The day finally came.  Ethan and Genevieve’s parents arrived to pick them up, bringing pictures to show the grandparents.  While they visited in the living room over tea and cookies, the children gathered in the cupola for a meeting at the Table.

            “We are gathered here today as the Companions of the Round Table, pledged to defend it and the realm.”  Arthur began.  His queen, the dark haired Guinevere, was crying quietly at his side, realizing that this was the last time that they would do this, at least this summer, anyway.

            “The Circle binds us, one to another.  Remember your pledges, for they will carry you through the times ahead, while we are each away from Camelot on our separate quests.  One day we will be together again, for we are each forsworn to never break the Circle, and the penalty for breaking our oath is death.”  Neal spoke as the born leader he was, strongly and with conviction.  He was doing what he could to keep the group together in spirit, even as they were about to be separated in body.

            “I’m going to miss you.”  Zoë said, hugging Hope tightly.  “I’ll write you every week.”

            “Me, too.”  Hope said, sniffling.  “And you can come and visit, and I’ll visit you…”

            While his sister said her goodbyes, Neal walked around the room for words of farewell with each of his friends. 

            “Ethan, I wanted to say thank-you, for the best summer I ever had.  This was all your idea…”

            Ethan bowed, his eyes misting up from tears that he struggled to hold back.  “You had lots of cooler ideas, you made it great.” Before Neal could decide between hugging Ethan or not, the boy stuck out his hand for a handshake.  They shook fiercely, both moved by the feelings of the moment, the ending of the summer.

            “My queen.”  Neal said, his voice catching in his throat as he said goodbye to Genevieve.  While it had been a game, and they were just little kids, he and his pretend queen had become really good friends that summer despite the two years between them in age.  She hugged him tight, not saying anything.

            Once all of the farewells were said, the children marched sombrely down the stairs and lined up outside.  Ethan and Genevieve’s parents put their baggage in the car, and the children waved goodbye as the two of them got in the car and were driven away.  They stared out the back window, waving back sadly.  Even though they would still be in town, probably in the same classes as Dan, Evan and Faith, it didn’t make the farewell any easier.  It was the last time the group would be all together that summer, for Alex and Jay had to go home the very next day and Neal and Zoë’s family moved later that week.  And so passed a golden summer, receding from reality into the memories and the dreams of twelve special children, who were starting, all too soon, to grow up…

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