• Published 22nd Sep 2021
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New Noses To Know - Irrespective



Baked Bean and Princess Celestia have welcomed their newborn into the world. Now the fun begins.

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2. - Starlight Glimmer

* * * *

“Princess Luna!” Twilight Sparkle greeted her fellow princess with a grin and a hug, but then her demeanor turned serious. “Thank you for coming so quickly.”

“Of course, Twilight Sparkle,” Luna replied. “My sister would have attended to this matter herself, of course, but…”

“I understand,” Twilight replied as they entered the foyer to her castle. “To be honest, I didn’t expect either of you to actually come here. I just wanted your advice.”

“Where is this Starlight Glimmer now?” Luna asked.

“She’s in one of the guest rooms,” Twilight said. “That’s what I wanted to talk to you about. Starlight is a good pony, she really is. She’s just made a few bad choices, and I want to help her get back on her hooves.”

“Stealing a pony’s cutie mark is no light matter, Twilight Sparkle,” Luna sternly replied. “What do you propose to do, exactly?”

“I want to take her on as my student,” Twilight said, her conviction firm in her voice. “Starlight just doesn’t understand how friendship works, what it means to even have a friend. I want to show her, to teach her.”

“And are you sure that your efforts will bear fruit? What if Starlight Glimmer rejects your lessons and returns to her old ways?”

Twilight didn’t back down. “With all due respect, Your Highness, what if you decide to reject the friendship that was offered to you by Celestia and return to being Nightmare Moon?”

Luna snorted, her ethereal tail lashing at her haunches with the insolence of such a suggestion. “I hardly think that..” she snapped before trailing off, her arguments falling apart as quickly as she thought of them. “This is not… but…” She stopped, and after a few moments, her head dipped slightly in embarrassment. “That is a fair point. Forgive me, Twilight Sparkle. I am being needlessly overprotective in this matter.”

Twilight hesitated for a moment. “Because of Apollo?”

“Indeed. One never stops being a mother, even after a thousand years,” said Luna with her own thoughtful smile. “I admit that my own motherly instincts have flared to life once more with his birth, and they are now being projected on to you, my dear granddaughter. I trust you and your skill, but I do not wish for you to be injured.”

“It’s okay, Grandmother,” Twilight replied with a cheesy grin. “I understand.”

“If you feel that Starlight Glimmer will be benefited by your tutelage, then I will endorse your decision and offer what support I can,” Luna went on. “I am sure my sister will do the same for you as well.”

“Thank you. Since you’re here, it might be a good idea if you had a few words with her,” said Twilight. “She doesn’t think she can really be forgiven for what she’s done, even though I and my friends have told her she can. Maybe you can help her understand.”

“If you think it would be worthwhile, then I suppose I could share a few words with her,” Luna said thoughtfully. “I am not sure that my message will be received properly, though.”

“I think you’ll do great.”

“Very well. Shall we receive her in your throne room?”

Twilight nodded and motioned with a hoof. “Right this way, Princess.”

“Grandmother,” Luna said with a wistful expression as they began to walk. “I have not had any pony invoke that title in centuries. Praytell, how is your genealogical research going?”

“I haven’t had much time to do any meaningful work on it,” Twilight admitted, although she seemed to be nibbling on her bottom lip as if trying to fit a week’s wroth of scheduling into a single day. “But I do think I’ve got some leads on Cadence’s family line back to you. I’ll need to check the archives in Canterlot and see if I can find more.”

“If I may be of assistance, please let me know,” said Luna. “Bean and I have uncovered much during our work on Star Struck’s biography, and perhaps I can give you a starting point for your search, if nothing else.”

“Thank you, Princess. I’ll check with Spike and see if that would help. But since you mention it, I did have a question about myself and Cadence, and our ascension to alicornhood.”

“Oh?”

“I’ve been wondering if there’s some sort of ‘alicorn gene,’” Twilight said. “Since you were the only alicorn to have offspring for over a thousand years, do you think it’s possible that you passed on the traits that allow for a pony to become an alicorn, like how eye, mane, and coat colors are passed down?”

