This story is based on the distinction French (and perhaps worldwide) historians make between Bonaparte and Napoléon. While they're the same person, Bonaparte is used to represent the general, up until he becomes emperor, and Napoleon used to name the emperor, up until his death on the island of Saint Helen.
I might put up a small scene of him at Saint Helen. I don't really know. If nothing comes for a while, consider this complete.
Note about the colors : the color "pourpre" is a French word I used here to describe a certain shade of red. I looked up many translations : crimson (which should be translated by cramoisi), scarlet (écarlate), purple (too close to violet). That's why when they translated "The color purple" with "La couleur pourpre", it was a mistake, in my opinion. And finally, Tyrian purple. If you type Tyrian purple in Wikipedia's search bar and scroll down to section "Modern hue rendering", I'll say "pourpre" is closer to the second shade proposed. This is the closest pourpre color image I found when I searched in google : .org/wikipedia/commons/3/3f/Velours_. Just so that we're clear. :P
Bonaparte stood in the apse of Notre-Dame, listening to the longest speech of his life.
How he had strived to reach this moment!
The preparations hadn't been easy. As the cathedral had been in reparation, huge pourpre and dark-green drapes had had to be hanged on every wall inside Notre-Dame to hide the scaffoldings. The floor had had to be swept because white dust had gathered everywhere. The yokels' homes around the cathedral had had to be torn down so that the guests' coaches could stop right at the entrance. There had been a million other tiny problems. He remembered his counselors berating him for having involuntarily made the old Pope wait for two hours before receiving him – he had to understand, they had argued, the Pope was already old and he had made the effort of coming this far, only to wait as a servant would... The scandal! He smothered a smile.
Soon, all of that wouldn't matter.
The Pope droned on and on in his clumsy French while the people assembled either listened, daydreamed or talked in hushed whispers. There were a few pre-Revolution noblemen, wealthy burgesses, dignitaries from foreign countries, cardinals, his allies, his whole family – he could see his mother up in the seat of honor on his right –, his wife's family, soldiers, and a small few carefully selected from the people to look good. And, of course, the painter David, already making sketches which would be approved by Bonaparte before he could make his painting.
Finally, the speech ended, and the crown was presented to him.
It sat neatly on a small red cushion, the embodiment of all he had worked for. Him, the Corsican who was mocked in military school for his small size and nasal voice, the simple caporal who rose to the post of general thanks to Maximilien de Robespierre's brother Augustin, the brilliant force striking at the enemies of the Revolution, each time victoriously…
Bonaparte couldn't take his eyes off the crown. Seven branches of gold rose in an arc like the buttresses of a monument and met in a delicate point which would flash in the light. It was incrusted with precious stones, rubies, sapphires, amethysts and emeralds, some of which he had brought back from Egypt. It seemed so long ago – before Sieyès asked him to make a coup d'état, before the regime changed to a Consulate, before he was elected First Consul for life in a trumped election by the French people.
His fingers itched to touch the crown, and finally, he grasped it. Cold metal met his warm flesh, but it could have been burning hot for all he cared. He rose it slowly in the air. In the painting, he would have David modestly crown Joséphine, but right now, no, he couldn't do that, he had dreamed of this moment, he had worked, schemed, even killed for it. He had earned the right to crown himself.
Watching the people assembled in Notre-Dame, their clothes a blur of flashing colors, their faces all forced in a beaming smile, Bonaparte presented the majestic imperial crown for all to see.
He put it on his head. Then, he smiled.
Napoleon was born.