• Published 20th Jun 2019
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Pregnant Noses Know - Irrespective



Princess Celestia and Prince Bean enjoy the ups and downs of pregnancy.

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1. - The Feeling is Nuptial

Princess Celestia Bean, throughout her lengthy life, had accumulated more titles and honorifics than even she knew what to do with. From the unpleasant and unwanted title of Destroyer of the Sasquatch to the ever popular and frequently invoked Sol Invicta, the Princess had earned, conquered, and had forced upon her nearly every epithet ever invented for any royal.

The vast majority of them she had forgotten about, and the only reason anypony even knew they existed was because it gave poor old Side Margins something to keep an eye on in the Archives during his ‘retirement.’ There were some that she kept tucked away in a jar in the pantry until she needed to serve them up with her freshly baked proposals to a visiting diplomat or delegation, but as much as it was possible, Celestia prefered to simply be called ‘Princess’ and to have it be done at that.

But as she surveyed the sizeable crowd that was standing before her, a pleased smile tugged at her lips. If she were to go through that innumerable list and to discard all but the ones that mattered most to her, she would be left with two.

The first and most cherished would be that of Wife. Her marriage to Baked Bean, that absolutely perfect stallion who had charmed his way into her heart, was the most wonderful thing that had ever happened to her. Though there were several other momentous moments in her life that she would not trade for the world—such as the return and redemption of her dear sister, for one example—it was Bean who had filled her world with light and joy unlike any other.

The second, of course, would be Mother. Her heart danced in her chest as she thought of the precious new life that was now growing within her, and she could hardly wait to meet her daughter and to introduce all of her little ponies to Princess Epiphany Vanilla Bean. With her father’s insatiable curiosity and her mother’s wisdom, little Nilla would have everything she could ever need in order to become the grand Princess that her mother knew she would be.

Celestia took in a deep breath while lilac petals began to float down from the star-studded evening sky. A full moon hung proudly just above the eastern horizon, and the pale silver light cast a gentle glow over the veranda and the delicate white lace ribbons that adorned the pillars. While her second wedding to Baked Bean was one that could never quite be equaled by anything else, the one she was currently attending was elegant, luxurious, and bound to be accounted as one of the finest that had ever graced the Bean dynasty.

With a quick glance and a subtle nod, Celestia flared her wings in perfect synchronization with her sister, and a proud fanfare was sent soaring by a dozen unicorn guards. The eyes of a hundred guests turned to a set of gilded double doors at the end of the long, red carpet, and from within the palace, Celestia’s cousin-in-law, Mung Bean, began to walk towards the Royals with a dopey grin and a small wave for the family and friends that surrounded him.

Of course, Celestia did not think of the light blue stallion before her as an in-law. After a thousand years with nopony to call family, the Mare of the Morn was pleased beyond words to have cousins, uncles, and aunts once again, and she did not see them as Bean’s relations, but as her own blood. The bountiful gifts that Baked Bean brought with his presence and his love seemed to multiply by the day, and the Princess could hardly imagine how dull and lifeless her life would have been had she not booped his nose with her own. Mung’s expression matched the delight that Celestia felt, and once he reached the white lattice archway where she stood, they both eagerly glanced back towards the palace.

Another proud fanfare ascended towards the stars, and from another set of doors, Sugar Sweet made her grand entrance. There were several ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ as the purple pegasus mare, draped in a soft white gown and wearing a crown of white rose blooms, slowly made her way to her beloved with outstretched wings. Her father and mother proudly escorted her through the crowd, but her pale grey eyes remained on Mung and Mung alone.

Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, and Pinkie Pie—who was held aloft by a bright red balloon—continued to supply a smattering of lilac petals from their positions above the crowd, and Celestia reminded herself to again thank all of the Element Bearers for their assistance with this wedding procession once they were done. Though they were not related, all of them had eagerly offered their services when Bean had asked, and this night was all the richer thanks to their assistance. With Pinkie Pie’s party skills, Rarity’s delicate dress design, and Applejack’s provisions added to the event, this night was going to be completely and totally perfect in every single way.

