"Welcome, Lord Stark. Grand Maester Pycelle has called a meeting of the Small Council. The honor of your presence is requested." The Page said. "Lord Peverell, your presence is also requested, and King Robert Baratheon will also be in attendance."
"I will be there," Harry said politely, as Ned ordered Jory Cassel to get the rest of the party settled in.
"If you'd like to change into something more appropriate..." The Page suggested strongly. Ned merely stared at the Page until he turned to lead the way.
"No-one appreciates the height of Northern fashion, anymore," Harry said in jest, causing Ned to briefly smile.
They arrived in the small council chamber minutes later, with Ser Barristan Selmy joining them carrying the evidence against Petyr Baelish.
"Lord Peverell, Lord Stark." Varys said in greeting.
"Lord Varys," Harry returned, with Ned doing the same.
"Renly! You're looking well." Ned said.
"And you look tired from the road. I told them this meeting could wait another day, but..." Renly said.
"Let gets to it, I've got things to do," Robert said in annoyance. "Ser Barristan, arrest Petyr Baelish!" He ordered, causing Baelish's eyes to widen as he was physically restrained and then bound. "What's the meaning of this?!" Baelish questioned angrily.
"You are under arrest for Treason, theft from the crown, and the murder of Jon Arryn." Ned said coldly. "Lord Peverell, please present the evidence against Petyr Baelish." Renly moved to complain. "He's the only one who can understand it's complexity."
"Thank you, Lord Stark," Harry began, withdrawing Baelish's records, causing Baelish's eyes to widen in shock. "These are records of his thefts from the Royal Treasury and several funds for projects. When I investigated my spies claims that he had Lysa Arryn kill Jon Arryn to prove her love for him, I found his massive increase of wealth highly suspicious and looked deeper to find the source. It was House Lannister, The Faith of the Seven, House Tyrell, and the Iron Bank of Braavos. He was borrowing money from them and stealing some of it, stealing tax revenue, money for various budgets..." Harry said. "Maybe you shouldn't hide important records under the floor of a brothel office, Baelish." Harry added, getting laughs from the Council and a murderous glare from Baelish.
"He borrowed 500,000 Gold Dragons from House Lannister and 250,000 disappeared into his pocket. He used taxes to cover up part of the loss and stole money budgeted for the Navy and Army to cover the rest." Harry recited from the record. "Next, he borrowed another 500,000, from the Iron Bank of Braavos and repeated his same process, but with money for improving King's Landing further. At this time, the records show smaller amounts borrowed, but with him still taking large cuts from them all."
"Where is the money though?" Ned questioned angrily.
"In his secret vault, which I can inform you of in private. His public money is in the Iron Bank, however, and can be taken to pay off a portion of the Iron Thrones debt to the Iron Bank." Lord Stark and Robert loved that idea! "As for his murder of Jon Arryn, my spies have agreed to testify in exchange for being able to flee Westeros and into hiding afterwards, they no longer have any use as spies, considering that they are now exposed. I also have evidence of other crimes that are far more disgusting, and witnesses and victims willing to testify." With that bold statement, children, amputees, rape victims, and extorted nobles were escorted into the council chamber.
One hour later...
Petyr Baelish was just taken away, where Ned Stark would later execute him, and make it an even worse of a punishment for Baelish. Baelish was attainted and Harry immediately succeeded him as Master of Coin, with him not having to ask or use his magic to achieve it. King Robert was very generous in his rewarding of Harry.
"My brother instructs us to stage a tournament in honor of Lord Stark's appointment as Hand of the King." Renly said.
"How much?" Harry asked in dread.
"40,000 gold dragons to the champion, 20,000 to the runner-up, 20,000 to the winning archer." Ned replied.
"For people to play Knights?" Harry asked in amusement, causing a couple people to laugh. "We could reduce costs with entry fees and increase taxes on brothels, armorers and blacksmiths, and inns. Even then I would suggest cutting those prizes by half or more. We should also pay off the debt to the Faith of the Seven before they try making demands of the Iron Throne. Government and religion do not mix well."
"I'll try convincing Robert to take your advice, Hadrian, but we will do the entry fees and increase taxes. You do, however, have complete freedom to begin clearing up debts and setting aside money for the future." Ned said, before leaving.
"Well, I'm going to see if I can turn the Seven Kingdoms profitable. It was a pleasure to meet you all." Harry said, before excusing himself.
Line break-remove text and replace.
Harry had worked tirelessly for hours on fixing the Iron Throne's debt issue, and had devised a brilliant strategy to quickly reduce the debt with potentially hostile parties being targeted first. Harry was skipping the Lannister's, knowing that they would soon cause trouble, and Harry needed them as weak as possible. Them having less money to wage a war with would aid him greatly. Harry would be paying off the debt to House Tyrell and the Faith off; minimalizing their influence over the government, but after that he would just pay interest to the Iron Bank and House Lannister, knowing that Cersei and Joffrey would undo any good he actually did, and make themselves look worse in the process. Harry had also begun strengthening his own spy network by secretly purchasing Baelish's businesses.
