• Published 12th Aug 2017
  • 40,700 Views, 4,191 Comments

No Nose Knows - Irrespective

An ancient law thrusts the Common and the Royal together over a pair of noses.

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2. - Let Me Explain...

Dear Princess Twilight,

Please forgive the abruptness of this message, but I have an urgent matter at hoof that I am in need of your assistance with. I understand you are visiting your brother and Cadence in the Crystal Empire, so please believe I would not disturb you without due cause and concern.

The very first thing I want you to do is not panic! There is no great threat to Equestria, no vile villain who will destroy everything we hold dear bent on our destruction. I want you to now take seventeen deep breaths, calculate pi out to the one hundred and fifteenth digit, and then continue reading this letter.

Now that you are calm again, I need you to to do some research for me. Enclosed with this letter is a facsimile of an ancient law that was passed in the Pre-Unification era, a law that you will soon find to be quite interesting, to put it mildly.

And now that you have finished reading it, let me explain your task. As you can see, if the marriage clause was to be activated somehow it could lead to great difficulties. I would greatly appreciate it if you would review the law for any sort of loophole, technicality, or any other discrepancy that could be used to nullify it. If such exists, please notify me immediately of its existence and I will use it to render the whole thing null and void.

I’m afraid I cannot offer more details at this time, but I will share them when I am able. If it would help, please see if Shining Armor and Cadence would be willing to assist with your task. You have my permission to share the details of this message and the law with them.

Awaiting your response,

Princess Celestia

P.S. You may want to take a few precautions against your own nose being touched as well.

Celestia let out a breath she had seemed to be holding since beginning the letter. After a last check for errors—which would only disturb Twilight—she placed her quill back in the writing desk, capped the inkwell, and sent the stack of papers through her magic to Spike. Only then did she remember to check the clock, and was relieved at the hour. Twilight’s most faithful dragon assistant was probably not eating anything at this time of day, and since food and magic missives tended to mix during the delivery process, the probable panic would be lessened by a foodless document.

And while the task she had set her faithful student upon was urgent, Celestia felt quite embarrassed about having to pass her responsibilities on to others.


She then rose from her desk. Identical letters—phrased somewhat differently than Twilight’s—had also been sent to judges, attorneys, and the finest legal minds at the greatest universities Equestria could offer. Between that and Twilight’s own intensive review, Celestia felt confident there was some sort of simple way out of this little mess she found herself entangled within.

In the meantime, she really had neglected her forced-fiancé for long enough, and it was time to give him a more in-depth explanation into what was going on.

“Uh, Princess Celestia?” Baked Bean’s voice drifted in through her chamber doors. “Are you just about done? I could really use your help out here!”

“One of the guards is giving him trouble about lollygagging in the hallways, no doubt,” she murmured to herself, with a short laugh. “They’re always so dedicated, so sharp…”

Celestia’s magic opened her doors, and there was Baked Bean, sure as sure. But towering before him, and giving him the most intense and critical evil eye that had ever been given, was…

“Luna?” Celestia asked. “How did you return so quickly?

“This is your intended?” she replied, her gaze unwavering.

“Yes, but only until I find—”

“He’s a rather homely looking thing, is he not?”

“Hey!” Bean indignantly replied. “I’m no royal, sure, but that’s just rude!”

“But feisty,” Luna continued, and a small smirk emerged onto her face as she tilted her head to examine Baked Bean in a more introspective fashion. “You could have done worse, I suppose. That particular shade of yellow is not displeasing to the eye, and you have always had a weakness for the chocolate which his mane does bear a passing resemblance to.”

“It’s earth-brown,” he remarked with a subconscious swipe of his hoof through it.

“With that yellow coloration, it is little wonder that he managed to disguise himself among your precious sunflowers, Celly.” Luna’s eyes turned cold and stern. “Tell me, cur, how long did it take you to formulate this dastardly plan, and how did you come to know of the marriage clause?”

“I didn’t… uh…” Bean lost the ability to speak as Luna leered at him again with even greater intensity and a slight lean forward to punctuate her point.

“Speak, cur, if you wish to remain in this household with all of your limbs intact.”

“Enough, Luna. Quit scaring the poor pony.” Celestia bumped her shoulder to break her staredown. “This is merely an accident.”

