Now as I am sure many of you either know or have guessed, I know practically nothing about law. That being said I have searched for what I need for this story. A little over one year ago, I knew exactly what I wanted for this story. One year ago I had posted the first chapter of this story. The resolve remains the same as it did then. Never once doubted or questioned as I continued to write this. Will some of you hate it? Most likely. But this what I had planned from the beginning. As horribly shocking as it may be for some readers.
Warning: This is a far from accurate representation of the legal court room system. Please bare with me.
Had it really been less than a week ago that he had been blissfully alive and happy with his family in America? It felt so much further away. He had been through so much. Returning to his ancestral land, discovering his biological family, reuniting with his dad while losing his nails, feeling that tingly spell that made them grow back, and now preparing for his day in court. Behind his back, everyone seemed to be planning for something big. He knew his custody was a big deal for him, he didn't think he could ever ignore these past few days ever. The worst part was, the need to keep him separate from his dad.
He wasn't supposed to "live" with either possible outcome until the court had made its ruling. So, in order to keep him unbiased, they placed him in an unbiased home. While Ron was at first skeptical, he realized there was one person who was unbiased, much to everyone's surprise.
Alice Longbottom. Long time friend of Molly Weasley, avid traveler, and caring mother who had seen Clint be a wonderful father in a time of crisis.
Molly was thrilled at first that such a good family friend would be watching Ron in this unsettling time, but became livid when she discovered that her friend wasn't sure who Ron should go with for his sake and was only chosen because of that very indecisiveness. Ron didn't know the conversation between the two. Only that Alice had returned with misty eyes and heavy breaths. She hid what she could so Ron would hold no bias from her, but he could tell that Molly had a sharp tongue. Perhaps not in a traditional way to make one feel stupid, but a deeper underlying emotional one. One that could be easily overlooked, even by the speaker.
Ron noted it somewhere in his mind as he played card games with Neville in his bedroom. Hermione couldn't visit without supervision, nor could any of his family or the Avengers. On the plus side, the law was a double edged sword, the Weasleys couldn't visit without a proper set of aurors there as well. And there had to be one for everyone who wanted to see him at the same time. And since no one wanted to be left behind, it meant a longer time to gather aurors who would be unbiased, or heaven forbid, American.
So as it was, his family had taken turns coming to see him, no more than three people at a time but they rotated so he could see everyone, except Tony who, according to his dad, was making some special calls. So far, it had been six days since he had stepped back into England since his infancy.
He had visits daily from his family. And a visit daily from at least Molly and Arthur with one day with their hoard of children. As overwhelming as it had been, he felt ashamed to admit, he did enjoy interacting with his numerous siblings in a way he had never known he could feel. An elation.
Why was interacting with different people made him feel differently, just based on age? He had met people aboard the Helicarrier who had similar traits to the Weasley progeny. Bill and Charlie kind of reminded him of Uncle Phil and Uncle Nick with their patience, their control and the ability to possibly diffuse a situation. Fred and George reminded him of Auntuncle Fitzsimmons, always together, more than a little goofy, and far smarter than an initial glance could show. At least, if the twins' pranks were any indication. Ginny and Percy though, they felt like the two sides of his Aunt Tasha. Emotional and intimidating on one hand, fiercely intellectual on the other.
He wasn't replacing his family, honest. His heart still held his family fondly. But it still felt odd how similar they were. He tried to think about it, but he was never all that good on reflecting about his emotions. Most agents didn't show emotions, at least to him. And a large percentage of those who did, made sure to be pleasant, hiding negativities from the child in the sky. Who could really blame him if he had trouble figuring out what he was feeling when he was only eleven and had the teachings from people who had the emotional capacity of a teaspoon. Actually, that was probably being lenient. He knew more emotional teaspoons sitting in Tony's kitchen.
But that was hardly the point. He was just distracting himself for the day ahead. As well as the upcoming period of the trial. He grimaced as he thought of Hermione. She was to be going to school in about three weeks time. She would be learning magic and making friends. She should be bottled up crazy and tearing through her books, thrilled to learn each and everything she could like the genius she was.
Instead she was dressed in a proper and sophisticated dress while Bruce wore a suit, most likely given by Tony. Come to think of it, he may have purchased everyone's outfit. Even his own.
Alice fussed over making sure his own dress shirt wasn't wrinkled, it was sent by an odd little owl with a sticker having the address on it. Something so contradictory to what he had seen from British wizards.
