• Published 2nd Mar 2013
  • 7,495 Views, 645 Comments

A Long, Winding Road - GentlemanJ



The marshal's gone, cutting all ties and making clear his intent never to return. Why? What compels the grey eyed soldier to leave? To find the truth, Rarity and the girls start down a long, winding road that will hopefully bring him back. Hopef

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Chapter 16

Chapter 16

Military airships weren’t known for their luxurious accommodations, especially freighters and cargo transports. Designed to transport the maximum amount of supplies at the most efficient costs, it was a rare occurrence to have a private cabin aboard, and rarer still an occasion to need one.

But today was one of those occasions, and Twilight quietly thanked Celestia that the room was there.

“How’re you feeling, Rarity?” she murmured, gently stroking the violet tresses that lay in a tumultuous mess on her lap. The young lady in question sniffled softly, bringing her handkerchief up to her reddened eyes once more for a now well-practiced dab.

“Terrible,” she mumbled, curling up a little tighter on the small cot. “Just… terrible.”

Twilight said nothing. She merely continued stroking Rarity’s hair, soothing her as she had Spike when he’d been a frightened child. Considering what the pretty dressmaker had been through, it was all she could really do.

The scholar and her friends had opted to remain at the airship, sending Rarity off on her own to deal with the marshal. It’d taken some convincing and more than one lassoing to keep Rainbow Dash and Pinkie from charging in head first, but the girls eventually came to agreement that if anyone could make something happen, it would be the resolute fashionista handling affairs on her own.

After a period longer than they’d wanted, but shorter than they’d expected, Rarity had come back to them. Alone. A thousand questions had instantly popped up, with a thousand more clambering to be heard as well, but the first look at her face had driven all such thought away like dust in a gale. Of course they’d all seen the dressmaker upset before, what with her histrionics and theatrical exaggerations; it was part of her charm, part of what made Rarity, well... Rarity. But the look they’d seen then, that look of abject anguish flickering in sapphire eyes on the verge of shattering? That was something else entirely.

She hadn't broken. Not then, anyway. But once she’d gotten aboard the airship, the tenuous composure she’d clung to so hard as she walked through the camp finally snapped. Falling to her knees, the beautiful girl cried, bursting into tears as sobs wracked her body. Without concern that the crew could see her, without heed to the mess of her makeup, for once without a single care for appearance or decorum, the young lady wept, crying out in a way that only the truly broken hearted could.

At that point, others had snapped as well. Frustration from inaction boiling over like an unwatched kettle, Rainbow Dash had zipped through the airship, careening of bulkhead and bulwarks with reckless disregard for safety till she’d found the small cabin and forcibly evicted the astonished captain. Half helping, half carrying their distraught companion, the other girls followed after and brought Rarity over. A few quiet glances towards Twilight, and the girls ushered the pair of them into the room and shut the heavy, iron door before them.

Even between the best of friends, there are just some things you just don't want others to see.

*****

Rarity didn't know how long she'd cried for. All she knew was that she'd cried, long and hard as she'd somehow managed to choke out the story between heaving sobs, the words spilling forth in avalanchine fashion, unable to be stopped once the motion began as with each word, fresh tears welled forth. She told Twilight everything, how he'd been broken, how suffering and loss had become his reality, and how even then, he'd offered to stay if she would but ask him to. She told Twilight how that offer had forced her to make the most painful decision of her life. She didn't know how long she'd cried for but it had been long, long enough till she had no more tears to shed and the raging storm had finally died into quiet numbness.

Well, almost numbness. Some things just hurt too bad to fade so quickly.

“... You really are the Element of Generosity,” Twilight smiled sadly, never once having stopped the soothing stroke of her friend's hair. “You’re an absolutely amazing girl, you know that?”

“I really wish I were,” Rarity said, a tiny, weary smile coming to her lips. “If I were, then maybe doing it wouldn’t have felt so awful.”

“The fact that you could do it at all is amazing,” the sweater-vested scholar said in tones both gentle and firm. She wanted to be kind, but she wasn’t about to let the pretty dressmaker sell herself short. Not after what she’d been through. “The fact that it felt so awful just means you cared a lot, and it’s because you cared so much that makes it so amazing.”

“I suppose,” the dressmaker sniffed. “It’s still so ironic. I’ve never really understood how his mind worked till now. I mean, how does one simply give up on what he wants so he can do what’s right?” Despite the circumstance, a small smile crept to her pale rose lips. “He really was a remarkable man, wasn’t he?”

