• Published 14th Sep 2022
  • 8,464 Views, 220 Comments

The Harem Noses - Irrespective

A stallion, three immortal Alicorn mares, and a healthy competition. What could go wrong?

  • ...

3. Night and Day

* * * *

Baked Bean was having the most wonderful dream.

Typically, he didn’t dream at all, or if he did, he would forget the details with the blaring of his alarm clock in the mornings. When he could remember, however, the dream almost always involved him cooking in the family restaurant, in some form or another, so to him, it was more like a horrible nightmare.

Tonight was the polar opposite. Almost as soon as his head had hit the pillow in his luxurious suite, he had begun to dream about writing. At first, it was just little snippets here and there, ideas and scenes that weren’t connected but could be expanded upon with a little effort. Once he had enough of these inspirational whisps committed to parchment, he had begun to string them together, bit by bit, like he was stitching together a giant, colorful quilt. The words and phrases he needed flowed without any real effort on his part, and before long, he had an impressive stack of papers next to him on the desk in his dream room, each filled top-to-bottom and front-to-back with a wondrous story that was sure to be a bestseller.

The more he wrote, the easier it became, and it wasn’t long before the completed pages were literally flying out from under his hooves. If only he had known that writing was so easy! He would have taken up the craft years ago, and avoided all of the problems that had come from his failures as a chef.

The absolute best part, however, had to be the Muse he’d found in the process. He had heard tales, told by artisans of all types and styles, about this mystical ‘voice’ that provided inspiration and revelation, but he’d never experienced it for himself. In fact, he’d rather been annoyed with the concept before now, since his father would frequently claim to have been serenaded by a muse before coming up with a new dish for the restaurant, despite his mother’s frowns whenever the subject came up.

But now? Now that he could hear it for himself, he understood completely what all the fuss was about.

It was odd, because the voice wasn’t really a voice, or at least not a voice that one would hear with their normal ears. No, this voice was more like a feeling, a series of impressions and nudges, like how he might feel when he was all wrapped up in a warm blanket on a cold winter’s evening in front of a pleasant fire.

And interestingly enough, this Muse also felt… blue, for some reason. It wasn’t an emotional, depressed blue, but more like the very color had pulled him into a tender caress and was now surrounding him, tickling the fine hairs of his inner ear as it billowed about the dreamscape.
If this were the waking world, the whole thing would probably concern and frighten him, but here in dreamland, it was energizing, arousing even.

If this is what his dad experienced when the Muse spoke to him, he could see why his mom would be upset.

For a moment, Baked Bean paused, leaned back in his chair, and hugged himself as he looked over the vast field of stars above his head. These were not the same stars he was familiar with, the ones that he would see night after night in their apportioned places, moving about in their prescribed paths across the inky darkness. No, these stars were new; they were brighter, larger, full of life and eager to shine for the whole world to see. He could almost taste their energy, their desire to prove that they were not what everypony had thought they were.
They would be the perfect subject for a new story, if he could only figure out how to put it all together.

Sadly, just as Baked Bean was beginning to create a plausible storyline, he felt the telltale pull of the conscious world, yanking him from this pleasant place against his will with the demand to begin a new day. He tried to fight back, but that only sped up the process, so with the last little bits of sleep that remained, he desperately pulled the dream to him, hoping that, in so doing, he could keep some memory, some fleeting flecks to put back together the next time he slumbered.

With a slow inhale, Bean felt reality reassert control over him, and his eyes slowly fluttered open. For what was probably the first time in his life, he felt all tingly and warm, and he did not want to move from his comfortable position. He wiggled his rump slightly, but with the soothing touch of a blanket on his backside, he gently moved the rest of himself into the plush, almost feathery bliss.

He took a few moments to enjoy the sensations that were dancing around inside him, but as he blinked away the rest of his slumber, he found that he was not where had expected to be.

Well, duh. You’re in the Palace, remember? Nightmare Moon? Princess Luna’s return? Remember any of that?

The internal admonishment calmed the slight panic he had felt at waking in a strange place. He was still in the guest room that Princess Celestia had provided for him, the interior bathed in twilight as the day patiently waited for night to end.

Strange. I wonder why Princess Luna hasn’t lowered the moon yet. Did she sleep in on her first night back?
He chuckled lightly with the thought, but the small feeling of amusement dried up and shriveled on the vine when he heard a slight moan.

For half a second, he tried to blame his empty stomach for the sound, but that idea was promptly stomped into the ground when Bean felt four long, strong legs tighten around his barrel, and it died an inglorious death when his ‘blanket’ began to gently nibble on his right ear.

Oh, no.

