Dawson City, Yukon 1898
Church bells rang ominously.
Sansa’s hands shook violently as she buttoned the front of her vest. Fiddlesticks. She had chosen a dark green travelling skirt and matching jacket trimmed in black velvet. Her hands fumbled over the small, round, black buttons and she pulled a black fur scarf around her neck letting the ends fall down the front of her. She stood in front of her mirror. She wiped the small beads of sweat that shone on her brow, the room warm from the sun beating through the large bay window. At almost eighteen years old she looked and felt much older than her age. Her hair was pulled away from her pale face and sat in a neat bun on the top of her head. The dark hair made her look more sickly than she would have liked, and her eyes were red-rimmed and tired from the lack of sleep. The trial had gone on for weeks, and the verdict had been reached just the day before.
A man of such crimes deserves more than life in jail. He will hang at sunrise.
Sansa could not believe he had been found, hiding here of all places, though it really should not have surprised her. Dawson City was booming. Men of all sorts were here to strike it rich or die trying. Just over a year before, Petyr had brought her along with him to set up shop. Sansa was good with numbers, Petyr had noticed. Her job was to learn matters of accounts and payables, and in the early days of their arrangement, he had her by his side at all times to teach her the rest. 'Where there are lonely men, there is money to be made,' he had told her, and the money flowed like the whiskey bottles that never stayed full.
Within that first year, Petyr had opened three brothels and two more had already began construction. Sansa never went in them at night, and usually did her work from their shared Parisian style two-bedroom hotel room on the top floor of the Bodega Hotel. He had taken her and hidden her away from the Lannisters, told her he would protect her; keep her safe, but there was always that nagging feeling inside that he wanted something more. Posing as his bastard daughter, Alayne, was easy enough though, especially here. She kept to herself mostly, although she had befriended a chatty woman, Myranda Royce, whose father managed the hotel, and Lothor Brune, who was her escort. When Petyr was away on business, and after the first year in Dawson City had passed without her cover being revealed, she had felt safe enough to begin lowering her guard.
Till the day they caught him hiding in Karin’s room.
That day would never leave her mind and had haunted her dreams every night.
Karin was the new girl. Not much was known about her, only that she came to Dawson straight off the boat from Japan, and could hardly string a whole sentence together in English, but she was beautiful, sweet and ready to please. Sansa had been working in the back room tallying up the books when she heard the confrontation at the top of the stairs. She ran to the main parlor and froze when she saw his towering form struggling to get away. It took six men to hold him down before he was hauled down the stairs. Word got around quickly that he had beat and killed the young whore and she had not been the first. A bounty was out for his head with over a dozen charges against him.
As the trial went on and witness were called, Petyr had ordered her to stay hidden away in a cheap brothel room across town, saying no chances should be taken in case the Lannisters were called to stand witness or anyone else that had ties to them. Luckily no was called. The witnesses that had found the dead girls were enough to sentence him.
'Clegane Will Hang.' That’s what the Klondike News front page said.
Since seeing his face, she had been plagued with memories and nightmares that had been absent for a long time, leaving her hollow-eyed and exhausted. She had learned how to cope with the past, with the deaths of her parents and siblings. She buried it all inside of her, distracting herself in day-to-day activities, learning from Petyr, living as someone else.
Sansa shook her head. I hope Petyr is right. I don’t want to see a man hang today, but maybe if I see with my own eyes that he's gone, it will help with the nightmares. She walked towards the door and opened it. The tall, stocky man standing in front turned around, smiling gently.
Lothor Brune was a godsend. He was a quiet man, but always kind to her. Even when she went to church either to pray or just sit there in the quiet, he never minded. He would stand in the background and let her have her space. He knew who she was, she was sure of it, but he never let on. Once when she was being bothered by an aggressive singer, Lothor pulled his knife on him and he was never heard from again. She felt safe with him and she was thankful Petyr assigned him to her.
Sansa knew Petyr was a man not to cross. He had always been kind to her, of sorts. He would caress her sometimes when they were alone and pull her onto his lap and kiss her. She did not like it, but after a while she put away the feeling, for who else would keep her safe. There was one who said he would. A different man and different time. She felt her eyes well up with tears. Lothor took her arm and patted her back gently.
“Don’t worry, Miss, I’ll stay by your side out there,” he said kindly.
Sansa nodded. “Thank you, Mr. Brune. I'm not sure why I'm worked up like I am. That man deserves what's coming to him.”
“Men like him don’t deserve a hanging,” Lothor retorted bitterly clenching his square jaw. “They ought to tie him to a tree and let the grizzlies stalk him. Let him die as he shits himself waiting.”
Sansa smiled wanly. He has such a way with words. Almost like…no. Don’t think of him. He is gone.
The sun was shining bright already and a crowd was gathered around the gallows. The noose was high up, the drop at least six feet to compensate for the largeness of the man about to die.The streets were thick with mud and Sansa had to hold her skirts up to prevent them from getting dirty. Lothor Brune steered her to the steps of the wooden boardwalk where Petyr stood. He turned and looked up at her with a sly smile when she reached his side.
“Hello, sweetling. Are you ready to watch the man die? If I was to place a wager today, I say he will be decapitated,” he stated matter of factly, stroking his pointed beard. “Such a large man to hang and the weight of the fall will make it so.”
Sansa shuddered and looked away. I just want this to be over. She clenched her jaw, thinking of the day her father and family drowned, and clutched Lothor's arm. She felt a prickle of goosebumps on her arms. She surveyed the crowd. It's as if someone is watching me. Familiar.
She was soon distracted by the loud shouts of the crowd.
“Let him hang!” They chanted eagerly, over and over.
She felt a strange sense of adrenaline course through her. Again, her skin prickled. Don’t be such a ninny, no one knows you here.
She stepped aside and watched as the crowd began to part, and a large, lumbering figure emerged and was ushered up the steps of the gallows. He was crying like a baby, begging.
A split-second of pity came over her before she swallowed it down. He is a monster. Father Meribald stood in front of him, and she could see his lips moving, but his words were drowned out by the restless crowd.
"Let him hang! Let him hang!"
She watched on as the giant of a man wept like a child. An embarrassment for him came over her, and she looked away. She had to look away - past Petyr, past the maddening crowds, anywhere but there. A slight cool breeze caressed across her and gave her a shiver as her train of sight froze.
A large, broad man stepped out of the shadow of the Bodega Hotel. His eyes were locked on hers, never looking away, not even at the sound of Gregor Clegane's neck cracking, his body crumpling to the ground, nor at his bloodied head rolling out of the noose, landing with a thud.