The shirt was a deep red color, not Iron Man red, a little darker. Perhaps one might call it maroon. It didn't clash with his hair like other reds did, according to his Aunt Tasha at least, but there was something offsetting about the color. Ron wasn't quite sure what it was though. Still, he had slipped it on as Neville prepared in his dress robes, followed by Alice quickly donning her own, as well as pinning her hair back and out of her face.
As they left her home through the floo network, she looked pained but hardened. Neville seemed to know why, but didn't answer Ron's unasked question. They walked through the ministry until the "welcoming" committee greeted and escorted Ron to a seperate room to speak with his representatives.
"Yes Neville?" she asked in a subdued tone, so unlike her fierceness he had grown up seeing at her forefront.
"Why aren't we helping Mr. Barton? Ron's his son isn't he?"
It was a burning question everyone had their own answer for. Everyone except Alice it seemed.
"It's complicated Neville. He did raise him. But Arthur and Molly didn't get a chance to. They never wanted to give him up. They never stopped searching."
"Is that why you are watching Ron?"
"I am. Neville, the hardest thing in life is to stand and fight. It's even harder when you have to fight a friend. But sometimes, you have to," she commented softly near the end. Neville still heard those words, and they seemed to linger in his thoughts. Taking root as his mind was the fertile garden to remember.
It had been a long week. Clint was used to shit hitting the fan on missions that went wrong, but this took the cake in his life. He was fighting for a son he had not asked for, but had found and been blessed to keep over the years, and still had all his limbs from his missions.
Though still, with all that, he wondered if he was doing the right thing. He couldn't help but remember when the opposing side had spoken to him earlier in the week...
Clint glared at the offending paper before him. The document was simple. He had thought it had changed his life at the time, hopefully for the better. But it did leave an awful taste in his mouth as he reread the form. It had been signed right when he had joined. His contract to SHIELD. His very pledge to the government to uphold.
And possibly the document he should have remembered in all his years caring for Ron. Presented by an auror by no doubt extreme means.
He had signed this before Ron, it was in his job description that he was to avoid emotional attachments to a mission. Ron, the little boy he had been raising for years, the kid who got in trouble, used magic on a semi regular basis, and liked to see him shoot his bow and arrow, who even called him dad... Was his mission. One he had been invested in from the moment he had saved his life. And it was by his choice.
Hindsight was always twenty-twenty anyway. He could have returned to the small village he had been close to. He could have found authorities and given the child to them, to find his family. But he didn't. Instead he took him out of the area and overseas. He searched along with other agents, but not one proved successful. Now he knew why.
He couldn't say he didn't try early on. But Ron became so much more than just a mission. How does one not get attached to a child when they are taking care of them, feeding, clothing, playing, checking for monsters under the bed and in the closet... Fuck, people working at orphanages must have hearts of steel or something. Because even he couldn't avoid becoming attached to the little cuddly red haired child.
He had said it before, but now he'd have to prove it, not just to those he'd be presenting the case to, but himself. Was he really a father. Ron's father even if not by blood? Oh why did he have to have an identity crisis now of all times? This would be an identity crisis right? What else would you call not knowing who you were in life?
"You can end this now you know. Allow the Weasleys to take Ron back home and return to America," a wizarding British lawyer stated. Clint of course couldnt hear him, his battery had yet to be replaced in his hearing aid. Clint's mind went back to Ron signing, begging him not to leave him behind. He couldn't abandon him. But would it be abandoning if he was left with his family. Clint's head really hurt from all this. Thankfully he didn't need to say anything. Because the man talking to him jumped, getting Clint's attention to another man entering the room. He spoke with his lips towards Clint, clear and fluid motions with each word he said.
"Mr. Barton, don't say anything. I am your representative, Pheonix Wright."
Clint blinked. He couldn't help himself by asking, "Pheonix Wright Ace Attorney?"
The man gave him a look and sighed.
"You help a guy out one time and he portrays you in a video game," he appeared to grumble, his teeth clenched but his lips moving enough to follow. Now that Clint was focused on him, he could see a startling resemblance between the game character and the man before him. Granted the man before him was older, had a bit of a five-o'clock shadow, some grey in his hair that was not as sharp as the pictures... But wholy he looked like the animated Pheonix Wright.
"A moment please?" he gestured toward the auror who left the room with a tight expression. Pheonix sat down across from Clint, his elbows rested on the table, his hands folded upward unintentionally covering his mouth. He said something but Clint couldn't read his lips to understand him. So, he most likely interrupted him with a sigh.
"Look, I can't hear you all that well. Mind dropping your hands a bit?"
Pheonix's eyes softened slightly as he obliged saying, "So you are deaf."
