” she asked him.

Marston turned to look at her with a sour expression. “You’re the one who came here. I didn’t ask you to,” he informed her angrily. “What the fuck do you want?”

Sansa shook her head pleasantly, dropping to her knees beside him. A slight smile crossed her face. “That’s not what I meant. Every time we were together, you said to me ‘I didn’t want this.’ It never occurred to me to ask what you do want. So I’m asking now. What do you want, Samuel?”

Chapter Text

Samuel Marston was honest about his confusion. He didn’t know what he wanted. Not for certain anyway. He thought he knew what it was that his heart desired, but he wasn’t educated enough to have the words to express it.

“I don’t know,” he said gruffly. He cut another slice of mango and ate it.

“I know what I want,” Sansa said softly, kneeling closer to him. Marston shook his head, a mocking smile on his face.

“It’s always about what you want,” he said with cruel sarcasm.

“Not this time. All I want from you is your forgiveness.”

Marston continued to stare at the half eaten fruit in his lap. Sansa sat back on her ass and moved closer, placing her hand on his arm.

“I’m sorry,” she told him. “You were right. I was only thinking of myself and I was using you. But I chose you. Even though you were mean and violent and dangerous, I chose you. I could have chosen someone else, but I didn’t. Maybe I told everyone it was you that I belonged to because I wanted to belong to you.”

Sansa shifted around in front of him, her excitement growing as she explained the realizations she’d come to. “It took some time, but I understood what it was that you wanted, what it was that you got from me. I gave you something that you never got from anyone else.”

Marston looked at her then, his brows knit in uncertainty.

“You said you didn’t want this. At first I thought you meant me and that was partly true, but you didn’t want any of this,” she said gesturing to the big wide world around them. “You didn’t want Chelsea. Well, maybe you did, but not in the improper way that she did. You didn’t want to lose your family or be accused of rape or branded a thief. You didn’t want to be forced to make a choice between the hangman’s noose and coming here.”

Marston’s face began to relax, his eyes widening.

“Those women on the Charlotte were no different than me, using you in exchange for something they could give you. But they were different from me because I realized I could give you something that they couldn’t.”

Marston shifted toward her, listening intently.

 “It’s the only thing you’ve ever really wanted, isn’t it?” Sansa moved close beside him leaning across his lap, her face only inches from his. “Through all this, all you ever wanted was someone who wanted you.”

Marston’s eye twitched. He laughed crudely turning his head away.

“Is that why you were always angry with me? Because you thought that I couldn’t want you, too?” Sansa grabbed his chin and forced him to look at her. “I do want you, Samuel. I think I always have. Since the first time I saw you. I think that I was just too afraid.”

For the first time, Samuel Marston looked into those bottomless blue eyes and he wasn’t angry. He wasn’t hurt or confused. He was speechless, bewildered, and dazed.

“I’m sorry, Samuel. I’m sorry that I treated you badly. I’m sorry that I never thanked you for everything you did for me, for helping me and protecting me. I’m sorry that you had to go through everything that happened in your life just to find me. I’m sorry that I had to go through everything I did just to find you.”

"What are you talking about?" he asked.

Sansa placed her hands on Marston’s shoulders. “Did you know that I came from Chadwell Heath? We were so near to each other back in England, but we had to come to the other side of the world to meet.”

Sansa moved to sit across Marston’s lap. She reached down and took hold of Samuel’s hands and squeezed them tightly. “All you have ever wanted was to be loved and I can give you that,” she promised.

Wrenching his hands away from her, Marston narrowed his eyes, his face turning sour. “Haven’t you had enough over on me?” he asked bitterly.

Sansa sighed deeply, her smile sympathetic and adoring. “You need not be so careful with me, Samuel.” She took his face in her hands and leaned her forehead against his. Her smile broadened.

“Don’t you understand?” she chuckled. “Samuel Marston, I’m in love with you.” She kissed him lightly on the lips. “And you,” she said pointing a finger into his chest, “are in love with me, I think.”

Marston’s face went blank as he pulled away from her. He gazed at her as though he was trying to figure out who she was. He grabbed her by the shoulders and lifted her off his lap. He shook his head dismissively.

“No. I can’t. Every woman I’ve been with is dead. Everything I touch dies.”

“Yes, and that means you love me. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t concern yourself with worry over me. Perhaps those other women died, but you didn’t love them and they didn’t love you.”

“Everything I touch dies,” he repeated. “My family died. I loved them and now they’re gone.”

“Am I not worth taking that risk? Would you rather die alone and miserable? Would you rather that I die alone and pining for you because you refused me? Or should we enjoy this short time we have on earth loving each other while we can?”

Sansa kneeled before him straddling Marston’s legs. “Samuel Marston, I did not come all this way to meet you just so I could deny how I really feel and pretend that we don’t care for each other.” She sat her ass down on his knees, leaned forward and kissed him.

“I understand that trust will not come easily,” she told him.

Still uncertain, Marston remained stiff and unresponsive. Sansa grabbed his wrists and forced them around her waist. She shifted her body as close to him as she could get and she kissed him again. She kept kissing him until she felt him return her affections.

Marston’s whole body loosened and relaxed, he squeezed his arms around her and kissed her deeply with all the passion he’d been holding back. It wasn’t angry or frustrated passion. It was with love and kindness. His fingers wound through her soft silky hair and he held her tighter. Marston felt his heart pounding against his ribs and his breath quicken. The weight of Sansa’s small body wrapped in his arms seemed to make all the pain and worry and hunger drain away. Her scent and the taste of her sweet breath were magically healing and he felt like a small child being comforted in his mother’s arms during a storm.