“You intend for me to believe he somehow accidentally managed to touch your nose with his?” Luna flatly replied. “I suppose you have a bridge in Manehattan to sell me next, yes?”

“A rather nice one that spans the Hoofston,” Celestia replied. “Yes, Luna, I’m dead serious. It was an accident. My accident. I was sniffing my sunflowers, and over-sniffed.”

“Hmph!” Luna snorted. “If you insist. I shall forebear judgement against this cur for now. But I will be watching closely for any treachery, and I will not endure it if I find he is confederate with one of our enemies. His execution will solve the problem rather quickly.”

“Execution?” Bean whimpered, and the color drained from his coat.

“No pony is getting executed,” Celestia replied. “Please, Luna, be nice. This poor stallion has had an extremely difficult day, and he doesn’t need you adding stress right now.”

Luna didn’t reply verbally, but she did point to her own eyes with one hoof, then to Bean. She then turned with a snap and trotted out of the hallway.

“I still expect you at dinner!” Celestia called after her. She then sighed and turned back to the quite-thoroughly-intimidated Baked Bean. “Please, don’t mind her. She’s just looking out for me, that’s all.”

“She’s certainly forthright with you, isn’t she?” he replied, though his gaze remained on the hallway, as if fearing a surprise encore.

“She is, but it’s one of her better traits. You never have to guess what she’s thinking. Luna does not play those kinds of mind games. Now, I believe I owe you a better explanation as to why we are to be wed.”

The yellowish stallion nodded slowly, but with less panic than Celestia had expected. “I would appreciate some clarification on that.”

“Are you hungry at all? Thirsty? I can have something light sent up to enjoy while we discuss things.”

“Well, I don’t think I’m all that hungry, but—”

His stomach suddenly rumbled, and quite loudly. He smiled sheepishly as Celestia giggled behind a hoof.

“—I do believe I could snack on something if you were kind enough to provide it.”

“I know just the thing.” She then nodded to a nearby butler. He quickly moved over to them without messing up his pristinely folded towel, and bowed to the Princess.

“Yes, Your Highness? What can I get for you?”

“Would you please have my special blend sent to my drawing room, please? And make it a double this time.”

“Of course.” He bowed again. “I shall have it prepared at once.”

“Thank you,” she replied, and she motioned with a hoof down another hallway as the butler left. “Just this way, Mister Bean. Everything I need to help explain this problem is in my drawing room.”

“Am I even allowed in there? I am just a commoner, after all.”

“Well, if no loophole can be found, then you will be a Prince, and then that takes care of that,” she said with a chuckle. “My drawing room is really nothing fancy, just a cozy spot with a few soft pillows, some personal books and mementos.”

He nodded to this before following her down the hallway. It was only two left turns to their destination, thankfully, and Celestia pushed open the door with her magic before stepping out of the way and allowing him to enter first.

From his awestruck expression, Celestia was afraid she may have undersold the concept of a simple drawing room. Compared to the rest of the castle, it was not much, just over three of her body lengths to a side with a floor-to-ceiling window on one side to allow plenty of natural light in. The cushions were plush and overstuffed, made of the finest velvets and silks, and there was a distinct possibility that Celestia would be unable to get Bean off of them once he setted in. Bookshelves lined one wall, with hardbound codices of all sizes and colors and various scrolls scattered amongst the tops of them. The other wall held a few scenic paintings, a portrait of the Royal Sisters, and a few small sentimental items upon some shelves. A round table sat in the middle of the room for the final touch of elegance, with legs short enough to allow a pony to spread out on the pillows next to it and still reach across the whole table with ease.

“What do you think?” Celestia asked.

“I’m not quite sure,” he replied. “It’s everything you said it was, of course. I’m just trying to think of the right words to describe it.”

“What words would you use?” she asked while they both settled down by the table.

“Cozy, for sure,” he replied. “Comforting, even. Relaxing, serene. Oh, but see? I use the same words over and over for things like this!”

“You do?” she asked over his deep groan of frustration.

“Yes! I was using the exact same words to describe the sunflowers, and the gardens in general! I really need to broaden my vocabulary. This is ridiculous.”

“Have you considered a thesaurus?”

“A what?” he asked.

Celestia smiled and levitated a book from a nearby shelf. “A thesaurus. It’s a book that gives you words that are similar to other words.”

