As Catelyn Stark returned to her tent she sighed. A hundred leagues I have ridden, and for what? The Baratheon’s were at war with each other as much as with the Lannisters. I have failed Robb… I have failed everyone who has relied on me… oh Ned! She had shuddered the thoughts away at the feast; it would simple not do to think of her husband. The grief weighed her down like a cloak sewn in lead but she could not give into it. Whenever she did she broke under the strain and there had not been time for that then. She walked to the chest in front of her large cot and pulled out her nightshift.
The sound of rumbling voices and cheering erupted outside the well-furnished tent. The feast was still raging on as she expected it would more many hours. She had left very early. Perhaps discourteous that had been, she reflected, but Catelyn didn’t care in that moment. She wanted to cover herself in under furs for only there would she allow herself to weep. In her dreams she saw images of Winterfell, of her sweet boys; Robb crownless playing at sword, Bran climbing the keep’s stone walls and Rickon wobbling around, clutching at her skirts, squealing happily. She would dream her dear girls were safe in her arms once more, Arya with her bruises and Sansa with her dreams. She would see them all to their beds, even Robb, then return to her chamber to find Ned waiting there, in her bed, a warm smile etched into the face she had once thought of as so solemn. She would listen to his deep chuckled as he watched her hastily remove her garments until she lay next to him. She could feel his warmth in her dreams, something she would never experience again.
She was nearly unconscious in a sea of furs when a sound from outside dragged her back to reality with a crash. It seemed as though the guards were just outside her tent, only surely they would still be feasting she thought. Catelyn shivered, and it was not from the cold. Thirteen years in Winterfell had made these southern autumn nights feel almost warm in comparison. The noises stopped suddenly and Catelyn thought perhaps she had imagined them in the first place. I am turning mad with grief she told herself. I am empty stomached and sleep-deprived. These sounds are pure imaginings of my widow’s madness. She closed her eyes again before she definitely heard someone outside the entrance of her tent. Fear gripped her suddenly, forcing her up. She grabbed a fruit knife from the table before backing slightly into the corner. “Who goes there” Thankfully, the shakiness of her grip didn’t translate to her voice. Dressed only in her thin shift, she had rarely felt so vulnerable before.
Fool she thought, how could be so stupid as to risk your safety just so you could wallow in your grief. “Cat…!” The word was spoken softly and deeply and Catelyn’s heart began to pump even harder in her chest. So familiar she thought, realizing she couldn’t move, feeling a strange sensation in her belly. The drapes of the entrance pushed open but Catelyn didn’t flinch, in fact she found herself moving towards the intruder, the knife dropping from her grip. She didn’t even realize she had begun to sob as the figure entered her tents, worn and weathered but most certainly the man she loved with all her heart, her Ned that she had thought gone forever. He quickly stumbled towards her and their bodies met in a collision that nearly knocked her down, had he not wrapped his arms so tightly around her. Her mind could not move fast enough, all she knew is that she was holding her Ned and she was sobbing into his neck. He was crying too she realized as her awareness increased, his face was buried in her hair and he whispered her name into her ear. Oh it sounded so sweet her heart nearly burst. “Oh my Cat, my love… how I have missed you.” He pulled his face so that it in front of hers and her blue eyes met with glistening gray ones, such tenderness and desperation in their smoky depths. “How is it you are here my love… they took you away from me” she sounded dazed, tears still leaking from her eyes. “They took an imposter… Varys the eunuch freed me. I’m here now Cat. I failed out daughters but I will never fail you again.” he whispered, one hand stroking her cheek, the other instinctively tangling up in her deep auburn tresses.
He was never dead, she realized, he was always coming back to her. She let herself truly cry now and he wrapped her in his arms again, kissing the tears as the fell from her eyes. “Oh Ned, I thought you gone. It’s been harder than I could bear”. They held each other like that, wrapped deeply in eachother’s embrace for some time before Catelyn lifted her face from where it had been nestled into his neck savoring his scent, and kissed him softly on the lips. She felt Ned weaken and sigh before returning the kiss with more fervor. He needs me she thought. He needs me as I have needed him for so long. She parted her lips, desperate to deepen the kiss, and he obliged willingly. She felt his tongue in her mouth. Nothing has ever tasted so sweet she thought and tears threatened to come again at the sensation. Ned’s right hand dropped from her head and slowly descended to her waist, where he pulled her even closer, so there was no distance between them. Catelyn couldn’t help as a sound escaped her lips when she felt his need for her against her. If only he could feel her need, she thought.