“An interesting notion,” Luna said with a knowing grin. “But you are not the first to have it. Celestia began to study that same question after Cadence joined her, and she discussed the matter again with me when you proved yourself worthy.”

“She did?” Twilight asked with an eager squeak. “What did she find out?”

“Very little, in the end. The only thing she could ascertain for certain was that, after a thousand years, the vast majority of Equestria is now related to me, to a lesser or greater degree,” Luna said with a laugh. “So, if there is such a thing as an alicorn gene, then it is most likely that it is as common as tails. Every pony would have it, but none of them—” Luna booped Twilight on the nose “—are permitted to call me Grandmother.”

“Oh.” Twilight tried to hide her dejection, but it was obvious that she was hoping for more.

“Celly and I agree that—inherited trait or no—alicorns must earn their place,” Luna went on. “Just as you and Cadence continue to do.”

“That was another question that came to me after Apollo was born. Why aren’t there more princes and princesses?”

“You may thank Celestia’s foresight for that. She realized that there would be many ponies who would eagerly claim those titles, if they could, so we agreed to limit their lines by legislation, if you will. A pony can only claim the highest rank of royalty for three generations and no more.” Luna paused in thought for a moment, then laughed. “Or, one could try to cheat and give their child the name Prince, but that has not worked out for Blueblood as well as his family would have hoped.”

Luna paused again with another thought. “Though I suppose that is one of the old laws that should be reviewed, before we run into another forced marriage type issue. After the three generations, Celestia and I would typically grant a lower title, such as Baron or Viscount, to my ensuing family. Many of the noble families in Canterlot are the modern descendants of those grants. Now that Celestia has a child, we should determine if we will continue that tradition with Apollo, or amend the law if we will not.”

“I could see where that might turn into a problem,” Twilight agreed as she shared a smile with Luna.

* * * *

“Are you sure this is really such a good idea?” Starlight Glimmer asked once more, while fighting the persistent urge to teleport away, to say nothing of gigantic butterflies in her stomach. as she and Twilight rounded a corner. “Princess Luna never came across as the most forgiving of ponies to me.”

“You’ll be surprised,” Twilight replied, and she put a comforting hoof on Starlight’s shoulder. “I know she can seem a bit intense at times, but remember that she was once Nightmare Moon. If there’s anypony who knows about forgiveness, it’s her.”

“If you say so.” Starlight swallowed hard as the doors to the throne room loomed before her.

“I’ll be right there with you,” Twilight said with a reassuring smile. “There’s nothing to be worried about.”

Starlight Glimmer nodded, but her mind still raced with questions and concerns. Trying to bring about a night eternal was bad, yes, but was that comparable to taking away a core part of a pony, and then destroying Equestria several times over in a desperate act of spiteful revenge? At least there would have been something left for Nightmare Moon to rule over if she had been successful.

Comparable or not, Starlight realized that she needed this talk with Princess Luna. Though she still doubted the nocturnal princess would offer any sort of mercy or clemency, at least Starlight could begin to pay for her crimes.

Her new life couldn’t really begin until she did so, or at least her hammering heart was telling her.

With that thought, Starlight pushed the doors open with her magic. “This isn’t so bad,” she muttered under her breath, but for some reason, her hooves remained planted in place. They did not seem to share her optimism, and neither did her heart from the way it beat even wilder. “Who am I kidding?! This is terrifying!”

“Starlight Glimmer!” Luna’s wings flared to their full extension, and the chill of the deepest midnight enveloped the immobile unicorn. “Step forward and account for yourself.”

The chill rapidly turned into frozen terror as Starlight stumbled forward. Those dark cyan eyes felt like they were burning a bottomless pit of despair right in the middle of herself, and it would only take a wink for the dark and terrible alicorn to create a real bottomless pit for her to spend the rest of her days in. Without a word—but with enough trepidation to last for at least five other ponies besides herself—Starlight forced herself to face the lunar diarch.

Her nose then went straight to the ground in a desperate attempt at genuflection, though her knees were locked and she couldn’t get them to bend. Absolute fear gripped her heart, and for several long moments, she wondered how long it would take for the enveloping blackness to consume her.

“Arise, Starlight Glimmer, and address your diarch,” Luna commanded.

