The Harem Noses [Old Edition]

by Irrespective

3.- Moonrise

“You know, it would have been nice to have a least a little warning about this multiple marriage thing,” Cadence tried to keep a bitter note out of her voice, but could not help but see the faint wince from Auntie Celestia as they slowly traversed the hallway that led to the north tower. “Shiny deserved better, too.”

“Indeed, but I did not wish to taint your decision,” Celestia softly replied, her proud ears drooping slightly in that way that always tore at Cadence’s heart. It irked her, because Celestia had always been able to manipulate the young alicorn with the most understated of gestures instead of any punishment for the trouble that an unguarded cookie jar or fun slippery banister caused. Well, she was not a little filly any more, and Cadence tried to firm her resolve while continuing their ‘argument.’

“My decision?”

“What would you have done if I had told you about this when you first started to court Shining Armor, or any other stallion for that matter? I did not tell you because I believed you would be more concerned with finding somepony who would be right for me, instead of following your heart. I feared that you would then decide that finding one who was worthy would be impossible, and that you’d give up the endeavor altogether. You care deeply for others, dear niece, and I couldn’t bear to think that you would deny yourself the pleasures and joys of marriage for any reason.”

“But you would have been Shiny’s wife, too.”

“Yes,” Celestia said with a slow nod. “But I would have kept my big mouth shut. You never would have known. I can keep a secret, after all.” Celestia let out her breath in what only technically could be called a sigh, but any train engineer would have recognized the release of pressure that kept an over-stressed boiler from exploding at any moment .

Cadence’s cadence slowed slightly. “Really? You wouldn’t have wanted—”

“No. I would have refused any such offer.” Only Cadence’s long experience with her aunt caught the tiny quiver of her bottom lip and the moment of fierce longing in her eyes, before the legendary iron control returned.

“But, you deserve to be happy too, Auntie Celestia. We could have come to some sort of agreement.” Trying her best to put on a show at levity, Cadence added, “Alternate Tuesdays, perhaps.”

Celestia’s face twisted into a grimace as they rounded the last corner to Mister Bean’s guest room. “Well, what could have been is entirely moot at this point. Baked Bean is our…” Celestia cleared her throat “husband now, so we must deal with the situation as it stands. I am sorry things have not progressed they way they should have, Cadence. Shining Armor was perfect for you, and you both would have been happy together.”

Cadence nodded slowly to this, and she inhaled deeply. “We would have, but what’s done is done.”

“Just please don’t mention any of this to Luna. She feels quite horrible enough already, and we don’t need to add to her misery.”

“I won’t.”

“Thank you, and good luck with Mister Bean. If there is anything I can do to help comfort him, please let me know. I will do what I can.”

“As will I.”

Celestia offered a sad smile. “I am most fortunate to have a niece who is so thoughtful and devoted. I will be in my drawing room, if you need me.”

Another nod was shared, and Cadence offered her own sad smile while her beloved Aunt walked away. While she did still feel slighted and hurt over the situation, Celestia had spoken the truth, and Cadence knew that she needed to put her own feelings behind her for now. Mister Bean’s wounds would be the deepest, and she was determined to care for him just as she would have for Shining Armor.

She was a Princess of Equestria, and it was now time to act like one.

“Mister Bean?” she called out with a gentle tap on his door. “May I come in?”

Princess Cadence’s ear flicked as it waited for a reply to come back, but the only response was a sniffling grunt that sounded vaguely affirmative. After a moment of debate, she decided the noise was as close as she was going to get to a yes, and she gently nudged the door open.

Her heart broke a little when she saw a Bean shaped lump under the blankets of the bed, with a sniffling yellow nose sticking out of one end. With a long breath, Cadence simply plopped her rear down on the bed next to him, and she felt the shiver of fear that ran up the length of his spine before one of his rear legs began to shake uncontrollably.

“Shining Armor isn’t actually going to kill you, you know,” she offered as she glanced around at the accommodations.

“Of course he won’t,” Bean whispered back. “He’s a Lieutenant. There’s probably some super-secret execution squad that specializes in silent eliminations that’ll come end me.”

“You’ll be happy to learn that no such thing exists. Even if it did, he wouldn’t do that either. He’s not that type of pony. He’s just… confused, and a little angry.”

