A/N: Well, here it is, the final chapter of this story. Editing took a little longer then I would have liked it to, but it's finished now. (Although, I'm sure there are grammatical errors still with in the chapter.) Anyway, let me end this. Enjoy!
Christine sat on the edge of Nicole's bed as Nicole packed what little she had into a small bag. An unnerving silence had stretched between the two girls, neither wanting to ruin what little time they had left together.
A soft knock sounded on the door to Nicole's room, bringing both girls out of their thoughts and back to reality.
"Yes?" Nicole called out as she turned towards the door.
"Are you packed?" Sean called out from the opposite side of the door.
"Almost, give me another five minutes and I'll be ready," Nicole replied back, looking at her already packed bag.
"Five minutes and then we need to be heading off," Sean called out, before leaving the girls alone again.
Silence stretched between the girls again. Still sitting on the bed, Christine played with the hem of her dress, trying to prolong Nicole's journey for as long as possible.
"I don't want you to leave," Christine said, breaking the silence between the two.
"And I don't want to leave without you," Nicole replied back. "It's going to be so lonely back home without you."
"You'll have your father and brothers to keep you company. And Sean will certainly be there for you," Christine reassured Nicole.
"It's not the same. Who am I going to turn to for advice or a shoulder to cry on or have adventures with?" Nicole asked, looking toward Christine.
"I know it's not the same, just as Eldora isn't going to be the same without you," Christine replied, pausing for a moment. "Nothing is ever going to be the same again."
The girls fell silent again. Christine was right; nothing would ever be the same. From the moment the girls had decided to leave, their futures had been forever altered. And neither girl could have imagined the routes their lives had taken them.
Looking towards the door, Christine said, "I suppose we should start heading down towards the courtyard."
"I suppose we should," Nicole said quietly as she picked up her bag and flung it over her shoulder.
Christine stood from the bed and walked over to Nicole, her steps slow and heavy. Linking arms, the two girls made their way of their room and down to the courtyard.
The walk from Nicole's room to the courtyard had been a quite one. Neither girl said very much or cared to say very much, prolonging the inevitable.
As they stepped out of the palace, Christine saw Sean and Malachi tending to the horses, while others waited around the courtyard for Nicole and Sean to leave. Together the girls stood side by side, neither wanting to continue on. Tears were beginning to well in Christine's eyes as she realized Nicole would no longer be a short walk away.
Christine felt two arms encircle her shoulders and pull her close. For a moment, Christine did not react, the shock of the sudden contact surprising her. But she soon returned the hug, her arms tightening around Nicole's waist as tears fell down her cheeks.
"I'm going to miss you so much," Nicole whispered as she gave Christine a fierce hug.
"So am I, but I'll be here if you need me," Christine murmured back, not wanting to let go of Nicole. "Promise me, you'll come visit."
"I promise. Nothing is going to keep me from seeing you," Nicole said as she slowly pulled away from Christine.
"I wish you could stay, but I know you have to go back to your family," Christine said as she looked at Nicole, a sad smile forming on her lips.
"Christine, don't worry. Everything will be fine. We will see each other more then you think we will," Nicole replied as she and Christine began to make their way down the stairs to the horses.
Malachi and Sean stood holding the reins of the horses in the courtyard, awaiting the arrival of the girls. They were deep in conversation when the girls approached them.
"Take care of her," Malachi said as he shook Sean's hand.
"And you do the same," Sean retorted gripping Malachi's hand in his own as he turned to Christine. "Take care of him."
"As long as you take care of Nicole," Christine said as Sean pulled her into a tight hug.
"I promise I will," Sean promised.
Christine gave Nicole one last hug before Nicole climbed upon the back of her horse. Tears were brimming in Christine's eyes as she watched Nicole, trying to hold them back for as long as possible.
"Goodbye Nicole and take care," Christine said as her voice cracked a little, a single tear running down her cheek.
"We shall see each other soon, Christine. Take care of yourself," Nicole replied as she and Sean began to leave the courtyard.
"Farewell Christine, Malachi," Sean called out as he followed Nicole out the gates.
"Goodbye Sean. Goodbye Nicole," Both Malachi and Christine called out at the same time, waving to their departing friends.
Christine let out a long sigh, trying to control her emotions. It was hard her to say goodbye to her best friend, to her confidant. Never again would she be able to walk down to Nicole's house to talk, never again would they get into mischief, and never again would they be able to carry on as before.
"She'll be back," Malachi reassured Christine as they continued to stare in the direction Nicole and Sean had left in.
"I know, but it's still hard. We've been through so much and I thought she would be around for a little longer," Christine replied.
"Then let's look to the future and see what she holds for us," Malachi said as he turned around to walk back to the palace.
Sighing again, Christine turned around and began walking next to Malachi, linking her arm in the crook of his. He was right after all. She did have a whole future in front of her to look forward to.El Fin
A/N: Well, that's it. There is no more. That is unless I decide to continue on with a sequel, but I'm not sure if I want to continue the story or not. That's left to be decided. In the meantime, I have other stories that I have to work on, but I won't be posting those until I get at least half way into them.
I want to thank everyone who has read this story. Your praise and input have been a blessing and I thank you profusely. Until the next time…!