• Published 24th Oct 2012
  • 9,798 Views, 87 Comments

Happily Ever After - Benman

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

  • ...

Shining Armor

Shining Armor

This is everything I ever wanted. The evening couldn’t have gone better. We haven’t danced like that since the wedding. My life is perfect.

I’m about to climb into bed. I stop for a moment to admire her. She’s already asleep. The sheets trace the soft curve of her shoulder. Her coat almost glows in the starlight. I could stare at her for hours. Some nights, I do just that.

I slip under the covers and snuggle against her. She murmurs into my neck. The sound makes my heart soar. She loves me with all her heart, and the world is exactly the way it should be.

I remember that I once had trouble loving her. I can't remember why. She saved me, though. She was so worried about changing who I am, but that didn't happen at all. Her magic brought back the real me, the one that loves her like she deserves. She is such an incredible pony. Her love is everything to me. I'm so lucky to have it.

I wonder what our children will look like. I hope they have her eyes.

I am the happiest pony in the world.

Comments ( 72 )

Ben have you been reading my secret wish diary again because I wanted something like this so bad

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I have previously described this as "the story where I go full Vimbert," so basically yes.

It's hard to quantify if this piece wants for expansion, or if its brutally short length serves its purpose here. On the one hand, it might be nice to have a little more development on what's causing Shining Armor's waning love for Cadance. On the other hand, this is a feeling many folks will come to recognize right away -- when something they think defines them and gives their lives direction fails to give them that same assurance, day after day, and that it's their fault that they're allowing this to happen.

There's no neat answer to the question Ben proposes here, and I think that ambiguity makes this story worth reading -- if only to have readers interrogate what they consider their passions and the shadows they cast over their lives. [/overly pretentious bullshit]

... :raritydespair:

so... depressing... have an upvote, cuz it's good. But I think I'm just gonna go... go to bed. I don't feel like being awake anymore.

You know, I've read a lot of fics. A lot. Most of them are long because the author is convinced that in order to get their point across, or to explain in detail, or to make sure someone gets the joke, they need a few hundred words per point, explanation or joke. I myself am occasionally like that. This fic, on the other hand, is the perfect example, and I mean the perfect example of how you don't need to write a million words to write a well written, excellent piece and still have it reach out and touch someone.

You're an excellent writer, and I'm glad I took the time to read this jewel of a story.

Hmm, quite the tragedy Indeed I have to say, and ironic too if one thinks about it. At first Shining Armor is faced with a dilemma where he questions his absolute love for his wife as he feel hollow inside, where as Cadence's love is absolute. Now, it seems that Cadence is faced with the same dilemma that his lover was placed in, even with the enchanted Shining Armor's absolute love (much to Cadence dismay) is not enough to comfort her. Makes me wonder how terrible Shining Armor ordeal was before he made his wife enchanted him. Maybe this goes this goes with a saying (there is quote for this I think, but I forgot so bear with me here) that time apart strengthens the love, as love do get stale to a prolonged exposure as do friendship.

Anyhow, really good short story. You got me interested into seeing more of your worked. Best of luck my friend, best regards :eeyup:

I tried reading this as 'alternate universe where Chrysalis never revealed herself', and it worked.:twilightoops:

EqD Additional Tags: Cadence's Special Talent Is Terrifying

QFT, and tracking. Will read later.

Turned the cliche on its head. SA is the one asking to be mind zapped.

At least it's not mindless shallow love like the love poison.

This is kinda dark. I like. I wonder if Cadence could cast the spell on herself.

Oh, oh shit.

At least it's not as bad as it could be.

wow...nice job. For being so short it portrays alot...nice job

Shining couldn't take the roller coaster of love (and life) so he decided to have his wife enchant him so that the coaster would always be high and never low. A common dilemma for couples of all origins, and a very nice narrative to illustrate this point. Very well done sir.


Nicely written. I can't really give it an upvote just for that, though. The portrayal of weak-willed, wishy-washy Shining and brainwasher Cadance is so far outside my headcanon for these characters that I could only buy this as an AU fic. Still, it's a superb example of what can be done in a few thousand words - "brevity is the soul of wit" and all that - and for that alone it probably deserves its EQD feature.



This, would make this one of the darkest works of the fandom, especially if we had an outside prospective after the final enchantment.

Very nice piece. Brief, but well characterised, and entertaining for what it is.

Reminds me of The Monkey's Paw, if Mr. White didn't make that third wish. Easy upvote.