With a kiss and a hug, Sugar Sweet—or Chowder, as she was more commonly known—separated from her parents and took her place beside her soon to be husband. A few whispers were shared between the two regarding how each considered the other to be the single most beautiful thing in existence, and when they were done, both turned and faced the Stallion of the Sun.

Celestia couldn’t be prouder. Dressed in his fine blue royal coat and positively glowing with pride, Baked Bean held himself with an aura of authority that drove Celestia absolutely wild. There was a strong chance that she would abscond with her beloved once the formalities were completed, and she knew he would offer absolutely no resistance to the idea. He offered a quick hello to his cousin, mouthed a quick praise to Chowder regarding her appearance, and then cleared his throat while turning his attention to the assembled crowd.

“Please, everypony, be seated,” he kindly offered. “Dear friends and treasured family, I offer my warmest welcome to you on behalf of Mung Bean and Sugar Sweet, who stand before us all this night to be joined within the bonds of marriage. I know I speak for both of them when I say that words cannot adequately express the deep joy and exquisite delights at having you all here, and that their lives have been made all the richer for having you in them.”

A loud sob cut through the air, and a small chuckle swept over the crowd while Princess Cadence passed a kerchief to Prince Shining Armor with a roll of her eyes, a gentle pat on the back, and a longsuffering smile.

“Even if it has only been for a short time,” Bean added with his own chuckle of amusement. “If I may, I would like to offer a few personal thoughts before we make this officially official, but I promise I won’t take very long. After all, we’re all here for these two, not for me.

“A marriage, for the vast majority of us, is a voluntary commitment,” Bean said with a smirk, “and these two before us have voluntarily made the momentous decision to share the rest of their lives together. We do not gather together this evening to mark the beginning of their relationship, but rather to celebrate the strengthening of the bonds that they have already created.”

Bean’s eyes went to Mung and Chowder. “This marriage now offers you the opportunity for growth and sharing that no other relationship can fully offer, but the strength that you can gain from each other will depend largely on the effort both of you put into it. Though you come from different backgrounds, different homes, and different life experiences, I know that you can become one with patience, understanding, and love unfeigned. This adventure you are about to undertake—and believe me, it will be an adventure—will be the greatest thing either of you will ever do, if you spend every day making it so. Fight for each other and with each other, every day and in every way. Be so close to each other that when one of you cries, the other tastes salt. Work through your differences and difficulties with love, and let nothing in this world divide you.

“But enough of my bloviated preaching,” he concluded with a smile. “You didn’t come here for that, you came here to get hitched. Princess Luna?”

Baked Bean moved to stand beside Celestia, and after a quick nuzzle, both turned to watch the Princess of the Night take her position in front of Mung and Chowder. Celestia was beyond ecstatic that her sister had been asked to perform this ceremony, since it meant that Luna was receiving the one thing that had been withheld from her for so many years.

She had been accepted. The ponies of Equestria now saw her as an equal ruler instead of a tyrannical nightmare, and her cherished night was now revered instead of reviled. Luna had been euphoric during each of the planning sessions that had been held since Mung and Chowder had first announced their engagement, and that euphoria was written in broad strokes across her face while she glanced over the guests.

“My dear little ponies, it is now my great honor to join these two together in the bonds of matrimony. Mung, will you face your bride, please?”

Mung did so, and his grin turned into a full out smile that stretched from ear to ear. His hoof reached out and took hers, and he swelled with pride as Luna continued.

“Mung Bean, before you stands Sugar Sweet, the mare whom you have chosen to take as your lawful and legal wife. Will you honor and cherish her throughout your days? Will you care for her in sickness and in health? Will you have her and hold her, in riches or in poverty, and will you pledge all that you have and all that you are to us?”

“Luna!” called out Celestia. “No herds!”