“If you’re trying to make me feel better, it isn’t working. Saying he’s a little angry is like saying Mount Canter is a little hill.”

Cadence’s mouth opened, then snapped shut. Debating the point with him wasn’t going to help right now, and she could see why he would have a hard time believing her. “So, how are you holding up?”

“Oh, I’m just peachy,” he snorted with a slight note of derision tainting his words. “I’m married to three princesses all at the same time just because I couldn’t believe the truth that was staring me right in the face. If I had just…”

“Just what?” Cadence kindly asked after a lengthy pause.

“It doesn’t matter,” he bitterly said. “I’m dead, one way or another. If Shining Armor doesn’t get to me, you will, and if you don’t, the populace will. I don’t think anypony is ever going to forgive me for this one.”

“Why should I forgive you, particularly since you haven’t done anything wrong?”

“Oh, don’t start with that!” Bean sat up quickly and sent the blanket flying. “‘It wasn’t you, it was Nightmare Moon,’ right? If there had been even an ounce of intelligence in my empty skull, I wouldn’t have been anywhere near the Castle of the Two Sisters. I would have been home, where I was supposed to be, doing what I was supposed to be doing. Nightmare Moon would have been defeated by Twilight Sparkle—who also is going to kill me, I’m sure—and you would have married Shining Armor, like you were supposed to. It doesn’t matter what anypony says. In the end, I was not supposed to be in the castle.”

“Are you sure about that?”

“I’m pretty extra sure with sugar on it, yes. I hope you’re not suggesting that there was some sort of fate involved with this.”

Cadence smiled softly, and her gaze went to the ceiling. “Fate is a fickle thing, if we really look at it. Ponies have often found themselves in places where they never expected to be, doing things they would never normally do. Take Twilight, for example. She was Celestia’s student, and up until two days ago, she expected to continue her studies at Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns by herself. Friends were a terrible distraction, an inconvenience, and a waste of time. Then, out of the blue, her mentor sends her to a small town to make friends, and during that process, she defeats an ancient evil that everypony thought was a myth.

“Even I have been affected by the winds of destiny before today, Mister Bean. I never thought I would be a Princess. When I was a filly, I was just a regular pegasus, living in Cloudsdale and doing perfectly ordinary things. If you had told me then that, one day, I would have a horn, I would have laughed in your face and wondered if the altitude was getting to you.

“So, who knows? Maybe all of this was meant to be, in some way.”

Bean’s eyes darted back and forth as he thought this over. “That’s still quite a stretch, you gotta admit.”

“Perhaps, but I think you should remain open to the idea.”

Bean shook his head. “I can’t make any promises.”

“Fair enough. Do you need anything, Mister Bean? More blankets, maybe, or perhaps something to snack on?”

“Why are you so nice?” he blurted.

“Why shouldn’t I?” she countered.

“Because I just upended your whole life and took you away from your true love. I really thought you’d be screaming and hollering the next time we met, if not just strangling me outright.”

Cadence offered a cold and distant smile. “Praesentia ex res praeteritas prudenter agit, ne ea actiones futuras deturpet.”


“It’s an old phrase I was taught when I first came to Canterlot. ‘From the experience of the past, the present acts prudently, lest it spoil future actions.’ Mister Bean, you can be assured that I am not without feeling in this matter. I am dumbfounded, disappointed, dismayed, and angry, but experience tells me that lashing out with those emotions will accomplish nothing. Despite my pains, I am choosing to act prudently in this matter, so that the future will be as good as it can be. I think it would be for the best if we worked together as we move forward in this strange endeavor, rather than constantly being at each other’s throats. We can figure all of this out, somehow.”

“I really, really hope so,” he murmured to the bedsheets.

Cadence wanted to say more, but she could see that Bean needed some time to ponder over what she had said. Without a word, she stood and left the room, but once in the hallway, she turned around and stuck her head back in the doorway.

“Trust in Harmony, Bean, and hope for the best. It might be all we can do at the moment, but it’s better than having no hope at all.”

Bean nodded slowly. “Thanks. I’ll try to, I guess.”

* * * *

“Mister Bean? Are you in here?”