An interesting little gem of thought. Cadance's special talent is fucking terrifying. :twilightoops:

Yeah... It is pretty scary. FORCED Love is the worst kind, especially when it's the hardest thing to get out of.

This fic is a bit suspeneseful, in a good way that is.MORE.CHAPTERS!! :flutterrage:

Does her special talent technically count as Brain Rape??? :unsuresweetie:

And this is why I would rather bite a bullet than be mind controlled. Free will is the only thing that we can truly have.

Jesh, uplifting and really depressing at the same time.
Good show.

Huh, this makes me think more about the two arguing ponies in the show.
If her magic really works that way... oh man, that's messed up. :fluttershbad:

Incredible. Well written and straight to the point. And more importantly, lived up to that tragedy tag.
Good job! :pinkiehappy:

ouch, right in the feels:applecry:

As much as mind control creeps me right the hell out... I also happen to believe damn near anything is justified with proper consent. He asked her for it, and he's happy. I feel sorry for Cadance, but only in that she has trouble accepting what Shining has become. He may have changed, but the last chapter tells me he's not just a mindless zombie. He's a real pony who feels genuine love for his wife.

I'm as surprised as anyone, but... I'm okay with this.

What Cadance should be doing is getting to know Shining as a whole person, rather than trying to suss out which parts of him are "fake". Communicate and understand; don't soak yourself in silent doubt and suspicion.

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Sweet Celestia yes thank you someone gets it.

Cadence's mistake isn't using mind control, it's using mind control in a stupid way.

The tragedy isn't that Shining Armor is different than he was before. The tragedy is that his happiness is built on a precarious foundation of lies and willful ignorance.

Loved every second of this story. When I saw the season 2 finale, that's what terrified me the most about Cadence, is how dangerously subtle her powers can be. Messing around with another's mind is something never done lightly :pinkiecrazy:

Have a favorite and thumb up :twilightsmile:

You have struck me right in the soul. YOU WILL BUY ME A NEW ONE.

You know...Shining might be right.

Maybe he really is okay. It really is him.

But Cadence can't accept that now. She's trapped always doubting, and it is tearing her apart.

Oh Shinie...why couldn't you understand that if you really loved her, she needed you to do it the natural way?

Kind of a depressing story. I would wonder what she would do after shining dies. How that would torment her for the rest of her rather long life. But still a great story.

You know, perhaps I'm thinking this a little to "technically" but at the beginning when Shining Armor mentioned that his love was decreased I figured it was due primarily to Queen Chrysalis feeding off of his love for Cadance. Basically, his former boundless supply of love (enough to defeat the Princess Celestia!) had been getting sucked dry by the queen of the changelings... but amazingly he's still got enough left in him to want to stick with his beloved.

I was kind of expecting an epic journey where they track down Chrysalis to somehow get his love back or at least ensure nopony else suffers this fate.

But all in all this was a nice take on Cadances power, albeit a sort of 'glass half empty' sort of take on it. Instead of treating Cadances magic as a temporary thing, like a little 'push' to get two lovers to admit they love eachother and build on it naturally it treats it as if Cadances magic is a permanent effect. I guess it's like the differences between bandages and an artificial heart. Bandages are temporary, to stop the bleeding so that the body can heal itself naturally, at which point the bandage is removed and life goes on. An artificial heart however is a permanent thing, it can save a life but you'll always know that the heart isn't your "real" one. Unless of course one can somehow remove the artificial heart and regrow or restore the original... which would be an extremely risky feat involving alot of resources.

Though... since I found this in the LessWrong group, I kind of expected this to be about Shining seeking immortality or something, at the very least so he can stay with Cadance.

Anyway, great story. I admit I feel kind of guilty posting these ideas because it feels like criticism, but the fact that you posted a story and I didn't means you have every right to feel proud. I'd just love to see your next stories and how they improve.

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I was kind of expecting an epic journey where they track down Chrysalis to somehow get his love back

You are the third or fourth person to suggest taking this concept in a changeling-oriented direction. I stayed away from that intentionally for this fic, but I find myself hoping someone else takes the time to explore that route.

since I found this in the LessWrong group, I kind of expected this to be about Shining seeking immortality or something

Not every story with rationalist themes is about a quest for a deathless utopia. Then again, I'm also writing something along those lines, so you may be on to something. (If you want me to add you to my stable of beta readers, send me a PM. I could use a LessWrongian perspective on the next draft.)