Harry was disturbed from his work by a knock on the door. "Enter!" Harry barked out, only keeping one eye on the door. Varys, the Master of Whispers entered. "Lord Varys, may I help you with something?" Harry asked politely, while making clear that he was busy working.
"Actually, I can help you, Lord Peverell," Varys said. "Lady Stark nears King's Landing to report an assassination attempt on her son Bran Stark to her husband. With your own rumored spy network, I'm surprised that you aren't already aware."
"The Stark's welcomed me into their home and treated me like family, I will not repay such kindness with betrayal and spying." Harry replied, a servant entered and handed him a note informing him of Lady Stark's actions. "Thankfully, I don't consider anyone else exempt from such actions," Harry said, handing Varys the note.
"Quite informative, if immediately to the point." Varys said, returning the note, which Harry quickly destroyed.
"Do you wish to wait with me to meet Lady Stark?" Harry asked.
"I do." Varys replied. Harry nodded and had a servant go and inform Lord Stark of his nearby wife.
"Can I have a servant get you anything to drink? I have a wide variety of wines, including those from Essos like sweet reds, pearbrandy, and blackberry wine.
"No thank you," Varys replied, having a seat. "How is your work going?"
"Quite well. The debt to the Faith will soon be paid, and so will the debt to House Tyrell. What's owed to House Lannister can remain until the Iron Bank get's its due. I estimate four years, assuming nothing huge happens that could damage my plan beyond it's adaptability. Even then, I should be able to adjust it accordingly." Harry said, showing Varys some aspects of it. "I just need to help the economy along and tax increase revenue without burdening the people, which means more ways for them to make greater money to be taxed; so jobs and selective taxes on unneeded imports that send money out of the Seven Kingdoms."
"It sounds like it will work." Varys replied.
"It should, but a war and the massive funding and man-power requirement would reduce this to a holding measure; if the war is managed wisely and is kept short. Though I feel the tension in the Seven Kingdoms and I am concerned that this won't be enough..." Harry said before trailing off. Harry was knowingly giving Varys hints, it wouldn't do for Varys and he to become enemies due to the threat Harry posed... so giving that information away to let Varys deem him a non-threat was necessary.
Harry was fortunate to not have to wait very long, which he was quite pleased about. Varys was expertly fishing for information and Harry was far more expertly giving him nothing in return, and Varys was smiling about it the whole time.
Lady Stark was led into Harry's office.
"Welcome, Lady Stark," Harry greeted. "I was just informed of the assassination attempt on Bran."
"How did you know I was coming to King's Landing?" Catelyn asked.
"Lord Varys informed me, and then my own spies informed me as you neared King's Landing."
"Lady Stark," Varys said, having been unnoticed where he was sitting.
"Lord Varys," Catelyn returned.
"To see you again after so many years is a blessing. Your poor hands." Varys said.
"How did you know I was coming?"
"Knowledge is my trade, my Lady. Did you bring the dagger with you, by any chance? My little birds are everywhere. Even in the North. They whisper to me the strangest stories. Valyrian steel." Varys said, studying the dagger.
"Do you know whose dagger this is?" Catelyn asked. "I must admit I do not." Varys replied.
"It was last known to have been in Petyr Baelish's possession, but my spies were unaware of what happened to it, but believed it was lost in a bet." Harry replied, getting baffled looks. "I make it a habit to keep track of Valyrian steel, it holds value well and is a great investment because of it. That dagger is worth around 40,000 gold dragons and will likely increase in value. Also, I informed Lord Stark that you were here, and he should arrive soon."
"Thank you, Harry," Catelyn said gratefully.
"Sadly, I won't be much more help. Baelish was sitting near the Royal family and the Lannisters, but I don't believe any of them would be stupid enough to try killing Bran... The Queen has access to far more capable killers, the Kingslayer would likely do it personally, King Robert has no reason to kill Bran, and nor does Tyrion Lannister. I don't think the latter has even met Bran. The Princes and Princess are in order of birth: stupid and mad, innocent and weak, and naive and weak; I can think of no reason for them to seek Bran's death." Harry sighed. "Also, what I just said was treason, so please don't repeat that." Harry added to Varys' amusement.
"If you were to find whoever won it, they would only claim that it was stolen from them. The only man who could say otherwise is dead." Harry added sadly. Fortunately, Ned Stark entered Harry's office.
"Catelyn, what are you doing here?" Ned asked. And with that question, his wife began catching him up on recent events.
"I wish I could see the girls." Catelyn said minutes later.
"It's too dangerous."
"Just for a moment."
"Until we know who our enemies are..."
"I know they did it, Ned. The Lannisters. In my bones, I know it." Catelyn said firmly. "Hadrian is right. I can't do anything without proof." Ned said.
"And if you find the proof?" Catelyn asked.