“But he’s a hunk! Oh, well.” Heaving a sigh over the chuckles of the bride and groom, Luna said, “To her, not us. No matter how hot you are.”

“I will,” Mung replied in a strong and sure voice.

“Sugar Sweet, before you stands Mung Bean, the stallion whom you have chosen to take as your lawful and legal husband. Will you honor and cherish him throughout your days? Will you care for him in sickness and in health? Will you have him and hold him, in riches or in poverty, and will you pledge all that you have and all that you are to him?”

“I will,” Chowder said in a voice that quavered in joy.

“Be it known,” Luna announced to the audience, “that these two have thus willingly entered into this oath, of their own accord and with a full determination of heart. If there are any here who object to this union, step forward now so I can get the smiting out of the way. Nopony? Very well. May their love grow to be as bright as the sun and as gentle as the moon, as fair as the stars above and as strong as the earth beneath our hooves. Before these witnesses this evening, I, Princess Luna, do hereby and formally declare these two to be husband and wife, by the Royal authority invested in myself as a Princess of Equestria. Mung, Chowder, you may now kiss, and you’d both better make it a good one.”

Tears began to fall, and cheers of delight filled the air as Mung and Chowder took Luna’s advice. Celestia stomped her hooves in applause with the crowd, and she willingly offered a cheer when Chowder pulled Mung in even tighter.

“Presenting Baron and Baroness Bean!” Luna proudly proclaimed.

* * * *

“Sister, I could not ask for a more perfect night,” Celestia remarked while Luna’s magic put the finishing touches on her latest creation. “I would never be able to create anything like this, not in a thousand years of trying.”

“Of course you could not. My moon and stars have always given you trouble,” Luna replied with a smug grin, and with one last pulse of energy, the grand green bands of her Borealis began to dance across the night sky. “But thank you, Sister. If this pleases you, then it is sure to please the newlyweds and their families.”

“I think you could simply stand there all night and they would still be happy,” Celestia noted with a quick hug. “You have given their wedding night a magical touch that will last for the rest of their lives, and I know they are grateful for that.”

“It is most fortunate, then, that their cousin managed to marry my sister,” Luna said with a playful nudge.

“You would have done this for them anyway,” Celestia countered.

“I would have. But since they are family, it was easy to say yes to the request.” Luna’s smile suddenly inverted when she glanced to her left. “Sister, I thought the Weather Patrol promised to keep the skies clear this evening.”

“They did.” Celestia nodded to the little black raincloud that had just drifted in over the far wall, but before anypony else saw it, two white streaks tore through the air and tackled the green pony that had been hiding on top of it. “I’ll take care of this. Why don’t you go see how Mung and Chowder are doing?”

Luna nodded. “Be gentle, Sister. I have noticed that the modern paparazzi become most displeased when you ‘accidentally’ break their cameras.”

“I’ll bear that in mind,” Celestia said as she took to the air. Sergeants Hokey Pokey and Clover Leaf had, once again, proved why they had been selected as Baked Bean’s personal guards, and the Princess was happy to see that Sergeant Leaf was again airborne. The injuries she had sustained during the search for Baked Bean when he had been abducted by Chrysalis had been most severe, and for a time, Celestia had been worried that Clover might not be able to fly again.

“You can’t do that!” the errant photographer protested as Sergeant Clover pulled the film out of his camera with a gleeful chuckle. “That’s my rightful property! This is suppression of the press! I’ll sue!”

“This is a private party,” Sergeant Pokey replied in a threatening tone, “and you are in violation of Royal Ordnance one-C, subsection nine—no unauthorized photography during private events on castle grounds. Now, clear out of here or I’ll have you arrested and your cloud impounded.”

“Princess Celestia!” The trespasser tried to break free, but Sergeant Pokey’s grip was too tight. “This is unfair!”

“Why? Because you got caught?”

“Yes! I mean, no. Wait. I mean… well, never mind what I meant.”

“You may lodge your formal complaint tomorrow. For now, I would suggest that you heed the Sergeant’s warning.”

