Wearing Robert's Crown (ASOIAF SI)

The Robert Baratheon who takes the crown in AC 283 is not the man who they expected, nor will he be the king they looked for. Through the eyes of others as the Seven Kingdoms seeks an new balance of power under a new dynasty. (SI). THIS IS NOT ORIGINAL FIC. THIS IS COPY AND PASTE. ORIGINAL : https://forums.spacebattles.com/threads/wearing-roberts-crown-asoiaf-si.382035/ AUTHOR : @drakensis I am not earning anything from this fanfic.........

TheOneThatRead · Book&Literature
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Book 3: Jon XII & Ned XII (AC 292)

Book 3: Winter Is Coming​


The Moon Door of the Eyrie had a way of bringing out the truth from a man. Out of consideration for Lysa, though, Jon had decided to deal with this matter at the Bloody Gate rather than in the Eyrie. She was with child for the third time, and after the miscarriage she suffered last time he didn't want her to have to face seeing her childhood friend so disgraced.

Fortunately, by sheer happenstance, there was another factor that could have a similar effect upon men.

"I appreciate you making time for this matter, Lord Bolton."

The northern lord made a gesture of dismissal. "I am grateful for your hospitality."

"I'm sure your son will do well at the Redfort," Jon assured him. He'd seen a little of Domeric at King's Landing, before his resignation and he'd seemed like a promising enough boy.

Bolton nodded and accepted the seat next to Jon at the high table. "King Robert asked me to visit you on my way to the Dreadfort."

"Something he didn't want to entrust to ravens?" Jon wondered what could be so sensitive.

"He would prefer this not spark rumours." Bolton leant over and with his already quiet voice, it seemed unlikely he would be overheard. "His grace anticipates calling a Great Council to coincide with the next Royal Tournament. He wanted you to be forewarned."

Jon's brow furrowed. A Great Council was usually the sign of a major succession problem but that was hardly the case here. Why would Robert feel the need for that? Was young Eddard well? Was Robert himself ailing?

He could see why Robert didn't entrust this to a raven. Even if the two Maesters involved were loyal to he and Jon, there was some risk of the news getting back to the Citadel where Pycelle was, according to all reports, still nursing his grudge and gathering support.

"Did he say why?"

Bolton shook his head. "He also asked me to pass on his best wishes for Lysa's pregnancy."

Jon smiled. That hadn't changed over the years. Robert still doted on children. His own, legitmate or otherwise, and those of his close confidants. It wouldn't have surprised Jon if that was the only reason Viserys had survived the difficult months of bringing him back into the court.

And speaking of court, the doors opened and the prisoner was marched in to stand before Jon and Lord Bolton. Lord Baelish had been allowed to clean himself up before facing judgement and even provided with fresh clothes from his own wardrobe. The boy - no, Jon reminded himself, Petyr was a man in the eyes of the law - had foolishly offered the servant who recovered them the location of some of his hidden gold in exchange for being allowed to leave the locked chamber he'd been confined in.

The servant, no fool, had accepted and Petyr Baelish had divulged the information on leaving the chamber... but not the tower, since three Arryn swornswords were hidden between him and the door. After a fashion it might be considered amusing and Jon had permitted the four men involved to take the gold and divide it between themselves. He'd also remember their names. Resourceful men like that were a prize beyond gold.

"Lord Baelish, I trust you have the wit to remember why you are here?"

The young man took a knee. "Yes, your highness."

Jon placed his hand on one of the short stacks of parchments before him. "You have your advocates, Petyr. Several testaments to your diligence and an impressive financial report that shows a tenfold increase in revenues at Gulltown. A friend to all men... quite a feat for any tax collector, much less one of your tender years." He paused. "And an old friend of my wife, of course."

Lord Bolton arched an eyebrow. "And the other parchments, Prince Arryn?"

"Accounts of his personal ventures, which have been extremely successful. Not entirely because he appears to have spared himself paying customs duties and to have borrowed his initial investments from the city on his own authority. A modest enough perquisite of the post, until he started buying the debts he owed from the city through intermediaries. At pennies on the stag, I'd add."

He turned over the paper. "Loans. Very keen on having money that you lend repaid, Lord Baelish. Although it seems you've diligently repaid the ever-increasing loans the Iron Bank have made to Gulltown, under your signature." Another page. "And then there's the matter of the bribes accepted, the accidents suffered by certain merchants who elect not to take out this... insurance arrangement."

"Insurance?" Bolton's eyes narrowed slightly. "Insurance of what, if I may ask?"

"That accidents do not befall the merchants. One must say that it seems surprisingly necessary to make these payments to avoid misfortune in Gulltown these days."