“Oh, yeah,” he replied, and he took the book from her magic with the same amount of care a pony would give to a crown made of glass. “I remember this. I never did seem to pick the right words, though.”

“It would be wise to use it with a dictionary,” she replied before leaning back slightly and giving him an appraising look.

“You look like my eighth grade teacher did before a pop quiz,” he quipped as he looked over a page.

“How appropriate. I would, indeed, like to give you a short questionnaire.”

“Oh, great,” he moaned.

“I am a Princess first, but I am a teacher second,” she added with a smile. “Asking me to not question and educate is like asking me to not raise the sun. I promise this will be a short quiz, and there will be no grade at the end. I merely wish to get an indication of your educational level.”

“I can save you the trouble. I am not a very good example of the Equestrian educational system.”

“Humor me, then,” she replied. “Really, I believe this would be useful for both of us.”

“All right, all right,” he replied.

“Thank you. I’m thinking five questions should suffice. First: what is your definition for the word verbose?”

“Verbose? Oh, well; that’s easy.” His body visibly relaxed, and he smiled. “That’s using too many words to describe a scene, situation, or pony, especially extravagant words.”

Celestia nodded, and her smile remained pleasant. “Second: What is an antecedent?”

“Oh, feathers.” He tensed up again. “Uh…”

“Take your time,” Celestia said soothingly.

“It’s about something before something else. I honestly don’t remember how or what, though.”

“That’s all right. Third: What is a quatrain?”

“Uh…” he grunted. “I don’t know.”

Celestia nodded again. “You’re doing fine, don’t worry. Fourth: What is a truism?”

Bean beamed brightly. “That’s a short quote or saying, like a proverb or axiom, that is accepted as true and sound but may not necessarily be so.”

“And lastly, what is the definition of innuendo?”

Bean sat up a bit straighter. “That’s when you say something and it has one meaning on the surface, but there’s a subtle underlying message that only some ponies will catch.”

“Very good.” Celestia smiled deeply. “In all honesty, Mister Bean, you have a good foundation in the Equish language. I think you learned a great deal during your elementary schooling, but have forgotten some of it since then, most likely because you haven’t needed it.”

“You really think so?”

“It happens to all ponies in some form or fashion. Unless I can have only one student at a time, I have to share a broad amount of information with a class in order to hopefully cover what each pupil will need in their future. A historian has little need for information in botany, so whatever I teach them about plants will probably be pushed aside a few years afterward. You, up until now, have not needed the formal rules of language, so you’ve forgotten some of them.”

A knock came at the door, and without invitation, the butler from earlier entered, holding a silver domed tray on one hoof. He deftly weaved between the cushions on the floor, deposited the delicious-smelling platter on the table, and then departed with a brief bow nearly as fast as he had arrived.

“He’s good,” Bean remarked. “He has been here for a while, hasn’t he?”

“How can you tell?” Celestia asked, and Bean chuckled a bit.

“Well, I used to work in an upscale restaurant, and I had to learn proper poise, position, and balance. It’s all in the fetlocks, really, but it’s also something that takes time to learn.”

“Interesting,” she replied, as she lifted the lid from the tray. “I’d love to hear more about this later, if you don’t mind.”

“I think it would be really boring, but sure,” he replied, as his eyes swept over the tray. “Hmm, not bad. Good presentation, nice variety. Tea, truffles, wheat crackers, and this?”

Celestia sat back and watched as he picked up a bite-sized, pretzel-shaped snack. He then sniffed it slowly and carefully, gently touched the tip of his tongue to it, and then his eyes rolled back a bit as he thought.

“That’s got too much salt,” he remarked after a moment. “Always a problem with pretzels. Ponies always go crazy with salt, usually to hide bad or bland flavors. That’s a shame, because there’s some nice spring wheat in there, and those slight notes of barley and oat give it a wholesome impression. But then you hit that salt like a brick wall, and… what?”

“And you want to be a writer?” she asked, one eyebrow cocked. “I hope it is as a food critic or cookbook author.”

“No, not about food,” he grumped, and then he shoved the whole pretzel in his mouth.

“Fair enough. Do you enjoy chamomile tea, Mister Bean?”

She had to wait for him to finish chewing first. “Never really liked tea. It all tastes the same to me. Chamomile is nice enough, I suppose.”

“You can’t tell the difference between teas but you can tell me what that pretzel is made out of?”