He did not want to let her go, but Marston ended their kiss and looked deep in her eyes. He swallowed hard. His lips trembled, working up to saying something, but he could not force the words out. It had been too long and too difficult. He was a strong man who had built a strong wall around his heart. Sansa knew that it would take more than one afternoon to tear that down.

“Trust will not come easily, but please know that I do love you, Samuel Marston.” Sansa kissed him again. His lips were soft and warm and tender as he explored her mouth with his. Straddled across his waist, Sansa felt him move beneath her, but he did nothing about it except kiss her more deeply.

Sansa tore herself away from him. She stood with one foot on either side of his legs and began to unlace her bodice. Marston folded his hands in his lap and watched as the Mistress removed her corset, then untied her skirt and her petticoat and let them fall in a puddle around her ankles. She stepped out of them and tossed them aside with her foot.

Dressed only in her thin shift, she sat straddling his knees and untied his breeches. She smiled pleasantly as she worked her fingers around the knot. Sansa looked up to see a thin smile on Samuel’s face. It may as well have been a wide grin for all the times she’d seen him smile.

Tugging up on the hem of his shirt, Marston leaned forward so that she could lift it over his head. He pushed himself up off the ground so that Sansa could tug down his trousers. They kept their eyes locked as Sansa lowered herself onto him. She gasped lightly when he lifted his hips to push his erection deep inside her, spreading her around him, filling her with his shaft.

Sansa began to grind her hips, sinking him deeper, feeling him expand and pressing against her walls. Marston took her head in his hands and kissed her. His skin tingled with Sansa’s touch as she traced her fingertips along the strong muscles of his back and shoulders. She caressed his skin bringing her small hands over his shoulders to touch his chest, playing with the soft thick hair from the base of his throat to his belly. He gasped into her mouth when she tickled the skin at his sides, making him throb.

Marston clutched at her hips, shifting her forward to thrust his cock deeper. Sansa lifted up and dropped back down hard making him shudder as her muscles squeezed him. Marston’s heart pounded as she rocked her hips forward. He moved his hands under her shift and lifted it from her body, breaking their kiss for only a moment as he pulled it over her head. Sansa’s lips hung open in a pout, her breath fast and hot making Marston desire her even more. He caressed her back and the curve of her hips, her soft smooth skin like fine silk under his rough hands.

Every touch of her fingers, every kiss, every breath melted the ice around Marston’s heart. Each groan that passed from her lips softened the steel in him. There was no urgency, no need to control or dominate as his body moved into hers. Encircling Sansa with his strong arms, he hugged her closer, gripped her tighter as the shell around him began to crack. He squeezed her body against his so tightly that they could barely breathe. Sansa’s deep moan vibrated through his chest as her quim pulsed and rippled along the length of him. Marston pushed his hips up hard, gasping as he felt the shell finally break apart and shatter with his release. He pulled her down to meet him as he came, filling her only with love and he had so much of that to give her.

Brushing the sweat dampened hair from Sansa’s forehead, Marston looked deep into eyes that were clear from doubt and he knew. Pressing his cheek against hers, he whispered in her ear.

“Sansa.” Marston had never said her name before. For her to hear it uttered from his lips meant that it wasn’t just one word, but three.

Chapter Text

Not wanting to make his circumstances more difficult than they already were, Sansa insisted that Marston go back to the men’s tent. It was already frowned upon that Sansa had willingly given herself, a citizen, to a convict. No one dared apprise Marston of the rules regarding relationships between two convicts let alone between a male convict and the colony doctor. He was a dangerous man and even the officers were still afraid of him, but only so many allowances could be made before action would be demanded from men like Major Ross or Governor Phillip.

As the Mistress Doctor walked back to her cabin alone, she noticed the remnants of a mango lying in the dirt. Whoever had eaten it, had used their teeth to scrape away all the fruity flesh right down to the hard white fuzzy pit. What caught her attention was a dark line along one ridge of the casing. Sansa picked it up and examined it. The dark line she’d seen was a gap where the casing had started to split.

Sansa rushed back to her cabin to find a strong knife to pry open the pit. It split easily revealing a bean shaped seed about the size of a silver shilling. The seed had already begun to sprout. It excited Sansa because it renewed the horticultural scientist in her. In this new world with so much to explore, there would be many new plants and herbs. There would be fruits and vegetables no one had ever seen before, and new seasonings and medicinal plants to discover.

Gathering the corners of her apron in her hands, Sansa scoured the compound for the discarded mango seeds and deposited them in her makeshift carrier. As she knelt down in the dirt gathering pits from around an extinguished campfire, Sansa saw a pair of polished boots step into her view.

The Mistress Doctor jumped hastily to her feet and backed away from Major Ross. He leered at her with evil thoughts floating behind his eyes. He reached out to stroke her cheek, but Sansa wrenched her head away, dropping her apron-full of mango seeds.

“You’ve made quite the whore of yourself with the likes of that blacksmith,” he proclaimed. “Perhaps it’s time for you to become a proper whore with a man of substance and breeding.”

“The only substance you’re made of is horseshit,” Sansa spat. Her head flew to the side with a hard, stinging wallop from the back of Ross’s hand. He grabbed her by the hair and leaned close, spittle dripping from his lips as he spoke.

“I didn’t report Marston for ambushing me with a club to the head. I was hoping that you and I could come to an arrangement, however if you insist on continuing to be the blacksmith’s dirty little whore, I may have to seek punitive retribution.”

“Marston didn’t do that to you,” she protested, trying to pry his fingers from her hair. Ross tightened his grip making her wince. He pressed his body against hers, wrenching her head to a painful angle.

Major Ross shrugged dismissively. “Does that really matter?” he grinned malevolently. “Last chance,” he warned.

“The only way you’ll ever get your cock in me is if you dig up my rotten stinking corpse.” Sansa hissed. “Go fuck yourself!”