Baelish shivered as Lord Bolton looked him up and down. "Ah. I recall such arrangements in King's Landing. Except we refer to the payments as 'protection', an illicit tax imposed on the smallfolk by those of a criminal nature. His grace felt that smallfolk who pay their lawful taxes should have all necessary protection already."

Jon nodded. "Not an original idea then." He stacked the papers up. "Do you have anything to say for yourself?"

Baelish swallowed. "Your highness, everything I did was in furtherance of my office. Trade has boomed at Gulltown and you yourself mentioned the wealth I have brought to you as a result. The insurance arrangements were a response to the hazards that have also entered the port and see how those men who have secured themselves thus have prospered. I confess that my book-keeping may have been lax and would gladly make good anything I have mistakenly withheld that is another's due."

"As I recall, the King believes in giving men chances. Second chances also, if on less generous terms. He is less keen, I believe, on third chances." Jon rubbed his chin. "Still, you have been very industrious. Your opinion, Lord Bolton?"

"For a man who has damaged the integrity of your most prominent port?" The northerner considered. "A fine equal to moneys taken in this protection racket and then sell the debts he just admited he owes you to the Iron Bank. He'd also be liable for anything the Iron Bank haven't had back from Gulltown."

Peytr went as white as a sheet.

"Lord Tully gave you your first chance," Jon said flatly. "I gave you your second. It seems to me that you're resourceful enough you could probably find the money to pay both fines and debts. The damage to your good name would be less repairable. I'm minded to do as Lord Bolton suggests, but if you would like to preserve something of your reputation, I'm willing to let it be known that you have repented your poor judgement and sought absolution with the Night's Watch. This, of course, would leave your patrimony and your other assets intact to used to settle your financial obligations."

"You are... most merciful, Prince Arryn," Baelish managed to grate out. "I... I would be most grateful for the chance you're offering me to make amends."

"Perhaps you'd like to escort him as far as the Dreadfort, Lord Bolton?"

Roose Bolton smiled slightly. "I would be delighted, your highness."


"Peytr?" exclaimed Catelyn as Lord Bolton's party rode through the gates of Winterfell.

Ned scanned the riders. He recognised Roose Bolton, of course, and a couple of the man's swornswords. That left... hmm. A bedraggled man, dressed warmly but plainly. He was also unarmed, as far as Ned could see he wasn't even carrying a belt-knife. "Who?"

She lowered her voice to a whisper. "My father fostered him. Lord Baelish - from the Vale."

"Oh." Then he recognised the name: Lord Petyr Baelish had opposed the proposed marriage of Catelyn to Ned's brother Brandon, to the point of challenging the Stark heir to a duel. For the life of him, Ned couldn't recall anything else about him.

There was no time further for private conversation as Bolton dismounted and approached them, dropping to one knee before Ned. "Prince Stark."

"Lord Bolton." Ned reached out and raised him to his feet. "Welcome back to Winterfell."

There was a moment that threatened to become awkward silence but Catelyn stepped forwards. "It must have been ten years since we met, Lord Bolton."

"Indeed. Your marriage feast at Riverrun," agreed Bolton.

"I know King Robert has written to Ned, commending how you've restored King's Landing after the sack," she continued. "Please join us in the hall and tell us the news from the capital."

"Certain matters may be better discussed in Lord Stark's solar."

"Then we can talk there," Ned agreed. "Ser Rodrik will take care of your men. Will Lord Baelish be joining us?"

"Lord Baelish is on the way to the Wall."

"The Wall!" exclaimed Catelyn. Ned, looking past Bolton, saw Baelish flinch.

"In private, perhaps," he suggested, letting the tone of his voice tell his wife and vassal that it wasn't a suggestion. "I am sure Ser Rodrik can also see to Lord Baelish's quartering."

Ned led the way through Winterfell and up the stairs to his solar where Martyn Cassell was studying some reports. His old comrade had shown quite a flair for managing the farms around Winterfell, particularly those that had been cleared to test the southern techniques Robert had provided details on. This wasn't the moment though and Ned had to ask him to step out and ensure that he wasn't disturbed.

"Lord Bolton," declared Catelyn as soon as the door was closed behind Martyn. "I've known Petyr since he was a boy and I can't imagine that taking the Black was his idea."

"Indeed, Lady Stark." Bolton placed one hand on a chair in front of the desk and Ned gestured for him to sit as he went behind it.

There was a bottle of southern wine he'd been sent by his goodfather two years ago, still unopened, resting next to several cups and Ned poured for himself, for Catelyn and for Lord Bolton. The broad desk had more than enough room for the cups and for a platter bearing bread and salt, which he also offered to the visitor, even with a stack of reports from the farms heaped in one corner. "Let Lord Bolton tell the tale, Cat," he said quietly.