Clint shrugged his shoulders. He had long since accepted being deaf back before he had Ron to take care of.
"Just a confirmation Mr. Barton."
"It rests easier on my mind. Now Mr. Barton, we are working to secure batteries for you, however, many muggle batteries do lose their charge faster in a magically saturated environment. Therefore, we have contacted an interpreter from America for you during the case."
Clint gave a tired grin.
"Thanks. You didn't have to though," he commented.
"Kind of had to given your condition. Now pursuing against the count of kidnapping..."
The Weasley siblings were gathered in silence in Bill's room. A seldom moment of peace and agreement. No fighting. No pranks on one another. Just as much peace as they could muster. They made the decision based on the chaos they were going to go through once Bill, Charlie and Percy were permitted to enter the court room.
Fred, George and Ginne were considered too young and were not needed as witnesses or victims to be made exceptions. With their magic still a bit chaotic, accidental magic was not unheard of from children who had to be in court. So children under the age of fourteen were given the bare minimum of time required in cases that effected them in order to avoid any disastrous magical incidents. As it happened to be even Percy was only in there after lots of discussion with their parents and with officials in the ministry. Age limits for magic users did prove to suit well, considering a few instances with shattering glass not being avoided and causing some horridly deep cuts.
"Best of luck," George murmured.
"Keep Ron calm will you? Don't want him up and vanishing on us again," Fred added.
"See you all later," Ginny spoke clearly though obviously tired from the past week.
"We'll be fine."
"Bill, Charlie, Percy!" their mother called out, "It's time to go."
The eldest trio gave comforting smiles as they left the room to floo to the ministry. For a long day in court to retrieve their long lost baby brother. The younger three waited in the house, Fred and George let Ginny help them pack for school, something they never would have done had they not needed a distraction.
"Got the Dungbombs?"
"You know mum will kill you if she finds out that you're taking those to school," Ginny commented with a wicked grin. The twins grinned back. Matching smiles on each of their faces.
"That's why we do it now," George joked with as much seriousness as he could muster.
"Oy! George. Where'd you put the joy buzzer?"
"Joy buzzer?" Ginny asked. She had heard of other substances and devices from her tricky brothers before, but what in Merlin's sakes was a joy buzzer?
"Top drawer!" George responded to Fred. Fred ransacked the drawer to pull out a small device attached to a piece of fabric. Ginny's eyes widened slightly.
"That's a muggle item. Isn't it?"
"Uh huh. Dad brought it back from being in muggle England-"
"-when he was dealing with a teapot that kept squirting hot water on the muggles."
Ginny arched a brow at her brothers. Fred slipped it on his hand, the muggle device rather easy to ignore as he held out his hand. She eyes him warily. Fred's grin only grew.
"Are you afraid of a muggle prank Gin-Gin?" he playfully mocked. Ginny scowled at her brother and took his hand. She yelped as she felt a surge pulse through her arm. Her arm jolted away from her chuckling brothers.
"How can that bring any kind of joy?"
"Well, it was pretty fun on our end."
"Ginny... It was just a joke."
"Don't be mad- Ack!"
"Bloody hell Gin! Stop with the Bat-Boogey hex!"
"I don't know what you're talking about," she grinned innocently as her brothers moved about frantically. George was glaring at his sister for a moment before being afflicted by a harsh wave of the curse, "I don't have a wand after all. And I'm prone to accidental magic."
"That is crap! George! Get my wand!"
"Do you even know how to undo it?"
"I've seen mum do it! I can handle it!"
"Ginny! Give us back our wands!"
Needless to say, they knew they'd probably be in trouble later for the bout of chaos. But it was so worth it as the pent up energy exploded out in the attempted to be held back prank war.
"So why can't I go in?" Ron asked sitting in a seperate room. The case had begun. He knew the time and therefore, knew the case started.
"You are to have minimal time in there. Your magic is untrained and could be detrimental if you become overly stressed. Especially in this kind of situation," his American representative told him with great patience dispite the slight irritation from his clenched jaw, "It's one of the more controversial designs of the British system."
Ron didn't really care. But he needed something to distract himself from his sweaty palms and unsteady heartbeat, "Oh?"
His representative raised a brow at Ron's supposed curiousity, but continued as if both of them really cared about the differences between British court and the American court.
"In America, we have medi-witches on standby in case any child's magic acts up in a harmful manner. So they may remain in the courtroom as long as they feel they can emotionally take it."