“Yeah. I guess he was.”

A soft knock came from the door and with a small squeak of hinges, Applejack poked her head in through the crack.

“Hey there,” she drawled softly. “Captain said we’re gonna be shippin’ off soon. Just wanted tah make sure you’re doin’ all right in here.”

“We’re fine, Applejack. Thanks.” Twilight smiled. With an encouraging grin to her prone friend, who managed to return the favor, the freckled farm girl ducked back out and quietly shut the door behind her.

“You know what you need?” Twilight said as the massive hextech engines slowly rumbled to life. “You need a vacation.”

“Vacation?” Rarity tutted. "I’ve been on vacation for weeks now. Heaven knows how many orders have stacked up while I’ve been gone.”

“Bah, the orders can wait,” Twilight snorted. “And besides, these last few weeks haven’t been anything even remotely close to a vacation. With the amount of stress you’ve been under, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few gray hairs popping up. Or even worse… wrinkles.”

The amethyst-eyed mage had to stifle a giggle as she felt the girl tense up in her lap. That’s Rarity for you: even at times like this, there was still time to worry about your complexion.

“No, you need a real vacation,” Twilight continued, the rumblings of the airship growing louder as it gained speed down the runway. “I’m thinking a full day at the spa, maybe a couple of days down by the lake, and all topped off with a good old fashioned slumber party. What do you think?”

“A nice mud facial would be welcome,” Rarity sniffled in consideration. “Heavens knows I could use a seaweed wrap as well…”

“That’s the spirit,” Twilight beamed. “You just need a few days to set your head straight. Put all this stuff behind you.”

“Yes,” Rarity murmured. “Put it all–”

The two girls were nearly thrown from the cot as a thunderous explosion rocked the airship. Considering it was a Stallion class transport, with over a million cubic feet of storage space available in its vast berths, that was definitely saying something.

“What on earth was that?” Rarity gasped as she sat up, sapphire eyes wide in surprise. As if on cue, the door flew open and one of the airship’s crewmen staggered to the frame.

“Begging your pardons, ladies,” he said as the vibrations grow stronger, “but you might want to strap yourselves in. We’re making an emergency stop.”

“Emergency stop?” Twilight gaped. “Why on earth would we need to do that?”

“Engine’s blown. Need to make repairs”

“Now?” the purple-haired mage frowned. “Seriously?”

“Afraid so,” the crewman grimaced. “Strangest thing, too. Weather’s clear as a preacher man’s conscience, but it looks like the engine was struck by lightning. Literally right outta the blue.”

Both amethyst and sapphire eyes blinked, brains entering standby mode as they processed the latest information. Slowly, the stunned gazes met to exchange looks of complete and utter disbelief.

No way. It couldn’t be. Granted, there were probably few people with the capability to cripple such a large piece of magical machinery, and fewer still with the requisite motive to do so. But even so, there’s no way the subject in question would have the audacity and sheer stupidity to consider the nigh treasonous act of terrorism worth it.

... Would he?

*****

With the tiniest of squeaking protests, the hallway bulkhead creaked open and a pair of gunmetal grey eyes peered out of the gloom. Satisfied the pathway was clear, the marshal dropped from the overhead into a ready crouch, hardly a sound arising as his leather soles met metal grating. He peered around, ears strained for any signs of approach. Nothing. The hallway remained empty and so Graves, with the speed and silence of a stalking panther, raced forward towards the front of the ship.

This was stupid. So incredibly, bone-headedly, mind-numbingly stupid. He could have caught the next flight out. He could have gone to the dispatch center and requested the craft reroute to base. He could have done any number of smarter, more rational things. Instead, he’d decided to open fire on an active ERA vehicle. Forget the thousands of bits of damage the repairs would cost alone, the act itself was akin to declaring war on Equestria. At best, he would end up with a court marshaling for his actions. At worst…

“We’ll deal with that later,” Graves muttered, as he peered around a corner, ducking back as two crewman rushed down the path perpendicular. The last thing he needed was to get stopped and questioned by an overzealous mechanic. Not that he’d have problems dealing with the problem quietly and discretely, mind you. He just preferred to keep his criminal record to a possibly non-treasonous level.

