Secrets of a Royal Guard

by Anzel

50. Our Canterlot Wedding - Part 2

My heart may have skipped so many beats that it stopped. Crystal had always been attractive to me, but today of all days, she looked more radiant than an alicorn. Princess Celestia paled in comparison to my wife-to-be.

Her white coat had been brushed to a pristine shine, flawless in every way. The same could be said for her blonde-and-pink mane, which was curled and done up in an elegant style seen within the royal court. The final touch was her dress, the color of champagne and trailing along behind her and her father.

She was beautiful, she was perfect, and very soon she’d be mine and I’d be hers.

I stared and locked that vision of her away in my heart. It was something I’d always want to remember. This was my Crystal Wishes. Even in the worst moment of her worst day, that was how I saw her. The Crystal in my head had now been manifested before me. A momentary glimpse into the ethereal that would never leave me.

A hush fell over the crowd as they admired the bride. The only sounds to be heard were the quartet’s melody and the sniffles of ponies overcome with her brilliance. As if floating on air, she and her father reached the arbor.

Major Virtue smiled and cleared his throat. “Who gives away this beautiful filly?”

Jet Set softly patted Crystal on the hoof and spoke loudly, “I do.” He then let her go and offered his hoof to me. “Remember,” was all he said as we shook.

The major waited until Jet Set was seated before beginning, “Crystal Wishes and Silent Knight, today you celebrate one of life’s greatest moments and give recognition to the harmony and beauty of friendship and love, as you’re joined together in the vows of marriage.”

Crystal looked over at me and I smiled at her. It had been a long road to get here.

“Marriage is the promise between two ponies who love each other, and who trust in that love, who honor one another, and who wish to spend the rest of their lives together.”

So much effort and time had gone into getting here. Me thinking Crystal and Velvet were a couple…

“ matter what challenges or successes you encounter together in the years before you…”

Me considering that Crystal wasn’t right for me because I was a guard…

“Today, your lives, which began on separate paths, will be joined as one.”

Just me being a fool in general. I was a lucky pony to have a mare as dedicated as her. What I’d done to deserve that, I’d probably never know.

Crystal smiled at me and then lightly nodded her head towards Major Virtue. I guess I’d been paying her too much attention.

The major continued, “At this time I’d like to draw your attention to the box beside Crystal and Silent.”

Just inside the arbor, an unassuming wooden box had been placed. There wasn’t much to it. Just four wooden sides, a top, and a bottom. It was very important, though.

“They have written letters to each other expressing the good qualities they find in one another, the reasons they fell in love, and their reasons for choosing to marry.”

My letter had been a little different than I assumed Crystal’s was. I prayed Crystal would never have to read mine. But if she did, I hoped it gave her peace with whatever I’d done wrong.

“These letters were sealed before they could be read. We will include these letters in the box along with a bottle of wine and two glasses. Should Crystal and Silent ever find their marriage facing hardships, they will open this box, sit and drink the wine together, then read the letters they wrote to one another to be reminded of the reasons why they are together.”
He then smiled. “The hope is, however, that Crystal Wishes and Silent Knight will never have a reason to open this box.” I certainly hoped he was right.

Major Virtue paused and looked at us. It was a subtle reminder to savor the moment. I think.

Then, he turned to Crystal. “Crystal Wishes. Today you commit your heart to a pony whose life is not completely within his control. A pony who has sworn other oaths beyond this one. Do you so swear to respect that, to live in harmony, loving what you know of him, and trusting that you will weather what you do not yet know? Will you respect his integrity and have faith in your mutual abiding love, through all your years, and in all that life may bring you?”

Crystal looked me in the eye and replied without hesitation, “I will.”

Then it was my turn. “Silent Knight. Today you commit your heart to a pony who’s chosen to give hers to a royal guard. A pony that may never fully understand our way of life. Do you swear to be considerate of that, to live in harmony, loving what you know of her, and trusting that you will weather what you do not yet know? Will you respect her feelings and have faith in your mutual abiding love, through all your years, and in all that life may bring you?”

My head bobbed in a certain nod. “I will.”

