Pomp and circumstance
I tap my fingers nervously against my thigh. This is it. The day I've been working toward.
The provost is droning on in the background, talking about opportunity and the bright futures ahead of us. The usual graduation day motivational speaking.
The first row eventually stands and lines up at the side of the stage, each person being called up one by one. I stare out over the backs of tons of heads. Curse my last name for starting with "v."
Row after row of graduates stands and waits for their moment, their walk across the stage. When its finally my turn, I stand with my row and line up beside the stage. For the first time I'm in a position where I can look out over the crowd.
My eyes find his immediately, he's already looking at me. He winks at me, a huge, proud smile stretched across his face. He's sitting with his parents, Johnny, Kayden and Crystal.
For so many years I was alone, keeping my head down and my heart under lock and key. It almost feels strange to have people here supporting me today, to have people that want to celebrate this.
I cringe at the mispronunciation of my last name as I walk up the steps to the stage. I can feel Aiden laughing.
As I take the first step onto the stage loud cheering and applause erupts from the direction where my family is seated. I blush as I shake hands with the Dean and the school president.
I take my diploma and pose for a quick picture then complete my walk across the stage.
After everyone has walked and the final address has been given I search the sea of people for mine. I stand on my toes to look over the crowd. A pair of strong arms snake around my waist.
"I am so proud of you, Cass." Aiden says against my ear as he pulls me against his chest. The rest of our group quickly joins us, engulfing me in hugs and praise.
When we arrive at the gate there are balloons in the shape of graduation caps hanging from it.
"What did you do?" I turn a suspicious eye to Aiden.
"I actually didn't do anything. Our pack however, wanted to celebrate this special occasion."
We drive toward the park and and recreational area and I can't help the huge smile that spreads across my face. The whole pack is here. There are balloons and streamers hanging over the picnic tables, there is a huge buffet table and several members are grilling. There is a bouncy house obstacle course and volleyball nets set up.
As the car pulls to a stop everyone cheers and claps.
Cyn and Harris climb out of the backseat, leaving just Aiden and I in the car.
"You alright?" he rubs his hand over my thigh.
"I... yes, I'm alright. I just... it still feels so foreign to have so many people that care about me."
"Cass, they love you."
I chuckle as I wipe the tears from my eyes. It can feel overwhelming to be here sometimes, to have the responsibilities here that I have. I want to be the kind of Luna they deserve, I want them to feel how much I care about them and how grateful I am to have them in my life. Having a party to celebrate this wasn't even on my radar.
One of my professors helped my secure a job as an independent contractor. I already have a commission doing the code for a small businesses website. I planned on tucking into that today, unaware that the people around me would want to celebrate my accomplishments. This seems so much better than sitting alone and coding all day.
After I reign in my emotions we step out of the car and everyone cheers and claps again. I blush and wave, hugging and greeting everyone around me.
I'm surrounded by hundreds of excited voices speaking all at once.
"We're so proud of you, Luna!"
"We knew you could do it!"
"Way to go!"
I smile at all of them, it makes my heart flutter to feel their pride through the bond.
"Thank you, all of you. I am so excited to finally finish!"
Aiden and I walk over to the special table they set up for us. We spend the rest of the day eating, talking and celebrating. I ran the inflatable obstacle course against Johnny and won, twice. Turns out it's harder for a big, heavy man to run on inflatable plastic than for a much smaller, lighter woman.
They have a volleyball tournament set up and Aiden and I are playing on opposing teams. I'm definitely using it to my advantage. He won't spike the ball down on me. They are losing because he's too afraid to hit me.
"This isn't fair," he pouts angrily, "we shouldn't be playing against each other!"
"It's only not fair because you're losing, Alpha," I quirk my brow at him.
After my teams dusts his they light up the fire pits as the sun starts to go down.
I sit down in his lap and rest my head against his chest.
"This has been a pretty perfect day," I whisper to him as I place a marshmallow on a stick to hold over the fire.
"I think so too," he sighs contently into my hair, "they have fireworks for later."
I lean into him, letting the calm, state of happiness and contentment wash over me.
"When do you need to have the code for that website finished?"
"I'll work on it tomorrow, I have some time."
"Have I told you that I'm really proud of you?"
"You've mentioned it once or twice."
We sit in silence, watching the pack, kids running around, people laughing and enjoying the end of a wonderful day, I couldn't have asked for better.