Starlight did so, but the ability to speak had completely left her, so she simply stood and gawked, her mouth opening and closing like a fish that had been ripped out of the water by the gills.

“Well?” Luna pressed. “What do you have to say for yourself, Starlight Glimmer?”

“I’d start with ‘I’m sorry’ if I was you,” Twilight whispered with a sharp nudge to Starlight’s ribs.

The suggestion jump-started her ability to speak, but it left her with only the most basic of words to convey the depths of her shame. “I’m really, really sorry for what I’ve done, Princess Luna. I just… I made a lot of bad choices. I don’t have any excuses, but I want to be better. I want to learn about friendship, and to try to fix my mistakes. I’ve been… I’ve been so lonely.” Her voice dropped, and her gaze drifted downward. “When I forced others to give up their Cutie Marks, I kept myself apart from them, above them. I didn’t want to be hurt again, but the only way that I can see to never be hurt is to make everypony equal, to take away what makes them special.” Her eyes moved to Twilight, and the corners of her mouth twitched upwards. “Princess Twilight says she can show me a better way, and… well, I believe her. If there’s anypony who can show me how to make friends, it’s her.

“But I know my choices have consequences,” she went on. “So, I’ll take whatever punishment you see fit to inflict on me. If I have to be banished to the moon, then so be it.”

“Why does everypony think they are going to get banished to the moon?” Luna mused aloud. “I have never threatened that, and I do not remember my sister ever suggesting such a punishment, either.” The Mistress of the Night thought the notion over for a brief moment, then shrugged. “It must be related to my own punishment for becoming Nightmare Moon. Thankfully, Miss Glimmer, such a draconian option will never be taken seriously. You need not fear the moon.”

“So, what are you going to do with me?” Starlight had to ask.

“A worthy question that I have puzzled over in both this era and the previous, and the precise answer has always eluded me. I have been learning from my sister and her student in this regard, and I believe the proper answer is—” Luna’s brow lowered, but there was a twinkle in her eyes “—tea.”

“Tea?” Of all the things for Luna to say at that moment, that was the last thing that Starlight would have expected.

“Provided you have some time to spare. Twilight Sparkle, may I impose upon your hospitality?”

“Of course!” Twilight beamed at the two of them as she moved towards the door. “I’ll get Spike right on that.”

“Thank you.” Luna turned her attention back to Starlight, and her warm smile eased the unicorn’s anxieties and concerns. “While we wait, why don’t you and I have a friendly chat, Miss Glimmer. I believe we will find that we have much in common.”

* * * *

“So, in addition to stealing ponies’ cutie marks, you attempted to destroy the friendships Twilight Sparkle had forged by altering her past, but in so doing, you managed to also erase the Kingdom of Equestria from existence,” Luna said in a flat, emotionless voice.

“Only in one of the futures,” Starlight said, her ears splayed and her gaze on the blank cutie mark map in front of her. “Twilight told me there were other futures where Equestria was still here but at war, or overrun by Chrysalis and her changelings, or stuck in an endless night with Nightmare Moon.”

Luna started slightly with this revelation. “Truly? There was an alternate reality where I, in my hatred and rage, successfully defeated my sister?”

“Yes?” Starlight said hesitantly. “I suppose so. I think you beat her after your imprisonment on the moon, but you were still living in the Castle of the Two Sisters.”

“Most interesting,” Luna mused. “And how fortunate that such a future did not come to pass! If such a thing had happened, then Equestria would have turned into a dark, barren and frozen waste within the space of a few months, if that. I admit that a small part of me is curious as to how…” She stopped herself and shook her head. “No. There are some questions best left unanswered.”

“I really screwed up, didn’t I?” Starlight moaned.

“Yes,” Luna bluntly replied. “But you have also seen the error of your ways, and that is the first step towards understanding and redemption. Thankfully, you did not have to learn the same way I did.”

“So, are you going to punish me?”

Luna smirked. “Do you feel remorse for your actions, Starlight Glimmer? Are you willing to accept the friendship that has been offered to you by Twilight Sparkle, and to learn from her?”

