Long before the sun, Rickard woke to the feel of silky tendrils tickling his nose. With a short inhale, he let his nostrils fill with the pleasant scent of a perfume he had come to inherently recognize, and he felt his mind waking with the onslaught. Though he enjoyed it, it did not stop his large hand from reaching up to gently swipe away the golden locks of hair that had careened over his face during their sleep, and he lifted his head up from the warm space behind the nape of Meliana's neck. His heavy arm had slung itself over her naked body, holding her to him so that the soft contours of her frame fit alongside the harder one of his own, and he waited just a moment longer before slipping out from beneath the fur pelts and coverlets. It was not often she woke to notice him; the youth that coursed through her muscles no doubt demanded heavier and longer periods of sleep when compared to his own. He envied her, somewhat, watching her bared bosom rise and fall with the restful slumber as he began to pull on his trousers. Still, it was a slight thrill seeing Meliana in his bed... a bed that he rightly shared with his wife, yet with a wife that he had not seen for the greater part of the year. Smirking to himself, clearly unperturbed by Lyarra's extended absence, Rickard finished dressing himself and quietly turned to make his leave from the bedchambers. It always filled him with a sense of pride, knowing his paramour remained soundly and safely asleep in his bed when he attended to his early-morning rituals. He always enjoyed the look on her face whenever he returned.
First to the training yards, it was there he met his two wards, boys barely any older than his grandsons Jon and Artos. The grounds were layered with a thick blanket of snow, and Rickard savored the sound of its crunch as his boots trudged their way across the dense surface. A longsword of castle-forged steel already hung at his hip, one he would soon take to his very wards, and they each met their charge with a deep bow once he approached. He could see the eagerness on their faces as much as he could see the fear, and he smirked at them before unsheathing his weapon. Neither of them had broken their fast yet, no doubt the boy's empty guts growling as they brandished their swords, but Rickard knew they would one day appreciate the lesson. Much like they would appreciate the bruises he was only minutes away from giving them. For over an hour he pushed them until not even the cold could stop the sweat from harboring at their joints, beneath their arms, at their necks and scalps. It not until the two boys were shoved back into the snow drifts did their charge finally call it an end to their lesson. Tired, hungry and already sore, Rickard watched as they pulled themselves to their feet, moving slowly but determinedly to the armory that waited. For only a brief moment, the Lord of Winterfell watched them with a smirk on his bearded face, before turning away and journeying back to the castle.
It was not long until the castellan found him. A tower near the rear of the castle needed stonemasons to rework the falling brick. One of the kitchen boys had left a grain silo open, and men had been sent to inspect for any vermin that may have gotten in overnight. A horse of Rickard's personal stock had come down with a rotting hoof, and the Lord of Winterfell made the order then and there to have a sword taken to its throat. There was a knight from House Whitehill still waiting for an audience, and Rickard decreed he would wait longer. Beside him his castellan walked, reading from a piece of worn canvas as if it was a list he had been waiting to give his charge for weeks. Rickard himself did not falter in stride, and moved deliberately through Winterfell with little concern to the man hurrying after him. "If they are so worried the wolves will eat all of our meat come winter," he said with a slight smirk, thinking of all those that called Winterfell home - men, women and children, blacksmiths and iron workers, farmers and servants, seamstresses and gardeners, stablehands and field workers, leatherworkers and kitchen cooks, all of which made Winterfell what it was. "Then perhaps they can volunteer to keep five hungry direwolves themselves." Waving off the notion with a single gesture of his large hand, he continued onwards, long legs carrying him through the cavernous corridors of the keep.
There was only moments before his castellan shifted onto other matters. Alas, Rickard let only a few words fall from the man's mouth before he silenced him completely. "Eggs," he interjected, "soft-boiled. And strips of boar meat," already he could see the frown finding the other man's mouth, but the nod was nonetheless obedient. "Loaf of bread, with those blackberry preserves from last month. Oh," he glanced to his castellan, as if to make sure he was not missing a single item. "A pot of honey, for the lady. To go with her cider. And Edwyn," the castellan paused in his steps, if only to turn back to his charge before he departed for the kitchens entirely. "Do not forget my ale." With the look Rickard flashed him before he took his leave, surely now the ale would be the last thing to be forgotten.
Turning to take his own path, knowing the bends, turns and weaves of Winterfell more intimately than he knew his own wife, the Warden paused to bid a good morning to each of his family members. Those that were still in bed, of course, like his grandchildren Arriana and Jon, all earned a rough wakening by their patriarch, and he left them with a smile on his face but orders on his lips. When he had kissed his gooddaughters Catelyn and Wylla on their smooth cheeks, had landed a heavy hand on the backs of his sons Brandon and Eddard, Rickard at last turned to depart for his own apartments once more. Though it was but a few hours after the break of dawn, whether or not the woman he left sleeping in his bed was awake or not was of no concern to him. Part of him almost wanted to disrobe again and return to bed with her. Part of him wanted to wake her, if only so that he could selfishly enjoy her more... as if he did not already every break and seal of a new day. Pushing past the heavy oaken doors he knew so well, the Lord of Winterfell stepped into his apartments and filled his nose with the scent that now permeated them. He wondered, would Lyarra know that another woman had lived in her chambers? Had slept in her bed, and shared her husband? Not caring to think of it now, Rickard moved quietly but deliberately into his bedroom, hoping to find Meliana still naked and asleep and his for the taking...
Yet when his icy grey eyes found the bed empty of her bare form, his gaze flickered elsewhere - seeking out his golden-headed mistress on her feet with a piece of parchment between her fingers. Arching a single brow, Rickard crossed over to her, reaching up to pluck the thing out from her grasp. A letter from the Night's Watch. Looking away from the Lord Commander's script and back down to his paramour, he felt a frown twitching at a lone corner of his unshaven mouth. "They would have you not only concerned, but," a brief sigh passed his nostrils, letting the scroll fall back onto his desk from where she'd found it. Curious little thing, was she not? "They would have the North send every man capable of holding a weapon to the Wall, and by this point, I am almost expecting a call for our women, as well." Rickard shook his head, mustering a short chuckle, yet it was not one he could bring himself to completely enjoy. The humor in the comment seemed almost lost on him. "It is well enough that Robb is not here to read their most recent letters. That, coupled with all of the requests that I take this daughter from one House, sons from another, both from yet another - I am not sure which to consider first. Winter is coming," and his people knew it, the lesser Houses sending letters in every direction to his rookeries requesting he take one of their children -or more- as a ward, if only to try and ensure the survival for their family. It troubled him, truly, and he found himself lifting an arm around Meliana's waist to bring her closer against him. "And what warden would I be, if I turned one ear from the Night's Watch in favor of the people? Or one from the people in favor of the Watch? I am bound to both..."