It's been several months that they've now been at Winterfell, and it has been a very long time since Catelyn has felt so at peace. In the past years there has always been some worry, something to fear- the stupid duel between Petyr and Brandon, the death of her betrothed, her marriage to a stranger, concern for the precious child she carried and her relentless wondering whether or not his father would ever return.But Eddard- Ned, he had reminded her- had returned, and the solemn-faced boy she had known so briefly before he had ridden off to war had become a man. He was still shy, still careful, but warming to her surely and steadily. He was her lord husband, the father of her beloved baby and the other children that would surely come, and she had resolved to put the bastard babe he had ridden home with from her mind. The startling hardness in his gray eyes when she had asked about Ashara Dayne had communicated with all clarity that she was not to inquire after the matter any further, and Catelyn would honor that. What choice did she have, but to do so?
Today he is showing her his favorite parts of the castle grounds, and though she sees the pain in his eyes when he speaks of a childhood spent playing with Brandon and Lyanna- by that gnarled tree, by the stables, on those parapets- his good nature does not falter and as the tour continues Catelyn feels, for the first time, that the place has become her home.
"Did you like it, my lady?" Ned asks when they have done a complete circle, poorly concealed anxiety in his voice.
As she looks at his face- the gentle furrow of his brow, the shadow of a beard covering his smooth cheeks, gray eyes wide and expectant- a great rush of affection for her husband surges up from her stomach, twists through her ribs, and with a wild kind of abandon she reaches up to throw her arms around his neck and replies with a kiss.
He tenses for the briefest of moments, surprised, but then his mouth opens to hers and his tongue begins to explore, tentatively at first, then with mounting intensity. One hand finds purchase in her loose auburn hair, and the other holds tight her waist, pulling her close against him. She smiles, lips against his turning upwards, and she feels him grin too. She leans further into him and he takes a step backward, trips, and falls into the fresh-fallen snow behind them.
They pull apart briefly, laughing, but then her eyes meet his again and their lips meet once more, his pulling at hers with a desperate need. He places a gentle hand against her thigh, as if to ask for approval. She imagines his voice, unendingly polite- May I, my lady?- but there is no need for words now, only movement.
She guides his hand under her skirt, feeling acutely grateful for the simplicity of northern gowns, until he reaches the warm spot between her thighs. She opens herself to him, gasping as he rubs with careful strokes at the slick crest of her cunt. He plants feather-light kisses on her neck, on her collarbone, all the while still working between her thighs with surprisingly skillful fingers. She feels him growing stiff against her, and with another rush of heat straight betwen her legs she suddenly knows what she wants him to do.
"Please," she manages to whisper, and with a sheepish grin of understanding he unlaces his breeches, throws off his furs, and thrusts himself inside her. She cries out, so loudly that she fears that one of the guardsmen will come to ensure nothing is amiss. Suddenly she is conscious of every detail that surrounds her- the snow melting, cold and wet, beneath the heat of their joined bodies; the flat grayness of the sky; how completely he fills her, how they seem to match as if she is the lock and his cock is the key and he is opening something deep within her that she never even knew existed.
She moans with each motion of his hips, groaning his name- Ned, Ned, ooh, Ned- as he buries himself further and further inside her. She reaches her climax a moment after he spills his seed inside her, clutching uselessly at the snow around her as she twists upwards, against him, letting out a choked cry of ecstasy.
He rocks into her once, twice, three more times before slipping himself out of her slit and fixing his breeches. Pleasure pulsates between her thighs in a wave of heat and for a moment she can only lie there, staring at the dull expanse of sky, holding fast-melting handfuls of snow between her fingers. Bride of winter, she thinks, and Catelyn Stark laughs.