The man nodded. Ron wasn't sure what he would perfer. Being able to see his dad and the ups and downs of the trial, or sitting in solitude away from the Weasley hoard and avoid the ups and downs of the trial. Neither seemed to be something he could say he wanted. He was silently thankful that the choice was made for him to minimalize, so he could argue later they never gave him a chance to be in there if he felt the need later. The doors opened before them, signaling them to enter the room. The room itself was large, dark and intimidating, people sat listening, judgements already made in a few of their eyes.
He glared in distain. One woman was especially unnerving with a pointed upward nose, short, curled professionally styled hair, and a face that reminded Ron of a toad. A distinct sense of loathing filled his very being. He wanted to wipe that smug all-knowing grin off her face. The only people who could use that look in his opinion, were people who knew they could be jerks and flaunted it to either prove points or for amusement. Not because they genuinely assumed they knew everything. Like his Uncle Nick or Uncle Phil.
Ron ignored her and the rest of the people and gave a small smile when he saw his dad, only to see his dad's brief look of worry and grief, only to melt away to controlled comfort.
With slight concern, he sat in the chair presented to him. It was hard and uncomfortable. Or maybe that was just him wanting to move around and leave the room.
"The court recognizes Ronald Billius Weasley to the stand-"
"Billius?" Ron interruptted rather flabbergasted, "My middle name is Billius?"
"Please remain silent unless answering a question Mr. Weasley."
"It's Ron," Ron growled out. He was not liking this man. Even if he was the judge. Especially if he was part of the reason he could be taken from his dad.
"Ronald, where have you been living the past years of your life?"
"Could you be more specific? An address perhaps."
"1234 up in the sky, the SHIELD Helicarrier, United States of America," he snarked. Clint snorted when the interpreter signed what Ron had said and attempted to look innocent when the attorney to turned to glare at him.
"And where would that be located Ronald?"
"In the sky? It usually is in the sky."
"You said usually. Where is it when it's not in the sky?"
"On the ground? Not many other places to go from the sky to."
"So this "Ship" of yours... Is it still up in the sky now?"
Ron scowled at the man. It was common knowledge even to everyday people that the ship had been badly damaged, and had to be rebuilt altogether.
"It's in repair."
"So you're currently living in a broken ship with your kidnapper?"
"Objection! Leading witness!"
"So, Ronald. You are living in a broken ship?"
"No. I'm currently living with my dad in Stark Tower, located in New York, New York."
"Do you know Mr. Stark well?"
"I'll allow it."
"No sir. I do not know Mr. Stark well. But he did save my dad. And the world," he replied cheekily.
"But neither you nor your father know Mr. Stark well, and yet you live with a man notorious for his drunken exploits?" he more stated than asked.
"He's know really well as Iron Man, billionaire, and philan-philat- Phil-an-tro-phist," he worked out.
The court remained perplexed as questions continued with Ron responding in some cheeky manner. Tony was smirking with his defending of the infamous playboy. And chuckled when it came to defending the other Avengers. It was also interesting as he grew seemingly more confident as he continued. That is, until questioned about his younger years.
"My dad told me I adopted when I asked about a kid on board the ship. I had heard agents mention a kid that was taken in by an ex circus performer. I was curious and he told me how he had found me in a forest, being carried to who knows where by who knows. But my dad heard her heard someone mention something about causing me harm," he answered one of his questions, "From there he took me to a safe house and called my Uncle Phil to go back to America."
"So you have lived in America ever since?" he questioned. There was an odd glint in his eye. Ron didn't like it. Glints were tells. Usually seen among young agents, or agents using the most subtle of intimidation as if to warn a person that they held the upper hand.
"Yes sir. American raised. Proud of it too."
"And you never once asked to be returned to your parents, Arthur and Molly Weasley?"
"I never remembered them-"
"So you couldn't say you had consent to stay with Mr. Barton when he is the only one you can remember."
Ron's jaw snapped shut, his teeth grinding against each other as he attempted to control his emotions.
"I never asked to go back to them. I love America. I love my dad. I've been curious about my birth family, but what child isn't curious about where they came from?"
"And that nothing to do with Mr. Barton's... Occupation?"
"No. It doesn't have anything with what my dad does for my country."
"So your father is a soldier?"
"Of sorts. He's a government employee who serves his nation."
"Does he work in the army? Your coast guard? Air Force?"
"He's an agent for the government. He performs covert operations."
"So you're kept with a man who performs dangerous missions hidden away inside the equivalent of a military base high above muggle viewing?"
"Most if not all viewing actually. But I perfer to think of it as a housing unit to keep me safe along with all of my dad's coworkers."
"A housing unit that carries weapons, poisons, and criminals?"