Major Ross snarled and pulled his fist.

“Mistress, I came to help gather the pits as you asked.” Ross froze glaring at Sansa. He let her go with a backward shove that sent her reeling. Jonas Martin caught her and helped her back to her feet. “I come as soon as I got the message.” He twitched his eyes to the left. Sansa followed his gaze to see Sam Roach approaching.

“Thank-you, Jonas,” she said as Major Ross scuttled away.

Jonas and Sam stayed with her gathering pits until her apron was so full that she could carry no more.

“Sam, why did we not know of these before?” she asked as the three of them sat outside her cabin extracting the seeds from their pods.

“They might’ve been ‘round this area before, but these parts been picked clean and trod through,” he mused. “The game has got frightful thin so they went off where we ain’t been.”

“No one has explored across the cape yet?”

“Not ‘til recent, Mistress.”

Sansa thought for a long moment. “Sam, you were a gardener, is that correct?”

“Yes, Mistress.”

“Do you suppose you could arrange for the two of us to accompany the hunters across the cape? I’d like to examine the plants in an area that hasn’t yet been ravaged. There’s not much left to look at around here,” Sansa said gesturing to the compound around them.

Sam Roach took a deep breath and concentrated on prying open a seed pod. He gave a sideways glance to Jonas and picked his words carefully.

“The only way I would do that is if I knowed the men wot was takin’ us. Three of me,” he said pointing his knife at his own chest, “against one of you is a might differed than one of me against five of them.”

Sansa heard the regret in his voice as he hung his head and grabbed another handful of pods from the pile. Sam Roach had turned his cheek from adversary to guardian on Sansa’s behalf and it made her come to tears. She found herself crying so easily of late that she wondered if there was something wrong with her.

Before Sam or Jonas noticed her wet face, Sansa wiped her cheeks and brow and complained about the heat. “Well, see what you can arrange, would you? We’ll only undertake the journey if you are comfortable about it.”

“If it please you, Mistress.”

Samuel Marston wasn’t particularly happy about Sansa going off with a group of men to an unexplored area, but there was nothing he could do to persuade her otherwise. He couldn’t go with her because he had too much of his own work to do in the forge.

“Sam Roach has promised me that I will be in safe hands. He has spoken to a few good men who have volunteered. They are men that can be trusted.”

Marston may not have been educated, but he knew that Sansa was being purposefully evasive. “Is it not enough to tell me you’ve become acquaintances with Roach?” he grumbled suspiciously. “What men? Tell me who.”

Sansa puffed out a breath of air. She hadn’t been able to slip this one past Samuel as she’d hoped. “Tor McKillip, Henry Martin, Jack Chandler, and …” Sansa turned her head slightly and covered her mouth. “Tommy and James,” she mumbled quickly.

Marston slammed his hammer down on his anvil. “For Christ’s sake!” he bellowed. “James Freeman?!”

“Would you rather I be traveling with men the likes of Gareth McKay?” Sansa asked. Gareth McKay was a confirmed rapist who had murdered his victims after subjecting them to horrors beyond comprehension. The man had been castrated, but still had a penchant for violence. Sansa wondered how such a man as him had managed to escape the gallows.

Marston wiped sweat out of his eyes. He thought long and hard. Finally, he nodded giving his consent. He bent down and took her head in his hands and kissed her.

“Please be careful. We wouldn’t even be having this conversation if …”

Sansa hung on his words with baited breath, but she was disappointed when he said, “Just be very careful, okay?”

She promised she would but instead of going back to her cabin, Sansa hemmed and hawed. She was worried about Samuel so she reluctantly gave Samuel a brief account of what had transpired between her and Major Ross a few days earlier. She did not tell him the exact words Ross had used – that would have been unnecessary fuel for the fire. Sansa wasn’t worried about herself. She was worried that Ross would come after Marston.

“Samuel, you told me that you were not the one who left Major Ross unconscious on my doorstep. Do you know who did it?”

“Aye,” Marston admitted reluctantly. He took a deep breath and stepped away from his work, wiping his hands on a dirty rag. “The day that Roach came to you after being beaten,” he began. Sansa nodded for him to continue. “Ross came to Roach and told him to finish the job he’d been paid for – the job I prevented him from doing. Roach refused.”

Sansa nodded again, her mind filling in the blanks with little difficulty.

“I suspect it was Roach, but he’d never admit if it was," Marston told her.

Marston’s words only confirmed the danger that surrounded them both.

“You may be the strongest and most volatile man here, but Ross is an officer who’s full of cunning and malice. Use your eyes and ears and be sure to let me know of anything out of the ordinary.”

Before she retreated to her cabin to prepare for her expedition, Marston held Sansa close and hugged her tightly. He still worried that everything he touched might die. If anything happened to Mistress Stark, it would be the death of him as well.

Chapter Text

Two tenders were rowed across the cape. The expedition probably could have used three, but only two could be commandeered. Each boat carried four people. In addition to the hunters and Sam and Sansa, an officer had to accompany them. Fortunately, Corporal MacDonald had been given the task, making for a pleasant journey for all.

Three days later, the first tender came back loaded with seedlings and plant samples. Sam had stripped long narrow rolls of tree bark on which Sansa made notes given to her by Sam. He often tested the soil by taste, smell, and feel. Not being able to read or write, he told Sansa what to record in her notes.

Between the two of them they were able to identify species of flora and fauna that were very similar to those of their native England, as well as new and intriguing samples that they wished to study more closely.

Their tender also contained five drawstring petticoats filled with mangoes. Sansa had begged of the owners to borrow them. She drew the drawstrings tight at the top and then, turning them upside down, used them as bags to haul back enough fruit to feed everyone at least twice.