Flitting from shadow to shadow, Graves made his wraith-like way though the vessel's interior. With what he knew of Equestrian airships and treatment of General Ironside’s guests, he could safely surmise his destination lay at the bow in the captain’s quarters. Creeping invisibly along, it wasn't long before the marshal poked his head around one final corner and spotted his destination. And, unfortunately, the foreboding barrier that lay between as well.

Pinkie Pie, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, and Fluttershy. Four girls, each more fearsome than any hound at the gates of hell, blocked his path. If there was one thing he could count on from these Ponyville girls, it would be loyalty to their friends, and that meant protecting them from harm. Right now, that definition of harm would certainly include him.

He’d hurt Rarity. He’d made her cry, a thought that twisted in his heart like a piece of rusty shrapnel. Even so, he needed to see her one last time. One more time, and then he would be able to settle this fiasco for good. To see her though, he'd have to get by her friends and the only way that was ever going to happen was if he could give them a really, really good reason to let him by.

Only… what would that be?

Even now, he wasn’t sure why he was here. Everything he’d said to Rarity, everything he’d heard echoed by D… all of it was still true. Every shred of reason and every bit of rational said, even screamed, for him to leave and be done with it. He’d ignored those protests on almost gut instinct alone and made his way here, but even now he couldn’t say why. And there lay the problem. If he didn't know the reason why he came here, then how could he possibly convey that reason to others?

Well, standing around wasn't going to help much, so he might as well make himself known. Stepping round the corner, a flash of motion and a split second instantly informed him of what was coming. The motion was wide, telegraphed like searchlights from a mountain top. He could have stepped out of the way. He could have, but he didn’t.

BAM!

The marshal winced as the fist caught him square across the jaw and rattled the insides of his head like a half-empty can of dried beans.

“You! You’ve got some nerve showing your face around here!” Rainbow Dash roared as she glared at the marshal like death on two wings. Her hands were still balled into fists, itching, just waiting for a reason to wail on him again. Maybe not even waiting for a reason. “What are you doing here anyway?”

“That’s some hello,” Graves replied as he worked to loosen up his aching jaw. For such a short girl, she really packed a punch.

“Yah should be grateful that’s all she did,” Applejack snorted from her position by the door, her usually warm demeanor now cold as a winter cellar. “After seein’ the state Rarity was in, we had some right interestin’ conversations on how we’d greet yah the next time we saw yah. Jess didn’t expect it tah be so soon.”

“Yeah, you jerk!” Pinkie Pie joined in, positively bristling like an alley cat. “You big jerky jerk jerktastically jerkfull… jerk!”

“So spit it out already,” Rainbow Dash snapped once more, jabbing a finger into the marshal’s chest. “We all know you’re the one who stopped the airship. Why? What’s your game?”

“I need to talk to Rarity.”

SLAP!

Graves wasn’t sure who was more surprised, him or the three other girls that gaped in amazement at Fluttershy and her glowing palm.

“How dare you,” she seethed. The young lady, usually so demure and shy, now glared at the raven-haired soldier with eyes that burned of aquamarine fire. “How dare you! Do you have any idea how much Rarity’s been through because of you? She was literally worried sick over you when you got hurt, and instead of being grateful, you left her behind and said you were never coming back! We were all hurt, every single one of us and Rarity most of all, but she didn’t give up on you! She got us back together just so we could bring you back, but you sent her away and you hurt her again! You have absolutely no right to see her, so why should we let you? What reason could you possible give after everything you’ve done to her?!”

At that moment, Graves gave the only answer he could think of.

“I… don’t know.”

The silence that echoed was deafening.

Throughout Fluttershy’s tirade, Graves had stood silent, saying nothing because it had become clear that there really was nothing to say. Every single, jagged, rending, word she’d said was absolutely and undeniably true.

“Yah don’t know,” Applejack breathed in disbelief. “Yah really have no answer for us?”

“No, I don’t,” Graves sighed, a heavy and hopeless sound.

“Then why should we let you see Rarity?” Pinkie Pie challenged with an oddly severe look. He'd never seen Pinkie Pie truly mad before. It was almost shameful that he'd be the reason for it now.

“I don’t know,” the marshal repeated once more. “You’re right on every word. I don’t deserve to see her. I could work my life to make it up and I'd probably die far short. But right or none, I... need to talk to her. I know you've got no reason to believe me or let me through even if you did, but even so…” He faltered. He still couldn’t find a reason, an explanation. But he knew it was there. He knew it was true. If only he could somehow let them feel it too.

“Please, just give me this chance,” he rasped, his voice hoarse like stone scraping on rough leather. “Please.”