“Food and beverages are completely different things,” he defended.

Celestia simply shook her head and laughed lightly. “You are a very interesting pony, Mister Bean. Would you care for something else to drink, perhaps?”

“No, tea is fine,” he replied, and he gently took the cup from Celestia.

“Now, before we get sidetracked anymore, let’s go over this little problem of ours.”

“Please,” he replied as he settled into his cushion.

“But where to start?” she asked herself. She stirred in two sugar cubes into her own cup as she thought, but then she smiled. “Well, let’s go back to my youth to start. How did you do in your history lessons?”

“Average, I suppose.” He shrugged.

“So you know the basics of the Unification and my rise to power?”

“Yes, but probably not as well as I should.”

“Let’s recap a little bit then, just to make sure you know all the pertinent details. The Three Tribes had been at odds for decades; this you know. The constant bickering and fighting between them kept ponykind repressed and unproductive, a mere shadow of what we could be.

“I was born into this world of animosity to unicorn parents, a viscount and his wife in fact, and Luna was born two years later. From as early as I can remember, I felt a great deal of anxiety over the way we unicorns conducted ourselves towards our fellow ponies. I had been told all the reasons why we should hate and fear pegasi and earth ponies, but the reasoning and the logic behind it was flawed to me and unacceptable. It did not take long for me to become known as a rabble-rouser and a disruption, but nothing my parents did could stop me from speaking out at the injustice of everything that I saw.

“Luna also fell in line with my ways of thinking, much to my parents’ dismay. With enough time and between the two of us, we caused a sufficient enough ruckus to catch the attention of Princess Platinum and Clover the Clever, her assistant.

“Princess Platinum did not approve of my viewpoint, and she threatened my parents with a loss of titles and lands if I couldn’t be brought in line. Clover, however, was interested in our ‘rebellious nonsense’ and made arrangements to have another meeting with us to discuss my viewpoints.

“When we met for the second time, Clover was impressed with how well thought-out my reasoning was. Though she remained unconvinced and ultimately rebuffed Luna and me, she did tell us that we could be great statesponies if we could give up our views and work instead to bring about a greater Unicorn Kingdom. Obviously, being the young idealists that we were, we chose not to do so.

“Since we continued with our verbal rebellion, my parents were again threatened. Platinum made it quite clear that she was very serious, and that she would not tolerate our actions any more. Luna and I loved our parents, and we did not wish for them to suffer for our choices, so Luna proposed we leave the Unicorns and go to the other tribes. She correctly guessed that a message of acceptance, tolerance and unification would be received better by earth ponies and pegasi if it was spread by unicorns, and so we left one night with little more than a rucksack full of food and a note explaining our departure.”

Bean looked absolutely enthralled at this point. He leaned forward, as if trying to make sure every word Celestia spoke could reach him in the least amount of time and distance, and he held a wide-eyed look of amazement and eagerness. One half-eaten truffle was in his hoof, but it remained suspended halfway up to his mouth, seemingly forgotten in the midst of her tale. Celestia smiled deeply as she took a moment to sip her tea, since his overall stance reminded her quite a bit of a certain faithful student.

“Does all of this make sense so far, Mister Bean?” she asked.

“Yes,” he replied, and then he quickly stuffed the neglected truffle into his mouth. “I mean, this is way interesting. I always had wondered why you went out with Luna to the other tribes. I think my school described it in a sentence. A short sentence.”

“So what happens next in my narrative?” she asked as she picked up a cracker.

“Oh, uh…” he stalled as he thought for a moment. “You and Luna make enough of a splash in the other tribes that Smart Cookie and Private Patsy also meet with you, though I’m not quite sure of all the details surrounding that.”

“We’ll skip that for now. What happened after that?”

“Windigos.” He shuddered. “Then the conference, and the Three deciding to move to a new land to escape the blizzards. One thing I never understood was how all three of them managed to get to the same place.”

“Well, I may not have had much success with the policy-makers of each tribe, but our message of peace for all was received a bit better by the rank and file. Luna and I may or may not have made inroads with each of the official cartographers and scouts, and they ended up in the same place because they may or may not have been ‘persuaded’ to go there.”

“Of course,” he said with a chuckle. “I’d love to ask how you found Equestria but that’s off topic too, isn’t it?”

