• Published 7th Feb 2013
  • 1,269 Views, 42 Comments

Love, in Other Words - Mickey Dubs

A story about the varying experiences of some of Ponyville's citizens as they learn the meaning of family, friendship, and what Hearts and Hooves Day means for them and the ones they care about.

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"May I come in, your Highness?"

A stallion's white head and horn poked around the massive door held open by his shaggy hoof, followed quickly by his proud, armored chest. The straps and buckles which he bore shone with an obvious polish and attentive care, and his hair was kept as trimmed as it always had been: without a single blue hair out of place. Although his voice trembled slightly in hesitation, the rest of his lean and powerful form was proudly erect, stalwart and indefatigable. He was the very model of a true Captain of the Guard.

"One moment please, Shining Armor," was his Princess's curt, but kind, reply. Lowering her head once again, his Princess spoke some final words to a pegasus guard before her, her body resting on her padded dais as the two sat in discussion. The pegasus was not one with whom Shining Armor was familiar, for he knew every guard under his command. This foreigner bore upon his shoulder a crest from another city, so much less ornate than the one which Shining Armor wore proudly on his own chest. His dirty-crimson mane was uncovered and much longer than was customary. He was a guard, no doubt, but lacked the obstinacy and wholehearted dedication which was the undeniable trademark of the soldiers under his command.

He must have been a normal keeper of the peace, stationed in some town far away to watch for signs of trouble both foreign and domestic. He was a tad rustic perhaps, a bit out of practice in the art of soldiery, but despite where he came from or how he acted the pegasus was well versed in how best to address his Princess. He rose to his hooves only after his Princess had done so, prostrated himself before her as she leaned her head down in return, and raised himself from his bow only when she herself had risen. With a nod to signify their business had ended, he gave a final smile and an audible "thank you, Your Highness" before turning towards the door from whence he came.

Shining Armor stood aside as the stallion approached, holding the broad door open to allow him passage. With another little bow of gratitude and a tear of joy, the pegasus stallion walked as proudly as he could out the door before stampeding down the hallway. He flapped his wings a few times before taking off, looping through an open window above in a flurry of silver.

Shining Armor shook his head. He would have to remind his soldiers about proper decorum lest they believe themselves permitted to conduct themselves as such.

“You may come in now, Captain,” Celestia said calmly, sweeping up a quill and parchment in her magic’s grasp. Scribbling down a little note as he approached, her ears perked up to heed the sound of his shod hooves clicking on the floor as he tiptoed his way to his beloved Princess and Aunt-in-Law. His position in her family, however, was tertiary at best in his eyes: his primary role as a devoted subject and his position as her Captain would come before any notion of family ties, as thick as they might be.

Nevertheless, she awaited his arrival as she delicately scribbled a little note, stamping it firmly with her wax seal when her missive was complete. Then, with a little nod, she floated her message over to another guard who grabbed it with his own magic and, with a little nod to his Princess, trotted out the door to deliver his parcel. Once the door behind him had closed, the two royals were finally alone. Shining Armor took a few steps forward and bowed before he spoke, as was his duty.

“Your Highness,” he muttered to the floor, trembling slightly as he pieced together his intent. “I have come to discuss something with you.”

“Please, Shining Armor,” Celestia commented lightly, adjusting her position atop her cushion to allow him a place before her. “You are the Captain of my Guard and a member of my family. You do not need to practice these formalities with me, at least not while we’re alone.”

Her raised eyebrow and serene smile were all the assurance Shining Armor needed to relax his tensing legs and lay down across from his Princess. The sudden change in position afforded a modicum of comfort, and as he rested he breathed a heavy sigh of relief now that the weight of his armor lay on the floor and not on his muscled legs.

“So, what brings you to my hall?” Celestia stated calmly, whisking over a small decanter of wine and several glasses from nearby. Pouring them both a healthy portion as her Captain pondered, Celestia never broke her gaze with the stallion before her. “I usually don't see you unless ordered. Is there something on your mind?”

“Yes, Princess,” he sighed, sliding the wine she’d poured closer to himself as he played with the stem of the crystal glass. “I have a problem. Tomorrow is Hearts and Hooves Day, and...”

“You haven’t found something for Princess Cadence?”

“Oh, no no!” Shining Armor exclaimed, bringing the glass to his lips and allowing some to dribble down his throat. “No, I have that taken care of. I’ve been in contact with a rather talented gem hunter in Ponyville, and he’s been tremendously helpful in helping me find just the right gift.”

