Late, so late, almost too late. The sun had set a number of hours ago, leaving the sky an ugly, bruised purple until even the clouds soaked in the night sky like ink. Supper was served in the great hall and like any other evening, Hendry had retired to his apartments with Lenora, choosing to stay awake with his ale as her maids saw her to bed. The fire clicked and snapped and so he sat, sipping from his flagon as he let the room around him fall into a quiet standstill, dismissing their servants and finding brief repose in the pages of his uncle’s accounts. The south tower of Stone Hedge was in need of repair, and while the builders had been hired, still they waited for the materials to arrive; ironwood from Lord Forrester, and speckled granite from Lord Waynwood in the Vale. These numbers and records, supplies and lists, they were soothing to his busy mind at first, taking a quill to add his own addendums and edits as he saw fit. When his chamber was as dark as the dancing hearth would allow, as quiet as his wife’s sleeping breath would deem suitable, Hendry emptied the last of his ale into the depths of his throat and deftly folded away his leather-wrapped journal. Like most nights after he’d waited for his wife to fall asleep, he would silently leave their apartments in favor for retreating to another’s… and like most nights, Catelyn was the only thing he could think of as he buttoned his doublet.
But that had been hours ago. Hours. Twice over Lenora had stirred from sleep, panicked and confused by her dreams, and only with her maid’s help were they able to put her back to rest. When she roused for the second time, mere moments after Hendry reached for the silver-plated handle of their door, it took all his strength not to groan in frustration. “She must have had a stressful week, my lord,” assured her maid, the one seemingly all too familiar with Lenora’s dysphoria, brushing back his wife’s hair and gently encouraging her to return to her pillows. With a tight jaw Hendry could do nothing but watch as Lenora at last closed her eyes once more, her face illuminated by the glow of the hearth, warming her red cheeks and easing the lines of confusion from her brows. Having not the time nor interest to banter with the handmaiden, it was only after ordering she remain at his wife’s side did he finally turn to take his leave, dipping into the nightly shadows of the corridor and using only memory to navigate his way through the dimly-lit halls.
Reaching Catelyn’s doors took mere minutes, and his hand folded familiarly over the bronzed handle, pushing it quietly open so that his arrival was not too loudly announced. The antechamber, dark and silent, was still filled with the scents and airs of his cousin’s perfumes, and he inhaled a deep breath through his nostrils once the door was closed behind him. Choosing to simply stand there, letting the shadows of her room welcome him with their unseen arms, Hendry listened for any sign of movement beyond the walls. Above the constant sound of his own heartbeat in his ears, he could sense Catelyn within, as if the very fibers of his muscles pulled and tugged him into the direction of her bedchamber. Passing through the open archways, slipping between the lace curtains and stepping into her domicile was like at last being able to exhale a sigh of relief he did not realize he’d been needing. The candles were low, nearly melted to their stubs, and even the hearth was little more than glowing orange coals against the charred stone… but still he felt a smile smooth over his lips when he noticed her there upon her bed, covered by her layers of fur and silk with only the rhythmic sight of her breathing revealing her shape.
As silently as he could muster, Hendry removed himself of his clothes, unbuttoning his doublet and shrugging out of the woven fabric. Pulling his leather boots from his legs and setting them aside, he made quick work of his linen shirt and black-threaded trousers, peeling off his stockings and almost shivering as the cool air kissed his naked torso. Leaving only his thin pair of linen shorts around his waist, Hendry crept to the side of her bed, sheer memory guiding him beneath the coverlets to join the warmth within. With a single arm he slipped it over her, his palm flattening just beneath her breasts and pulling her gently, yet no less deliberately against him. Chest there to meet her back, he folded his body around her, burying his nose into her hair and pressing a kiss against her shoulder. “Sweet girl,” he cooed deeply, his hand wandering to the side of her waist and skimming down the expanse of her thigh, only to turn to make its way back up again. “I hope you are dreaming of me.”