“I do feel awful about what I did. And I really do want to learn. I’ve been alone my whole life, and… well, it’s nice to have a friend again. I almost forgot what that was like.”

“Then your punishment is ongoing, and I see no need to add to it,” Luna declared. “I understand why you did not want to risk losing another friend, for it is an exquisite pain that I am all too familiar with. Provided you take full advantage of this singular opportunity, I think you will naturally set right any wrongs you may have committed.”

“Thanks.” Starlight offered a genuine smile, which Luna happily mirrored back. “I guess you would know all about nopony being your friend, huh? I mean, a thousand years ago, everypony was scared of you and your night.”

“Indeed, and my jealousy eventually corrupted me, just as it was corrupting you. It was difficult to see everypony praising my sister and her day, while hiding from and ignoring my glorious nights. However, I did have friends and my family during this time, and I cherished my associations with them. Had they not been a part of my life, my rebellion and fall would have occurred many years sooner.”

Starlight tilted her head, the confusion obvious in her face. “So, when they… um,”

“Died?” Luna prompted.

“Not really a better way to say it, is there? When you lost them to death, did that make you more bitter and angry?”

“It did, to a very small degree,” Luna said slowly. She was clearly reluctant to speak of her past pain, given her expression, but the dark alicorn went on after a minute of apparent introspection. “In a way, Starlight Glimmer, you and I are very much alike. When I lost my beloved Star Struck, I sank into a deep depression and obsessed over what I had lost. As I look back now, I see clearly how I allowed my sadness to fester into anger and jealousy, and those feelings only grew in intensity as I watched my daughter, and her children, and her children’s children pass before me like the dew upon the grass. This became a self-feeding cycle as the century went on, until finally, my rage could no longer be contained.

“Starlight, you now have the chance to change course, to do what I should have done. Everypony, at some point in their lives, will experience the pain that comes when a cherished friend is no longer a part of your life. It is natural for ponies to experience sadness and depression during these times, as we miss and long for their presence once again. If you were to continue down the path you had been on, you would have been consumed, as I was, and in time, you would have destroyed everything you held dear. Now, you have the chance to make a better choice, to hold in cherished memory that which you had while looking forward to what may yet be. We cannot control what happens in life, but we can control how we react to it. Yes, you may experience the heartbreak of loss once more if you risk making another friend, but you also risk finding joy and happiness. In my experience, the rewards are well worth it.”

Starlight’s gaze dropped to the dormant map again as she thought this over, but then she met Luna’s eyes with a determined smile. “I will, Princess.”

“Good.” Luna paused, and a slightly devious grin came to her with a thought. “If I may, I believe I will borrow one of my sister’s ideas and ask that you write to me once a week about what you are learning in your friendship lessons. I would very much like to keep track of your progress.”

“Sure, I can let you know what’s happening.” Starlight paused for a moment in thought. “Um, I’ll need the address for the Palace, though.”

“I believe Spike the Dragon can still send missives with his dragon breath magic,” Luna replied with a wry grin. “Simply ask him to send it to me directly, or to Secretary Trixie, and he will take care of the rest.”

“Oh! Okay. That will save a lot of money on postage, won’t it?”

“That it will,” Luna said with a light chuckle.

“Knock, knock!” Twilight called out as the throne room doors opened, and her cheerful smile grew larger after she took in the scene. “I have the tea all ready, Princess, if you’re ready for it.”

“We are, and thank you,” Luna replied as Spike staggered in while carrying a tea set that appeared to be twice as tall, thrice as wide, and at least four times heavier than himself. “Your hospitality is most appreciated, Princess Twilight Sparkle.”

“Oh, it’s no problem at all,” Twilight said with a dismissive scoff. “Anything at all for my friends.”

“Especially when you make your dragon take care of the hard part,” Starlight noted, her magic leaping out to relieve the poor drake of his load.

“Phew, thanks,” Spike offered with a sigh of relief.

“So, what have you been talking about?” Twilight sat on her throne, leaned forward, and propped her chin up with her hooves. “If you don’t mind me asking, that is.”

“Nothing of great import.” Luna casually inspected one of her silver shoes, but Starlight caught her quick wink. “I was merely debating if five years on the moon would be an adequate punishment, or if ten years would be more fitting.”

