Every Friendship has a Beginning

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Major Richards

She was half terrified half excited; she was always pleased to see her Grandpa and she loved him, but if she ever did anything wrong, she’d know about it. Her Grandpa was a Major in the army and sometimes forgot that Athene was an eleven-year-old girl and not a soldier.

Athene rushed around the room as fast as a spitfire, grabbing a clean uniform and brushing her teeth at the same time.

The boys took this as their cue to leave so that Athene could get ready.

“Do I look alright?” said Athene breathlessly as she ran into the boys in the corridor.

“Perfect as always,” chuckled Harry.

“Your parents should have called you Aphrodite instead of Athene,” said Mark as he kissed her hand.

Athene looked at Mark slightly confused for a moment; she couldn’t always tell when he was joking.

“You look fine Athens,” assured Anthony.

“Thanks, Anthony,” said Athene as she made sure her hairpins were still in properly from last night.

Mr Mitchell came down the corridor at this point, looking slightly preoccupied.

“You boys haven’t seen Athene, have you? Her grandfather’s looking for her.”

Anthony couldn’t help but smirk slightly, as he indicated towards the open door to the girl's dorm where Athene was standing.

“I saw him pull up,” explained Athene.

“He’s in my office, don’t worry it’s going to be alright.”

“You want me to come with you Athens?” asked Anthony.

The others were all busy that day, there were auditions for the carol service, and Harry and Charlie were going to practise their rugby.

“No don’t worry I’ll be fine,” said Athene smiling.

She looked much more relaxed and relieved now that her Grandpa had arrived, it was like a huge weight had been lifted off of her shoulders.

Anthony shrugged slightly and flopped down on his bed with the dorm door open and opened the Odyssey.

Mr Mitchell had brought it up in class and Anthony had checked out a copy from the library. It was a bit advanced, but Anthony thought he’d give it a go.

He hadn’t gotten through the first chapter however when he heard a noise out in the corridor. He looked up from his book curiously and saw Athene tears running down her cheeks, rushing into her own dorm leaving the door open as she ran in.

“Athene?” he asked getting off the bed and leaving the book behind on the bed.

Athene was in floods of tears as she started to pack away her books and clothes into her trunk.

“Athene? What's wrong?”

“It’s Grandpa,” she sobbed as she took the quilt off her bed, “he’s taking me away!”

“What?” stammered Anthony.

Athene didn’t answer him though, as she started to fold her photograph frames up in her quilt.

“Athene,” he said desperately, “stop rushing about and tell me what the hell is going on!”

Athene took a deep breath and knelt down on the floor by her trunk before sobbing hysterically.

“Now come on Athens,” said Anthony gently putting his arm around her, “it can't be the end of the world!”

“But it is,” she sobbed, “Grandpa’s taking me home.”

“Yeah, I know, for the memorial service.”

“No,” she sighed, “he’s taking me home and I won’t be coming back.”

“What?” he stammered, “but why? You’re happy, here aren’t you?”

“Of course I am,” said Athene looking up at him, “but the only reason I was here, is because Dad was in the army, now Dad’s gone and Grandpa wants me to move home.”

“Something about making the most of the family he’s got left,” she muttered.

“Right,” said Anthony taking a deep breath and shaking his head.

“You stay here,” he said getting up, “I’m going to sort this out.”

“What are you talking about?” she cried.

But Anthony had already gone. He wasn’t scared of him, Major or not. If Major Richards thought Athene was going to leave, it would be over his dead body!

He reached Mr Mitchell’s office, he could hear the sound of raised voices through the door.

He took a deep breath and knocked firmly on the door. He didn’t wait for an answer though and opened the door.

“Anthony what is it?” asked Mr Mitchell who had his head in his hands.

There was a man with greying hair sitting opposite Mr Mitchell’s desk, he was a tall well-built man, and at the moment had a look of fury in his eyes.

“Haven’t you been taught to knock boyo?” said Major Richards whipping his head around to look at Anthony his voice full of venom.

“I did knock sir,” said Anthony.