“If that’s not it, then what else might be on your mind?” Celestia queried, tasting the wine herself before replacing her glass on the floor, her palate satiated for the time being.

“I... I’ve been wondering, Princess, ” Shining Armor began, turning his words over in his mind for fallacies or little imperfections which might mar his true meaning. “I’ve been thinking about something... something important.”

He looked towards his Princess expecting to find an answer in her eyes, but she remained impassive and calm. It might not have been what he wanted, but he was comforted nonetheless by her state. Taking a little breath, he continued with his ponderings.

“You and your sister... you’ve been alive for so long. Even when Luna came back to Canterlot she didn’t look much younger than yourself, and that was after a thousand years of exile. You’ve ruled over Equestria for as long as anypony can remember.”

"It has been a while indeed," his Princess mused, admiring the clarity of her vintage through its crystal confines. "But time becomes blended together after a while, especially when you are in a position like mine and Princess Luna's."

"I guess it does," Shining Armor whispered, his downcast eyes rising to catch those of his Princess. "But not for us. We don't have that luxury, Princess. You look, and speak, and act the same as you always have... as long as I've known you. Princess Luna is just the same, even though we haven't seen her in so long. You are immortal, Princess. You will still be around long after I have died... after Twilight has passed on."

“And you wonder if Cadence will follow in our hoofsteps, to continue her life after yours has ended?”

In the passing of a moment she touched on the heart of the matter, and as she did Shining Armor's world froze.

Celestia watched the stallion before her lower his head, sighing his affirmation with a soft stroke of his cup. Lifting the glass to his mouth with his magic, he took a hearty gulp and replaced it on the floor, his eyes never lifting from where they sat counting the threads on the carpet.

“Yes, Princess...” he muttered. “I don’t know how I can handle that.”

“Neither does she, Shining Armor.”

With a jolt of action Shining Armor reeled from his Princess's words, sending his glass flying in the process. With an able flick Celestia was able to snatch the goblet from midair, catching what wine had spilled before it ever touched the ground. As she calmly refilled his glass her Captain sat dumbstruck, trembling with a mixture of relief and confusion before his words tumbled from his hanging jaw.

“She...she doesn’t?”

“She worries about it constantly,” Celestia replied with a little smile. “I can remember how that feels: to worry about the one you love to the point where even thinking about your mate brings you pain, even if it is an ache borne not in hatred or despair but pure and utter joy. I know how much it can drive a pony to do unspeakable things, but luckily you and Princess Cadence are beyond that point. What you two have is more pure than anything I have seen in a long time, and when I say long...”

Her eyes glinting with a little playful light, Celestia pulled in close to her favorite nephew-in-law with a glimmering wink.

“I mean really long!”

She couldn't help but emit a warm and very uncharacteristic giggle, almost as if the joke she’d told had meaning only for her. Shining Armor took the time to refill his Princess's glass, but took special care to ensure that his glass was more full than hers. It was not an act borne out of disinclination to give his all, but one stemming from his needs.

He would need every scrap of courage for what would come.

Shining Armor slid the decanter back across the ground and swirled the wine between his hooves before speaking to his Princess once more.

“If she’s an alicorn, does that mean she will live forever like you and Luna?”

Celestia thought a moment, raising her glass to her lips as she pondered his question. She took a sip, and then another, her tongue tracing her mouth to gather what wine she could. Lost for a few moments more, his Princess lowered her voice in reply, dropping her head a little towards his as she did so.

“Yes... and no,” Celestia stated calmly with an air of calm and serenity. “You saw how Luna kept her age when I exiled her to the Moon. Not a day went by in her absence that I did not regret putting her there, but those days went by nonetheless. I’ve aged since then... slowly, yes, but still. Alicorns do not react the same to the passage of time as others do. We are almost apart from time, but not entirely.”

“So,” Shining Armor whispered the floor again, struggling to lift his head up as the weight of her words hung over him. “Does that mean that when I die she will keep on living without me? Will she always be as young and beautiful as she is now, even as I get older and more frail?”

“Partially, Shining Armor. She will only age at a fraction of your rate, but she will age nonetheless. She will appear to be only a few years older than she is now by the time you retire, and not much older than that once you have gone from this world.”

“But...” he stammered, his heart sinking to some imaginary point below his hooves. “Why? Why does it have to be like that?”

Celestia raised her head once more, forcing his own to rise on posture and bearing alone. She had the tendency to do that, he remembered. There was something in her grace, her poise, and her impeccable bearing which commanded all in her presence to follow her lead. It was what made her his Princess, but beyond that: it was what made Ponykind revere her as a divine power. Despite her divinity and her generosity, however, she required his obedience. She reminded him thus when she raised her head and adopted the voice reserved only for the most solemn of occasions.