“Fine, fine. But may I ask something before I leave?”

“And what might that be?”

“What names are you considering for your foal? Is it a filly or a colt? What are your succession plans for when the Prince or Princess comes to age?”

“I shall answer one question. Prince Bean and I have settled on a name, and we shall be calling our new foal Nunya.”

“Nunya?”

“As in, Nunya Business. Sergeants, see to it that this ‘reporter’ gets another copy of the official press release before he is dismissed, and make sure he doesn’t disturb us again.”

Sergeant Pokey rolled his neck, eliciting several loud crackling pops with his devious grin. “My pleasure, Your Highness.”

Celestia nodded, then drew in a long breath as she drifted back to the ground. Sergeant Pokey had always been a serious sort of pony, but he had become a bit too serious as of late, and it sent a small wave of sadness and concern through her veins. Ever since the fiasco with Queen Chrysalis, Pokey had grown distant and aloof, and even Shining Armor had mentioned how he missed the old Hokey Pokey. Celestia still held hope that his therapy might yield some positive results, but she knew there was a possibility that he would be unable to recover from this injury to his psyche.

Her wings ruffled a bit when she landed and gazed sadly at the brace on her husband’s left rear leg. Her beloved Bean had also suffered greatly in both body and mind, and his leg would forever bear witness to that fact. Yet, everything he had done was done out of a deep and abiding love for his wife and her little ponies, and she knew he would do it all over again, without reservation, if it meant that she would be safe from harm.

Her smile returned, and her heart melted when he began to dance with a small filly from Chowder’s side of the family. Baked Bean refused to allow his past to define his future, and he was going to be a wonderful father, whether he believed it or not.

“Princess? May I have a word with you?”

Celestia smiled even deeper as her eyes turned to her faithful secretary. “Of course, Wysteria. What can I do for you?”

“I just wanted to remind you that I will be taking the next week off. I have given a copy of your itinerary to Miss Lulamoon, with some very specific instructions and my expectations, but if you should need me for any reason, please just send me a scroll and I will return as quickly as possible.”

“Thank you, but I doubt that will be needed. Trixie should be able to handle everything,” Celestia said with a quick glance over to the magician-turned-secretary, who was entertaining a small group of fillies and colts with her tricks. “Are you sure one week will be sufficient? Moving is always a time-consuming process, and I want to make sure you are fully settled before you return.”

“Oh, I’m sure one week is enough. Quillpoint tells me he knows a great spell that can handle all the heavy lifting, and he’s going to have assistance from some of his guard friends, too. In fact, Lieutenant Spear Point even asked me what day would be best for the additional help, so I wouldn’t be surprised if half of the off-duty guards show up on my doorstep.”

“I see,” Celestia said with a giggle. “And will there be enough room for all of your things in the Corporal’s house?”

Wysteria smiled, and a hoof went to her slightly swollen stomach. “Oh, there’s room. I have a list of where everything goes, and two contingency plans, just in case something happens. I’m even letting him keep that ghastly painting in the living room, although his collection of ‘strategic warfighting miniatures’ is getting boxed up for storage. We’ll get it all in.”

“Good. I must admit, it is nice to see you here. With that sudden bout of morning sickness you experienced at lunch, I was worried you would not be able to attend.”

“Thankfully, Junior decided to settle down for the night,” Wysteria said with a glance back to her midsection and bigger rub of her belly. “He’s a scamp, just like his father. I admit I’ll be happy to have him out, but only when the time is right.”

“Has there been some sort of complication?” Celestia asked in concern.

“Oh, no. Doctor Horsenpfeffer said everything looks normal. I just worry sometimes that he’ll try to come early, since my own mother had that issue with Raven and me.”

“I see why that would be a concern.”

“I’m probably just being a jittery old nag,” Wysteria said with a pleased smile. “I’ll learn how to relax one of these days.”

“Perhaps you should take two weeks off and treat yourself to several spa dates,” Celestia said with a bob of her eyebrows.