...

Silence.

Four pairs of eyes looked at him, by no means friendly, but by no means as so hostile as before. The girls glanced at each other, volumes being exchanged in those minute looks as they seemed to telepathically deliberate their verdict. Or maybe there was no discussion. Maybe they were merely confirming what each one had decided by herself.

Whatever that decision was, three pairs of eyes converged on Applejack, who replied with a small nod. Opening the door at her side, the freckled farm girl poked her head in and murmured a few words. Twilight's head popped out, and for a brief spell, the two spoke. It was brief, probably only a few seconds in all, but for Graves? The wait of those few seconds could have filled a lifetime.

Finally, Applejack turned around and gave a nod.

“Alright then. Rarity’s waitin'.”

*****

A quick glance from a pair of amethyst eyes and the soft clanking of steel on steel signaled the iron door shutting behind the soldier. He found himself in a small room, roughly the same size as his tent had been. A small writing desk with a foldout chair was bolted to the side of the wall with a similarly situated filing cabinet and cupboards right by. The only remaining object was a simple, serviceable cot, and it was to this that the marshal’s eyes were drawn. Or rather, to the young lady that sat upon it.

“Well, this is rather… unexpected,” Rarity lightly remarked, her voice barely above a quiet flutter. “I didn’t expect to see you again quite so soon.”

For a brief spell, Graves wondered whether D had been playing him all along. The immaculately composed woman before him certainly didn’t look like one who’d been crying, not with her expertly quaffed tresses and impeccable dress. But a closer look did in fact reveal raw, red rims around her eyes, well-covered by shadow and mascara but impossible to wholly erase.

“So, is there something I can help you with?” she asked with hands neatly folded in her lap. Her tone wasn’t exactly cold, but it wasn’t warm by any stretch either. No, it was more or less reserved, the feel of a lynx that isn’t sure whether it wants to allow a stranger to approach its presence.

...

“Well?”

It wasn’t till she repeated her question that Graves realized he hadn’t said anything. In fact, it wasn't until he'd made it this far that he realized... he had no idea what he wanted to say.

“I… uh… wanted to talk…” he replied lamely, hoping the brief respite would help him collect his thoughts.

Nope. Nothing.

“Talk? I thought we’d talked about everything we needed to already,” she responded. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that there was a considerable amount of ire in those words.

“I thought so too,” he nodded. “But I did some thinking, and I realized there some stuff we haven’t covered yet.”

“Oh?” Rarity intoned, tone cooling as anger was replaced by some curiosity. “And what exactly did you come to realize?”

That was actually a good question. There was a lot of stuff he realized he wanted to say, but it was all an amorphous blob, like a mass of eels with each individual idea too slippery to pull out. He had things he needed to say, but he didn’t have any idea on where to begin or even where he wanted to go once he did.

In that case, he might as well go with the tried and true marshal’s method: shoot first, ask later. And so, with all the decorum of a rampaging bison, he said,

“You screwed up my life, you know that?"

From the look on Rarity's face, you’d have thought someone had just informed her overalls were next year’s hot ticket item.

“I... I beg your pardon?” she gaped, eyes growing dangerously large from… insult? Surprise? It was actually kind of hard to tell which.

“Yeah, you did,” Graves shot back, releasing the inhibitors on his brain and allowing its contents to slough forth in a torrid deluge of words. “Before I got caught up with you in Ponyville, my life was simple. I find bad guys, I shoot bad guys. Rinse and repeat. It worked fine and the world kept on turning. Then I come to Ponyville where I meet you, and of a sudden, I have to start worrying about how to act, how to speak, how to dress, and… I mean, I have three different colors in socks now. Why in the name of Luna's starry sky does a man even need to worry about the colors of his socks?”

“Well, excuse me for introducing you to the concept of a coordinated outfit,” Rarity retorted, now much more clearly in the outraged department. “But did you honestly cause all of this ruckus just to tell me off about your socks?”

“Of course not,” he snorted, pressing on full steam. “That’s just the beginning. As if worrying about all those little things isn’t enough, I’ve got to start worrying about you! I’ve never had to worry about anyone before. I used to worry about work. I used to worried about big issues and events, not people and... relationship... things. Hay, I didn't even worry about this with my old team. Sure we’d watch out for one another and we'd take care of our own, but in the end, we all knew we were there for the job and that’s what we worried about.”