“What?! You can’t send her to the moon!” Twilight gasped and nearly fell off her seat.

“I dunno, Twilight. I did destroy Equestria, in a way,” Starlight said.

“Well, yes, but no! You didn’t really do anything like that, in the end! Luna, please don’t send her away! I know Starlight can be redeemed and I can help her, I promise!”

Luna bobbed her head back and forth in thought. “Hmm. I suppose putting her on house arrest would be easier. Very well! Twilight Sparkle, I shall entrust this pony in your care, but make sure she does not leave this place.”

“But how can I teach her about friendship if she’s stuck… here…” Twilight pouted as Luna and Starlight began to laugh. “Oh, har-dee-har-har. Very funny.”

* * * *

“And she’s going to write you friendship letters?” Bean asked Luna.

“Yes.” Luna’s gaze remained on Apollo, who was sleeping comfortably in her forelegs as she slowly rocked him back and forth. “Starlight is a good pony who allowed a bad experience to get blown out of proportion. Twilight Sparkle will be an excellent teacher, and by writing to me, I am sure the lessons will imprint far more deeply into her heart than they ever could on parchment.”

“A wise decision,” Celestia noted, her nose buried deep in her left wing. “I am eager to see how both of them do, myself.”

“Um, Celly? Are you sure you don’t need me to find that broken feather for you?” Bean asked over Celestia’s grunts.

“No, no. I’ll get it. Bean, you and I should visit both of them in a few weeks, once I have recovered fully from Apollo’s birth.”

“Good idea. I’ll have Trixie work it into our schedule.” Bean hesitated, and then went on. “Luna, do you think that Starlight could have messed up our timeline?” Bean asked with a concerned frown.

“Why do you ask?”

“Well, Celestia was beyond sure that Apollo was going to be a filly, from conception until he was born. Do you think that Starlight’s actions maybe somehow affected that?”

Luna nodded slowly in thought. “I can see why you would think that, but I am confident that all of her actions were undone in the end by Twilight Sparkle and herself. The changes only occurred because Rainbow Dash was unable to complete her first sonic rainboom, so when they did not interfere with her race, everything went back to the way it was. Even if that somehow failed to correct everything, it would seem that Harmony itself took care of the issue by destroying the spell and Starswirl’s scroll before returning everypony to the proper time. I would not worry about alterations to our world, Bean. Everything is as it was, and as it should be.”

Celestia stomped her foreleg, and with an annoyed grunt, she began tearing feathers out with reckless abandon. “This is ridiculous! I’ve never molted this badly in my life. Where did all of these rotten feathers come from? And don’t you answer that, Luna!”

“Then why ask?” Luna calmly replied.

“It was a rhetorical question,” was the muffled reply.

Normally, Luna would have taken the opportunity to lightly antagonize her sister, but she decided it would be best to leave the irritable alicorn alone. As the feathers continued to fly, however, another thought came to the nocturnal diarch, and she pursed her lips as she pondered it over. “Bean, do you still have that feather that Philomina gifted to you before she left last year?”

“Oh, sure. I’ve got it tucked away in our bedroom,” he replied.

“And we are scheduled to meet with the Yakyakistani ambassador tomorrow, correct?”

“I believe so, yeah. Why?”

“Celly’s quest to render herself flightless has reminded me of a particular yak custom. While the ambassador is, doubtless, aware of the fact that you are Celestia’s husband and her equal in all matters, it may be beneficial to reinforce that fact.”

“How so?”

“Yaks place great meaning in beading and ornamentation. Prince Rutherford, for example, wears several intricate golden bracelets on his horns and in his beard as a show of his position and power, and those of higher rank will adorn themselves in a similar fashion, male and female alike. Such a display is not required for myself or Celly, given our regalia and age, but since you are rather simply adorned in comparison, the ambassador may see you as inferior.”

“There are ponies that still think that of me,” Bean noted with a bob of his eyebrows.

“Beside the point, and don’t change the subject,” Luna chided. “My point is, we can avoid the problem entirely with a few well-placed feathers.”

“That’s all it takes?”