On the second tender, were two male boars that had been shot and killed, a drove of piglets, and a clutch of emu eggs that were about to hatch. Tor McKillip had been about to kill a female boar when Sansa and Sam had come upon them, but the Mistress stopped them.

“She has piglets,” Sansa protested. “Trap the piglets and the mother will follow.” She insisted that the only way the colony would survive would be to begin farming and domesticating to produce the food they would need.

From the rear of her tender, Sansa watched with delight as the female boar swam across the cape behind them, in close pursuit of her babies. It was not delightful, however to watch Henry Martin scramble from the tender in fear and hightail it through the compound with an armful of squealing piglets and an angry mother chasing him.

Stepping carefully over the plant samples that crowded the floor of her cabin, Sansa made her way back to the doorway where Marston was waiting to greet her. She wrapped her arms around him and hugged him tightly, but he did not return the affection with nearly as much enthusiasm.

Holding him at arm’s length, Sansa observed the apprehensive look on his face. “What’s wrong, Samuel?”

“Did you enjoy your trip?” he asked blandly.

Sansa crinkled her brow. “It was successful,” she told him indicating the collection of plant life behind her. Sansa huffed out a heavy breath. “Samuel, what’s wrong?”

Marston chewed on his lip. “You were away for three days with men I don’t trust,” he finally admitted. Sansa sighed heavily, grabbed his hand and pulled him down to sit beside her on the step.

Twisting to face him she asked, “Do you think that little of me? After confessing the truth of my feelings for you, do you think I would betray you in that manner?”

Marston hung his head. Sansa gripped his chin and forced him to look at her. “I love you, Samuel. And I will keep telling you that until you believe me. When you are finally able to have faith in my words, I will continue to tell you.”

He smiled at her – as much as Samuel Marston was capable of smiling – and put his arm around her shoulders. He kissed Sansa but when their lips parted, the dour expression had returned.

“There’s more,” he told her with dread in his voice. Sansa stroked a warm hand over his back waiting for him to say what he needed to say.

 “I’m afraid we might have a problem with Major Ross,” he admitted. Marston explained that five ration bags had been stolen from footlockers in the men’s tent. Two of them belonged to men with whom Marston held a grudge – James Freeman and Sam Roach. Two more were taken from the men who had accompanied Sam Roach to the Mistress Doctor’s cabin on the night they meant to assault her. The last had been taken from Jonas Martin.

“Everyone thinks I did it. Timmins and Collins searched my footlocker and the forge and found nothing, but there have been threats.”

Sansa was instantly enraged. “He’s framing you. That filthy bastard. He’s come after you to get back at me.” Sansa leaned against Marston and hugged him tightly. “I’m so sorry, Samuel. You don’t deserve this. After everything you’ve been through.”

Marston put a strong, heavy arm around Sansa’s shoulders. “It will be just fine,” he told her trying to convince her as much as himself. “We’ll figure something out.” Even though he was the only blacksmith in the colony, and despite his size and capacity for intimidation, Marston was very worried.

Sitting on her doorstep well into the evening, Marston and Sansa sat in silence enjoying each other’s quiet company and the spectacle provided by the setting sun. The blacksmith wanted to spend the night with his Mistress Doctor, to protect her and to express his physical affection for her, but Sansa made her excuses.

The expedition across the cape had exhausted her. The trip had been long and hot and she’d been constantly pestered by nits and flies in the thick jungle vegetation. She was looking forward to enjoying the comforting softness of her cot after washing away three days worth of stink and dirt. Tomorrow, she assured him, she wouldn’t be nearly as grumpy and out of sorts.

Sansa awoke in the middle of the night to a strange soft light filling her cabin. She blinked herself awake and gazed over the many samples that still lined the floor of her cabin. The blue-green emanation came from within a tin cookpot than she’d filled with water lilies and swamp plants.

Crawling out of bed and carefully stepping around her seedlings, Sansa made her way to gaze into the pot. She gasped in amazement at the sight before her. The hazy glow was originating from the greenish scunge that floated on the water around the stems of the water plants.

Sansa dipped her fingers into the thick boggy water. When she pulled her hand out again, it was covered in slimy scum that made her fingertips glow. She’d heard of such a phenomenon, but hadn’t believed that it actually existed. Sailors often told tales of an eerie glow upon the sea at night. Those tales turned into fantastical stories of sea monsters, ghosts, and mermaids. It was referred to by many names including mermaid tears, the milky sea, or the burning blue.

Fascinated, but too tired to do anything until morning, Sansa washed her hands in the basin and returned to her cot. As she moved to pull her linens up over her, she noticed that her fingertips were stained and glowing slightly from the luminescent algae. With the excitement of her discovery, Sansa was sure she would not be able to sleep, but she fell quickly and deeply and dreamt of being cast about on the waves of the ocean.

Sansa woke late in the morning feeling seasick. She’d spent the rest of her sleep dreaming of being back on the Scarborough and cast about in a storm as the glowing blue waves roiled about the ship’s hull.

Struggling to her feet, the sudden stillness of the floor beneath her made her want to heave. She bolted out the door of her cabin and vomited. Instantly feeling better, Sansa went inside got dressed and went to work on her seedlings and samples. They needed to be tended to immediately before they spoiled or died.

The Mistress Doctor needed Sam Roach’s help. He was the gardener, and Sansa needed to plant and cultivate some of what they’d found. Around midday, she broke from her work to take a break. She intended to visit the officer’s quarters to see if she might have Sam Roach reassigned in his work duties. Knowing that Marston wouldn’t be thrilled with the idea, she paid a visit to the forge. As she walked, Sansa examined her fingertips. It was difficult to see in the bright daylight, but the faintest glow radiated from her skin.