“But you,” Graves continued, raising a pointed finger as his voice took on an almost accusatory flavor, “when I’m around you, I can’t not worry. Every minute around you is like walking a tightrope while juggling a fistful of razorblades. I have to worry about everything I say and do, wondering how I need to act so you won’t get upset, what’s the sort reply I can make to be witty without being crude, and dozen other things I can’t even think of. It’s insane, it’s exhausting, and it drives me crazy!”

“Is that why you came here?” Rarity snapped, her voice crackling with rage as her eyes flashed with blue fire. “You cause all this mess, all this commotion, just to come in here and tell me that? You came all the way out here just to tell you that I drive you crazy?”

“Oh, not even close,” the marshal replied with a harsh, barking laugh, “because you driving me crazy isn’t the worst part by half.”

“No?” Rarity sniffed with haughty disdain. “Then pray tell what is?”

“Worst part is that I don’t want it to stop!”

...

...

Had Graves announced he’d given up his duties to go join a convent, Rarity probably would have found it more credible than the words she’d actually heard.

“I… beg your pardon?” the violet-haired beauty remarked, baffled as she’d never been baffled before. “What on earth do you mean?”

“You drive me crazy,” Graves repeated, half dazed as if he’d been struck another blow to jaw by an overgrown tauren. “Life around you is like a tornado where I’m always getting tossed around. Half the time I don’t know which way is up or down and the other half, I think I know and end up flat out wrong. But despite all that and always feeling like a twice-baked idiot, I… I like it.”

“You do?” she blinked. “But… why?

“Because it’s you!” Graves cried out, frustration grating his voice till it rang of steel scraping leather. “Just being near you, being around you makes me feel… alive. When I go to sleep, I know there’s something worth waking up for. When I make a blasted fool of myself, I couldn't care less because I get to see you smiling. When I’m with you, I… I don’t even think about the past or worry about the future. I’m just right there in the present, glad to just be alive because it means I get to be there with you.”

Fair cheeks bloomed crimson as Rarity instantly flushed rose red in deliciously wonderful mortification. This was no award winning speech by any means. The words had no poetry, no dramatic prose or amazing similes, no likening her hair to the ocean’s waives or eyes to twinkling stars. But the sheer sincerity with which it was said, the honest look of self-conscious consternation on the young soldier’s face set against those piercing, earnest grey eyes… they weren’t the prettiest words, but they were by far the most beautiful she'd ever heard.

And the moment of euphoria came to a close as cold reason rushed back in. To hear Graves say such words sent the young lady into stratospheric happiness, but in the end, she’d already known they were true. The real problem wasn’t what he felt, but what he feared.

“I… appreciate the sentiment,” Rarity nodded, trying to maintain her composure despite the remaining crimson in her face. “I really do. But we both know now it will have to remain just that.”

“This is about what we talked about earlier, isn’t it?” the marshal asked, though really more statement than question. The young lady nodded with a sad smile.

“You know that I love you, Graves. More than words can say. But even if I can make you forget the past for a moment, it will always be there, and as long as it is, there’s simply no way I could ever ask you to stay.”

“I know you can’t,” the marshal nodded. “And that’s why I won't make you.”

For a moment, Rarity could only blink in abject perplexity. But slowly, fueled by hope she dared not feel yet could not contain, her eyes widened into perfect sapphire circles as the meaning of his words truly sank in.

“Graves, please don’t joke like that,” she said, the joy surging through her heart almost painful in its intensity, even worse considering the reality she had to face. “You can’t possibly expect to simply... switch off your fears, not when you’ve been living with it for so long.”

“You’re right, I can’t turn it off,” Graves admitted. “I can feel it, even now. Just standing next to you terrifies me. I can't help but worry and I can't help but wonder not if, but just... when you’ll be taken away from me." There was no passion in his voice, no exaggeration or inflation. Every word was merely fact, cold and ugly and unflinchingly true.

He was afraid. Even now, his entire body, the one that had stood against demons and devils without falter, shivered as if assailed by an icy wind. Like a parasitic worm embedded in the back of his mind, the voices of sense and reason gnawed at his resolve, telling him to stop and turn back. Like a cankerous growth, he could feel pure, frozen dread threatening to strangle his mind. That all too familiar road to torment loomed large in his sight, but it wasn't yet too late to turn back. He could still save himself.

With sudden, explosive violence, Graves clenched his fists, squeezing them till he could have turned coal into diamonds, squeezing them till his trembling ceased.