“Oh, I already have a full day scheduled, don’t worry,” Wysteria said with a giggle of delight and a wiggle of a forehoof. “I’ve soaked my poor hooves in hot epsom salts so often I’m getting webbing like a duck.”

“Maybe I’ll come join you,” Celestia threatened, and they both laughed.

“I’m sure I could get you in, if you’d like. But for now, I think I’ll take the opportunity to enjoy the cease-fire inside my body and try some of those fritters that the Apple family brought.”

“Try the caramel apples, too,” Celestia said. “Duchess Lima spent most of last night in assisting Granny Smith, and they have created some of the best caramel I have ever had.”

“I guess I can’t go wrong with the Apples and the Beans as the caterers.” Wysteria smacked her lips, and her stomach rumbled slightly. “All right, easy down there. I’ll get both.”

“Good evening, Miss Inkwell,” Celestia offered with a laugh.

The Princess then took a moment to draw in a long sniff of the delectable entrees and desserts that had been prepared by Baked Bean’s family. It was a bit astonishing to find that, somehow, the individual offerings managed to compliment each other, and the overall aroma that permeated the party promised to provide many plump ponies in the morning. As an added bonus, the wedding had provided an excuse for the Apples and the Beans to engage in a friendly and good-natured cook-off, and the payout from their ‘competition’ was one that was never going to be forgotten. Even now, Duke Garbanzo and Duchess Lima were walking among the partygoers, each carrying a tray loaded with options and warm smiles for everypony they met.

With parents like that, it was easy to see how her Bean had become the fantastic chef that he was.

“Princess Celestia?”

“Oh! Good evening, Twilight,” Celestia said with a slight turn to face her former student. “I see you have captured my husband. Will you be returning him sometime this evening?”

“Hey, I caught her, to be fair,” Bean replied as Twilight stammered and sputtered. “Sergeant Clover just passed me a note from the Lieutenant, and we both figured you should hear about it.”

“Oh? What is the trouble?”

“It’s about Starlight Glimmer, that pony who was stealing cutie marks.”

Celestia’s wings ruffled slightly as the details of Twilight’s visit to Our Town came back to her. “What about her?”

“Well, the Guard has finished their search of the area. There’s no trace of where she went.”

Celestia drew in a heavy breath. “I see. This is troubling, but not surprising.”

Twilight nodded. “The chief of police in Manehattan has been notified, and extra air patrols are being sent up to follow the most likely routes she would have taken. I also told Shining and Cadence, and they’re going to step up patrols in the Crystal Empire, just in case.”

“But even with all that, you fear she will elude capture, and that she will eventually return and exact some sort of revenge.”

“I do, yes.”

“Such is the case with many others, I’m afraid. It was believed that Tirek was secure in Tartarus, and Chrysalis managed to blindside all of us as well.” Celestia’s wing instantly reached out and pulled in her Bean, and the two of them shared a shiver. “While it would have been nice if Discord had kept his word to Bean, the best we can do is to remain vigilant, carry on and to trust in Harmony. Endlessly worrying about what Starlight might do will not accomplish any good.”

“I suppose so. I just wish I could have gotten through to her, somehow. I guess we’ll just have to hope that she somehow sees the magic of friendship.”

“I believe she will in the end, Twilight,” Celestia said with a smile.

* * * *

From the very moment when Mung had proposed marriage to Chowder, there had been one element of their nuptials that was absolute. The wedding had to take place outside, under the light of the full moon. To hold it anywhere else would, in their minds, be an insult to the Princess who had indirectly pulled them together in the first place. When Princess Luna had agreed to perform the ceremony, the opportunity to be wed in the palace gardens was simply too irresistible, and if asked, every last guest would agree that the location was just perfect.

Even the guest who had not been invited would agree. A topiary in the shape of an alicorn—which most certainly had not been there when Trim Hedge had finished preparing the gardens earlier that day—regarded the affairs of the evening with envious eyes while thanking whatever being who liked to be thanked for good fortune.