I admit I feel kind of guilty posting these ideas because it feels like criticism

Receiving thoughtful critique is a positive, not a negative. Heck, it's about half the reason I post this stuff publicly instead of letting it sit on my hard drive.

im sorry, i jusr did not liked it,it was too fast and not dramatic, besides, it contradicts cadance canon who loved shining way too much.

im aware not many people share my thoughts as few people disliked it, i think that a longer story would be perferc, who knows, maybe crysalis could enter as she could eat love

I have never before felt such drama and tragedy in a package as concise as this one. In my opinion, every sentence and scene was executed with absolute efficiency in delivering the story. I never felt like the story was becoming too simple or not dramatic enough due to such brevity. It's a brief burst of such strong emotion- a literary bullet to the heart- that earns a thumbs-up and a fave from me. I'll definitely be left lingering, thinking about this fic for the next few days.

Also, the fact that the solution to Shining Armor's misery causes Cadence to herself become miserable is a beautiful piece of irony.
Please, continue.

This really makes you think. Is a fake fix a fix? Is it even fake if he would willingly allow his mind to be messed with? Congrats on a story that provokes a lot of thought. I'll probably be pondering this one for a while.

Sad, kind of depressing, with an increasingly pronounced vein of horror as the implications of the mind magic sink in. I like it.

:applecry: and he has no idea.


Well, that was dark. And not even in a gruesome or even emotionally wrecking way, but delivered in perhaps it's most striking form; with subtlety. And it deal well with other questionable themes like 'do the ends justify the means?' I'm reminded of that one saying that Kkat kept using in Fallout: Equestria, about the road to Hell being paved with the best intentions.

s1.evcdn.com/images/block/I0-001/011/238/448-8.jpeg_/v-vendetta-48.jpeg : "I'm not here for what you had intended to do... I'm here for what you did."

Even though it's short, it hits what it needs to quickly and with intense prejudice. Shining and Cadence's concerns are perfectly established and their anxiety well characterized. And that ending leaves me with a queasy feeling in my gut, and composes a sinister dance between an explanation and ambiguity. Has Shining really had the unmitigated passion of new love restored, or is he just an unknowing slave to his own alien compulsions? And if it's the latter like I'm deducing that it is, it just makes it even more disturbing and dark. Sometimes, the most terrible things aren't entirely dark, but have just noticeable enough of sparse remaining shreds of light and goodness in them to remind observers of what a mocking counterfeit it is.

And how you managed to so snuggle fit all of that into less than three thousand words? Truly remarkable! And not just because I'm fully capable of writing reviews that are longer than any of the given chapters you've written here.

This brings up another thought that others in the fandom have brought up before me, but still begs to be asked here; how is it that the 'Want It, Need It' spell is looked upon with such scorn but what Cadence is not only capable of doing but is the one thing that she's better than anypony at; forcing ponies to fall in love, is looked upon without batting an eye? Hell, while I'm at it, how could this extraordinary juxtaposition exist when both 'A Canterlot Wedding' and 'Lesson Zero' were written by the exact same writer? I'm not even making that one up; Wikipedia that sh:yay:t. And as long as I'm going off tangent, how could the same writer behind 'Lesson Zero,' not only my favorite episode by one of the most liked episodes in the series (and fortuitously ironic enough, the first episode I ever saw) also be the one to have written something so terrible, so nauseating, and so awful that just thinking about it makes me shudder like Angry Joe waking past a copy of Sonic Free Riders? So atrocious that just saying it's name makes me feel drenched in fear; the... *gulp*... The Crystal Empire?

And I'll send you a cookie if you can spot the subtle In Flames reference in the last paragraph... I've gone way off tangent....

This actually reminds me of my last (and to date, first and only) relationship; I was so desperate to hold everything together that I was willing to give up everything about myself to be remade in a blasphemy more comparable with her. That never happened, but it still didn't keep it from failing miserably and sending itself off on a dead man's march to the shore where dead ships dwell.

And this isn't an exact match by context, but I found it's theme to be oddly, eerily fitting.

Not to spoil anything, but we The Brothers were actually planning on touching onto similar themes in our own ongoing premiere story. Even though it isn't the main focus, I hope we'll be able to write something as evoking as what you've written here, because it sure as sh:yay:t won't be as concise.

- Christian '#12' Harisay

I find it very uplifting that Shining Armor's far-mode Want-To-Wants (love for Cadence as an ideal) conquered his near-mode Wants that could have destroyed his relationship. Shining Armor's volition won against himself.