“You look pert this morning,” Marston said stepping away from his firepit. He used a rag to wipe his face and arms before taking the Mistress into his embrace and giving her a respectable kiss.

“Could you spare me a few moments for a word,” she said nodding her head toward the back of the forge. Marston raised an eyebrow, damped his firepit and held her hand as they strode off into the tall grass.

As soon as they were away from view, Marston picked Sansa up in his arms and swung her about holding her tightly. This time, his kiss was long and passionate and not nearly so respectable.

“Will you ever get enough of me?” he joked. Sansa gasped in astonishment.

“Why, Samuel Marston! Is that a smile I see on your face?”

Marston’s smile disappeared and turned to a scowl. “Are you making fun of me?” But it wasn’t long before the scowl began to crack. “You need to be punished,” he informed her. The blacksmith rushed at Sansa, threw her over his shoulder and carried her deeper into the bush.

Chapter Text

“I think I might have an idea on how to fix our situation with Major Ross.” Sansa rolled over and pressed her body against Marston’s. Their clothes still lay in a pile at their feet. She played her fingers through the long curls of hair on his chest and listened to the strong rhythmic beating of his heart.

Marston kissed the top of her head. With his arms wrapped around her shoulders, he pulled her closer and stroked his free hand down the length of her from her shoulder to her hip and down her leg.  She was so tiny and delicate, and yet she took everything he gave her and demanded more. He was so afraid of hurting her, but her cries of ecstasy had indicated that she was definitely not in any pain.

“What have you got in mind?” Marston asked. Sansa laid out her plan explaining all the details as far as she’d been able to orchestrate it. There was one part she hadn’t quite finalized.

“Let me understand this,” Marston said sitting himself upright to face Sansa. “You can prove that Major Ross is the one stealing the ration bags and you plan to catch him framing me for it.” Sansa nodded.

“And how do you intend to convince the others to go along with this?” he asked.

“I need only one person in the men’s tent to help me.”

“I’m in the men’s tent,” Marston reminded her.

“Yes, but no one trusts you. They are too wary of your every move.”

Marston raised a suspicious eyebrow at her. “Then who?” he asked. Sansa put on her best sympathetic smile and batted her eyelashes.

“You’re going to have to make amends with James Freeman,” she informed him.

“He tried to kill me,” Marston protested.

“You tried to starve him to death.”

Marston crossed his arms and huffed. He scrunched his face and glared at her. Sansa pouted dramatically, but Marston wouldn’t budge.

“I’ll bet I know how to convince you,” she informed him with a sly grin. Still, Marston didn’t move. Sansa moved to kneel between his legs. She bent down and took him into her mouth. Soft at first, it didn’t take long for his body to respond. She felt him grow rigid as she slid her lips over the velvety skin of his hardening shaft.

“Sansa,” he mumbled. He slipped his roughened fingers into her hair feeling the silky smoothness on the back of his hand. With his other hand, he gripped her shoulder tightly when the head of his cock rubbed against the back of her throat. He throbbed painfully as she sucked and licked. Her breath was hot on his skin. Sansa dragged her tongue up the underside of his shaft until only his swollen knob was between her lips. She teased her tongue over the tip. He was so close.

Marston began to pant trying with all his strength to hold back when she pushed her head back down, her lips forming a tight ring around him as she took as much of him as she could into her mouth. The urge to drive all of his hard cock down her throat was overwhelming. Marston threw his head back and groaned loudly trying to control himself. His breath was coming faster as he gasped for air. He felt Sansa release him and looked up to see her standing over him. She straddled his waist and lowered herself onto him. She cried out as his shaft pushed deep inside her. With desperate urgency, he rolled her on her back. He’d already been too close. He couldn’t wait any longer. Marston fucked her hard and fast and soon felt himself swell and throb. He came violently, his whole body shuddering as he coated the inside of her with his seed.

“I’ll give you anything you want,” he gasped.

“What do you want him for?” Corporal MacDonald asked as he accompanied James Freeman into Sansa’s cabin. Glares of suspicion and loathing were cast around the room as James and Marston caught sight of each other. Marston sat at the dining table drumming his fingers frowning at the Mistress. He didn’t want to be here anymore than James who warily kept his distance.

“What’s going on here?” the Corporal asked.

“Sir,” Sansa said addressing the officer, “Would it be possible for you to provide me with half a dozen ration bags?”

“Ration bags?” he asked bewildered. “With all the rations that have been stolen, you want me to give you half a dozen of them? Begging your pardon, Mistress, but are you insane?”

“I don’t want the rations, just the cloth bags.” Sansa held up a tin cup containing what appeared to be large pepper corns. “I need the bags to hold some of my medicinal samples,” she lied.

Corporal MacDonald glanced uncomfortably at the two reticent men in the room, then returned his attention to her. Reluctantly, he nodded. “I can do that for you, Mistress.”

“Thank-you, Corporal. Would you mind if I had a private word with James?”

“Are you sure you want to be left alone with these two in company … together?” he asked in amazement.

“We’ll be fine,” she said with more hope than she felt.

It took some cajoling and minor threats, but the two men begrudgingly agreed to bury the hatchet – and not in each other’s heads. Sansa filled James in on the plan and asked for his assistance in carrying it out. He agreed enthusiastically assuring her that all past grudges between himself and Marston were forgiven. Marston could not promise her the same, but finally relented when Sansa gave him the look.

Finally alone with Marston, Sansa sat heavily in the chair opposite him. It was mid January and the heat was unbearable. Hastily mopping at her forehead, she suddenly felt light-headed.

“Maybe you should lie down for a while,” Marston suggested. “You need some rest. You’ve been working far too hard.”

She knew that Marston spoke the truth, but there was too much to do. In addition to caring for her plants and testing the potential for new medicines, Sansa still had her regular duties, attending to the needs of her patients. The soaring heat and reduced rations made for illnesses and injuries that Sansa could barely keep up with.