"It's a city in the sky. Sure there are problems but every city's got them."
It was bizzare to Ron how the court system seemed to work. At least for him. The questions were odd, and mostly dealt with his mentality. Wouldn't this be done by a psychiatrist or whatever and told the court? Other than being the person effected... What was his purpose here?
"And yet not returning to England once the threat had passed here?"
Something boiled in Ron. Threat passed? What in the world were they talking about? His life had been on the line. He slammed his hands on the arm rests of the chair he was sitting in. His eyes narrowed and he appeared livid.
"What threat passing?! What were we supposed to know?! I didn't even know I had magic until someone outside my family told us! Professor Xavier told my uncle I wasn't a mutant so what was I supposed to think? I was a little more worried about what I was doing while I was safe in America instead of worrying about people a freaking ocean away!"
The effect was immediate. People began to speak to one another with hushed voices among just about everyone but the people who were sided with his dad. Ron didn't like it.
He had noticed, the toad in pink coughed, more fake than any cough he had heard, gathering the attention of those around her. A sickening smile appeared on her face eerily similar to the Grinch as he stole Christmas in Whoville.
"A young wizard with two living magical parents, living with a muggle?" she spoke in a sickeningly sweet sounding voice, "That is against at least seven wizarding ordinances."
"Those are all circumstantial ordinances at best!"
"Order!" the judge slammed his gavel down quieting the group. Ron raised a brow at the apparent chaos. SHIELD meetings ran with more order. Not that he had snuck through the air vents into their meeting area to try and learn what they got him for Christmas or anything...
"So Ronald, you know nothing about our culture here in Britian?"
"I understand British terms and customs, I just don't get British Wizarding rules and customs. It's all backwards and upside down, inside out and chaotic. Personally I'm perfectly happy being an American magic user."
"That will be all," the man grumbled. Ron raised his hands, gesturing in front of himself.
"Did that actually mean anything? What was the point of that?"
"Calm down Mr. Weasley. The court holds it's purpose."
Ron grumbled about the name usage as a man, surprisingly like Pheonix Wright walked up to him.
"Ron, you have lived with your father for how long?" the man asked calmly.
"Objection! Leading the jury!"
"Sustained. Mr. Wright?"
"My apologies. Ron, how long have you been living with Mr. Barton?" Wright asked. Ron smiled.
"Nine years... In November."
"That's a long time. How old are you now?"
"So he's been raising you since you were about one and a half years old then."
"And he's a muggle man?"
"He doesn't have magic."
"And you do."
"How did he react to you having magic?"
"Shocked. I think. He was comforting me right after though. He was holding me very close, like he was worried."
"Like he was worried for me. Like someone would pop in and snatch me away. He called someone who specialized in mutations, to see if I was a mutant."
"And you're not?"
"No. But my dad took each incident with stride. So did my Aunts and Uncles."
"Mr. Barton's brothers and sisters?"
"No. His good friends, and the agents that regularly came to help take care of me."
"Were there a lot of agents you called Aunt and Uncle?"
"A few. There are a lot of agents, and not all of them were my Aunts and Uncles."
"So you have a close bond with a select few?"
"Yes. They know about my powers, would be comforting, make jokes, and take care of me. They are my family."
Ron heard a choked and sad sounding gasp but ignored it. They were his family. What else was there to say but that?
"A family that has raised you for years. One that you didn't pick, and yet you wish to remain with them, is that correct?"
"That will be all. Please escort Mr. Weasley to the back room. Will Doctor Stephen Strange take the stand-"
"Strange?" Ron questioned turning his head, a hand guided him out the room as he saw a familiar and confident sorcerer sit in the same seat he had been in prior. He gave a smile to his teacher to be as he exited the court room.
Ron nearly leapt for joy when he saw Neville and Hermione waiting in the back room for him. He darted past his escort and hugged them both. Each one hugged him back.
"Oh gosh Ron, are you alright?" Hermione asked, her voice trembling slightly. A studious know it all bookworm she may be, but one of the softest hearts Ron had ever met.
"Was it bad?" Neville asked. Ron shrugged his shoulders.
"There was a lot. I kind of thought, it would be like American court cases."
"You know how the court system works in America?" Hermione questioned.
"Eh. Somewhat. Agents don't really work in the courts, at least, a traditional court. They have... Other means. But I did watch a few shows where they showed court scenes before, and I thought it would be something like that."
"Oh. Well, want to play exploding snap while we wait?"
"Sure. Should we do this everyday during the court time?"
"Ron... They should be making their decision today."
"What! Today?! But isn't this the first day of the trial?"