The major smiled. “And so you both shall. Traditionally, the passage to the status of wife and husband is marked by the exchange of rings. These rings are a symbol of the unbroken circle of love. Love freely given has no beginning and no end, no giver and no receiver, for each is the giver and each is the receiver. May these rings always remind you of the vows you have taken.”

He turned to Velvet. “Velvet Step, will you please give Crystal the ring?”

“Yes, sir,” Velvet replied before producing a simple blue band and offering it to Crystal.

Crystal’s magic captured it and slowly floated it towards me. I extended my left wing towards her and she carefully landed the band on a flight feather. Then she used a hoof to push it down further.

“Crystal Wishes, do you give this ring of your own free will and without reservation?”

“I do,” she replied.

He nodded and turned to my sister. “Winterspear, will you please give Silent Knight the ring?”

I turned back and Winterspear offered me the ring I’d picked for Crystal. It was a simple white gold band with two pink stones. It was designed to fit perfectly against her engagement ring.

Crystal ducked her head and offered her horn to me. Carefully, I slipped the ring over it and down to meet its mate.

“Silent Knight, do you give this ring of your own free will and without reservation?”

“I do,” I replied.

Major Virtue stomped his hoof twice. “You have made your marriage vows to one another, witnessed by your friends and family. You have sealed your vows with the giving and receiving of these rings. Silent Knight, you may now kiss the bride.”

Wedding kisses are different for everypony. Some are innocent and chaste. Some are sloppy and racy. Ours was simple and sweet. I took her forehoof in my own and, together, we leaned in to share a light smooch.

“Friends and family, princesses and guards, it is now my privilege and my honor to present to you for the very first time, Crystal Wishes and Silent Knight, wife and husband.”

Together, we turned to face all the ponies that had come out to spend the special day with us. Opposite us, Sunny and the arch detail silently marched up the runner between our guests.

They came to a stop at the first row of seats and Sunny ordered, “Center face!” She and the other five ponies did so, turning their sides to us and facing each other. “Arch sabres!” was the next order and the various swords carried were raised.

Most of them had no issue getting them high enough. Azurite’s small sword, however, was illuminated in her magic to hold it up high enough to touch its tip to Radiant Orchid’s. All of the ponies in attendance stood, the music swelled, and we started to head down the aisle.

We passed under the first two rows before Sunny and Rook’s swords came down, blocking our path. Crystal came to an abrupt stop and looked at me in confusion. I just smiled.

Then it happened. Orchid’s sword came down and swatted Crystal right on the rump, which earned a surprised gasp.

“Welcome to the Royal Guard,” Orchid said before the swords lifted once again and we made our way out of the garden and into the palace.

The following photo session with our family and wedding party, while supposedly important, was boring. It was also a lot like standing guard, just with lots of smiling. I stood there next to my beautiful bride while ponies around us swapped in and out. My family, her family, the bridesmares, the groomsponies, the princesses, and every combination in between.

At one point, I’m pretty sure some strangers snuck in solely to confuse us later when we would eventually go through the wedding album.

Then we went over to stand in the receiving line with my mother, her parents, and Princess Luna. Different place, different task, same instructions: stand and smile. Except this time, I had to say ‘thank you’ to every pony that was going to attend the reception.

In theory, it was a cute tradition where guests filled our saddlebags with everything we’d need to prepare our home for our new life together. In practice, for a wedding of this size, it was looking like we’d need at least two more saddlebags. Each. Thank Celestia that Runic hadn’t tried to stuff my gaming table into one.

Why were there so many ponies? I didn’t know all of them, and I doubted Crystal did, either. The first hundred or so I knew by name and face. Then we started to get into the grey areas. I suspected there was a certain mother-in-law responsible for the excessive guest list.

In less than ten seconds, Crystal had introduced me to Upper Crust’s family, a whole clan of ponies with similar names and big personalities. I just shook hooves with them as they went by to start stuffing gifts into the silk saddlebags beside Crystal.

Crystal prattled on, “And this is my mother’s associate Fran and her husband Fron.”

I shook both of their hooves. “A pleasure to meet you. Thank you for coming.”

“... and this is Walnut and Peabody…”

I shook both of their hooves. “A pleasure to meet you. Thank you for coming.”

