Athene felt slightly weak. Her head was all stuffed up and she felt so tired. She could also hear a slight ringing.
She opened her eyes and realised that she had been asleep on the sofa, clearly Uncle Davy had tucked her in under blankets on the sitting room sofa when she had fallen asleep last night.
She was still wearing her uniform, and her coat hat and shoes were by her suitcase on the floor.
Captain Llewelyn had fallen asleep still sat up properly in the armchair
There was that there bloody ringing again. Maybe she wasn’t imagining it?
Then she realised it wasn’t her head that was ringing, but the telephone!
She walked through to the hallway where the phone was kept.
“Hello?” asked Athene curiously.
“Athene?” asked a voice down the phone.
“Yes,” she nodded, “who is this?”
“Tony! Nick! Simon!” she heard from the other end of the line, “I’ve got her!”
“Athene!” gasped Anthony breathlessly, he had clearly just been running.
“Are you alright?”
“Yes, I’m fine.”
“Honestly?” asked Nick taking the phone.
“Yeah I’m fine, Uncle Davy’s here.”
“Mr Mitchell rang us last night and told us everything,” said Anthony.
“But Dad told us not to ring you last night, he said you’d be tired,” said Mark.
“He also told you to not ring until after ten, so you didn’t wake her up,” added Simon.
“It’s fine,” laughed Athene laughing at them fighting over the phone.
“We’re coming to see you in a few days,” said Anthony, “Dad’s bringing us down for the funeral.”
“Thanks,” muttered Athene.
“Let the girl go lads,” said Simon.
“The poor kid’s probably knackered,” added Nick.
“See you in a few days Athene!” called Anthony.
“Bye Athens!” called Mark.
“Bye,” she muttered as they put the phone down.
She found herself feeling slightly empty, she didn’t know if it was because she missed her grandparents, or that she hadn’t eaten in twenty-four hours.
“There you are,” said Captain Llewelyn coming out into the corridor, “I was wondering where you’d got to.”
“Mark and Anthony called,” said Athene, “they’re coming to the funeral.”
“Ah the funeral,” he muttered patting her on the back.
“Well don’t worry about that, that’s all being sorted.”
Athene nodded slightly.
“You hungry Cariad?”
She nodded again.
Captain Llewelyn was a fairly good cook, so he managed to knock up some scrambled eggs and toast.
“Mr Lewis is coming around this morning for a meeting,” he told her as they ate breakfast.
“Who’s Mr Lewis?” she asked.
“Your families lawyer, he needs to go through the will,” he explained.
“Why is he coming around so soon!” she stammered.
“Usually this takes a few days doesn’t it?”
“Well, as you’re a minor and an orphan, they need to sort out your guardian.”
“Aren’t you going to look after me?” she asked.
It hadn’t occurred to her up until this point, but then she remembered that her Uncle Davy was a bachelor, and probably didn’t want a twelve-year-old girl holding him back.
“Sweetheart I’d love to,” he assured her, “but it would be a bit boring for you wouldn’t it?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Well I’m not exactly the most exciting person to live with, and actually someone else has already offered to take you.”
“What?” she stammered, surprised at this fresh news, and that someone actually wanted to take her.
“You’ll find out soon enough,” he chuckled, as he cleared the breakfast things.
“Why don’t you go get changed, you’re still in your uniform.”
“Oh yeah,” said Athene somewhat foolishly.
She headed upstairs to her room, and her bedroom door was open.
There was a fresh vase of flowers on her bedside table, and the material that Granny had bought her for Christmas was on the desk.
Her bed was freshly made with one of her quilts folded on top, and there was a note on top of her pillow.
“Dear Athene, welcome home, love always Granny and Grandpa.”
She forgot all about getting changed and threw herself on top of the bed and curled up in a ball before bursting into tears again.
“Athy,” said Captain Llewelyn gently after a while, “Mr Lewis will be here soon.”
Athene looked over to him as he came and sat down on the bed.
“Things are going to get better,” he said.
“Hmm,” she muttered.
“Now come on, get some fresh clothes on and you’ll feel ten times better I promise.”
Athene nodded slightly and she pulled herself up off the bed.
She got a clean jumper and skirt out of her dresser, before going through to the bathroom.
She washed her face quickly and redid her plaits and brushed her teeth before heading back downstairs.
“There you see,” said Captain Llewelyn hugging her, “much better already.”
Athene smiled slightly, as there was a knock on the door.
“That’ll be the lawyer,” he muttered going to go and get the door.
Athene followed him and peeked out from the sitting room whilst he answered the door.
But it wasn’t the lawyer, it was a middle-aged woman with a basket and a child clinging onto her skirt.
“Hello,” she beamed, “is this the Richard’s house?”
“Um yes, Athene Richards lives here,” he nodded.
“We heard about what happened yesterday, the poor thing left all alone in the world.”
“She’s not left all alone,” he corrected her.