“Another time, perhaps,” she offered with a wink. “So, we were in a new place but with all the same problems. The Windigos quickly reappeared, and the blizzards were stronger than ever. The pertinent part of this moment is that Luna and I were at the forefront of providing shelter, warmth, and food to the suffering ponies while the three leaders continued to fight. Thankfully, we were able to keep everyone protected until the Three finally realized that Friendship was far better than the status quo.

“Now, this is where it gets a bit complicated, so please stop me if I need to clarify,” Celestia said, before taking another sip of tea. “Once the blizzards cleared, preparations were made to establish the new Kingdom of Equestria. Luna and I, at the recommendation of Clover, were thrust into the forefront of the negotiations and planning that went into forming a new country. Question?”

Bean had stuck his hoof in the air, but now lowered it. “Just so I have my timeline right: you and Luna Ascended before the Three had found the magic of Friendship, correct?”


“Okay. I’m good. Please continue.”

“We did give everyone a bit of a shock when we showed up with wings.” Celestia chuckled, and she gained a wistful aura once more. “I think we spent the vast majority of the very first meeting debating if we should be called alicorns or unipegs.”

“Unipeg doesn’t sound right at all.”

“No, it doesn’t.” Celestia chuckled again. “But as Alicorns, we had quite a bit of sway and pull on the negotiations; well, between the added wings and our previous efforts at reforms, that is.

“Now, this is really important to everything: I was sixteen years old when this process began. I was not three hundred sixteen, or eight hundred sixteen; just plain sixteen. Despite my advanced status, I was still but a child in many respects, and the young are prone to make mistakes.

“Anyway, Princess Platinum had a Duke by the name of Iron Hoof. Apart from Clover, he had the most pull with Platinum because he was Duke over the greatest number of ponies, had held the greatest amounts of land, and was the wealthiest by far. My parents were viscounts under him, so we knew him fairly well and we knew of his personality in private. He was not a pleasant pony to be around, to put it simply, and I won’t deny I was dismayed when he ended up coming to Equestria.

“He then began using his influence to change various things about the new by-laws and regulations we were drafting. For instance, Equestria was originally supposed to be led by a democratically-elected president, much like how the earth ponies did things, but he successfully changed it to be a monarchy like we unicorns had. At times, it made me so angry when I had to deal with him.” Celestia picked up one of the room’s cushions in her magic and lobbed it across the room with a quiet thud. “More than a few pillows met an untimely end at my hooves.

“He was absolutely set upon Equestria being a monarchy, and argued for it endlessly. At first, I couldn’t figure out why he was so adamant about having a King and Queen, but then it hit me like a lightning bolt: he intended to be the King of this new Kingdom.

“I won’t go over how we thwarted that, but the efforts that kept him out put Luna and I in as co-rulers. It seemed to solve the problem at first, until he countered my move with one of his own: he proposed to me in the middle of a subcommittee on tax revenues.”

“No!” Bean gasped. He was totally engrossed in her story now, and Celestia felt pleased that he was so enraptured.

“Yes. Obviously, I didn’t want to marry him, for a great many reasons that we won’t get into, but therein was the problem: if I refused him, I risked losing the unicorns. He had enough sway that he could have pulled us out of the negotiations, and thus undo everything Luna and I had tried to do.

“Now, please remember that I am sixteen years old when he pulls this stunt. Faced with the loss of my life’s work, I panicked. Every solution that I could come to in those few seconds between question and reply ended in either my marriage to him or the end of the Unification. In this panic, I did the first thing that came to my mind: I told him that I could not because he had not touched my nose with his.”

“Why did you…”

“Don’t ask! I can’t even remember why I did it now. I think I blocked it out of my memory,” she added with a pained wince. “My only excuse was panic. Sheer, dumb, childish panic. Naturally, he asked why he had to do such a silly thing to marry me, so I picked up my shovel and promptly dug the hole deeper. I explained that it was Alicorn Law, and that any and all Alicorns, including Luna and myself, were bound by it.

“Then I had to actually produce the law for him to see. I promised that I would show it the next day, and that night, Luna and I worked our tails off to come up with something that would not only look good, but have actual weight to it.”

“You cooked this thing up in one night?”

“Which is why I am hopeful we can find a loophole for our problem,” she answered. “Since we were rushed, there should be something in there we can use.”

“So, does that mean that Luna has to follow this Law too?”

