I stand to the side of the large raised pavilion that has been erected for today. Phoenix is by my side, holding my hand tightly in his.
The audience surrounding us is a buzz with excitement and it's growing. Each passing minute feels longer than the last, the anticipation of today is so long awaited that one more minutes feels like too much.
The master of ceremonies joins us on the large round stage. He looks different than he did at our wedding, weathered and war torn. He lost an eye in the battle against the resisting vampires.
He raises his hands in the air and calls for silence among the crowd.
Everyone falls completely silent, almost eerily, holding their breath as he starts.
"It is my honor and privilege to stand before you all today, vampire, wolf and human alike, joined together in a unified society."
He raises his hands and gestures forward.
At the end of the long aisle Alex and Sloane appear. There is a rolling gasp through the crowd. They are wearing matching white robes with embroidered gold details. The trains flow behind them on the ground.
Celine made them for Phoenix and I, they were her last designs and definitely among her most beautiful work. It felt right that they should wear then at their coronations. I can't help but feel that Celine would have wanted it that way.
It's hard to believe what is happening in front of me. I'm watching it but it doesnt feel real.
A wolf and his vampire mate are standing before all, taking their places on the throne. It never seemed like anything more than a dream.
I wipe a tear from my cheek and Phoenix grips my hand tighter in his own.
When they make it to the stage Alex makes eye contact with me and the happiness of his smile tugs at my heart.
"Today, we are gathered to witness a turning point in our history. Alexander Killion, the Alpha King, will take his place on the throne, surrounded and supported by a team of people who are dedicated to continuing to pursue the ideas of freedom and equality," the master of ceremonies gestures to Phoenix and I. My legs wobble as we walk forward, standing before the future King and Queen.
"Alexander, do you here swear to reign over all citizens with fairness, committing to bring our society into a new era, to be a King for all?"
Alexander's voice booms confidently over the crowd, "with all my heart."
Phoenix steps forward and places his crown down on his head.
"Sloane, do you here swear to rule by his side, to keep the best interests of all citizens at the forefront of every decision? To be a Queen for all people?"
"I do," a large smile spreads over her face as I step forward to place her crown on her head.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, your King and Queen!"
The entire crowd drops into a sea of deep, reverent bows.
When everyone rises Alex shifts, his robe floating to the ground around him, his crown still perched on his head. He walks down the aisle, Sloane by his side, to a chorus of thunderous applause.
I feel Phoenix' fingers intertwining with mine, when I turn to look at him hes already looking down at me with a small smile.
"How are you feeling?"
"I... I'm not sure. This still feels surreal."
He presses a kiss to my forehead as we walk toward the reception hall where everyone is gathering to celebrate.
As we walk into the hall our presence is announce.
"First officer and royal advisor, royal majesties, Prince Phoenix and Princess Noelle.”
I feel his hand tense in mine. He has asked not to be called “prince” anymore but people won’t seem to accept it. I'll never get used to being referred to as a princess.
We sit at a large table with Alex, Sloane and Mercer.
I look out over the crowd of people and can’t help but smile. Everyone is together, eating and laughing. My eyes meet Sloane's, she has the same joyful smile on her face.
She leans over, bringing her face closer to mine, “we’re making an announcement tonight,” she blushes slightly and my mouth drops open.
“Sloane!” I gasp, “are you…”
She nods and laughs as tears form in her eyes.
“I wanted to tell you first but, yes, we’re having a baby,” she whispers excitedly.
I bite my lip, we weren’t going to announce anything today but when I turn to Phoenix he’s nodding at me gently.
“Us too,” I whisper and her eyes go wide.
“Noelle!” The excitement on her face makes me laugh.
“Alex is convinced we’re having a boy,” she says just as he snakes his arm around her waist and gently places his hand over her stomach.
“We’re having a girl,” Phoenix says with such finality that I just believe him.
We talk and enjoy our meals together before a song gently plays through the room. I immediately recognize it as the song we danced to at our wedding.
I hear his chair scrape against the floor as he stands, pulling me up with him. When I’m able to see his face he has a wide, boyish smile there.
“Dance with me?”
A blush creeps over my face as he pulls me into his arms in a small open area near the tables. After only a moment of swaying in his arms I can feel people gathering around us, joining us on the floor.
My aunt and uncle hold each other tightly a few couples away from us.
After several songs play we decide to sit with Mercer who is watching from his place at the table.
"Did you think we would ever actually get here?" He asks, wonder etched on his face as he stares out over the crowd.
"I hoped..." I whisper as Phoenix gently rubs my leg below the table.
The three of us sit quietly together, watching everyone, the contagious happiness palpable in the room.
I'm suddenly hit with a strange feeling, a deep calm washing over me.
"I want to name them Helene and Celine."
He pulls in a shaky breath, "I love you."
I smile up at him, "I love you too."