“That’s right. Just keep kissing him, you fool. I need all the love I can get.”

Queen Chrysalis drank deeply from the emotions in the air, and for good reason. With the recent failure of her last plan, the Changeling’s monarch needed to rebuild the Hive’s love reserves in preparation for her next foolproof plan, once she managed to come up with one. Celestia and that Bean were going to pay through the nose for the insults she had been forced to suffer, and it was going to feel so delicious when she pulled the last flecks of love from Bean’s broken body.

Her neatly trimmed eyes swept over the crowd, and once more, she cursed and nearly spat. That Bean had done something to her while he had been a ‘guest’ in her home, and now, she felt nothing while she soaked in the emotions from the party. The sweet tang of happiness, the smoky smoothness of joy, the spicy kick of desire, and even the wholesome and filling nourishment of pure love all tasted bland and flat to her now, like gum that had been chewed for a week straight without pause. There was only a great emptiness, and she hated how dark and lonesome that immense chasm was.

If she had to be honest, she feared that she would never be able to recover.

“Soon, ponies,” she muttered under her chlorophyllic breath. “I will have my revenge, and you will all…”

Chrysalis trailed off as a familiar scent drew near, an overwhelming blanket of subtle emotions that made her leaves tremble and something deep in her chest give off a sharp stab of pain. She could have closed her eyes and still have seen the snow-white pegasus guard land ever so near but out of reach.

Pokey. Although he was facing away, surveying the overall condition of the party, she saw his sharp blue eyes sparkle as they had done when he looked at her disguise. Though ponies saw identical ranks of Royal Guards, Changelings saw individual options in a full service buffet, and to Chrysalis, Sergeant Hokey Pokey was a rich chocolate pudding that simply oozed with delectable succulence that she wanted to gobble up right now.

A leafy hoof went to her lips as she briefly recalled the time she had shared with him while posing as his unicorn marefriend. The whirlwind tour of Manehattan, afternoon walks around the grounds of the palace, late night runs to Pony Joe’s Donut Shoppe and the frequent yoga sessions that Pokey insisted would help her to find her center.

She then let out a small snort that slightly startled a nearby unicorn. Sentimental nonsense! It was distracting her from her mission, and she needed to focus. She turned her gaze towards the newly married couple, who were both chatting with Princess Cadence, and focused her thoughts on revenge. The Princess also needed to suffer for ruining her wedding to Shining Armor, and…

Chrysalis’ thoughts stilled themselves when the bride leaned up against her groom, wrapped one wing over his barrel, and nuzzled his neck. Sergeant Pokey loved to wrap his wing over her whenever they had walked together in the past, and the changeling queen had grown to enjoy the feel of his coat against her own. She thought of how he would kiss the base of her neck, and then slowly nibble his way up to her cheek with a deft, delicate touch. Even now, with all of her seething wrath for the injustices she’d endured, she longed to have his hooves gently running through her mane once again.

And for one very brief and fleeting moment, Chrysalis imagined that she was the one in the white wedding gown.

“He was going to propose to me,” she silently whispered to herself.

~*~

“Hey, Haricot. Come check this one out,” Lentil said with a wave of a hoof to her younger brother. “It’s kinda weird.”

“Yeah, that’s for sure. Is it supposed to be one of the Princesses? It looks like all four of them mushed into one.”

“I dunno,” Lentil replied before pointing to the head of the topiary before them. “But doesn’t it look like it’s going to cry?”

“Yeah, it does. That’s got to be the saddest shrub I’ve ever seen.”

“It almost looks like…”

“Like what?” Haricot asked after a moment.

“Like it’s remembering a love that it lost,” Lentil said softly. “I almost want to say that it wants to be loved, but doesn’t know how.”

Haricot leaned back, studied the leaves of the face, and then fixed a critical eye on his sister. “I think you’re imagination is acting up again. It’s a bush. I betcha it’s supposed to represent how Luna felt when her husband died.”