"I'm afraid," he admitted, his words bitter with defeat, yet heated with tones far greater and warmer and stronger. "I'm afraid and maybe I always will be. But even if it follows me till my dying day, I'll... I'll fight it. I'll do whatever it takes, fight whatever it takes till bones are dust and blood runs dry. So don't ask me to stay because I can. Let me stay because even though it hurts and even though I'm afraid, I'll fight it till my last breath because you're worth it all and so much more. I want to fight for you."

Rarity looked up, sapphire blue meeting gunmetal grey. She could see the truth in those eyes, the trembling terror and wavering uncertainty even as he spoke. But beyond that, lying like a great stone at the bottom of a foggy sea, she could see resolve. She could see the unbreakable will which had once thrust him into greatness now made adamantine by a passion fit to set her heart aflutter and her blood afire. At that moment, she wanted nothing more than to leap up and embrace him, to hold him fast and never let him go.

But she couldn’t do that. Not just yet.

“Graves,” she said softly, standing and taking a tentative step - just one step - towards the raven-haired soldier. “It’s not too late to turn back.”

“Rarity, I–”

“Let me finish,” she continued, eyes harder than gemstones yet more tender than a summer breeze. “I'm not strong like you. I'm not as selfless or heroic or noble as you are; I'm just a girl who fell head over heels in love with a very hard man to love. I want you to be happy, Graves, I really do, but I... I just don't think I could ever let you go again. So leave if you want to. I won't fight you. I won't stop you."

She paused, biting her lower lip in pensive hesitation.

"But if you want to stay... here... with me, then... then show me, Graves. Show me just what is it that you really, truly desire.”

Graves stood there for a moment, a statue with pensive eyes, frozen by uncertainty. In that moment, Rarity’s breath caught in her throat. Was this it? Could it be that in the end, even his resolve was simply not enough?

“... Actions speak louder than words…” he murmured.

"I’m... sorry, what did you–”

The rest of the question was cut off as Graves swept Rarity into arms stronger than steel yet softer than velvet and pressed his lips against hers, conveying feelings and resolve in ways indescribable in words. The young beauty froze, unable to react or respond as both body and went numb for a moment in stunning shock.

But it was only for a moment.

Heat thawing through like sun through snow, Rarity melted into Graves, wrapping her arms around and pulling him in to return the kiss with equal fervor. And so they stood, locked in an embrace that created a universe of two for a timeless moment. In that second, a heart long scarred and battered and broken finally began to beat once more. In that breath, a heart that had given up what it yearned for most found it again, purer, sweeter, and truer than ever before.

In that instant, that single, eternal, and beautiful instant, those two hearts held so long apart finally met and melted into one.

**********

When the soldier and the beauty finally parted, flushed and breathless and happier than should ever be possible, it was only then that they noticed the shower of thunderous applause. Turning around in bewilderment, for the first time, Graves and Rarity realized that the cabin door had swung wide open to reveal not only the other Ponyville girls, but what appeared to be the ship’s entire crew turned up to celebrate the joyous moment.

“… Well, this is awkward,” Graves mumbled as he released one arm to pull his hat down over his eyes.

“A bit,” Rarity giggle, unable to keep the broad, ear to ear grin hidden a moment longer. “But well worth it, wouldn’t you agree?”

“No doubt about that,” Graves smiled back as his usually stony face now suffused with the warmth of a glowing flame. “And as much as I’d love to stay like this, I think we’ve got some work to do.”

“Really?” Rarity intoned. “And what work is that?”

“First, we gotta get those girls settled down,” the marshal remarked, pointing to the five teary-eyed girls sobbing at the forefront of the crowd. “Then, I gotta check out of camp and head back to Canterlot to see if old man Ironside will let me hang around Ponyville a bit longer.”

“Oh, I don’t think we’ll have any trouble convincing him,” the young lady replied with a knowing smile.

“You know something I don’t?” Graves remarked. All he got was another coy smile in reply.

Sighing in mock resignation, the raven-haired soldier released his lovely Rarity so they could head over to the now sobbing crowd awaiting them. He was momentarily halted, however, by the sensation of cool, slender fingers slipping in between his own.

“Not so fast, Mister Marshal,” Rarity said with a saucy little smile. “After that little display, don’t think I’ll let you get away so easily. From this day forth, you sir, are mine. Are we clear?”

Graves simply grinned, a cocky, lopsided, and very satisfied sort of grin.