“She was made into an Alicorn Princess long before you met her, Shining Armor. She tended to your sister when she was but newly blessed with life and vitality, and came to know you and many others during her time here in Canterlot. But she fell in love with you, and you alone."

Granting her relative a little smile, Celestia took another sip of her glass before continuing.

"Many suitors offered themselves to her. Some had wealth, others had land, and a fair few had nothing at all, so enraptured were they by her beauty and kindness alone that they had nothing in the world save a promise of affection to keep them warm at night and standing in her presence. She is not a Princess because she is desired, or because she is able to spread love where once there was none. She is a Princess because she must.”

Lowering her head once more, she raised his heavy head and heart with her hoof. Holding his gaze with her customary serenity, Celestia smiled as radiantly as the sun for which she cared.

“But she loves you because she chose to, because you and you alone were the one who would always protect her, love her, and defend her from anything which might do her harm. She adores you for it... and she has always been willing to do the same for you.”

Dropping her hoof, Celestia swept up her glass in her magic and took a long pull from the chalice before replacing it on the floor.

“She came to me not too long ago, asking if I could reverse what magic Luna and I placed in her. She begged with us to rescind her divinity, to make her mortal. She wanted to die... eventually...”

“But,” Shining Armor stammered, a few drops of wine slopping on the floor as his concentration broke. “Why would she give up her divinity? Doesn’t she want to live forever? She always dreamed about seeing a future with her on the throne, helping others live their lives in harmony. She wants to watch the world grow like you and Luna do.”

“She may have wished for that then,” his Princess replied heavily, “but she no longer wishes to see those days anymore.”


Celestia recoiled slightly, looking at her Captain with a modicum of confusion before cackling to the ceiling above them, her voice echoing around the dome above to come down hard upon his already heavy head.

“Because immortality is a curse, my Prince. I love this land with all my heart and I always have, but I have seen this country... this world... change so much in the past thousand or more years. Not all of that change has been for the better. I have fought in wars, wars between my friends now long gone because of my actions. I have sent ponies to their deaths and written their families on the eve of their demise to offer my condolences, trying in vain to assuage the anguish of their bereavement. Life is a joy to those who live each day as if they might die, but when that finality is off the table... things lose a little of their old lustre.”

Taking another pull from her glass, Celestia slid the empty glass on the floor to rest beside her decanter.

“She wishes to die because she has found something which she loves more than life itself. I would be a fool to deny her the option, even though I regret having to be the one to revoke her immortality. We placed a little of our own power in her to keep her strong, young, and beautiful. When she passes, that investment with die with her."

As he finished his glass, Shining Armor placed it beside his Princess’s, his heart fluttering as Celestia's commanding tone slipped away to resume its previous warmth.

“It is a loss we are willing to accept, if you can.”

Her words weighed him down even further, and as the lingering worries and the drowsiness of the wine seeped themselves further into his mind, Shining Armor found that armor he so proudly bore upon his breast to be unbearably heavy.

“I... I don’t want to see her in pain, Princess, ” Shining Armor stammered, stamping the ground. "I don't want her to ever be in pain."

“I know you don’t, but that is not your decision to make. She is a Princess now. Her responsibilities to us and her people are something with which she must contend. She is wise enough to make her own choices, as all Princesses must do. If she chooses to suffer the pain of mortality and every consequence which will accompany it, then that is her prerogative. All you can do is trust in your love and do what you can with the time that is given to you.”

Then, with a final smile of courage, Celestia offered her subject a bow which prompted him to do the same. Their conversation had been concluded, even as those lingering questions in his mind berated him for not fighting with his Princess. He knew that the rules and regulations of immortality were above his knowledge, even if Cadence herself looked no older than he. The responsibilities she bore, both as an Immortal and the Crystal Princess, were ones in which he could offer little guidance. That reality only made his armor weigh him down further. Soon, as time passed and that body of his grew tired, he would be unable to stand and fight.

But there, by his side, his wife would remain.

“And here she comes now,” Celestia whispered into his ear as she raised herself from her bow, standing proudly to beckon her niece forward. Shining Armor, wishing he might have just a little more wine to grant him the courage to follow her lead, turned himself around to face the doorway and what splendorous serendipity he had been afforded.