“... Wigglesworth and Tiphooves…”

I shook both of their hooves. “A pleasure to meet you. Thank you for coming.”

“... Nightmare Moon and Queen Chrysalis…”

I shook both of their hooves. “A pleasure to meet you. Thank you for coming… wait, what?”

Crystal giggled and replied in a whisper, “Just kidding. We’re almost done. Try to smile a little and mix it up. We don’t want these ponies to think you’re not interested.”

“I don’t know these ponies,” I whispered back.

“I know… just fake it a little longer, dear. My mother is watching.”

I’m sure she was. Our wedding had turned into one of Canterlot’s premiere social events because of her. There was always an angle, even at a time like this. Either way, it was fine. Crystal was happy despite her mother’s machinations and that is really what was important.

As the last of the ponies in line shuffled by, I smiled for real and breathed a sigh of relief. That was one of our tasks completed.

All of our guests had headed into the reception area. Crystal looked over at me and smiled. “Are you ready for this?”

“As ready as I’ll ever be.”

Together, we made our way across the room and to the doors of the reception hall. Two palace guards pushed them open for us. As we crossed the threshold, somepony off to the side said loudly, “Ladies and gentleponies, may I present to you Mrs. Crystal Wishes and Mr. Silent Knight!”

All of the ponies in the room stomped their hooves and cheered loudly. It was a roar not unlike one at a Wonderbolts show. It actually felt really good. The last time I’d had a crowd cheering for me was when I was playing hoofball back during my Canterlot Academy days.

We stood there together and soaked it all in. The room was full of kind, happy eyes. Some teary, some filled with joy, but all warm. As the cheers died down the quartet started playing a soft, slow song.

I led Crystal to the dance floor and bowed to her. She curtseyed to me and we stood on our hindlegs. Carefully I looped my forehooves around her as we balanced delicately. This form of dancing was grueling, but it did look rather beautiful.

“We finally made it,” Crystal whispered to me as I led her through a slow turn.

“Yes, we did. It took a few years, but we did. I’m really glad you’re not a fillyfooler,” I teased.

She grinned. “Me, too.” Then I rolled her out, holding onto one forehoof before pulling her back in. The crowd oohed.

Months of practice were being put to the test as we glided as one through our routine. I’m not much of a dancer but this was something that was important to us both. It was the first thing we’d do together as a married couple.

We made a few more turns, another couple of boxes, and then I dipped her. I held her in my forehooves and we remained like that. The music drew to a close and the stomping started again.

Carefully, I brought Crystal up, gave her a soft kiss, and nodded to the crowd.

“Thank you, everypony! Please enjoy your dinner,” Crystal called as we made our way to the table reserved for us.

Said dinner was delightful. The roasted vegetables were seasoned to perfection. Of the four different sauces available, I’d picked the garlicky pesto over a bed of whole wheat bowtie noodles. There was cheesy bread that I had to steer Crystal away from, a big bowl of dandelion and spinach salad, and lots of crispy baked rose petals to snack on.

As ponies finished their meals, they started to migrate to the dance floor that was soon packed once the string quartet gave way to a swing band. Despite my desire to sit and stuff my face at least an hour longer, Crystal forced me to make our rounds for small talk with the guests.

To be honest, in my case, I was just talking to the ponies I knew and nodding politely at the rest. I had zero interest in rubbing hooves with the elites of Canterlot. Especially since we’d be leaving soon.

I’d just finished talking to Sunny when I spotted Exemplar Ferrel standing by herself, relatively obscured behind a potted plant, in a corner.

I trotted over and said, “You made it. I didn’t see you at the ceremony, so I thought you’d decided against showing up.” I offered what I hoped was a sincere smile. “You look nice.”

The exemplar had her mane styled in a cascade of curls and she was wearing a pale yellow dress. It was extremely simple, but also very elegant.

“Thank you. I saw it, though. The ceremony. I was hiding in the rose wall. It seemed better to be further away from the alicorns and unicorns on your side. My fear was that I’d have some sort of speaking vision during your ceremony. I did not wish for that.”

I honestly hadn’t thought of that. “Oh… well, thank you. I’m glad you came. I wouldn’t be having a ceremony if it wasn’t for you.”