“I'm yours, eh? I think I can live with that.”

**********

End of Season 2

The Journey of Graves will continue in the tenth story: There's a Reason They Call it a Crush

Comments ( 89 )
Taxus #1 · Jun 9th, 2013 · · ·

Sir, I wish I could convey the joy, the jubilation, which I am experiencing at this moment. The English language, however, fails me. Here, I witness a story of true love conquering overpowering fear, uniting two souls in its healing embrace, and even though it is fictional, it gives me faith.

I nearly cried that was so amazing

Fantastic ending, great job! :twilightsmile:

My reaction to the update:

My reaction to the chapter in general:

BLOODY BRILLIANT!

AMAZING!..needs a muffin button

That was a very fitting end, and very well timed, too. I was just about to go to sleep when this showed up. I think this was well worth the lost sleep.

GentlemanJ, you motherfucker! You did it again! You have once again expressed your creativity and built up the best story I have ever read. I fucking love you, dude. I just fucking love you. You keep me excited and enthralled at every turn. I am sure that even someone like Pen Stroke would look up you. Excellent job, my friend. Excellent job.

Roll on season 3.
Pretty much the only thing going through my head right now is: "When can I see more?"

ABOUT DAM TIME!:flutterrage::flutterrage::flutterrage::flutterrage::flutterrage::flutterrage::flutterrage::flutterrage::flutterrage:

Also... there is at least one more arch before the story of Graves is put to rest, isn't there?

Now, how much of that did the other girls hear or did they only see the kiss?:heart:

Season 3?! OH DEAR GOD IT ACTUALLY DOES GET BETTER THAN THIS?! FUCK YES!

clap...clap...clap-clap...clap-clap-clap...CLAP-CLAP-CLAP...*Spontaneous applause*

Well done sir, well done indeed. I was bawling by the beginning.

I can't say it enough, but damn you're a damn good, nay, an amazing-greatacular-spontendous-spunkgargle-wee-wee author.
Props to you sir.

…I don't know what to feel now!
I want to laugh at Graves' potentially suicidal bluntness when he confesses to Rarity, but his tragic backstory and the tension between the two dull it down. But I can't cry because it's SO DAMN HEARTWARMING!

So now I'm just sitting in my chair, with a ball of mixed feelings in my chest and an idiotic smile on my face.

I applaud you for giving this arc the closure it deserves, and eagerly await the next season.

Hell yeah!

“You know something I don’t?” Graves remarked. All he got was another coy smile in reply.

... *ing moron. She could write an entire LIBRARY with shit you don't know. She's a WOMAN, okay? They know EVERYTHING! (Except for why you left and stuff, but that's different!)

That all too familiar road to torment loomed large in his site, but it wasn't yet too late to turn back.

That site should be sight.

That was quite possibly the best love confession I have ever read. I shed manly tears today.

Moral of the story. Any man who is willing to own more than one pair of colored socks for ya has to be a keeper. Yup, definitely the moral of the story. Don't look at me like I am crazy!:pinkiecrazy:

EEERRRRMMMIIIIIIIGGGGAAAAAAHHHHHHDDDD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I you are a master writer good sir, a true master in the story telling arts,

:pinkiehappy: And this isn't the end! SEASON 3!

Huzzah!

Though I do expect one of the othe girls to get a love interest arc as a subplot next season

Odd,I swore I added you to my watch list and yet your update didn't show up for me. Still glad I was hopping around stories. A good end for the season. I'm sure I'll be waiting in anticipation of the next season. Just out of curiosity,do you have plans for how many seasons you'll do or will you write until you decide to end it when you feel the Journey of Graves has come to an end ?

So beautiful...they should have sent a poet

Also:

The Journey of Graves will return soon.

best ending ever. Gotta feel a little sorry for Spike though. Wonder what you've got planned for season 3.

I have no videos or images that show how pleased I am with this ending to season two. The closest thing I can think of would be VJ Day celebration level, complete with a salute from the main guns of a battleship.

You sir, have my approval. I look forward to the next installment. Carry on good sir.

Girl you love leaving without you? Simple. Damage an airship an risk court Marshall, then sneak on board..........Graves, you did good.

And that entire section with Rarity........
images.encyclopediadramatica.se/9/98/Manly_tears_big_mac.jpg

I can't wait for season three, and I'm still hoping forsome AH x Hemmingmane.

I was grinning like a maniac by the end of this chapter. Bravo. Looking forward to Season 3.