His love stood by the door, proudly clad in her finest evening wear as if she had come from some elegant soiree to which he was not invited. Her neck and forelegs were draped in the lilting pieces of jewelry she had purchased for herself or had received as tokens of gratitude from the ponies over which she ruled. Their facets and various edges caught the lights from the setting sun outside, casting little motes of color around the room. She trotted forth, as light as a feather, to stand with pride beside her husband.

“I just received your message, Princess Celestia. What would you ask of me?”

Bowing as was custom, Cadence raised herself from her bow and looked her aunt in the eyes... but not before giving her loving partner a little nuzzle under his chin. They lingered there for a moment, lost in one another, before they broke apart and returned their attentions to their Princess.

“Cadence, I have called you here because I have a favor to ask of you. My dearest student Twilight has asked for my presence in Ponyville for a great reunion, but I have plans to which I must attend that evening. I was hoping that you and Shining Armor might take my place.”

They both jumped a little in surprise before Cadence's eyes lit up, her voice bubbling with excitement.

“You want us to go to Ponyville to see Twilight!?”

Bouncing a little in anticipation, Cadence's premature exaltations began to overflow before Celestia raised her hoof to silence her with some final words.

“Yes and no, Cadence. There is a matter to attend to that requires some royal attention. This shall be your foremost assignment, but prior to and following your engagement you may do as you wish. You will be attending a reunion, Cadence, and given your abilities and magical emphasis I can think of nopony more suited for the job than you.”

“We can go!” Cadence exclaimed excitedly, bouncing a little on her hooves as she beamed for the other two ponies in the room. Those same little bounces, however, died away when she felt the lowering gloom of her husband by her side.

“Are you okay, sweetie?" Cadence whispered, bowing her head to catch her husband's downcast eyes. "We can see your sister again! We can make a day of it, spend a little time on the town! Don’t you want to go to Ponyvi—”

With a squeal of surprise and a rapid flurry of movement, Shining Armor swept up his bride in his hooves and held her to his chest as Cadence looked around in shock. Lowering her head to allow her Captain some time to give his wife what attention she deserved, Celestia couldn't help but smile when her newest nephew, in a surge of passion, pulled in close to his loving wife and stole her breath away with a long, tender kiss. The couple lingered there in their embrace for a few moments, their lips locked and their hearts beating in unison before they broke apart, panting a little from their exertions.

“...Wow...umm,” Cadence stammered, still holding her husband's loving gaze with a stroke of his cheek. “I take it you want to go with me then... right?”

“Wherever you are is where I want to be” he whispered, drawing her closer. The smile he wore as he kissed her neck only grew wider when he had the honor of listening to his Cadence giggle, every one of her excited exclamations accompanied by a little squeeze as she held her prince closer.

They held each other just a little bit longer before their Princess gave a polite—but firm—little cough. Scrambling to re-assume their decorum, Cadence and Shining Armor, blushing furiously, straightened both themselves and each other out before raising themselves proudly before their monarch. Celestia couldn’t help notice the renewed blush in her niece's cheeks, and the light heart and smiling face of the stallion by Cadence’s side who had brought that little rouge back to life.

“I take it you would like to go?” Celestia commented slyly, beaming as she watched her subjects nod their assent. Stamping her hoof to seal their implicit contract, their Princess nodded her assent to the couple before her.

“Excellent! You are expected to be present in the schoolhouse the evening of Hearts and Hooves Day, but I would never deny you the chance to explore the town before you’re due to arrive. Twilight will fill you in with the details. Now,” Celestia declared, spreading her wings slightly to work out the kinks before folding them back to her sides. “I have a sun to put to bed. I bid you a good evening.”

They bowed before their Princess as Celestia did the same, and as they rose Shining Armor and his Cadence walked down the carpet and out the door. Lingering there a moment to ensure the door didn’t slam, Cadence took a little time to reinvest herself in their interrupted kiss as she drew Shining Armor's face to meet her own, the edges of her mouth breaking a little as what passion they shared broke from its confines and escaped through her lips.

Being intimate with her love was something she never really got the chance to do anymore, and she could feel in his chest that he had missed it too. Smiling at one another as they broke apart, Shining Armor nodded down the hall towards their waiting bedroom. As they walked back to their shared quarters side-by-side, Cadence seized her opportunity to speak.

“Dear,” she began, choosing her words carefully. “Is something wrong? It’s been a while since you’ve... well... done thatin front of the Princess. What were you and Celestia talking about?”