Baked Bean rose from the desk, crossed the room, and slowly opened the door just a crack. He was not at all surprised to find Princess Luna on the other side, but his left rear leg began to hammer against the floor in terror once he got a good look at his visitor.

“Forgive me for not being present for most of the day, dear husband. I have been engaged in singular combat against that fearsome foe known as bureaucracy; but I have vanquished their champion, the foul red tape, and I am now at your disposal.”

“What in Equestria are you wearing?!” he breathlessly asked.

Luna glanced over herself, which brought a soft tinkling noise from the small silver bells that adorned her accoutrements. “Well, these are the Royal Shackles,” she held up a forehoof and presented the silver chains for his inspection “and the Consort’s Collar,” she pointed to the thick black choker that clung tightly to her neck “and the Leash of Obedience, and the Bridle of the Newlywed Bride, and—”

“Why are you wearing all of that?!” he hastily clarified.

“Is there something wrong with a wife wishing to please her husband?” Luna replied with a small pout. “After all, one of the many glorious benefits of marriage is to have another as your own, to share in the splendor of our bodies, to merge in the immortal dance of pleasure of procreation, and bring forth from our passions new life—”

All four of Bean’s legs began to quiver and buckle as his imagination provided a detailed image of what Luna was talking about, and he had to put one hoof on the doorframe to steady himself. “You… want to…”

“Is there something about these modern times that says we should not?” Luna asked. “A taboo, or some rule that I am unaware of that prevents a married couple from engaging in—”

“No, there’s nothing like that,” Bean cut her off again, desperate to somehow change the conversation. “In fact, most ponies would think there’s something very wrong with a couple who doesn’t do all of that. It’s just that, um…”

“Just what?” Luna pressed, with a slight jingling toss of her head.

“Well, you’re a princess. I’m a commoner. I’m sure that those two were never meant to intermingle, even a thousand years ago.”

Luna snorted at that. “Rubbish and poppycock. My first husband was just as common as you are, and we spent many wonderful years together. That notion was invented by the ‘nobility’ to artificially increase their own station and to make themselves feel more important.”

“Oh. I thought that, um…” Bean hesitated for a moment, then quickly sucked in a breath. “Anyway, I just met you. Nowadays, ponies like to get to know each other before they get serious in a relationship.”

Luna tilted her head in confusion, and Bean really wished she’d stop moving and making those little bells chime. It was sending a shiver of delight through his skin, and he hated it. “How peculiar. In my time, it was far preferable to secure a mate as quickly as possible. A mare needed to find a provider and a caregiver, one who was strong and would defend her from any threats. There was plenty of time to get to know a husband after you married them.”

“I have a hard time believing you ever needed a provider, or a protector.”

Luna bobbed her head from side to side in thought. “Perhaps not so much for myself and my sister, yes.”

“And besides, the only reason we are married is because—”

Bean snapped his own words off when Luna’s face twisted into one of torment and anguish. Though she was obviously trying to suppress them, large tears began to build in the corners of her eyes, and one slid down her cheek before she replied.  “Because I forced us together.”

“No, Nightmare Moon did.”

“Mister Bean, let me explain something very clearly to you—I am Nightmare Moon, and Nightmare Moon is me. There is no simpler way of putting it. As much as you or I might want to dismiss my atrocities by blaming them on another, the simple fact of the matter is the Nightmare gave me the power to do what I wanted. I am the one who craved attention, I am the one who longed for a night eternal, and I am the one who swore the Oath Tripartite and bound us together for the rest of your days.

“Now, having said that, it is clear that your heart holds no love within it for me. I apologize for disturbing your evening, and I will harass you no more.”

“Luna, wait!” Bean quickly flung the door open, but she had pulled her hoof away from him before he could reach her. With a desperate twist, Bean flopped to the ground and managed to bite down on the Leash of Obedience. Instantly, the Princess froze in her tracks just the same as Bean’s mind came to a screeching halt.

“What is it?” she whispered.

It took a moment for Bean to cautiously put down the Leash of Obedience, lick his dry lips, and make words. “Look, that was stupid of me, and I’m sorry. I’m just feeling very confused and overwhelmed right now, and I have a hard time believing that you are interested in having our relationship be so intimate so soon.”