Marston came around the table, picked Sansa up off her chair and carried her to the cot. She protested, but Marston assured her that he was not feeling amorous. He was only concerned for her health and wanted her to take a break.

“Sam Roach can take care of the plants while you care for everyone else,” he told her. “You can’t be a doctor if you allow yourself to become a patient,” he reminded her.

Over the next week, the Mistress Doctor continued to work too long and too hard. She constantly felt faint and weak. She prayed that she hadn’t become victim to some strange new tropical illness. As soon as the decoy ration bags were prepared, she promised herself that she would ease up on her workload.

James and Marston stared down at the two ration bags that sat on the Mistress’s table. James reached for one but Sansa stopped him.

“Only handle them by the strings,” she warned. “And don’t kid yourself into thinking that these have anything except sand in them.”

Marston and James each took one. “Make sure everyone sees you placing them in your footlockers. Major Ross is scheduled to do inspection this evening so wait until he’s in the men’s tent before you stash your bags. He needs to see that you have them.”

When the two men had left, Sansa dropped onto her knees and prayed. She prayed that her scheme would be enough to prove that the man she loved was innocent. She prayed that Marston was wrong when he’d said that everything he touched dies. She didn’t want to be the next casualty in his life.

Sansa was sick, truly sick, but could not bring herself to tell him. She was always exhausted, couldn’t keep any food in her stomach, and suffered horrible fevers and headaches. She now regretted having gone off into the jungle for the sake of examining a few new plants.

Sansa hoped Samuel Marston could forgive her for making him fall in love with her and then leaving him.

Chapter Text

Sansa awoke with a start as her mind worked toward a dream-like epiphany. Her tired brain began to focus as the sleep fell away from her and she came to a startling revelation. All the tiny bits of memory and information began to fall into place, and she was shocked at how stupid she’d been.

The Mistress flew off her cot and got dressed, hopping on one foot across the floor as she tried to step first into her skirt and then her petticoat. She stumbled about as she realized her mistake and frantically stuffed the edges of her petticoat down through the waist of her skirt.

When she was decently covered to appear in public, Sansa rushed out the door and ran across the compound. “How could I have been so foolish?” she chided herself.

As she careened around the corner of the forge and aimed for the men’s tent, she ran full tilt into Marston who caught her in his arms.

They both tried to speak at once, but Marston shushed her and told her what had happened.

“Five more ration bags were stolen last night,” he told her excitedly. “Mine and James’ were among them.”

Sansa was elated and frightened and hesitant all at once. “It worked?” she asked in shocked disbelief. “Now all we have to do is wait. Major Ross will show us evidence of his crime soon enough. We should go and speak to the Governor immediately.” The Mistress tugged at Marston’s arm, but he held her back.

“What was it you wanted to tell me?” Marston looked down into the most beautiful face he’d ever seen. Sansa was smiling with her mouth and her eyes and she was aglow with joy.

“Mistress Stark.”

Marston and Sansa turned to see Reverend and Mrs. Johnson standing next to Sergeant Timmins. The Johnsons looked dismayed. Timmins looked worried.

“Yes?” Sansa asked. The Johnsons gave Timmins a harsh glance, motivating him to action. He cleared his throat and approached the Mistress Doctor and the blacksmith.

“Would you be so kind as to accompany us to the Governor’s office,” Timmins asked apologetically. Sansa was suddenly concerned that something with their plan had gone astray. Had Major Ross somehow discovered their plot?

She nodded to Marston and left him behind to walk with the sergeant and the Johnsons.

“You, too, Marston,” Timmins ordered with a jerk of his head. Now Sansa was sure that the plan had failed, that Major Ross had turned things around on them, and that she was about to lose the man she loved.

The atmosphere was tense and subdued. Sansa was made to stand before Governor Phillip as though she was on trial, with Marston as her conspirator. The Johnsons stood away from them, observing them with disapproving glances.

Governor Phillip rubbed his forehead. He didn’t have time for this. He had a colony to run and if he couldn’t control the citizens of the colony who were supposed to be respectable, how could he ever control the prisoners?

Phillip sighed deeply and gazed at Sansa and Marston, silently accusing them of wasting his precious time. “It has been brought to my attention that our esteemed Mistress Doctor has been found to be consorting with a convicted felon. Is that true?”

“I beg your pardon?” Sansa asked with insult.

Reverend Johnson’s thunderous voice bellowed from across the room. “Have your or have you not been having an immoral relationship with the blacksmith known as Marston?!”

Sansa was stunned to speechlessness. In a bland  and monotonous voice that belied his interest in the matter, Governor Phillip explained. “We cannot allow a woman of your standing to be involved in such a depraved and sinful affair with this,” Phillip pointed to Marston with clear distaste, “… this degenerate human being. Not only is it against the laws of all that is natural and decent, it is against the laws of this colony.”

“How dare you!” Sansa shouted. “You sit there and judge when you know nothing of the people you are judging? Who are you to decide who is good and decent? Do you realize how many of your convicted felons are, in fact, innocent citizens who were sent here through lies and deceit?”

Governor Phillip did not appear to be impressed by the Mistress’s outrage.

“You spread your legs like a whore for a thief who is no better than a flea-bitten dog,” Reverend Johnson declared haughtily.

“She is not a whore!” Marston roared pounding his fist on the table. “I’ll have words with any man who says otherwise.”

“You’ll have more than that if you speak again,” Sergeant Timmins warned. “Don’t make me put you in irons.”

“I’d like to see you try,” Marston growled at him.

Sansa turned to Marston and touched his arm. He only had to see the look on her face to calm himself.

Governor Phillip pulled a ledger before him as though this matter was of little importance or interest to him.