"Then I bring it to Robert... And hope he's still the man I once knew. You watch yourself on the road, huh? That temper of yours is a dangerous thing." Ned said, while sorely tempted to take the room Harry offered them to be with his wife before she left for Winterfell. And judging by the knowing look Harry gave him, Harry could tell that Ned was regretting it already.
Line break-remove text and replace.
It was another meeting of the small council today, and Harry was somewhat bored.
"It's the Hand's tournament that's causing all this trouble, my Lords." Janos Slynt said, finally getting to the point.
"The King's tournament. I assure you the Hand wants no part of it." Ned said.
"Call it what you will, Lord Stark Ser, the city is packed with people and more flooding in every day. Last night we had a tavern riot, a brothel fire, three stabbings and a drunken horse race down the Street of Sisters." Slynt said.
"Dreadful." Varys interjected.
"If you can't keep the King's peace, perhaps the City Watch should be commanded by someone who can." Renly suggested.
"I need more men."
"You'll get fifty. Lord Peverell will see it paid for." Stark ordered.
"I will, and I will also loan you ten of my personal guard, though it's all I can safely spare." Harry said, not minding the imposition.
"I'll also give you twenty of my household guards till the crowds have left." Ned added.
"Thank you, my Lord Hand Ser, and Lord Peverell. They will be put to good use." Slynt said in gratitude.
"The sooner this is over, the better." Ned said in annoyance.
"The realm prospers from such events, my Lord. They give the great a chance at glory, and the lowly a respite from their woes." Varys commented.
"Indeed. Hopefully we will somehow profit from this, but it's unlikely." Harry added boredly.
"Perhaps we should consider fines for misbehavior. We are already taxing popular businesses in the city, and punishing bad behavior should boost the treasury a little and reduce our losses some more."
"Fines would be difficult, and not everyone would have enough money to pay the demanded money." Renly said in disagreement.
"Hmm..." Harry said in thought. "I could enter the tournament and try winning one or more, and return the money to the treasury. It would be frowned upon but there are no rules against it, and I would be winning the money and it would mine to use as I please."
"Because most aren't that skilled or willing to give up the money." Ned said critically.
"I doubt that anyone has ever thought to do that," Varys acknowledged in slight humor.
"Well, I am suppose to be working on bettering the Seven Kingdoms from a financial perspective..."
"It's up to you Hadrian, but you may very well die in the attempt." Ned said with an undertone of warning.
"I know... I'll enter, not fixing the debt would be a loss to me. I hate losing." Harry said to Renly, Varys, and Pycelle's amusement.
"If there's nothing else, my Lords?" Stark said before leaving.
Harry also took his leave and informed Lord Stark of Ser Hugh of the Vale's recent Knighthood and the circumstances behind it, and about Tobho Mott and Gendry. Filling Baelish's role, while not being seen as a traitor was difficult, and he wasn't going to betray the Stark's, they had welcomed him as family.
Unfortunately, after Jory Cassel failed the arrogant Knight's worthiness test, Harry was asked to talk with him.
"Ser Hugh of the Vale?" Harry asked in a bored tone.
"Run along boy, I have no time for children," the fop said in dismissal.
"It's Ser or Lord, you arrogant cunt." Harry said, causing the Knight's eyes to widen in shock.
"Now, since you saw fit to dismiss someone who was fighting and killing since before you could wipe the drool from your chin, I have been forced to come speak with you." And with that, Harry drug the arrogant new Knight to a private place. "Tell me about Jon Arryn's death."
"You can't ord--"
"Or be charged with his murder." Harry added, with a cruel smirk. "Everyone wants this mystery solved, they aren't picky about how."
"He was fine one minute and dying the next. I don't know anything else, the King Knighted me due to my loyal service." Ser Fop said. Harry verified it to be true with his Legilimency, which was disappointing. Most believed that he was involved, but he wasn't.
"I believe you. You are far to stupid to plan a murder and not get immediately caught, and no-one would trust you enough to involve you in one." Harry said, angering Ser Hugh. "Goodbye, Ser Fop," Harry said, before leaving.
Ser Hugh made the mistake of grabbing Harry... And ended up getting thrown over ten feet away.
"Don't do that, little idiot. I was Knighted at sixteen and killed at age ten, and I've fought my entire life to prove myself and survive. You were kept safe in a Keep, far away from the big scary men who would hurt you. I was killing such men. Enjoy the ground, you'll be on it alot." Harry said, before leaving amid laughter directed at Ser Hugh.
After reporting his non-existent findings to Lord Stark, Harry retired to his solar to work and plan further.
Things were going for Harry... Soon the Seven Kingdoms would be destabilized and he could use the chaos to take control and bring order to them. He had multiple options for wives, his armies and resources were ready to be mobilized, and Harry only needed to wait for the Lannister's to make their mistakes. Harry rose from his seat and inspected his weapons and armor. Winning the joust, archery contest, and melee would be quite the feat for him, and would would outwardly mark him as dangerous and intimidate his future enemies... Truthfully, winning would be quite easy for him. Feigning tiredness would actually be far harder.
Harry was looking forward to the tournament...