“Yes. She was afraid that he would simply go after her once he failed to trap me, so she signed and agreed to the terms as well.”

Celestia lit her horn and levitated a scroll down from a nearby shelf. She unfurled the document before the visiting Bean for his perusal, and to his eyes a tight cursive script with very little spacing between the lines was revealed, and it threatened to make him go cross-eyed. The whole of it was perhaps as long as Celestia was tall, and the letters of it were actually glowing in a golden yellow hue.

“This is the original Alicorn Law that we authored. Some of it is filled with the ideals that Luna and I had talked over and had agreed we wanted for all ponies: respect for individual ideas, tolerance for those who are different, kindness in the face of anger, love in the face of hate. It was how we wanted to live our lives, and it was how we wanted to rule as Alicorns.

“This clause, though, is the one that affects us at the present.” Celestia used her magic to highlight a rather large section of paragraphs near the middle. “This is my ‘No Nose’ clause. You’re free to read it over, if you’d like.”

“I’ll take your word for it,” he replied. “I can’t read old Equish, and I don’t think I could understand the legal jargon even if I could.”

“As you can see, the script is glowing with my magic. Luna and I bound ourselves to this document once we had finished it, with the very deepest and oldest of magics that we could. We could not deviate from it without losing the very magics that made us, well, us.”

“But you could still veto it, couldn’t you?”

“If I had left it like this, yes,” she replied. “But remember, I was a panicking child at the time. To make sure the Duke couldn’t somehow trick us out of this, I took it to the Three and asked them to be signatories to it as well. That way, the only way it could be revoked is if all five of us agreed to do so.

“Commander Hurricane thought it was the most hilarious thing she’d ever heard of, and she signed off on it while laughing her head off and without even reading the details. Chancellor Puddinghead needed some convincing, but once I promised her that Equestria would have Taco Tuesdays and free balloons on a pony’s birthday she agreed to sign to it as well.

“Princess Platinum loved it, loved my solution to the problem, and signed it with this big loopy signature that took up all off the empty space at the bottom of the scroll.” Celestia’s gaze went distant again, and she turned her head to look out the windows. “You know, for all of the agony we gave each other in the early years, she was one of the greatest allies I had for governing Equestria. Most of what I learned on how to govern effectively was given to me under her tutelage. Her hooves still touch Equestria to this day, in some form or another. I still think about her sometimes, and those lessons. The greatest thing she ever taught me was how to be forgiving of others, and how a pony could change, if they were just given a chance. She was the ultimate example of how a change of heart could happen.”

There was silence for a moment in the room, and Celestia’s gaze drifted to the portrait that hung on the wall.

“Forgive me, Mister Bean. I tend to get sentimental when I reminisce.” Celestia cleared her throat and returned her attention to him. “So, with the backing of the Three, the Alicorn Law was presented to Duke Iron Hoof. I’m pretty sure he knew we’d pulled a fast one on him, but he didn’t try to fight it. He, instead, did what you would assume he would do: he tried his hardest to touch my nose with his.”

“I guess it’s good you picked your nose,” Bean commented. “It’s pretty easy to keep it protected.”

“It was quite fortunate. He tried all sorts of stunts and maneuvers in his efforts to make contact, but I always managed to elude him. As the years went by and as we kept working to keep Equestria going, his attempts slowly tapered off, until one day he finally stopped trying altogether. By the time he finally passed away I’d forgotten I’d even written the thing, and it’s gone on being forgotten until now.”

“Why didn’t Iron Hoof just ask if he could boop your nose?”

“Power. By tricking him like I did, he had to beat me at my own game, or else he would begin to lose the prestige he had. If asked to boop my nose, that put me in the position of control in the relationship. He wanted me to follow his rules, not the other way around.”

There was another pause, and Celestia allowed Bean to process everything he’d heard. The story was perhaps a bit outlandish, but it was the truth, and it was a lot to take in. She had to admit that she’d have a hard time believing it herself, if the tables were somehow turned.

“So, you can’t revoke the law because the Three signed on to it,” he summarized.

“I would need them to officially revoke their signatures. As you know, that would be rather difficult now. Without a shovel, that is.”

“Because your binding magic bound them to it, too.”

“It would take me several hours to explain how that happened, but yes.”

“Great,” he sighed. “How sure are you that there is a loophole?”