Baked Bean forced himself to take slow, even breaths in a desperate attempt to fight back the hysteria that was growing inside him. If he screamed, he would wake whoever had him in her grip—and, given that he couldn’t clearly see the legs that held him like an octopus would hold a tasty clam, he was reasonably sure he had been snagged by Princess Luna, somehow. It logically followed that she would scream in response to his sudden outburst, and that would elicit a response from the Royal Guard, who would then be quite eager to share the details with Princess Celestia.

Or, if the universe wanted to save time, Luna’s cry of alarm could be immediately heard and responded to by Princess Celestia, but in either case, he did not want to try to explain this to the pony who played with the sun itself like it was a beach ball.

Unless he wanted to find out what it was like to be a grease stain, that is.

No, if he wanted to save his hide, he was going to have to slowly and quietly remove himself from this situation, so as not to arouse the sleeping alicorn. Once free, he could then flee the scene in a calm and orderly fashion, make a fast break to the bottom of the Mount Canter, and then keep running until his legs fell off.

With that ill-conceived thought in mind—and while actively trying to ignore the hundred ways it would go wrong—Baked Bean evaluated the situation. From what he could tell, he was still in the guest room, so at least it had been the Princess who had come into his room, instead of the other way around, for what little that mattered. His right ear was still being gently nibbled, Luna’s surprisingly powerful grip still held him fast, and on top of all that, he found that he was lying on her left wing. Both wings wrapped around him and held him in a feathery cocoon, which was going to make escape all the more tricky, but he had to admit that the unintended embrace was rather pleasant.

No! Bad Bean! Bad! This is very, very bad! Don’t enjoy this!

Bean began to debate his method of escape. Should he try to slowly nudge himself out of Luna’s embrace, or should he just throw everything he had into making one mad dash for the door? The latter seemed to be the better option, since his earlier squirming had only increased her grip, and…

The slumbering Princess began to stir with more groans, and Baked Bean froze, both inwardly and outward. A thousand excuses tried to come together in his head as he panicked, but they were crashing into each other with such force that he couldn’t sort them out and settle on one to use.

With a low, contented moan, Luna yawned in Bean’s ear, smacked her lips, and then went still. There was a sharp gasp, and half an instant later, there was a flash of blue magic, leaving the confused stallion alone in his room.

For a moment, Bean wondered if maybe, by some extraordinary and inexplicable means, he had just dreamt the whole thing. Maybe now he was just waking up, and once he splashed some cold water on his face, he would forget all about how comfortably horrifying the dream had been.

Those hopes were dashed when he lifted his head off his pillow and felt a long line of drool dangling from his ear. There really had been a nocturnal visitor of the moon-moving variety in his room, and that meant…

Well, he wasn’t sure what it meant, if he was being honest with himself. Since he was not the instigator of the incident, he didn’t think he could be charged with felonious snuggling in the first degree, and there were probably all sorts of exemptions⁽*⁾ that allowed Princess Luna to engage in such wanton acts whenever she felt like it.
The biggest one being the I’m a Princess, what are you going to do about it? clause.

The thought was mildly comforting, but not enough to convince him that he was in the clear just yet. In fact, he was reasonably sure that Celestia and Luna would want to speak to him about the incident after sunrise, and that he would be dismissed from their presence to avoid any potential conflicts of interest and uncomfortable questions from the tabloids.

With a grunt, Bean wiped his ear clean on the pillow, rose, and moved to gather his meager possessions together. Before he could reach the wardrobe in his room, however, an authoritative knock came at the door, and he yelped in alarm.

“Easy, Bean. Maybe it’s just a server, wanting to see what you want for breakfast,” he told himself in a shaky voice.

It was not a waiter, as he had hoped. Instead, when he swung the door open, he found exactly who he thought would really be there.

“Good morning, Mister Bean,” Princess Celestia said, her tone surprisingly soft and relaxed. “Have I distrubed you?”

“Oh, not at all, Your Highness,” Bean replied with a bow. “I was just getting up, actually.”

“Yes, it seems that everypony is running late this morning, including my sister,” Celestia said with a frown. “The sunrise was nearly an hour late because of her tardiness.”

Horeseapples! She knows!

“But what’s done is done,” Celestia went on. “Did you sleep well last night? Were you comfortable?”

Bean whimpered slightly and involuntarily. “I slept….” He paused and coughed to clear the squeaks out of his voice. “I slept well enough, Princess. Everything was perfect.”

Celestia tilted her head, and Bean began to wither before her. “Forgive me for doubting you, Mister Bean, but you seem to be troubled. In fact, you almost look like you suffered a nightmare. Perhaps some breakfast would help your nerves?”

Bean could only nod dumbly.