“No of course not,” she said slightly flustered, “well um, we heard about what happened with her grandparents and we all got together and made her some bits.”
She indicated the wicker basket.
“It’s nothing much, just a shepherd’s pie, a loaf of bread, some milk, some biscuits, a few apples. We only wish it was more! We’re also going to pull together for the funeral tea in a few days.”
“Thank you,” said Captain Llewelyn earnestly as he took the basket from her.
“Thank you!” called Athene from where she had been poking her head out the sitting room doorway.
“We all send our sympathies,” she said smiling gently at Athene, “Major Richards was a fine man, and Mrs Richards was the finest sewer I’ve ever known.”
“I know,” beamed Athene, “she taught me everything I know.”
Athene took the basket of food through to the kitchen and started to put it all away, and there was another knock on the door.
This time it really was Mr Lewis.
“Athy!” called Captain Llewelyn from the sitting room, “can you come in here please!”
“Coming!” she called as she put the last of the things away.
When she came through to the sitting room, there was a man sat in one of the armchairs trying to sort out several pieces of paperwork.
He seemed a sensible sort of man in a pinstriped suit. He looked like the kind of man who would take no-nonsense.
“Hello,” said Mr Lewis smiling kindly at her, “you must be Athene.”
“Yes of course you are, you look just like your mother.”
“You knew my Mum,” stammered Athene as she sat down on the sofa next to her uncle.
“Yes, of course, I have been the lawyer for all the Richards. She was rather a bit older, and it was quite a while back, but I knew her yes.”
“Oh,” muttered Athene.
“Your parents were good people, as were your grandparents. It’s tragic that you have lost them all quite so young.”
“Hmm,” muttered Athene.
“Right, I’m sure a young girl like you has much more important things to do than listen to me all day, to business!”
He riffled through his paperwork again.
“First off the financial situation.”
Athene bit her lip slightly, school fees must cost a lot, and she was all alone in the world, how was she supposed to support herself?
“Can I afford the school fees?” she asked nervously.
“What?” he asked.
“Well yes of course you can. In fact, actually, as you are a forces orphan, the forces will pay for your education. Boarding school and anything further you would like.”
“Anything further?” she asked confused.
Up until now, she had always thought that after sixth form and her A-Levels her education would be over.
“Oh yes, University, or anything else.”
“University,” she breathed hardly believing it.
“Have we got a bit of a scholar on our hands?” asked Mr Lewis smiling at Captain Llewelyn.
“Just a bit yes,” chuckled Captain Llewelyn.
“Well, you’re not going to have to worry about that for quite a few years yet old girl.”
“As I was saying, the financials,” continued Mr Lewis.
“Both your father and grandfather were very successful in their careers in the army, but the Richards, in general, were a very frugal family.”
“Rather than spend their money, they preferred to save it for a rainy day, in the bank.”
“What are you trying to say?”
“I’m trying to say, that you are more than financially stable.”
He handed Athene a piece of paper, which read that the Richard’s Barclays savings account, had slightly under £20,000 in it.
“Bloody hell!” muttered Captain Llewelyn as he looked at the piece of paper.
“You’re not allowed to touch it until you’re eighteen,” Mr Lewis explained, “but it should gain some interest by then.”
“You could buy a house with that money!” stammered Captain Llewelyn.
“You could actually buy quite a few,” chuckled Mr Lewis.
Athene was slightly stunned that her family were quite so well off.
“Now then, about your guardianship, and where you’re going to live.”
Athene looked up.
“The house, unfortunately, has to be given back; it will be needed for a new family.”
Athene nodded; she had known that would be coming up. She wouldn’t like having to leave the house behind but never mind.
“Captain David Llewelyn has been named your legal guardian, being both your parents and your grandparent's friend.”
Uncle Davy put his arm around Athene and gave her a slight hug.
“But last night, another person rang me, saying they would be more than willing to have you live with them.”
Athene looked more than slightly confused.
“A Mr Brian Pennington.”
“Mr Pennington!” stammered Athene.
“Now you can see why I thought you might not want to stay with me when you can flounce around in that big house in Sussex and have a good time with your mates.”
“Whichever one I choose; you’ll still be my guardian?” she asked.
“Yes Cariad,” he chuckled.
“I’ve got to tell you something first though,” muttered Uncle Davy.
“I was offered a desk job at the Aldershot base a month back, and I already accepted.”
“Aldershot!” she exclaimed, “but then we’d be leaving Wales!”
“Yes,” he admitted, “but it would be a lot closer to your school if anything went wrong, and it’s only an hour away from the Pennington’s not seven.”
Athene bit her lip.
“When would we be moving?” she asked.
“Not for another month. But whichever house you choose to live at, you’ll be leaving Wales.”
Athene bit her lip slightly.
“I think I’d rather live with you, less chaotic than living at the Pennington’s full time, besides if it’s only an hour away, I can visit all the time.”
“That’s my girl,” he beamed giving her a huge hug