• Published 24th Oct 2012
  • 9,805 Views, 87 Comments

Happily Ever After - Benman

Shining Armor will do anything to save his marriage. Anything.

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“Cadie! There you are! I’ve been looking everywhere for you.” My husband walks up to the banister beside me. We’re on the mezzanine above the Summer Ballroom of Canterlot Palace. Up here, we have an unobstructed view of the dance floor. Dozens of ponies spin in time to the orchestra. They look so happy. I should be among them.

"Sorry, Shine.” I raise my eyes. “I needed to get away for a minute.”

He leans a shoulder against the balcony and grins at me. “Just tell me next time, is all.” That smile… I know it’s for me. I don’t know if it’s from my husband. Is it really him, or is it the thing I planted in his head?

“Of course,” I say. I look back to the dancers below. With their fabulous dresses and dashing suits, they look almost as good as we do. The two of us must look perfect from the outside. “It’s a beautiful view, isn’t it?”

“Mm hm.” His eyes haven’t left my face. “Beautiful.” Would he have stared at me like that, before? I think I remember that look from our courtship. That’s probably the real Shining Armor looking at me. I lean in to kiss him, but by the time I’m done analyzing, the Wonderbolt captain has showed up. I smile politely while my husband introduces us.

She launches into a joke about tactics or something. Shining Armor does a good job of feigning interest. I’m pretty sure the Wonderbolt doesn’t notice how his eyes keep darting towards me. Was he always this impatient when somepony came between us? Maybe I’m just seeing it more, now that I’m looking for it. I don’t know.

Shining Armor deftly extracts us from the conversation. I take hold of his shoulder and steer him towards the wide marble stairs that sweep down to the dance floor. “Come on, Shine,” I say. “Let’s show those ponies how it’s done.” He always loved to dance, even way back before he found his cutie mark. I’m sure that part of him is really him.

We join the dancers just as the orchestra strikes up a stately waltz. I lean my left shoulder against his right, and it begins. The three-beat tempo suffuses me, and we canter in harmony, reading each other’s movements almost before they begin. Forgetting everything, I throw myself into it, savoring a rapport with him that transcends words, transcends magic, transcends doubt. I barely notice when one song ends and another begins, and another, and another. I’m floating, buoyed up by his touch and the force of the music.

And then the music stops. The ball is over. Some ponies have left. The rest are leaving.

I wipe the sweat from my brow. I’m grinning like a filly. “That was wonderful,” I say.

“As always,” he says. “Wait here a moment. I have to do something.”

He trots away. I stand there, wondering what he’s up to. He grabs one of the garlands adorning the walls and picks through it.

Flowers. He’s bringing me flowers. Shining Armor was never this trite, before. He never tried to prove he loved me. He didn’t have to. This isn’t him at all.

I can’t keep doing this.

No. I have to do this. Leaving now would destroy him. If I had been braver, if I had left before, then the wounds would have healed, even if it took years. It’s too late for that now. I don’t think he can ever stop loving me, no matter what happens. Even more, I did this to him. It’s my fault. No, don’t think that. It’s my responsibility.

It would be easier if I didn’t love him anymore. Then I would only have to fake it. As it is, I can’t stop myself from reaching out again and again, never knowing if I’ll find my Shining Armor or the facsimile I put in his place. He has no idea. As long as he loves me like this, he has to think I’m happy.

Wait. There might be a way out of this after all. If I did this to him, maybe I can undo it. I’ve never thought of using magic to remove love before. I hate that I’m even considering it. It would be kinder, though. I could stop living like this. We could go back to the way we were before. He would be in control of his own life again. That would be worth it. Wouldn’t it?

I focus. Magic builds behind my forehead. It feels wrong. Of course it does. This goes against the core of who I am, against everything I’ve ever done. The realization doesn’t even slow me down.

I wonder if I’ll be able to control the enchantment. It took practice before my magic could create exactly the amount of love I wanted. If I’m too clumsy with this spell, he could come to hate me. That might be easier. We’d both be able to move on.

I try to release the magic. Nothing happens. The spell won’t come together. I try again, harder. Pain flares in my temples. Nothing else. It seems my magic doesn’t work like this. I can only create, not destroy. That should make me happy. I let the power dissipate unspent. I feel hollow.

Soon enough, he comes back with his bouquet. He’s picked out deep violets, pink lilacs, and pale yellow peonies. He bows as he presents them to me. “I’ve been looking at these all night,” he says. “They remind me of your mane. I was thinking, I get to look at you all day long, but you don’t. It doesn’t seem fair. Maybe these will give you some idea of how beautiful you are to me.”

This is all wrong. The words are lovely, but I married a hero, not a poet.

“That’s sweet,” I say. “They’re delightful.”