Lentil nodded. “It might be, but still…”

“Hey you two!” Balanced Budget called out. “Mung and Chowder are going to cut the cake! Get over here!”

Haricot gave a shrug and walked back towards the others, but Lentil hesitated for a moment before reaching out and touching the leg of the leafy sculpture. “I probably am just imagining things, but I hope you can find happiness, somehow.”

And as Lentil trotted away, a lone drop of dew slid down the cheek of the perfectly trimmed sculpture.

* * * *

“Thank you again, Princess, for allowing us to stay the night,” Chowder said with a tired yawn.

“Think nothing of it. I have also placed a privacy spell over your room, so if you should happen to have some extra activities planned for the evening, you will not be disturbed.”

“Oh, I definitely think there’s going to be some extra activity tonight,” Chowder said with a lusty grin aimed at her new husband.

“Then Bean and I will wish you good night, and we shall see you tomorrow evening,” Celestia replied with a knowing wink.

There was some light laughter shared between the guests and the hosts while they gave each other one last hug, and with a smile, Celestia drew her Bean in close with her wing as Mung and Chowder were escorted to their room by a guard.

“Such a delightful evening,” the Princess remarked. “I almost hate to have it end.”

“At least the feelings and the memories can go on,” Bean noted with a nuzzle to her neck.

“Indeed. Shall we?”

Bean nodded, and with a dainty yawn, Celestia allowed her husband to guide her towards their room. She was looking forward to snuggling up with him, and…

“Bean? Our room is that way.”

“I know,” he replied with a subtle tug to keep her on their current trajectory. A thrill of joy shot from her tail straight up her spine, and with a ill-hidden giggle, she gleefully wondered what delightful surprise he had in store.

“So where are we going?” she asked in eager anticipation.

“This way,” he coyly replied.

“Why?”

“I still need something.”

“Oh? And what might that be?”

Bean said nothing, but it was just then when Celestia noticed Sergeants Hokey Pokey and Clover Leaf at attention beside the double doors that led to one of the palace’s many balconies. They both offered a crisp salute, and with a nod, they pushed the doors open for the royal couple.

“Thanks, guys,” Bean said with a grin. “Carry on.”

Before Celestia could ask any questions, Bean took her hoof and smiled as he escorted her out into the crisp evening air. Her eyes went wide when she noticed two of the musicians from the reception waiting off to their right.

“Lyra, Octavia.” Bean dipped his head to the two mares. “Thank you for staying a bit longer.”

“Our pleasure, Your Highness,” Lyra replied.

“What is all this?” Celestia asked with a suppressed squee of ecstasy as the musicians began to play a slow and soothing waltz.

“Well, I figured both of us would be busy during the wedding and the reception, but I really want to share a moment with my wife this night.” With a graceful bow, Bean held out a hoof and offered a broad smile. “May I have this dance, my Princess?”

Celestia could have melted right where she stood. Her sneaky Bean had struck again, and as always, he had pierced right to her grateful and overflowing heart. “But of course, my dear Prince. Please, lead on.”

The dance they shared was simple—it was really more of a shuffling of hooves, given Bean’s injured leg and inability to dance in the first place—but Celestia didn’t care. For a glorious moment, she was not the Princess of the Sun, with all of the royal rules and responsibilities that came with that. There were no diplomats here, no urgent crisis to solve, no bickering nobles and no appearances to maintain.

It was her, with him. No more and no less, and that made everything perfect.

“So, my beloved,” Bean asked while she gazed into his sea-green eyes. “What do you think awaits us in the future?”

“Only the greatest joys either of us will ever experience,” Celestia replied with a smile. “You and I are bound together as one, and with that binding, we shall conquer anything that may come. Let the heavens roar in fury and the earth heave itself into a foaming mass, if they like. As husband and wife and family, we shall ascend above it all.”

“I wouldn’t want it any other way,” Bean said with a passionate kiss.