“I’m fairly confident there is something in there we can use,” she replied. “A pony does not produce their best work when they are working in a panic, you must admit.”

“That’s true. So, we just have to find it and then we both just walk away as friends and with a laugh?”

“Exactly. And you will have my apologies for the inconvenience. It will make for a funny story later in life, won’t it?”

“Yeah,” he chuckled. “I can just imagine trying to tell ponies how I was engaged to Princess Celestia. So how long do we have to find this loophole? A month, a year, or is there even a time limit?”

“There is,” she replied, and she took a deep breath. “We have three days to find it.”

“What?!” he shouted, and he recoiled off the cushion in shock. “Three days?!”

“Yes, and you really don’t need to shout. I’m right here.”

“Why in Equestria did you make it three days?!”

“Panic,” she stated flatly. “Mister Bean, it has been over a thousand years since I authored this. Despite what some ponies think, I do not have a photographic memory, and a great many details of what I did or did not do during those early days of Equestria have been lost to me. If I could offer you a specific reason for what I did, I would. I’m afraid I simply can’t.”

Bean took a moment to breathe deeply and compose himself again. After those few moments, he managed calm but looked remorseful and sad.

“I’m sorry I keep shouting. I just… it’s…”

She said nothing as he searched for the right phrase.

“It’s just a lot to process all at once.”

“That it is. I really can’t blame you for acting this way; in all honesty, you’re probably reacting much better than most ponies would. Just remember that I am trying to help you through this, and I will do everything I can to get your life back to normal.”

He now smiled slightly. “I appreciate that you are trying to help. I have to admit, though, that you’re not quite what I expected when I first came here.”

She gave him a wise, let’s-have-a-teaching-moment look in return. “Mister Bean, when you left your hotel room this morning, if a random pony asked you to describe me to them, what would you have said?”

“I dunno. I guess I would have told them that you’re the princess, that you raise the sun, and that you rule with your sister.”

“How would you describe me now, after meeting me in the flesh and having the ability to spend some quality private time with me?”

“Well, I would say you are kind, beautiful, thoughtful, that you like to teach, and that you’re generous.”

“So your description has changed, if only slightly,” she noted. “Now that you know me a bit better, you have different things to say about me.”

“I suppose so,” he replied while he contemplated her point.

“All ponies see the light from where they stand, Mister Bean. To most of my subjects, I am the wise and graceful Princess who raises the sun and brings prosperity to our fair kingdom. To my students, I am a teacher who enjoys sharing deep magics and ancient history. To the rulers of other nations I am a shrewd diplomat and skillful negotiator, to Princess Cadence I am an aunt, to Luna I am a sister, and to Shining Armor I am a military commander. Now that you’ve met me and seen me as I truly am, you have to reconcile what you thought with what you now know. You know that I am not perfect, and that I made some rather serious blunders in my early years. You know that even the Princess of the Sun can mess things up. It takes time to make those reconciliations, and each pony does it in their own way. This compounds the situation before you, but you’re taking it all in fairly well and with a fair amount of dignity, too. Don’t feel bad for how you’re reacting to all of this. You’re doing a good job so far.”

Bean didn’t respond to her, but Celestia could tell by the look on his face that her point had made sense to him. She allowed him a minute to think things over, but then popped several truffles in her mouth.

“You have also found out that your Princess eats like a pig sometimes, too,” she offered with a full mouth, a prime example of what she spoke of.

“I’m going to bet you don’t do that very often,” he replied with a smile.

“I do it all the time in private,” she defended. A wickedly pleased look overtook her features, and she leaned back to give Bean a rather sultry look as he took a sip of tea.

“And if we can’t find a loophole, my dear Mister Bean, then you will be the first I invite to accompany me for a roll in the hay.”

Baked Bean quite nearly shot Camomile tea straight out of his nose with that remark, but since it appeared he did not wish to spray the ruler of Equestria or her personal books (many of which were rather old and valuable, if not one-of-a-kind), he somehow managed to stifle most of it with a weird gagging-honking sort of noise and by dipping his head down quickly. Most of what did get shot out hit the table in front of him, but what did not dribbled and dripped off the end of his snout. Celestia laughed heartily at this, but she was also quick to conjure up a large towel for him to use.

“That—” he groaned as he dabbed at his now-burning nostrils “—was a good example of an innuendo.”