At least in the show, Cadence uses her love powers on ponies without asking them. For possibly the first time, she's cast the spell with proper consent...and she's now obsessing over "whether his love is real." (Obviously it's real. What would generate those feelings other than a part of his mind? Sure, she may have modified him a bit, but that doesn't make the actual feelings he's experiencing less real.) What of all the other ponies she's modified without consent (and with nary a thought)? What's train-wreck of logic generated her main complaint: "we'd know"? Why would she think modification by time and chance is more real than modification instrumental to a goal?

Still, if she ever climbs out of the ridiculous trap of "but it wouldn't be me" or "it wouldn't be real," there's a straightforward solution to her worries: we got to see it used in the first chapter. Doctor, heal thyself.

1778765 I touched lightly on my own take on this aspect of the story, but your insight is a nice place to kick off from,.. if, um, that's alright with you....

Maybe I'm just reading something into it that isn't there, but part of the tragedy of this for me is that I wasn't left with a definitive conclusion over whether or not Shining is still himself. If he is, than the tragedy lies in that now Cadence is the one left in a superfluous state of unease and paranoia because she's fretting over a non-existent issue. If he isn't, then they're even farther apart now because Shining's love isn't real and Cadence just screwed up big time. Whichever way it is; it strikes the final down-trodden chord of a true tragedy, where our protagonists either learn nothing or end up worse for wear, and/or the dilemma they were facing either never solved or upon it's correction something even worse rose to take it's place.

However, I believe it not the conundrum of 'twu wuv' but the flaws of our protagonists within this story that make such a dragon out of the gecko.

In Shining's case, why is he making such a big deal out of this? Cadence's words about love changing when it matures should have been the words to wash away his woe. Though they may feel synonymous, unrelenting passion is not the same as pure love. That perceived cooling down is just the process of getting psychologically accustomed to having that love in your life, and changing to focus on longevity that if properly nurtured should last for eternity. Change isn't necessarily a bad thing; one can't remain a child forever for instance. Maturity makes you give up something but replaces it with it's next logical evolutionary step, and is necessary for self improvement. If love is a marathon, it's one that can't be sprinted on forever.

But here's a thought provoking inquiry; if Shining is worried that he's losing his love for Cadence, shouldn't fear be the proper response? I'd think this would only be a problem if he thought this was him getting bored and the solution would be to get another mare. But since he's terrified of that happening and swears it never will, why is this still an issue then? He has a standard to hold himself to now, and having a virtuous moral code to honor can only make one stronger. The alternative would be to have no exercise of morality, and that which is never challenged grows weak. Life and love aren't meant to be beds of thornless roses; sometimes it rains on your picnic... or an equinsectile succubus and her army of parasitic monsters crash your wedding. True love is a perpetual cycle of investments and returns; you receive what you give, so this should be like nothing. And even if you feel like sh:yay:t, at least you feel something. The tenacity of love isn't gauged in how hot it gets when the going is good, but how well it can endure the inevitable dry spells.

So in short, he shouldn't have been so worried by the first signs of the fire calming, and have some damn faith in himself. And prove he can weather this storm of unrest with diligence. "Patience;" it's more than just a Guns 'n Roses song.

Cadence, on the other hand (other hoof?) you hit pretty much right on the head. If the love she inspires is genuine, the what the hell is the damn problem? If it isn't and her magic deceives those it is used on by giving them the false idea that this love the feel is their own, then why the hell was she going about unbridled and planting thoughts in ponies minds with her magical inception spells like Dominic Cobb, the ship-fic writer?

Her real issue strikes me as a problem with emotional connections. We add infer and ingrain emotional inflections and weight to any given concept for our psyche to comprehend it's importance to us. The problem however is that since women tend to be much more emotionally driven and motivated than men (or inversely, mares and stallions), those emotional annotations tend to boast more relevance than reality. This is just observation here, but I've noticed that there's this stupid game that a lot of women play all the time where they expect to be surprised with what they wanted all along. They won't given their romancers any hints thought, because if they have to ask for it it's not as serendipitous as being "surprised" by it. But it's a catch 22, since it can't be received unless wishes are made known and advice given, but they don't want to give any hints since "it wouldn't bee the same..." even if it's otherwise exactly as they wanted it. It's why brides can become such b:yay:tches when their wedding (only theirs, by the way; not theirs and her husbands') isn't going "perfect" because "it's not how I've been planning it ever since I was a little girl."