“Mistress Stark, did this man rape you?” he asked indicating Marston.


“Did he in anyway coerce you to engage in despicable acts?”


“Did he –”

“Governor Phillip, may I speak freely and save you some time?” Sansa asked. The governor nodded. “Samuel Marston is a good man. Yes, his name is Samuel, but that was taken away from him when he was brought here. He was branded a thief, his name taken away, and he was banished to this hell beyond the edge of the world. It is only since he’s been here that he has become a hardened criminal. He had to become that way in order to survive – just as many of the others have. He did not rape me, but he protected me from men that wanted to, including your Major Ross. As I came to know Samuel, I discovered that he is a good and decent man.” Sansa whirled to face Reverend Johnson. “Please Reverend, show me in the bible where it says anything about class distinction governing what is natural or unnatural.” Sansa faced Governor Phillip again.

“Any love between a man and a woman is natural and should also be acceptable.” Sansa again turned to Reverend Johnson. “You married Tommy and Lizzy, did you not?”

“Yes, but –”

Sansa stepped forward to come face to face with the reverend. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all equal in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28."

Reverend Johnson sputtered a gawped. "How dare you propose to speak to me of what is written in the bible?" he protested.

Sansa took a step closer so that her nose was almost touching his. "Do I know the bible better than you?" she asked with mockery. "If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. First John 4:12," she stated with impertinence.

Sansa stepped back and took Marston’s hand in hers. “I love this man and he is the one I’ve chosen to be with.”

Governor Phillip dismissed her words from consideration. “I’m afraid I cannot condone such reckless immorality to continue. If you do not agree to end this scandalous affair, I will separate you. Give me one reason that I shouldn’t send you to the penal colony at Moreton Bay,” he told her.

Sansa looked up at Marston, then back at Governor Phillip. Obviously, these were not God-fearing men, not even the almighty Reverend Johnson himself. The only thing that would hold up under the scrutiny of these men was the law. If that's the way they would have it, she would have to play by their rules. She took a long moment to make a decision.

“I can give you my decision and my reasons for it, but I need a few moments to speak with Samuel in private. Just a few moments are all I ask.” Governor Phillip nodded and informed everyone that he was about to take his lunch and that they should return shortly after.

Sansa took Samuel’s hand and urged him to follow quickly. She led him behind the forge, through the grass to the clearing.

“Do you see what’s happened?” Marston barked at Sansa. He grabbed her by the shoulders and gave her a rough shake as he looked down into her innocent and smiling face. “Everything I touch dies. They’re going to take you away from me. That’s why I didn’t want any of this. And for Christ’s sake, why are you smiling?”

“You know that's not true, Samuel. Not everything you touch dies. I think your luck has changed.”

Marston was thoroughly confused. “What are you talking about?”

Sansa’s smile widened. She wrapped her arms around him and looked up into his face with her chin pressed into his chest. “Samuel, I’m pregnant.”

Chapter Text

Samuel Marston dropped to his knees and wrapped his arms around Sansa, pressing his cheek to her belly. He embraced her tightly feeling the gentle stroke of her fingers through his hair. When he looked up at her, his face was filled with regret and sadness.

“You see now?” he pleaded. “Everything I touch dies or is destroyed. When they take you away from me, I won’t only lose you, but our child as well.”

Sansa smiled broadly into his upturned face. It confused him, because Marston’s heart was wrenched in pain. He couldn’t understand why Sansa could be happy.

“They can’t take me away now, Samuel. I’m pregnant. That means we are a family. They cannot separate a family. That’s against the law.”

“But Governor Phillip will not allow our relationship to continue.”

Sansa shook a finger before Marston’s eyes. “No, he said he could not allow reckless immorality to continue. Governor Phillip wants –”

Sansa was interrupted when Marston gasped. It was a deep throaty sound - almost a growl. He stared at her wide-eyed with his mouth agape. The revelation had hit him like a thunderclap, like a sucker punch that threatened to knock him from his feet.

Quickly, he stood and took Sansa by the arms and held her close. He slid his huge hands up her slim neck to the sides of her face and smiled – genuinely smiled. Sansa was enthralled to see how handsome his face was, suddenly awash with hope and happiness.

Marston opened his mouth, paused, and then blurted. “I love you, Sansa.” His face turned red with embarrassment. He had never said those words to anyone in his life before - never imagined having the reason or opportunity to ever say them. He leaned down and kissed her long and hard. “I love you,” he repeated. He liked the way the words sound coming from, like the way the words felt on his tongue. he wanted to say it over and over. Instead, Samuel Marston dropped back down to his knees.

“Will you marry me?” he asked her. Sansa gasped. She was unable to answer, breathless and shocked. A sudden gush crawled up her body from somewhere in her belly and squeezed from her eyes. Warm tears flowed down her face and dripped off her chin. Sansa nodded her head between sobs of joy. She clutched at his shoulders to pull him up so that she could wrap her arms around him.

Samuel Marston picked Sansa up in his arms and embraced her tightly against him, cradling her head against his. When he set her down, he wiped the tears from her face with rough trembling fingers and kissed her.

“Promise me that you will never leave me,” he begged of her.

Sansa smiled between fresh streams of  tears. “I will never leave you.” She took Marston’s hand and held it against her belly. “Not everything you touch dies,” she reminded him.

When Marston and Sansa reentered the Governor’s office, everyone was waiting for them, including Major Ross. Sansa gasped and looked up at Marston. He returned her look of astonishment. They were not surprised at Major Ross’s presence, but at the fact that there was no visible evidence of his crime. Unnerved at this development, the couple approached the Governor’s desk.

“Well?” Governor Phillip asked, waiting.