She smiled and shrugged. “Any pony is worth saving, but some more than others. Your road has been tough. You’ve earned a reward.”

That was probably the least unnerving thing she’d ever said to me. “Thank you. Truly.”

“You’ll be leaving soon.”

I bobbed my head. “Yes, right after the wedding.”

“So soon?”

I chuckled. “We didn’t want to wait.”

“I suppose that is valid. The sooner you go, the sooner you can return.”

“Uh, yes, correct.” I wasn’t thinking of my honeymoon that way but then I wasn’t sure the exemplar did vacations. “So, how’re things at the temple?”

“They are well. The exarch has recently sent more guards and we’re getting them settled. Tranquil is settled, too. She has quite a talent for potions and medicine.”

“She’s a smart pony for sure. Well… I should probably go speak to a few more guests. Try to enjoy yourself some. It certainly won’t hurt my feelings if you have a vision. Cut loose.”

The unicorn idly bobbed her head. “Very well. I’ll see about that.”

I wandered off and started to mix in with the crowd. Pleasantries were exchanged with various ponies as I tried to figure out who I hadn’t really associated with that I wanted to.

Crystal was doing the same but she was slowly working her way towards me. Eventually we wormed through all our friends and family to reach each other.

“Have you spoken to everypony you wanted to?” she asked softly, nuzzling close.

“No, probably not even half of them. I keep trying but there are so many. It’s all a blur.”

She smiled and kissed my cheek. “I know that feeling. It is probably time for your toast, though. Perhaps you can try again after?”

My toast… yes. It was traditional that the officer getting married at a Royal Guard wedding made a toast. Fun.

Together, we went over to the small platform that had been set up for just this purpose. As we did so most of the ponies in the room fell silent. One of the wait staff brought me a bottle of champagne and, after fighting with it a bit, I managed to get it open and poured two glasses.

Politely, I tapped on my glass a few times and everypony fell silent. All eyes were on me, a couple hundred pairs more than normal, but as I looked out at the sea of ponies, I realized they weren’t strangers. They were my friends and family and would be okay with what I said.

“Those of you that know me best know I’m not one for speaking in front of crowds. To be frank, Crystal had to help me write most of this toast so that I could practice in advance. Otherwise, I’d be too nervous to give it.

“When I look out at all of you tonight, however, I’m not nervous. I’m not nervous at all. I know one third of you, I’m excited to get to know another third of you, and for the rest… well, I hope you’re enjoying your free meal at the palace.” I winked.

The room yielded some laughs and light chuckles.

“I arrived in Canterlot many years ago knowing only one thing: that I was to be a royal guard. That was my drive. That was my motivation. It was what I was meant to do and I had to excel at it and, without sounding too much like a braggart, I think I have… but that isn’t the whole story.

“Focusing solely on being a royal guard doesn’t lend itself to becoming a pony that knows how to live. In fact, it doesn’t prepare you for much of anything that life has to offer and, in a few short years, I’ve learned that life has a lot to offer.”

I turned to the first table where Winterspear, Runic, Shining Armor, Iridescence, Princess Luna and a few others sat. “Like the deep bonds of loyalty between siblings or the humorous antics of a cousin willing to do anything to make you laugh. Then there is the value of an honest mentor that only wants what is best for you and is willing to call you out when you’re wrong.

“And you have friends. Ponies who give generously of themselves when we need it or who treat us with kindness we sometimes don’t even feel we deserve. Life has given me all of those things and one thing more: love.

“Life offers us all love. The love of family, the love of friends, and the love of a special pony. For me, that special pony is Crystal. She has been the guiding star of my life recently and even when things were stormy I could always see her. It was as if by magic she could cut through the gales and get right to me.

“I ask you all now. Please lift your glasses and join me in a toast to Crystal Wishes. A mare far better than a pony like me deserves.”

“To Crystal Wishes,” the ponies in the room replied, raising their glasses. Then they politely stomped their hooves.

“Thank you, everypony,” I said before turning to my wife and kissing her softly. “Okay, speech done.”

She laughed and patted me on the cheek. “Yup, you’re free. Go have fun.”

The reception was showing no signs of winding down. There were ponies on the dance floor, ponies at the bar, ponies at the tables, and generally just ponies everywhere. Casually, I wandered through the crowd before I was set upon by a pair of alicorn sisters.