So what does all this have to do with Cadence? Well, if her magic isn't an equivalent of infiltrating somepony's subconscious through there dreams to plant the false thought; 'I am in love with ---', then why is she so troubled? The truth seems to be isn't that she's lamenting for the sake of her husband, because he's happy; she's lamenting for herself. What bothers he isn't that "we'd know," because he knows and he's perfectly fine; what she means is "I'd know." Likewise, if his love is the same and she really did fix him, then what she really means when she says "it wouldn't be the same" is "it wouldn't be the same... for me." She may fool herself into thinking she's sorrowful for her husband, but in truth she's sorrowful for herself, because the solution didn't come the way she wanted it to. If that scene where Shining gives her the bouquet had happened without her using her magic on him, would her reaction have been along the lines of 'You're not the stallion I fell in love with!', or would it have been more like 'Oh, Shining, that's so romantic! *smoochies*'

And if she really did destroy her love to spawn a mockery of a doppelganger with a false fire burning in his heart and a smile carved onto his face, WHY THE F:yay:CK DID SHE DO THE SAME TO SO MANY OTHER PONIES?!?

Perhaps that's a role that a man and woman are suppose to take in a marriage; the woman supplements the emotional support, the man provides the logical grounding.

Maybe that's the real nature of this tragedy; how they both needlessly wrecked themselves over something so insignificant.

But that's just more over-written take on this tale.

- Christian 'An In Flames reference a day keeps the Twistentacles away' Harisay

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What's train-wreck of logic generated her main complaint: "we'd know"? Why would she think modification by time and chance is more real than modification instrumental to a goal?

I’m not sure logic has anything to do with it. Cadence’s reaction is based loosely on my former self. A couple years ago, I was prescribed medication and had some similar doubts about whether the changes would be “real.” Those thoughts were more of a knee-jerk response and less of a well-reasoned objection. (Unlike Cadence, I was able to talk through these things, and eventually dissolve the question entirely.)

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I wasn't left with a definitive conclusion over whether or not Shining is still himself.

What does it mean, exactly, for Shining to be “still himself”? Would he still be himself if Cadence had changed his mind by talking to him? How would you tell changes like that apart from the changes we see in the story?

1791541 Is Shining still himself as in, is the love he feels for Cadence genuinely his own, or is he driven and acting upon motivations that the spell has forced upon him, thus making himself a mind slave to his own emotions?

It's ironic that you bring up medication because I was in a similar predicament back when I was in high school. I was suffering from maddening depression, and though I was never diagnosed or medication never prescribed, whenever talk about possibly taking anti-depressants came up I would reject it almost instantly because I knew anti-depressants don't "cure" depression, they just suppress functions of certain neurotransmitters. So really, sh:yay:t like Zoloft is as much a bonafide solution to dealing with such deep-seeded distress as pumping school children full of Ritalin is a legitimate way to get them too calm down.

But I digress. In response to Shining "being himself" if he'd have come to the same stage of development through Cadence just talking to him, he would have still 'been himself' because then he would have come to those conclusions of his own fruition. But submitting himself to the influence of magic, even if it's just empowering his own real love, is the wrong way to go about strengthening their marriage. In that case, Cadence is right, because a healthy relationship shouldn't need those kinds of subsidies to stay strong... but then that begs the question as to why the animate version of the 'Want it, Need it' spell was so liberal with her use of it in the past.

Hmm, that actually sounds like an idea for another fiction, about ponies being animate incarnations of specific spells. But I again digress.

It's sort of like in (WARNING: Possible Spoilers) BioShock, asking the question, was Jack really himself before he learned the significance of the phrase "would you kindly?" Or in Inception, was Robert Fischer still entirely himself after Cobb's merry band of criminals invaded his dreams?

And speaking of Inception....

- Christian 'Mr. Charles' Harisay


this is fucking glorious.

Go Team SadPorn! Fuck all these shipfics where the couple overcome one friggin conflict, then live in bliss for the rest of their lives. *fuck* that shit. That ain't how romantic love works, dammit lol. :ajsmug:

Perfect length too.

Not bad. Not bad at all. Enjoyed it.

1781448 My feeling is that Cadence has never really questioned the moral implications of her magic before, she has always just been carrying out a role separate from her own personal life (like a doctor or psychiatrist who has never treated a family member.) Part of the tragedy is that she always took love for granted and left it unexamined, so when she comes to a very common crisis she takes an easy way out rather than working through it.

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