"Thank you, your highness." Bolton salted a morsel of bread, popped it into his mouth and chewed for a moment before washing it down with the wine. "You may recall that King Robert elected to reform the realm's tax records shortly after he won his throne."

"It was one of his first decisions." Ned recalled Robert later saying deprecatingly that if he had to spend time counting coppers, the paperwork should at least be made simple enough for him to do so without wasting half a day on every page.

"Even with the unfortunate history of Masters of Coin until Prince Stannis took charge of the Crown's finances, the King's coffers are said to be as full as they were under Tywin Lannister. Proof of their effectiveness." Bolton sipped from his cup again. "When he took leave of his post as Hand to return to the Eyrie, Prince Arryn decided to make similar reforms to his own finances. Alas, Lord Baelish's figures did not add up."

"He'd been shorting his taxes?" asked Ned. It wasn't unheard of and he had to admit that the Karstark tax payments, in particular, had been disappointing compared to previous summers.

"The taxes gathered from Gulltown - you knew he was in charge of their customs? - were inexplicably high."

"How is that a problem?" asked Catelyn. "Surely, being effective is no crime."

"I gather that your sister drew it to Prince's attention, nominating Lord Baelish as someone to help him with the project. However, it was unclear how the revenues had been increased so far and thus it was investigated." Bolton shook his head. "Apparently the man had borrowed in the name of House Arryn, House Grafton and the city's own treasury, invested that money in his own right and used some of the revenues to inflate the taxes he reported while pocketing at least as much."

Ned frowned. That sounded wrong but he couldn't put his finger on how it was more than creative.

"Well as long as the loans were repaid, I don't see the harm there!" exclaimed Catelyn. "He was hardly stinting Prince Arryn, after all."

Bolton tilted his hand slightly. "Ah, but he was doing no more than servicing the debts. Without knowing it, Prince Arryn was left with a significant debt to the Iron Bank, not to mention a lesser one that of Pentos."

Catelyn's face paled. "Oh."

"And once that was uncovered, certain other irregularities were discovered." Bolton was looking at Ned's wife with a slight edge of... something Ned didn't like. He thought it was something like a cat playing with a mouse. "Other crimes, in fact. I would not disturb a lady, but after more than ten years, I suggest that you may know Lord Baelish less well than you think."

"I find it hard to imagine," Catelyn said, not meeting Bolton's eyes and picking at her shirt. Much like Sansa might on the rare occasions she was reprimanded. "But if Prince Arryn, and yourself, are convinced..."

"Of course."

Catelyn rose, her wine still hardly touched. "If you will excuse me, I believe I am overdue to check with the kitchens. We shall be having a feast, to celebrate your return to the North."

"I am truly honoured." Bolton dipped his head as she walked past him and left the room.

Ned wasn't afraid to meet Bolton's eyes and he gave the man a frown once he had his attention. "It's a shame you bring ill news for my wife," he said simply.

"I could hardly object to Prince Arryn asking me to see him as far north as my way goes," replied the heir to the Red Kings of old. "Though if I meet a wandering crow, I will gladly part company. Did you know he brags to have deflowered your wife and her sister."


"An unlikely story, but still..." Bolton drained what was left of his cup. "I believe none of it, but perhaps it is best not to have him long in Winterfell."

Ned realised he had half-risen to his feet and forced himself to sit down. "I agree." He thought a moment. "If you were to leave him at Long Lake then Lyanna can arrange for him to be taken north from there." And Lyanna could ensure Baelish was suitably quartered.

The lord leant forwards. "I also bear this letter for you from King Robert." He produced a folded document, still bearing the unbroken royal seal in wax, from his doublet.

Ned accepted it and cracked the seal, unfolding it. It took him a moment to gather the consequence of the contents. "Robert wants me to be his Hand?"

To his private pleasure that fact appeared to startle the Bolton, at least to a flicker of the eyes. "I could not say, Prince Stark. But Lord Estermont is not a young man, and as his wife is with child I would imagine Prince Arryn prefers to remain in his mountains for now."

Checking the letter again, Ned pursed his lips. 'I know you Starks have trouble in the south, but let us lift that curse, Ned,' Robert had written. 'In a year or two Jon may be ready to return or Stannis ready for the role. He can still be a bit blunt - and this is me writing that! In the meantime, you are well placed to counsel me for the matter I wish to lay before a Great Council in the near future.'

Ned looked up, realising he was leaving Bolton waiting. "I'll need to give this some thought," he said, unlocking a drawer where he kept secure correspondence. "But in the meantime, I should let you get settled in at the Guest Hall."

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