“We have decided not to continue our immoral relationship,” Sansa informed them. Loud sighs were heard from several in the room. “Rather,” Sansa continued, “we have decided to make our relationship a legitimate one so that it can no longer be construed as a scandalous affair.” A smirk accompanied a sideways glance toward Reverend Johnson.

A thick heavy silence blanketed the room. Reverend Johnson leaned forward on the table. “What exactly are you trying to tell us, Mistress?” he asked suspiciously.

Marston stepped forward, took Sansa’s hand in his and said, “I have asked Mistress Stark to marry me and she has agreed.”

“Absolutely not!” the reverend bellowed.

“You have a choice,” Sansa informed the men in the room. You can allow us to marry, or you can allow us to continue our relationship, immoral though it may be, but you cannot separate us. To wrench us apart would be against family law.”

“Family law?” Governor Phillip questioned.

Marston put his arm around Sansa’s shoulders. “Mistress Stark is with child.” He looked pointedly first at Major Ross and then at Reverend Johnson. “She is carrying my child,” he clarified in case there was doubt in their minds.

An argument erupted with statutes and bible verses being hurled in both directions. In the end, Governor Phillip could not deny the right for Marston and Sansa to continue their relationship if they were willing to make it lawful. They were more than willing.

Reverend Johnson steadfastly refused to marry them. However, colony law also dictated that if a man of the cloth was not available, an officer of the highest standing could perform the ceremony. A ship’s captain could also perform a marriage ceremony. Governor Phillip was both.

“You’ll need witnesses,” Governor Phillip informed them. Sansa named Sam Roach as her witness. Marston named Jonas Martin as his. Timmins was sent to fetch them.

Sam Roach and Jonas Martin entered the Governor’s office and moved to stand beside Sansa and Marston respectively.

“You’ve been called as witnesses for the marriage of Mistress Sansa Stark and the blacksmith known as Marston.”

“His name is Samuel Marston,” Sansa reminded the governor with vinegar in her voice. Phillip hissed between his teeth, but nodded toward the blacksmith and reluctantly stated, “Samuel Marston.”

“Do you agree that these two should be married?” Governor Phillip asked the witnesses. Sam Roach immediately consented. Jonas stalled looking ashamed as he kicked at an imaginary stone on the floor.

“For Heaven’s sake, boy! Show some respect for your Governor,” Major Ross admonished him. “Stand up straight and take you hands out of your pockets!”

Jonas hesitantly looked at the faces around him. Sansa leaned over to peer past Marston at the boy. “Do as you’re told, Jonas,” she encouraged.

Sansa gasped when Jonas removed his hands from his pockets. All turned to looked directly at the boy. In the dim light of the office, his hands were aglow with a blue-green luminescence.

“Jonas!” Sansa stammered. “It was you who has been stealing the ration bags?”

“What is going on here?” the governor demanded.

Sansa and Marston explained the truth of their plan to discover who was behind the rash of thefts. They hesitantly admitted that they had initially believed it was Major Ross in an attempt to frame Marston or turn the other prisoners against him.

“Why Jonas?” Sansa asked kneeling before him.

Jonas turned angry and sulky. “Why would you want a man like him?” he said indicating Marston. “Don’t you got no dignity, Mistress? Why would you marry a man who don’t love you? I was doing you a favor gettin’ rid of him.”

“I do love her, Jonas,” Marston interjected stepping closer to Sansa and tightening the grip of the arm that was around her shoulders.

“Why would you frame Samuel for a crime like this?” Sansa asked the boy in disbelief.

“With him gone, we could be together. Couldn’t you love me, Mistress? I love you,” he pleaded. It was then that Sansa could see the lovestruck teenager that stood before her. In his eyes was a desperation brought by puberty and loneliness and the need for a motherly figure in his life.

In the most sympathetic but detached manner that she could, Sansa backed away from Jonas. She reached for Marston's hand and entwined her fingers tightly with his.

"I love Samuel Marston," she told Jonas emphatically. "And Samuel loves me." Sansa turned away from Jonas then to face Governor Phillip and the other officers with her soon-to-be-husband besdie her.

In the end, Governor Phillip agreed not to charge the boy with his crimes, but had other plans for him instead. He was clearly a lustful teenager who’d had an overwhelming infatuation with Sansa. The boy was taken away and Marston grudgingly asked James Freeman to be his witness. James reluctantly agreed – a tentative level of respect had developed between the two men. And after all, it was better that they were allies than enemies.

After the marriage ceremony, Sam Roach had confided in Sansa and Marston that he never really believed that Major Ross was guilty of framing Marston for ration theft, but figured the plan would illuminate the true thief anyway. Sam explained that Major Ross was not a man that got his hands dirty … ever. Someone else always carried out his dirty work for him.

With a new energy given to farming, cultivation, and domestication, the colony was able to expand and feed its growing population. Sam Roach took over the horticultural duties with guidance from Sansa. Samuel Marston maintained his position as the blacksmith. Together, they lived in Sansa’s cabin. As a token of apology for the crimes of his son, Henry Martin constructed a hand-carved cradle which he presented to the new couple.

To keep the colony at peace, Governor Phillip arranged for the transfer of two dozen prisoners and citizens to the penal colony at Moreton Bay when the next fleet arrived in 1791. He also decided that it was in the best interests of the colony to redistribute some of the officers and exchange them for the fresh troops that had arrived. Among those placed aboard the Albemarle were Major Ross, Henry and Jonas Martin, and Reverend and Mrs. Johnson. The new minister, who had arrived with the fleet in June of 1791, had a softer hand thrust into his bible, and so he was welcomed with open arms.

In August of 1791, Samuel and Sansa Marston gave birth to their first child, Eleanor. They went on to have three more. In 1795, when his term was complete, Samuel Marston became a free man.

The End