"First day? Mum told me that trials only last about three days at most," Neville responded, clearly thinking nothing of such a short of court session.
"Why? Why would they? They need evidence, enough time to present information, brief breaks now and then to use the bathroom... In what right mind is one day enough to unfold an entire case?"
"Magical Britian. You might get two though."
"Ron, are you alright?"
"Sure! Everything is just wonderful Mione! My world is falling apart in a matter of days right before my eyes. Everything is just fantastic."
"I'm sorry Ron. What else am I supposed to say?"
"I don't know!"
"How about that game of exploding snap?" Neville's interrupted the two.
"Uh sure," Ron said quickly. He was thankful for a distraction from the news that this would be over so quickly. On the one hand, it could mean a return to his normalish life and begin his apprenticeship under Doctor Strange, while receiving and sending letters to Neville and Hermione. But then again... It could also mean less time with his dad and family until he was eighteen, a legal adult, and could join SHIELD. Being surrounded by a gaggle of red heads smothering him each with magic they had known about for their entire life. Each so open with emotion he wasn't quite sure how to deal with it.
Neville had pulled out his deck and had already gotten Hermione ready during Ron's musing.
The three played, tense at first, but flourished into fun lightheartedness. The light magical energy put the three at ease. Soon, laughter echoed through the room as the guards outside remained quiet, one, a bit forlorn at their innocence.
"Surprised none of the younger Weasleys came."
"You know Arthur and Molly, it isn't pleasant being here as it is. They didn't want them acting up or anything."
"Feh. Kid should be with the Weasleys. End of story."
"I don't know. You heard Barton's side state he had been granted Asylum in America for the "persecution" from Death Eaters."
"They were a minority."
"They did threaten his life though."
"He's safe now though. Why stay in America?"
"Come on, he grew up there. Why wouldn't he?"
"Blood is thicker than water."
"The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb."
"Shut up Gary."
Ron was, not quite happy, but not upset either when he was escorted back with the Longbottom's, to his current living arrangement. He sighed looking out the window into the night. He knew he should be sleeping. He had another possibly equally rough day ahead of him. But his life was in turmoil. He wanted, no needed stability.
He needed something permentant in this storm of life. Just a calm and never changing aspect he could see and feel to be true in his life. Even if it were just softly spoken words. Or maybe, a melody. He closed his eyes and began humming a tune his father had sung before. A tune he had heard on one of his dad's CDs. It was calm, soft and dreary. The tune was older, and yet somehow ageless. Tears pricked at his eyes as he recalled his dad being overly dramatic, making a joke over the drama in the song. Somehow, he could relate to it now more than ever.
He clenched his eyes and whispered it's somber tune softly, "...Take it calmly and serene... It's the famous final scene..."
He took a deep breath and relaxed his face. He tried to think about flying above the city in the Helicarrier. Metal walls and soft pillows. Gun powder and sandalwood scents he tried to recall with fresh cinnamon cookies conflicting from their dessert before. The subtle rose scented soap his Uncle Nick used. Or Uncle Fitz Hawaii Citrus Breeze Secret deodorant. Hey, it was his business if he wanted to smell like Hawaii Citrus Breeze, that was his business, and he have Uncle Phil or Aunt Simmons kicked anybody's butt who said it was girly. Unless it was Uncle Phil and his Old Spice scent.
Subtle scents blending together in his mind's eye as he recalled better times. Happier times. Wisps of magical incidents and science explosions. The memories bleeding together into just raw emotion of joy and sadness in his chest. Just emotion, no thoughts, as he was too tired think anymore.
Fatigue overwhelmed him as he fell into a dreamless slumber.
Ron was in the back room awaiting the decision of the court, seperate from both Clint and Molly and Arthur. He wasn't alone though. Neville and Hermione on one side while the youngest three Weasleys sat on the other side. Apparently Molly had heard that Ron was allowed to have company, and he only had Neville and Hermione to comfort him. So Fred, Geroge and Ginnie were there alongside him.
Ron had to admit, he was kind of glad they were there. Fred and George were a surprisingly good distraction from the outgoing court room chaos. The regaled the young group of their pranks of epic proportions getting laughter and the occasional reprimand from Hermione making everyone laugh harder. They had been in there for three hours, waiting for the verdict that would no doubt change their lives.
There was no way Fred or George would just let their brother go after just finding him. Even if the court favored Barton, they'd find a way to get him back to Britian... Or perhaps even find a way to America. They had heard that it was booming with energy from their dad telling stories about travelers who became lost inside the ministry and the pranking possibilities were nearly endless.