Princess Celestia peered down at me and then said to her sister, “He looks sleepy.”

Princess Luna nodded. “Indeed. Though hopefully not too sleepy.”

“Oh, yes, he still has a few more duties to attend.”

“The threshold being the most important one,” Princess Luna put in.


I frowned. “Hi, I’m right here.”

“Oh, he can still speak,” Princess Luna teased. “Did you have fun tonight, little stallion?”

“I did, very much. Thank you both for allowing us to have the wedding here and doing all of this. It was really more than a pony could ask for.”

Princess Celestia smiled. “It was our pleasure. We have one more gift for you, though.”

“Another? Aren’t you concerned you’ll spoil me… or, actually, my wife who is already going to be expecting me to buy her a palace after all this?”

“Spoiling Crystal Wishes is fun for us,” Princess Luna said with an unsettling grin.

“I… what.” This didn’t sound good. Not good at all. “Okay?”

Princess Celestia softly nosed her sister. “Don’t do that, he’s had enough stress for the day.”

“Fine, fine,” Princess Luna huffed. “Go ahead, sister.”

“Thank you. Our last gift is for you and Crystal Wishes to stay the night in the suite reserved for visiting dignitaries. We wanted to send you off on your honeymoon in the best possible mood.”

Another night in the palace? A night in the most exclusive suite in the kingdom? My marriage was going to be ruined, and it had only just started. “That—That’s too much, Princesses!”

Princess Luna looped her hooves around me and gave me a tight hug. “Enjoy it! We’ll see you when you return, and you can tell us everything.”

I embraced her for a moment and held fast. It was bittersweet. Returning from my honeymoon meant moving to the Crystal Empire and leaving my beloved princess. This was, more or less, the end. That was alright, though. Life changes. It always changes.

Slowly, we parted, and I said, “Thank you. Thank you both for everything. I wouldn’t be the pony I am without either of you.”

Princess Celestia smiled. “We are very proud of you, Silent Knight. You’ve chosen a fine mare. May you have a beautiful life together.”

“And many, many, many foals for me to play with,” Princess Luna added hastily.

Many foals? We’d just gotten married!

“Yes, well, thank you.” I bowed before hurrying over to Crystal without looking back. “The princesses have given us leave to use a special suite for tonight. I don’t know about you, but I’m wiped out. I would also like to leave before the princesses scheme further than they already have.”

Crystal arched her brow at me, but relented with a nod. “I don’t think anypony still awake would miss us at this point.” She looped her forehoof around my leg and sidled close. “Take me to bed, then.”

There was a bit of heat crawling up my cheeks at her choice of words and the sly look in her eyes. It appeared the princesses weren’t the only ones scheming, but I liked it when it was my wife.

My wife. I mulled over that word as we walked lazily through the palace towards the dignitaries’ suite, leaving the party behind. She wasn’t just my mare anymore. She was no longer my fiancée or bride-to-be.

Crystal Wishes was my wife, and I was her husband. Finally, everything made sense in my life.

There were palace guards standing outside the massive double doors that led to the extravagant sleeping quarters. Both stood to attention before pulling the doors open for us. I truly hoped Crystal was comfortable being with a regular pony.

We stood there together, looking into the brightly lit suite beyond the threshold. Everything within sight was beyond the term ‘extravagant’ and more like ‘luxury the likes of which we’ll never experience again.’

Softly, I bumped my wing against her side. “Are you ready, Mrs. Wishes?”

“I am, Mr. Knight,” she said with a smile.

I crouched down low. Moving in her dress was hard enough. Climbing onto the back of a standing stallion in it would have been near impossible.

Somehow, Crystal did it with grace and poise. She settled onto my back and curled her hindlegs under herself. With a teasing authority, she commanded, “Onwards, husband.”

“Yes, wife,” I replied before walking her through the archway and into the suite.

There was a soft but resounding thud as the doors shut behind us.

That was it, the last tradition was complete. We’d begun the day apart, our lives separate and incomplete. Tomorrow, we would start anew as one, and I couldn’t imagine any mare I’d rather share that union with for the rest of my life.