:facehoof: So much for stealth and not getting caught in an act, by his own description, "declaring war on Equestria." There's no way that would blow over well in the long run. If I were Ironside, at the very least he'd be paying for that engine.

read it all in one night and was worth it

You've done it once again J. And thank god for there being another season, now I finally have the answer I wanted last time! You have done a wonderful job in transforming the original character of Graves into what he is now. You have single handedly restored my faith in modern English literature writers. Good job.

this was so amazing. Season 3 can't come fast enough.

What a great closer, and another season is great! Thanks for using your authoring skills to create such a remarkable story.

I cried. Thank you GentlemanJ, thank you for this masterpiece.

I just love a happy ending!:pinkiehappy: Bit cliché, but that's just fine!:twilightsmile:
Can't wait to see how his journey continues!

Bout time! :pinkiehappy:

GOD MY OH!!! YES YES!!!

That closing exchange. Rarity has just issued Graves a challenge and he's the sort of guy who doesn't back down from a challenge!

It is a truth though: real courage is found in living with and surmounting your fears.

I hate being emotionally invested in things! Darn you! you almost made me cry. I guess it just tells you how well the story is written. Thanks for all your continued hard work and I look forward to season 3.

So has anyone figured out how to like something twice? Because I would like to submit about a thousand likes on this. Wonderful, Fantastic, Amazing.

Looks like I wrote my last praise a little early, let's make renovations to that house. Maybe a giant statue of Rarity and Graves is in order... Either way, a glorious end to the season good sir, and I eagerly await the time of the next segments of this wonderful adventure!

I still find the dialogue amazing in this story. It's so amazing and shows the character and truth behind them so well that I don't think I could ever come close if I were to attempt to write anything similar.

Wooooooooooooooooooooot!

So satisfying to see how this all came together. Now to tie up all the lose ends so we can get this all wraped up in an awesome bow and call it done.

Even the Discord-impersonating 'Called it' cannot stop the actual manly tear of joy I shed when reading this.

There are two kinds of endings to a story that make people enjoy reading it, the Happy Ending and the Right Ending. Everyone understands the Happy Ending, the good stuff happens to the good guys, and the bad stuff happens to the bad guys (or they're redeemed and on probation), that's what makes them happy. Right Endings are usually the purview of fables and cautionary tales, where people get the actual results of their stupid actions, but learn from them and are better people despite never getting what they actually wanted in the first place.

What you've managed to do here, much like some of the best writers I've read in twenty long years of fiction appreciation, study and creation... is combine them.

Okay there's the overtones of Happy in this ending, but it's also the Right one. Why? Because you made sure that there was no way that anybody would be tied to anybody else, but that they did it willingly and in full knowledge of what they would be facing in order to do so.

You let the fish go, only to have it tap-dance its way back into the net. Maybe that's the wrong image... :twilightsmile:

I'm terribly impressed, and a little jealous, of the style and aplomb you've pulled this off with. Even at the points of highest emotion, the characters were in character, the dialogue read as if spoken and the reactions were exactly human. Oh, maybe you spoiled it just a little by telling the girls that it was a lightning strike, but that little bit of warning certainly did allow Rarity to compose herself and give him that little pause to notice the real details, which I did appreciate.

Well done, that author, well done. And the very fact that you've got even more planned? I don't quite believe you have more that could top this, but if you really do, then I'm not even sure that I'll have the verbiage to describe my reaction to it.

Good luck, and until next time!

My feels... WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO MY FEELS

So, I'm guessing this is the end of Part IX. If the last lines are any indication, I'll bet the next arc is a "Trouble on the Homefront"-esqe type of thing. Or maybe it's Graves adapting to civilian life.

Whatever the case, I'll be looking forward to the next one.

!FINALLY! That is all.:raritywink:

Well it's about damn time. now for sexy time to commence.:pinkiehappy::heart::rainbowkiss:

you know, I love this story, I really do but at the same time it just makes me sad because I know that no matter what I do or how hard I try my writing, my character, and my story in general can never be anywhere near half this good. But damned if it isn't worth that realization to read this story which is so amazing that no words can aptly describe it. Thank you sir for bringing us this amazingness and I eagerly await the continuation.

Wow...just wow. Pure epicness. Thank you GentlemanJ for such an incredible series. I shall wait patiently for more.

Can't wait for the next story. Graves is awesome. :pinkiehappy:

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