“Your Mr Mitchell and I are in the middle of a private conversation if you wouldn’t mind waiting outside please?” Major Richards seethed in the politest tone he could manage.

“Well its hardly private if you’re shouting at the top of your voice,” said Anthony quickly, “sir,” he added almost as an afterthought.

“Hmmm,” muttered Major Richards.

“Be that as it may, this conversation has got nothing to do with you.”

“Actually sir that’s where you’re wrong!”

“Anthony,” sighed Mr Mitchell, “please wait outside.”

But Mr Mitchell’s pleas fell on deaf ears, it was as if he wasn’t even in his own office.

“And what makes you feel like you’ve got a right to be in this conversation boyo?” asked Major Richards standing up and standing over Anthony.

Anthony gulped, as he felt the last of his courage fade away.

“Well,” he stammered, “I just think Athene should stay here, she’s happy, she’s got, friends.”

“As I’ve been trying to tell you, Major Richards,” said Mr Mitchell, “Athene has settled down extremely well. She is doing remarkably well with her lessons, and has built herself a good group of friends.”

“If she can do that here, she can do that back in any other school back in Pembrokeshire,” said Major Richards, “and she can live at home where she belongs!”

“That is possible Major Richards.”

“I don’t want to hear any possibles,” ranted Major Richards and banging his fist on Mr Mitchell’s desk.

“My son has just died! I am taking my granddaughter home to her granny where she belongs!”

“Are you sure you’re thinking about what’s best for Athene or best for you?” asked Anthony.

“What did you say boyo?” asked Major Richards menacingly.

“How do you know what’s best for Athene, did you even actually ask her?”

“Of course, I know what’s best for her,” said Major Richards shaking his head, “she’s my granddaughter!”

“Then why is she crying in her dorm?”

“Her father just died!” yelled Major Richards.

“I know that!” shouted Anthony.

“But it wasn’t her father she was crying about! She was upset because she had to leave her new friends behind!”

Major Richards went white and seemed to look even angrier.

Anthony calmed down slightly, but he was far from finished.

“Look,” sighed Anthony, “I’m sorry your son died, Captain Richards from the way you and Athene talk about him was clearly a wonderful man who didn’t deserve to die.”

Major Richards nodded slightly as if permission to continue.

“But her father’s just died, hasn’t her life been thrown up enough? Pulling her out of school now would be a huge mistake. Doesn’t she need some stability in a place where she feels comfortable and has friends?”

“Have you finished?” asked Major Richards.

“Yes sir,” said Anthony somewhat foolishly.

“Is there anything you’d like to add Mr Mitchell?”

“No, I think Anthony covered it,” said Mr Mitchell astounded.

“It’s a long drive to Wales,” muttered Major Richards, “tell Athene to meet me by the car in ten minutes with a suitcase for a few days.”

“She can stay?” stammered Anthony.

Major Richards smiled slightly before nodding.

“She can stay,” he nodded.

Anthony’s face lit up and he gave a shocked Major Richards a quick hug.

“Thank you, sir!” exclaimed Anthony before rushing up to the girl's dorm.

“What’s going on?” asked a very anxious Athene.

“You’re staying!” beamed Anthony.

“I’m what!” exclaimed Athene her eyes lighting up.

“You’re staying!” laughed Anthony pulling her in for a huge hug.

“I don’t know how you did it Anthony, but you’re amazing,” she laughed.

Anthony helped Athene down to the car with her suitcase, both of them beaming like Cheshire Cats.

“There you are Cariad!” beamed Major Richards pulling her in for a hug.

“Don’t worry Anthony,” chuckled Major Richards, “I’ll bring your friends back in a few days.”

“Bye Anthony,” said Athene giving him one last hug, “and thanks again!”

Anthony watched and waved as the car pulled away from the drive.

“I don’t know how you did it, Anthony,” muttered Mr Mitchell who had been standing next to him.

“But if she’d had to go it would have been a real shame.”

“Yeah,” nodded Anthony, “it would.”

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