“Very well! Since you are a guest here, I would be delighted to make my famous pancakes for you. I use an old family recipe, and since you were a chef, you can tell me what you think of them,” Celestia proclaimed with glee. “May I escort you down to the dining room? It will only take me a few minutes to get everything prepared.”

The sudden shift in both demeanor and conversation threw Bean for a loop, and he was sure his confusion was written in bold across his face. “Uh, sure? That’s very generous of you, Princess.”

“Oh, it’s no trouble at all!” Celestia tittered with a grin. “Please, right this way.”

* * * *

“Now, I’m afraid I may not be able to stay for very long,” Princess Celestia said as she pushed a door open with her magic. “As you saw last night, my schedule is rather full at the moment. Please, after you.”

“Thank you.” Baked Bean entered the surprisingly small room and took a few moments to take in the entirety of it. The overall feel and look of the space was similar to the kitchenette back home, but perhaps double the size. He suddenly felt like a young colt once again, especially since the countertops were set a height that would be comfortable for an alicorn, but difficult for an earth pony to properly use.

What really stuck out to him, though, was how new everything looked. Everything, from the icebox down to the toaster looked like it had been installed a few days ago, and as far as he could see, Celestia had just about every appliance available on the market, including those that would usually only be commercially available. If he was so inclined, he could probably start his own restaurant out of the space, and he had to wonder if any of the kitchen supply companies were sponsoring his visit, somehow.

This young author’s visit is being brought to you by Harvest Gold, your go-to supply source for all your dining needs.

“I take it this meets with your approval?” Celestia asked with a sly grin.

“It’s really elegant. Tastefully furnished, too,” he added, but he decided it might be for the best to not mention the dust in the corners and along the tops of the wall-mounted cabinets. If he didn’t know any better, he would be willing to guess that the kitchenette had not been used for some time, but then hastily prepared and stocked within the last day or two. “Do you dine alone here, Princess?”

“I’m afraid so.” Celestia sighed and moved towards the sink on the far wall. “I do host dignitaries on occasion in the dining hall, but I am alone most of the time. To be fair, I usually don’t have the luxury of eating in here, either; I typically have to eat my meals on the run.”

“That makes sense, but it’s kinda… sad, in a way." Bean sat at the nearby table with Celestia’s encouraging wave of the hoof. "I get that you’re probably the busiest pony in Equestria, but I think it’s nice to have a few breaks here and there, you know? Just taking some time to relax and enjoy a meal has always felt very therapeutic to me.”

“Indeed,” Celestia said with a slight nod of her head. “And with my sister’s return, I hopefully will have more opportunities to use this place for its intended purpose. At any rate, you are welcome to dine here whenever you like during your stay. I have left instructions with the kitchen staff about your special status as Our guest, and Chef Sugar Beet has assured me that you will be taken care of personally.”

“That’s very kind of you, Princess. Thank you.”

Celestia nodded again, her pleased smile growing slightly. “Please, make yourself comfortable. It will only take me a few minutes to prepare my pancakes. Would you care for some orange juice while you wait?”

“Orange juice?” Princess Mi Amore’s voice cut in. “May I have some too?”

“Of course, Cadence,” Celestia replied with a roll of her eyes as the younger alicorn strode in. “I will return momentarily.”

“Good morning, Mister Bean!” Mi Amore cheerfully plunked herself down in the chair next to him. “Did you sleep well?”

She knows too! Bean thought while his heart took off in a full gallop. Princess Celestia told her, and now the whole palace is going to know I was canoodled by Princess Luna!

“I slept well enough,” he answered with what he hoped was a normal sounding voice.

“Wonderful! I was worried that you might have some nightmares after everything that’s happened to you.” She hesitated, but then gave his tangled mane and tired eyes a long, introspective glance and added, “Did you have a nightmare last night?”

“Not in the traditional sense,” he said, his gaze going distant for a moment. “But even then, I don’t think she…it! I don’t think it affected my sleep all that much,” he hurriedly finished.

One regal eyebrow slid upwards, and the faintest hint of a devious grin flashed on the Princess’ face. “Really? That does sound rather troubling.”

“Is something troubling you, Mister Bean?” Princess Celestia asked. Somehow, she had snuck back into the room with two tall glasses of orange juice trailing in her magic, and she glanced over Bean with a concerned frown.

“Nightmare,” Princess Mi Amore said with a bob of her eyebrows.

“Oh dear. I am sorry you had to experience such a thing,” Celestia offered. “But I believe my sister may be able to assist.”

“She can?” Bean squeaked, as he waited for the two of them to reveal what they knew.