Ginnie was a bit more subdued. She saw how her brothers acted slightly different when something was involving their newly rediscovered brother. She thought it was all so surreal. Everyone was holding back, trying to get along in ways they would have scoffed at a month or so ago. She didn't like seeing her brothers act so foreign. It made her antsy, like they were going to pull a prank on her and were attempting to lure her into a false sense of security.
Hermione was just settling from her world being flipped upside down from her parents' recent passing. She knew things would change with her coming back to Britian for her magical education, but she was concerned for her new and most likely her best friend with all the chaos surrounding his future. He had been there for her. She would be there for him.
Neville though wanted everyone to get along. He had grown up visiting the Weasleys when his mum had been in Britian for extended periods of time. While he had not been particularly close with any of them, he felt as though they were his friends. Family friends really, but still just basic friends too. Ron was also a friend, not so long lived, but someone so willing to be his friend with no big family push.
Finally, Ron had welcomed any distraction he could get. As chaotic as missions could get according to agents, they were incredible people of habit. And he was no exception, while he was curious about doing everything he could as Strange's upcoming apprentice, he still kept habits and rituals instilled in him by agents and his dad as he grew up.
And distractions were common occurrence among agents. Few asked about missions, most took a distraction of sorts after missions. Ron liked to think he was well versed in the art of distraction given that was all he could do. But it was pretty hard to use when you had to distract yourself.
"Remember when Charlie invited Tonks over?" Fred asked George. George cracked up while Ginny giggled, leaving Ron and Hermione confused. Neville sighed when he realized who they were talking about.
"Charlie's metamorphagus friend right?"
Neville groaned, but a smile betrayed him.
"What did she do?"
The boys smiled with a certain knowing quality.
"She insisted she was Charlie!"
"Changed her face and everything! Made mum mad though."
"It was great. Even better when she shifted into dad to try and get them both out of trouble."
Ron cracked up laughing as Hermione tried to look offended but still had a sneaky smile trying to take over at the imagery of someone trying to humorously mascarade as another.
It was the scene that the court official walked in on.
"Mr. Ronald Weasley, it's time."
The joy in the air evaporated into nothingness as Ron stood with slightly unsteady and nervous legs. His eyes sparked with fear. He walked forward until two hands grabbed his shoulders. One hand was larger and firmer than the other. He turned his head to see the larger hand belonging to one of the twin Weasley boys. His eyes were full of love and acceptance, "You'll be fine Ron."
He turned his head to the other hand, it was Neville.
Ron gave a watery smile as he was led out of the room, down the ominous stone halls and into the court room he had been in just the day before. The collar on his shirt felt tight, constricting around his neck as if to choke the life out of his body. He knew it wasn't real, that his shirt was no different from what it had been the day before, washed between of course. He squinted his eyes as flashes of light blinded him temporarily. Cameras. Very bright ones from wizard paparazzi, and reporters. They really weren't all that different from their non magical counter parts were they?
He heard questions, formless words and orders for better shots. He said nothing, his tongue felt fat and dry in his mouth along with the unseen nonexistant noose around his neck. One reporter he recognized was not perturbed by his lack of speech. She began to fire more questions. Attempting to egg him into a response. He sent her what he hoped was a frosty glare. It was more like a pout though.
He wasn't with the reporters very long, though his vision was spotty from their onslaught of lights. And walking into the court room, his eyes were focused on the judge as he was led to stand between the two families fighting over his future. He bit the inside of his lip and blinked a few times to hide his fresh sheet of tears threatening to spill down his cheeks. He took a deep breath to try and calm down. He glanced around the room to see Alice sitting next to... Was that Strange?
"Is everyone here and accounted for?" The judge asked.
"The Barton group is accounted for."
"The Weasleys are accounted for."
"Ronald Weasley is accounted for."
"Britain's child services are accounted for."
"What?" Ron loudly whispered in disbelief.
"Ron, not now," the man who brought him in spoke, his eyes bugged as his hand whipped around to see a group of individuals who stood with a case with their own documents. The head man stood tall with a purely aristocratic face. It kind of reminded Ron of an elf from Lord of the Rings, only, older... And crueler. His cold steely eyes, pale skin and long flowing silvery white hair.
"What's child's services doing here?" Ron blurted out.
"Mr. Weasley. Control yourself-"
"I think I have a right to know what's going on. I'm a child. I'm not incompetent. I get my dad and the Weasleys. But who is the third group?"
"Your honor. He does have a right to know," the Wright man spoke in Ron's favor.
