It happened most frequently in the library of Winterfell. Catelyn liked the light there, the way the walls met in a three-cornered point that reminded her of Riverrun, and she liked the silence, too.
She had three strong children, a bevvy of septas and handmaidens and kitchen workers to oversee, a maester to meet with regarding the education of her children and the state of their health, appointments to make, and between all that she struggled to find enough time for a bath, a too-short ride on her dappled bay horse along the edge of the forest, and an hour or two to be alone with a book and no one save herself for company.
In the window seat she sat, feet tucked beneath her and a book open upon her knee -- yet in truth the warm gold of the afternoon light, the silence, the stillness, lulled Catelyn of House Tully right off to sleep.
"Do I intrude?" Ned asked, from above her. Catelyn blinked her eyes open. "Maester Luwin thought you in your chambers." Ned smiled down at her.
"And yet you knew to find me here." Ned sat himself beside her on the cushioned bench, which was wide enough to fit them both without too much discomfort.
"Lie back down, if you wish," he said. Cat pulled at his sleeve so he would put his strong arm around her, and then she rested her head against the solidity of his chest. With his hand on her back and the warmth of the sun streaming through the green glass she lay between sleep and wake, listening only to her breath, his heart.
"It's so quiet," she whispered, as if the silence would shatter.
"They are all miles away," he said, touching his lips to her hair.
Catelyn sat up, shielding her eyes from the setting sun.
"-is locked, my lady," Ned said.
Ned's hands had fit around her waist when they married. Her middle had thickened during her pregnancies but her husband lifted her as easily as he ever did.
Her skirts bunched beneath her as she perched on the edge of the seat, Ned using his hands to push all the fabric aside, sliding her smallclothes down past her hips.
"Ned," she gasped as he licked her, dragged her against his mouth as her stockings slipped down of their own accord.
The late afternoon sun beat hot against the side of her face and her scalp prickled with sweat. Ned's own hair grew damp as she fisted it. She sought him just as he pulled her closer, his nose bumping her entrance, his tongue even further back. Tears welled up in her eyes with the surge of it.
"Mind your head," he said, cradling it in his hand as he laid her upon the rug. Catelyn touched his beard as he leaned to kiss her. He broke away long enough to find his way inside of her, the both of them gasping for air.
"Ned," she breathed in his ear, and he answered her in kind.
"Cat," he said.
In that moment she was not the lady of Winterfell, concerned with accounts and ledgers, lists and expenditures. Nor was she Catelyn of House Tully, a dutiful daughter before all else. Not even girlish Cat who had once so feared bedding her solemn northern husband.
Then she was simply a woman, one who knew that the marriage bed need not be dull, especially when it was not, in fact, a bed at all.