Luna nodded. “In my day, the gift of an alicorn feather was a great boon to the recipient. We used them to mark those who had shown exceptional bravery in battle, or who had performed a feat that we deemed to be of great worth to others. It could also indicate a romantic interest, so Celly and I were always careful to clarify why the feather was being given,” she added with a snort of amusement. “In this modern era, much of that still remains. You, yourself, treat Philomina’s gift as a great treasure, so to outwardly display such a treasure would be the same to the Yaks as their own decorations. I am suggesting that wearing one of Celestia’s primaries, one of mine, and Philomina’s feather in your mane will establish your power and prestige to the ambassador and definitively mark you, in his eyes, as our equal.”

“THERE YOU ARE!” Celestia roared, and with a swift yank, the offending feather was removed and set ablaze by her magic. “Finally! Oh, that feels so much better.”

“Good thing, too,” Bean said while glancing at the bald patches in her wing. “Do we need to have Horsenpfeffer check you for lice or anything like that?”

“I don’t have lice,” Celestia said with a harrumph. “Why would you even suggest that?”

“Because I did, when I was about six or so. Picked it up from school.” Bean shuddered with the memory. “I don’t want to deal with that again.”

“You had lice too, Celly,” Luna noted.

“Everypony had lice a thousand years ago, Lulu. That hardly counts. Besides, I would not willingly bring any parasite near my son, so if I even had the slightest inkling of an infection, I would take care of it.”

“However, you do bring up a valid point with the ambassador and Bean. A subtle display of power solves many problems before they start. You would not need to wear our feathers all the time, of course,” she said to Bean, “but I believe you should whenever you meet with Ambassador Horwitz. So,” she paused, glanced around at the aftermath of her efforts, pulled a long primary out of the mess with her magic, and placed it behind Bean’s left ear, “I, your wife Princess Celestia Bean, with all sorts of formal language, gift you, Baked Bean, with a token of my love and appreciation for all of your diligence and hard work for me, and for Equestria.”

A dark blue primary then floated over and slid underneath the white one. “What Celly said,” Luna remarked. “Just without the love part. You are a brother in all but blood to me, but we do not want ponies to get the wrong idea. I also grant unto you permission to refer to me as Lulu, if you would like,” she added with a small grin. “Since we are family, after all.”

“Thanks,” he said, a hoof reaching up to touch the presents he’d been given. “Should I grow my mane out, Celly? These might stay better if you had a way to braid them in.”

Celestia hummed in thought while looking him over. “I think the present length should suffice. A little magic will be enough to keep them in place. However, it is getting late and we should be preparing for bed. Luna, may I have Apollo?”

“I shall tend to him for the present.” Luna’s gaze fell to the new prince, and her contented smile returned. “Go and rest. I shall wake you if you are needed.”

“I’d rather take him now, if it’s all the same,” Celestia snipped back. “Since he is my son.”

“Temper, sister. Why disturb him now, when he is sleeping so soundly?”

“I want to make sure he’s fed before I retire. Unless you are offering to wet nurse him?”

“Certainly not. But I suspect that your desire to nurse is based more on a pair of swollen and painful teats than an attempt to avoid midnight feedings.”

“Do we need to get you some kind of pump?” Bean asked.

“If this pain and pressure is going to continue, then yes.” Celestia stood and shook a rear leg before crossing over to Luna. “This is so uncomfortable I can hardly walk. I won’t be able to sleep a wink like this.”

“I would advise you ‘get used to it,’ as they say,” Luna quipped. “I would also suggest finding something to cover his horn while he nurses. Unless you like being stabbed in those sensitive areas, of course. My Twilight drew blood when she was exceptionally hungry.”

“Maybe we could put a tennis ball on his horn,” Bean suggested. “That would work, wouldn’t it?”

“Probably,” Celestia said. “Now pass him over.”

“Very well.” Luna’s magic lifted and transferred Apollo to his mother. “I should be attending to my duties anyway. I believe Aunt Cannellini was next in line to take care of Apollo, when you are done with him. I shall check on their sleepover on my way out.”

“Thank you, Luna,” Celestia replied with a quick hug. “Have a good evening.”

“You as well, sister. Good night.”

* * * *