Shining Armor's gait slowed almost imperceptibly as he plodded along with his wife at his side. He lowered his head a little as he thought about what to say, considering how best to break the ice. The outlines of a lie came first, but there would be nothing to gain by lying to his love. Thus, with a heavy heart, Shining Armor gripped the lingering tendrils of his previous distressing conversation and pulled them back from their station in the back of his mind, displaying them to his Cadence with a shrug.

“We were talking about you, honey. We were discussing how you asked for mortality and how you wanted to die eventually. She was telling me that you asked her and Luna to remove their blessing.”

Rounding on his wife, Shining Armor lowered his brow, relinquishing that unbearable weight upon her forehead. She assumed the burden with a brief sigh, and with her silent consent and a little burst of courage Shining Armor whispered out his final thoughts on the matter.

“I don’t want you to do it.”

“But...” Cadence exclaimed, recoiling from her husband in confusion. “Why not? Why would you want me to live forever? Do you think I can handle what the Princesses go through every day? They watch their friends and loved ones die, standing aside to let them slip through their hooves! They watch their world grow darker and step back a little more every year to leave the world to its own devices! I don’t want to grow old and weary in a world where I have no say.”

Placing herself squarely against his chest once more Cadence held her love close, resting her head against the heart she’d come to love... that mortal heart which, despite the pressure of protection and the pain of his limited lifespan, beat on just for her.

“I don’t want to live in a world without you.”

"I know you don't," Shining Armor whispered, drawing his bride closer as he nuzzled her ear. "You've spent your whole life dreaming about being a Princess, of having that power that Celestia and Luna have. You dreamed of a world you could create and new magics to perform, with an entire country holding you in the highest esteem. You could have everything."

Looking down upon his mate, he could do little more than close his eyes and whisper some final words.

"I want you to have everything."

Nuzzling herself closer, he could feel Cadence's face constrict into a little smile and her eyes flutter briefly before renewing her embrace.

"I already do."

He almost couldn’t hear her voice, so lost was she in his chest that her voice was muffled and almost died away before it ever reached his ears. With a little rise of her head with his hoof and a little kiss, the two smiled at one another for a brief moment before reinvesting themselves in their shared rest upon the palace hallway floor.

It would take some time to stifle the guilt and the lingering hatred for himself that he felt. Closed his eyes tighter the more those emotions grew, Shining Armor drew what energy he had left to hold his loving mate closer. Those ruminations and those poisonous truths would die in time, even if it took until his dying day to worm their way out of his heart.

But now, as he hadn't known just a short while before, he wouldn't be alone in death.

He held his love, his angel, and his salvation in his arms, kissing her head as he slowly rocked their pains away. With every miniscule movement Cadence burrowed herself further into his embrace, a blissful, easy smile upon her face all the while. They lingered there together on the floor for what seemed like an hour before Cadence broke off and stood before her husband, wiping away a few stray tears of happiness as she shook her mane back into place.

“C’mon, Shiny," she crooned with a little jingle of her jewelry. "It’s time for bed!”

Getting to his own hooves, Shining Armor gave his wife a little prod as she walked away towards the door, holding it open with her hoof. With a sly smile and a cocked eyebrow, she nodded towards their bed. He knew that it was an order, an order only she was allowed to give.

It was an order he jumped to obey.

“Since when do you call me ‘Shiny’?” he chuckled as he passed through the door, looking back on his mischievously grinning wife.

“Hmmm... right about the same time you chucked me off a crystal tower to catch a falling dragon.”

Her little giggle was enough to alleviate the tension, and as the two shared a laugh Shining Armor gave his reply with a playful stroke of her mane.

“I promise not to throw you off a building again, my love, just as long as you don’t call me ‘Shiny’ in front of the other guards. Deal?”

Raising her eyes to gaze at her horn, she sidled up to her husband seemingly lost in thought were it not for the little devilish grin on her face. Placing a hoof on his chest, she acted the pensive mare and considered her options before giving her love one little kiss, holding his lips a little before drawing apart to whisper her little nothings for his ear alone.

“No promises.”

The two ponies shared a warm grin, their foreheads resting together as they basked in each other’s presence. A few more moments passed before Cadence broke off to remove her jewelry, flicking her tail at his face playfully as she did so. Smiling at the floor, Shining Armor watched her leave for her dressing room before releasing his worries in a little sigh. Gazing out a nearby window at the luminescent moon Luna had made for them, Shining Armor closed the door behind him, locking it tightly to seal out the world.

And keep his Cadence safe.

Author's Note:

First story without a pre-reader or editor, and it feels a little odd. Regardless, you can expect a new chapter every other day, with the final chapter on H&H Day. Hope you enjoyed!

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