Luna said nothing in response, so Bean pressed on. “Just be a little patient with me, please. If there really is no way to undo this marriage, then I don’t want to spend the rest of my life with an angry wife. I’m going to say and do a lot of stupid things, despite my attempts to avoid doing so, and I really don’t want to be condemned for that.” He paused again, and added in a soft voice, “Kinda like how you don’t want to be condemned for what you may or may not have done.”

Luna’s eyes remained on his prone form for a moment, but then they went to her own hooves. “I would rather not remain angry with you, as well. All is forgiven, dear husband. Come! It is time for me to raise the moon. I have not done so for a thousand years, and I would very much appreciate your support in this endeavor.”

“Uh, sure,” he replied as his brain tried to catch up from the sudden mood swing. “I can come with you. Just one thing.”


“Are you going to raise the moon while wearing this?” Bean asked with a small tug on the leash.

“Is there a reason why I should not?”

“Um…” Bean released his grip and took a step back. “No. No, there isn’t.”

“Sister? Mister Bean?” Celestia’s voice came over Bean’s shoulder, and he whirled in alarm and with a small squeak of fear while flinging himself up against the nearby wall.

“Princess Celestia! This isn’t what it looks like!”

Celestia glanced between him and Luna. “It isn’t? I thought you two were discussing the raising of the moon.”

“Well, we were, but, um…”

“Or do you refer to my Sister’s manner of dress?” Celestia tapped one hoof to her chin. “That does remind me. I should ensure that my own Consort’s Collar is in good repair, and my Royal Shackles will need to be lubricated. I think I left them in my closet somewhere, perhaps on that upper shelf with my red stilettos. I will ensure they are ready for your use, Mister Bean, before you bed me.”

Baked Bean could only come up with one appropriate response to that.

He fainted dead away.

* * * *

“Really, Mister Bean, I am sorry for using so much water,” Celestia offered once more to the still-sopping prince. “Should you happen to faint again, I will simply summon Doctor Horsenpfeffer for your care.”

“It’s all right,” Bean sputtered. With a plop, he parked his rear on the cool marble of the large and ornate balcony, and he began to wring out his tail. “I just need to watch my thoughts better.”

“Luna? Are you ready?”

The nocturnal princess gazed at the distant hills, and she drew in a slow and unsteady breath. “No, and it may be several years until I am. You should bring it up, Sister.”


The whispered nickname caught Bean’s attention, and his eyes went to Celestia while Luna glanced up with a small jingle of her bells. “Tia?”

“The moon is rightfully yours, and I will not touch it unless I absolutely must.” Celestia’s horn lit, but her head dipped slightly as the sun slid below the western hills. “You said, once, that I never gave you the respect you deserve. Over the last thousand years, I have had much time to ponder upon how right you were, and how wrong of me it was to treat you that way. I refuse to do so again, dear Sister. I will honor your position as Princess, and I will give you the veneration you are owed. You have always been my equal, and it is high time that my actions reflect that truth.”

Luna nodded slightly, and Bean could see the confusion—and the building delight—in her eyes with the words from her elder sister. It was clear that he needed to be completely reeducated in ancient Equestrian history, since he had never been given a solid reason for Luna’s jealousy. Evey account presented Celestia as infalliably right and Luna as a greedy, power-hungry mare who just wanted more and more. The truth, it seemed, was far more nuanced than that, but at least he could obtain the truth straight from the source.

Or, the truth according to Luna, at least. While he had to admit that he had not retained much information from his high school literary classes, he did remember that a pony’s view could be tainted by bias and emotion. Luna would, doubtless, have her own version of what happened, and it would be just as valid as Celestia’s version, or any other version that may exist.

“Go ahead, Sister,” Celestia gently urged, with a quick hug. “Bring up the moon.”

Even Bean, being the idiotic, common plebeian that he was, could feel the weight of destiny that came with those words. A thousand years ago, Celestia had been forced into combat—and had her sister banished—because the Moon refused to yield to the Sun.

Now, the Sun was willingly offering the sky.

With a hard swallow and a small nod, Luna turned to the eastern hills. For several long moments she remained motionless, but Bean somehow knew she was questioning herself. He wasn’t sure how he knew—perhaps it was because her ears were splayed back against her head, or maybe it was how her cropped tail flicked and twisted—but he knew, all the same.  Would she be able to control the moon, after so long? Would the Darkness again overtake her? Could she trust herself to correctly perform her duties?

