This is the eighth story in The Journey of Graves. Special thanks go to MrBackpack, my spectacular editor has been an integral part in crafting this story.
The series begins with the first story: When the Man Comes Around.
IMPORTANT: If you haven't read the series, please head back to the beginning and check it out. While each story stands on its own, the character and relationship developments will build on each other as the series progresses.
And so, the saga continues...
Happily Ever After
Early morning sunlight streamed through the light blue linen drapes, illuminating the kitchen counter as Graves poured himself a fresh cup of coffee.
He’d always loved this time of day. In that time, the period just after sunrise before the world truly came awake, there was a magical stillness, a solitude that called to him. It reminded him of standing on the ocean shore, only instead of water and sand, he and the few others up at that time bore witness to the untapped potential of a day not yet begun.
Lately, however, the grey-eyed marshal found that he didn’t enjoy this time quite so much as the moments that followed soon after.
“Mmm. Good morning, dear.”
Turning around at the sound of the melodious voice, Graves smiled as his eyes lighted on the lovely Rarity. Wrapped in a terrycloth bathrobe with her violet tresses tossed all about in an elegant mess, the young lady returned the look with a sleepy, but very warm smile of her own.
“Morning,” he chuckled, walking over with another steaming mug of coffee. “Didn’t expect to see you up so soon.”
Receiving the cup with a grateful smile, Rarity too a long sip and sighed in contentment.
“How could I sleep in?” she laughed, the sound sweeter than the gentle tinkling of wind chimes in a soft spring breeze. “After months abroad, my wonderful husband is finally home.”
Even now, a full year into their marriage, the word still brought an almost painful surge of joy into the young man’s heart. Every now and again, he would still pinch himself, convinced he must be dreaming, that a single jolt would wake him up from this beautiful life. But no, this was his reality. His wonderful, amazing, fantastically how-could-I-be-so-lucky reality.
“There’s no need for that,” he grunted, trying to sound cool and aloof despite the ear to ear grin that threatened to break out from just one look at her. “You’ve been working yourself too hard; you need your rest.” Once again, Rarity just tossed her head back and laughed.
“Oh, and you haven’t?” she challenged, an amused twinkle coming to her bright, sapphire eyes. “After being away for so long in dealing with that bloodmage coup, you come back to Canterlot only to get shanghaied into training new cadets. Doesn’t that strike you as a bit much?”
“Eh, that’s nothing,” he dismissed with an absent wave of the hand, the platinum wedding band flashing on his finger in the morning light. Truth be told, he'd always thought Rarity would want to go with traditional gold, but she’d said that silver tones suited them much better anyways. “You’re the one who’s been planning the grand opening of Canterlot’s newest dress shop, remember? The one full of celebrity endorsements like Sapphire Shores, Hoity Toity, and that other singer... um... Flank Sinatra.”
“It's called a boutique, dear," she playfully chided, "But yes, everything else you say is true.”
“Then refresh my memory. Who's the one that has to deal with said celebrities and all the headaches they bring?” he finished, shooting her an amused smirk with just the faintest hint of triumph.
“Ah, I see your point,” the young lady laughed aloud as she gracefully conceded defeat. Malevolent maleficars were one thing: big wigs and businessmen were a whole other level.
“So do me a favor, will you?” Graves said as he took another sip of coffee. “Rest.”
“Are you really that concerned?” Rarity inquired, a smile on her lips and a quizzical look in her sparkling eyes. For once, the marshal smiled completely and fully, the warmth of his expression spreading all the way into his eyes that shone like moonlight on a starry summer night.
“Just looking out for the woman I love.”
The first time she’d heard that word from his lips was when he’d proposed to her on the moonlit deck of the E.A. Serenity. She’d heard them again when he’d slipped that golden ring on her finger at their wedding and many times since as well. Yet a flush of delight still crept into her face and a marvelous heat spread through her chest as she heard that wonderful word once more.
Taking advantage of his beautiful bride's good mood, Graves took away her mug and gently wrapped his iron-like arms around her slender waist, looking right into those big, sapphire eyes as he pulled her in. He could taste the honey and lemon from her tea on those lips, so soft and smooth that the silk of her robes seemed sandpaper in comparison. It only lasted a moment, but the toe-tingling electricity of it was just as intense, if not more than that night at the Grand Galloping Gala all those years ago.
It was enough to leave the pair of them breathless.
“Never gets old,” he chuckled, his silvery eyes twinkling with amusement as he gave her a roguish grin that seemed to be growing all the more common as of late.
“Graves, you are incorrigible!” Rarity laughed as she smacked him on the chest, making the motions of trying to escape with absolutely no intention of leaving his embrace. “I swear, you’ll have me acting like a doe-eyed schoolgirl with all this cavorting.” The look on his face was pure, impish mirth.
“Would that be so bad?”
“Perhaps not,” she replied with a coy grin. “But there is a time and place for everything. And right now,” the young lady finished before finally, reluctantly pulling away, “it’s high time your loving wife made you some breakfast.”
“Rarity, you don’t have to do this every day,” Graves added with what was equal parts embarrassment and bright-eyed anticipation. “I can just grab something on the way to training.”