"Mr. Wright, please be silent until-"
"Please sir," Ron interrupted, "This is my life. It's the only one I have. I want to know."
"Very well. Mr. Malfoy is here to represent the country, and your wellbeing. Because custody cases are usually far more clean cut and easily resolvable, the British government has stepped in the case of your care."
"So what does that mean for me?"
There was a moment of silence quickly dissipated with the clear voice of the judge.
"This would look into other more... Listed stable Wizarding families to take you in-"
"That is crap!"
"Why should I be ripped from my family? Not just from America from my dad and aunts and uncles, but my blood too? Wasn't that the whole point of this?"
"The point is your safety. Now please be silent."
Ron glared at the judge. He was sick and tired of being treated like a small child. He was old enough to be included in deciding his own future. And he knew that he didn't want to be thrust into some stranger's custody. He loved his dad. He wanted to be with his dad. He wanted to continue growing up surrounded by his family.
"In the case of Ronald Billius Weasley..."
The pause between his words seemed to stretch as his heartbeat grew faster, pounding against his chest as though it was trying to break free. His breath was shaky and shallow.
"...in terms of his custody..."
Ron's throat grew dry and his lips parted. This man was going to effect the rest of his life. Just his words of the judgement delivered.
"...based on the terms of his upbringing, his legal status of having a dual citizenship..."
Oh god Ron was going to be a legal adult by the time this man finished what he was saying.
"...the people of the court have decided..."
Ron's eyes widened pleadingly. He didn't know how much more he could take of this. He needed to know. Against everything, he felt... He had to know the verdict now.
"That Ronald Weasley shall..."
The judge coughed into his hand, pausing for a moment to clear his throat. Everyone but the jury, judge and guards were at the edge of their seats.
Ron's face contorted into a slight scowl. This was just plan ridiculous.
"Ronald Weasley will be kept..."
Ron's heart began to sore as a smile began to break out on his and his dad's face.
"... Under the joint custody of Arthur and Molly Weasley and Clint Barton."
The gavel came done down with a thundering clap. There was silence followed by an uproar of loud murmurs and cries of indignity. Ron looked downward at his hands lying on the table. Joint custody?
Tears pooled in his eyes as he just shut down. People were yelling. People were screaming. Everything seemed to have broken. He saw, but was unseeing. His ears ringing from the volume of people but could catch no words. He felt the barest of stings as tears began to cascade down his cheeks. His eyes began to close as he tried to stop his tears from falling. He didn't cry out, his words lodged down in his throat, lost on him entirely.
He wanted to scream, to throw things, to run away and hide in anywhere, as long as he was with his dad.
But he couldn't abandon his aunts and uncles. He couldn't run and hide while they fought, and possibly slaughtered one another. He already lost an uncle once, and even though he came back, he didn't want to experience the pain again.
The Weasley family and Clinton Barton along with an emotionally overwhelmed Ron had been gathered, sitting in a room while the specifics of the joint custody was made clear.
The lawyers all glaring at one another, attempting to be civil as they explained the situation to the entire group allowed in the room.
Ron would have three fourths of the year with the Weasleys, and one fourth his his dad back in America. It had been decided, that if it had to be decided, Ron said he would want to spend summer with his dad, no school to deal with crossing seas.
From June into July and August, leading to school with the Weasleys from September all the way into May. He would have a buffer week with the transition each time he switched over, as to prepare and settle Ron in either location. This was seen to be the most ideal situation for his schooling.
Apparently, each and every Weasley child old enough to go, was sent to Hogwarts. Ron it seemed, would now be no exception. At least he wouldn't be going alone. Hermione would be there. Along with Neville. Perhaps, though going against what he had wanted, he wouldn't back down. He would be at a boarding school. He could avoid his biological parents. And only three siblings were of schooling age. And one was something called a "prefect". All Ron understood from that was that he would be incredibly busy with other students.
That left only the twins. He'd have to try and avoid the two, but if the talk of the size of the school was any indication, it shouldn't be all that difficult. At least he hoped so.
So, as many of you may guess, this is the end of Son of the Archer. The next story though has been posted along with this one.
You have a choice. The ending may not have been satisfactory for you. If that is the case, the knight bus is waiting to take you to your next destination. Be it back to the beginning, or far away, they'll get you there...
However, if you wish to move forward, and brave what is to come, walk between platform 9 3/4 and step aboard the Hogwarts' Express into Son of the Archer and The Boy Who Lived.
Seriously, it is posted.
On another note, the small bit of words that Ron kind of sings is from the Song, Famous Final Scene by Bob Seger.