The last seemed to be the weightest of all. It was certainly one Bean was more than familiar with, and not in a good way.

With a gentle clearing of her throat, Celestia again prompted Luna. The Princess of Eventide closed her eyes tightly, lit her horn, and ever-so carefully reached out. She began to mutter through clenched teeth, and though he could not clearly hear her words, she seemed to be rebuking herself, with severe admonishments to do what she needed to do without screwing it up.

Well, that last bit was probably what he would be saying, but the idea was similar.

A sliver of silver moon began to peek over the hills, unsure if it was really allowed to come out to play. By inches, it slowly continued, as if it was ready to beat a hasty retreat at the slightest sign of trouble. It was, in all likelihood, the slowest moonrise in the history of Equestria, but Celestia said nothing about the delay.

After what felt like several hours and with a few whimpers of fear, Princess Luna finally finished her task, and the full moon hung heavy and somewhat proudly in the vast field of summer stars. With a smug grin of deep satisfaction, Luna turned to her sister and puffed out her chest.

“How was that, Tia?”

“I could not have done it better myself,” Celestia said with a pleased grin. “Welcome back, Sister.”

Bean leaned back slightly as the bells on Luna jingled with her happy bouncing. Maybe his eyes were playing tricks on him, but had the Princess grown an inch or two while the moon was rising?

It didn’t matter, he decided. Despite everything that happened over the last forty eight hours, he did have to admit that seeing the Princess of the Night cheering like a schoolfilly made him feel warm inside. For the first time in a thousand years, she had performed her appointed duty, and the glee that flowed from her quickly washed over everypony and brought smiles to their faces.

“HUSBAND!” Luna bellowed at a volume that physically shoved Bean backwards just before she pranced over and tackled him. “We hath done it! Come, let us celebrate this most momentous occasion in our private chambers, where we shall engage in a most glorious rort! Guards! Bring forth the finest vintage that can be obtained from the stores! The swiving shall last all night!”

“What?! Wait!” Bean tried to protest, but it was useless. With a casual flick of her magic, Luna hauled the panicking prince into the air and began to levitate him towards her room. “No! Hold on a minute! This is too much, too fast! I don’t drink! Help! At least let me pick the wine!”

* * * *

“I wasn’t really going to kill him, you know,” Shining Armor said with a sulking pout.

“I know, but put yourself in his horseshoes,” Cadence replied while she crawled across the Princess De Luxe* sized bed. “For most of the day, you two were at least friendly, and then all of a sudden you’re shouting death threats. You scared him, and he didn’t even do anything wrong.”
*”For all of your Celestia-sized needs!” -Quills and Sofas

“I know, I know. I’ll make it up to him, somehow.”

“I’m sure you will, Lieutenant,” Cadence said while crawling over his prone form and giving his cheek a peck.

“So, what happens to us now?”

Cadence snorted hard, which ruffled Shining’s mane. “I don’t know. I hate to say it, but we may have to stop seeing each other.”

Shining rolled over and pulled in his stolen love with his forehooves. “Do you really think that either of us could walk away from each other?”

“No, and that’s what scares me the most about what has happened. Baked Bean will not press any sort of relationship with me, or my aunts, but the palace has eyes and ears everywhere. The tabloids would roast us alive for years if they find out we are still together. It would send your career crashing into the ground in flames.”

“Maybe I should just walk away from the Royal Guard. If it means that I could still have you, somehow—”

“Don’t you even joke about that,” Cadence threatened with a nip to his ear. “You’ve put in so much time and effort, and I know you love it. Don’t throw away your dreams, Shiny. I couldn’t live with myself if you did because of me.”

“You’re right, as always. But that still leaves us right back where we started.”

“We’ll figure something out,” she assured him with a weak smile. “As Auntie Celestia always says, ‘trust in Harmony.’ We have tonight and each other. Let’s let that be enough for now.”

“With you, it is always enough,” Shining cooed while he turned off the lights.

There was a long, dark silence, broken by Cadence’s soft voice. “Shiny, what’s the word for a male courtesan?”

The tickling lasted forever.