“Oh, hush,” she tutted, still smiling but firmly setting him down in his seat as she pulled out her wand. “It’s a wife’s duty to make sure her husband is well fed, and you will let me do my duty. Is that clear soldier?”
“Yes ma’am,” he replied, complete with an all too serious salute. Rarity simply rolled her eyes and smiled.
Graves watched as the beautiful woman threw open the jade green curtains and let her lovely face bathe in the morning sun. Having someone cooking for him was a treat. Having Rarity, the love of his life doing it every morning? That was nothing short of a blessing.
With a quick flick of her wand, the skillful seamstress got started. Eggs cracked into a bowl with milk, bread following quickly after, and soon the whole room began smelling of freshly fried French toast. An ornate silver pitcher of syrup and a matching shaker of sugar - housewarming presents from Shining Armor and Cadance upon their arrival in Canterlot - floated over along with glasses of orange juice, a platter of sliced fruit, and a small dish of yogurt.
A truly amazing spread, considering she'd been at it for no more than five minutes.
“So darling, what are your plans for the day?” Rarity smiled, floating the plate of steaming culinary goodness over before joining him at the table and daintily powdering her toast with sugar.
“Not much,” he replied as he drizzled syrup on his own. “Taking a few of the advanced cadets on a training run: see if any of them are quality material. You?”
“Mostly meetings. The shop's construction work is basically completed, so now I just have to review layouts with the interior decorators before checking in with the suppliers to make sure the materials will arrive as scheduled.”
“I thought you took care of that last week?” His wife took a sip of coffee before heaving a weary sigh.
“We did. The contract was already finalized, but now they’re balking at actually delivering, saying there were additional fees we have to take care of first. Honestly, I’ll probably spend all afternoon explaining that they explicitly agreed to cover those costs already." As poised as she was, even Rarity couldn't help but let out a vexed little squeal. "Ooh, I just know it’s going to be a terrible ordeal already.”
“Sounds like a real pain,” the marshal nodded sympathetically. He only did so for a moment though, as his expression was quickly shifted from condolence to an evil, little grin. “Then again, maybe not.”
“Come again?” the dressmaker asked, eyebrow arched in curiosity. Her husband leaned in as his mischievous grin now blossomed into a full-on devilish smile.
“I have some spare time this afternoon. I might go for a walk and pay my lovely wife a visit. If it just happens to be during a business meeting, well...”
Rarity’s eyes widened in elated understanding.
“Graves,” she began, her own expression quickly beginning to mirror his own, “are you suggesting we go back to playing the good cop and bad cop?” The marshal grinned.
“Just like old times.”
Now just for the record, Graves was by no means a socialite. Despite Rarity’s excellent tutoring and his own increased exposure to Equestria's elite, the marshal would never, absolutely never, ever say he was a big fan of hobnobbing with the upper crust. That went doubly so for Canterlot which, despite its concentration of genuinely wonderful people, also had some of the snootiest of snoots that ever snooted. But there was one part of it he truly did enjoyed, and that was getting to be the bad guy in business.
When they’d first permanently moved to Canterlot, Rarity had immediately set to work getting her creations featured in all of the capitol's trendiest stores. Despite her reputation as a wonderful designer, few took her seriously as a businesswoman, possibly due to a combination of her youth and good looks.
Then she’d brought in Graves. At negotiations and meeting, the taciturn soldier would simply sit there, occasionally adding in a comment, but mostly just glaring at the opposition with gunmetal grey eyes. Unnerved by his steely gaze and imposing aura, people became much more willing to deal with the violet-haired seamstress, if only to avoid having to tangle with Graves.
By then, it was game over. As clever as she was beautiful, Rarity would take the now malleable opposition and tie them around her finger like a cute, little bow, charming them with her sweet words and sympathetic disposition into giving her the mine to sell the diamond. In most cases, they ended up doing so while thinking the fashionable lady had done them a favor by accepting.
The young couple hadn’t done this in quite a while as most everyone had learned to respect the young lady’s business savvy by now. But every so often, a new fool would appear who thought to blow aside her opinions solely because she had a pretty face. In those times, well... it should be fine to have just a little bit of fun, right?
Rarity laughed, the musical sound ringing through the kitchen as she took the marshal’s rough hand in her own. Platinum band sparkling in the light, she beamed at her husband and gave him a fond squeeze.
“It’s a date then,” she smiled, still giggling with anticipation at what now looked to be a very interesting meeting indeed. “In that case, I’ll see you at the office at around two?” The marshal grinned back.
“Wouldn’t miss it.”
It was then Graves spotted the clock on the wall.
“Ah, have to go now,” he said a he wolfed down the final, succulent crepe and washed it down with the last of his coffee. “Those grunts aren’t going to train themselves.”
“Just a moment, dear.” Standing up, Rarity walked over and straightened his clothes, making sure that his crimson cloak and burnished steel shoulder pad were properly aligned and suitably dashing. With a satisfied smile, she planted one last kiss on his lips.
“Have a good day, Graves,” she said with the warmest of voices.
“You too, Rarity,” he grinned, his own voice rich and strong. “Love you.”