Suddenly, they broke apart, and Catelyn saw the hunger in his look as he studied her in her thin shift. Then he was pulling it off her leaving her completely naked in front of him. He let out a deep sigh and then pulled her into him again, trailing tender kisses along the nape of her neck. “I have dreamed of this moment for so long” he whispered hoarsely. Catelyn couldn't breath, so she began fumbling at Ned’s clothes, the warm glow that had entered her loins beginning to ache in need. She ripped off his leathers and tunic revealing his bare chest. He had grown much thinner in his imprisonment she noticed, but he was otherwise whole. She rubbed her hands up and down, enjoying the sensation of his bare skin before her hands moved to his breeches. She planted kisses on his chest as she tried to undo the lace. In her desperation however, she simply knotted it worse. Ned moved to help her. There was a once a time where he would have laughed at her and teased her for being so eager, but now he simply ripped the knot, and let her pull his breeches down until he was free from them. As she did so, she took his already hard cock into her hand and stroked it gently, placing a soft wet kiss on its head. He groaned before pulling her up and taking her into his arms and kissing her fiercely.
The sensation was almost too much. To be in a naked embrace with her husband she had thought gone, feeling his bare, warm flesh against hers. He leant down and began to put his mouth on her breast and Catelyn started to make noise in desire. “Oh Ned!” she whimpered as he tongued over her breast. Then he unwrapped one of his hands around her, and brought it to the heat between her thighs. She gasped against his mouth as he lightly pressed a finger in her sex and brushed against her clit teasingly. Just how she had always liked it. His name felt as good on her mouth as his did on her body. It had been so long, she was sure she would find her pleasure very quickly. Then he had scooped up her body and moved her to the bed, continuing to kiss her urgently, as though he was trying to taste all of her. He laid her down and moved on top of her, and began to travel lower until he was planting kisses between her thigh and then... When he began moving his tongue inside her, whilst stroking her thigh gently, Catelyn felt herself come apart quickly, shuddering in fast waves as her pleasure came over her. Oh how I have needed this, she thought. But she hardly felt satisfied.
“Ned I need to have you inside me.” And suddenly he pushed himself above her, almost rough with urgency and she could feel his cock at her entrance. Then he thrust deeply inside her with a low-pitched moan. Catelyn felt her pleasure building again as he grinded into her, moving her hips to meet his movement. But moreso, she felt whole again. She clawed at his back and cried out softly when she came again and not long after, he spilled his seed, her name on his lips. He remained on top of her and she savored the sweet weight it brought, his hot breathing at her ear, his gentle caresses that warmed her heart. Then he rolled off, but making sure she came with him, and then she nestled into him, his arms holding her safely.
After a while she lifted her head slightly, eyes wettening. “I love you, Ned.” She said softly, her voice cracking. “I’m so sorry... I told you to go… all my doing” His grip tightened, “You have no reason to be sorry, my love. This folly was my doing.” She was silent again as he resumed stroking her hair, entangling it in his hands and burying his face into her scalp, breathing her scent. She had almost forgotten how much he adored doing that. “What of the morrow, my lord?” she whispered. He thought a moment. “We ride for Winterfell. Its time we go home, Cat. Its time to put an end to this war.” She felt relief at the thought but… “What of our girls. What of Arya and Sansa?” Catelyn felt Ned tense slightly. This will haunt him for the rest of his days she realized. “I have sent Arya with a night's watch recruiter, she's on her way to Greywater Watch. Howland will look after her until we pick her up on the way.” The words lifted Catelyn’s heart as tears of joy stung her eyes. Her Arya, her sweet willful girl she thought lost forever, she would have her in her arms too. “And Sansa”, continued Ned, “I am told Robb has the Kingslayer… we will trade hostages and put an end to this once and for all.” Catelyn lifted her head and kissed Ned, thanking him in all the ways she could not say. They made love again after, more slowly this time, as though relearning each other’s bodies, relishing in the simplicity of each other’s touch. Then, wrapped in her husband’s arms, Catelyn Stark fell asleep, dreaming of Winterfell and her babes and the life she would soon have again.