“Indeed! Princess Luna has the capability to enter a pony’s dreams,” Celestia proudly announced, like it was the greatest pronouncement she had ever made. “So, if you are troubled with dark thoughts during the night, she can guide you through them. It is a skill that was woefully underutilized a thousand years ago, but I am hopeful that, when she resumes this duty, she will endear herself to all of my little ponies who have restless dreams like yours.”

That did explain why his dream had been tinted with minty nocturnal alicorn flavors. But was it possible that Luna had said nothing, and that the two princesses in the room did not know about what had happened?

“Why don’t I have her visit you this evening?” Celestia offered. “We will be busy for most of the day, but I’m sure we can find some free time, and the two of you can discuss your troubling thoughts and what to do about them.”

Baked Bean was desperate to avoid a return nocturnal nibbling, and in desperation, he threw out the first thing that came to his mind as calmly as he could. “I appreciate the offer, Princess, but please don’t trouble yourself or Luna over me. I was planning on leaving after breakfast, so I won’t be here to help.”

“So soon?” Princess Mi Amore asked with a small pout.

“I’ve no real reason to stay,” Bean said. “I mean, I came here to be checked for injuries, and since I have none, I should be moving on with life. I’m sure all of you have better things to do than fuss over me as well.”

“If that is your decision,” Celestia said with a pout of her own. “But I hope you’ll reconsider while you eat. Your company has been most pleasant and agreeable, to say nothing of the fact that you have not told us what you wish to receive as a boon. At the very least, you should speak with Luna before leaving. She will be most disheartened if she is not able to see you off with her well-wishes.”

It was like somepony had just dropped an anvil on Bean’s back, and inwardly, he cursed his good fortune. It was easy to believe that Luna would hunt him down if he did leave without saying goodbye, and that would not be pleasant.

Or, more accurately, it probably would be pleasant, and that scared him even more. “I suppose I could stay for a little while, but only if I won’t be an inconvenience.”

“Not at all!” Celestia said, her cheerfulness returning with the same intensity of daybreak. “Once we finish with breakfast, I will send word to her. If you’ll excuse me for just a moment.”

Bean watched on as Celestia left the room, but when he turned back to Princess Cadenza, he gasped and recoiled. A huge, predatory grin of delight was spread across her face, and she looked like she might explode with joy.

“I’m glad to hear that you’ll be staying, even if it is for a short time,” she said. “You did promise to let me study you, after all.”

He’d forgotten about that, and he gave himself an inner kick for having done so. “I did say that. I really don’t think I’ll be staying for very long, though. Princess Celestia needs to help Princess Luna catch up from the last thousand years, and I don’t want to just freeload off of their kindness. Or yours,” he added.

“I wouldn’t worry about that,” she replied, the end of her nose twitching slightly. “I think you’ll soon find something that will motivate you to stay in Canterlot.”

The rest of breakfast proved to be rather common — or, at least it was as common as having breakfast with royalty could be, Baked Bean supposed. Celestia’s pancakes were topped with whipped cream, blueberries, and strawberries, and to her immense delight, Bean had deemed them to be delicious after taking a few bites.

The two princesses then chatted about the day’s schedule while they ate, and Bean tried not to eavesdrop, despite being seated right next to both of them. Celestia’s day was packed with meetings and appointments to reestablish Princess Luna as a Diarch of Equestria, Mi Amore had some classes at the University to attend, but both wanted to share dinner and to discuss what Princess Mi Amore could do to help Princess Luna’s transition to the modern day.

So to Bean, it sounded like his wish to be left alone to write was being granted. For a time, he was able to block out the conversation by thinking about the plot he’d come up with for a book, and he felt confident that he could produce at least one chapter that day, if not two.

It was a bit ambitious, he realized, but he wanted to strike while his motivation was high and his mind was filled with ideas.

“Thank you for sharing breakfast with us, Mister Bean,” Princess Celestia offered as she cleared the now empty plates away. “I always enjoy having company when I eat.”

“The pleasure was mine, Your Highness. I appreciate your generosity,” he replied.

“You are most welcome. Now, I’m afraid I need to run, but Princess Cadence will show you back to your chambers. If you should happen to need anything while she and I are busy, just ask any member of the Royal Guard for assistance. They’ll be happy to assist.”

Baked Bean nodded. “I don’t think I’ll be going anywhere, but I’ll keep that in mind.”

“Good. If you’d like, you’re welcome to join us for dinner as well,” Celestia went on. “I believe there will be a nice rosemary salad served, with garlic breadsticks and a fine red wine.”

“I’d be honored, but may I make a small request?”

“Of course.”

“If I may, I’d just like water with the evening meal. I don’t much care for wine,” he said, his tone going soft and distant.

Celestia shared a glance with Mi Amore, then nodded. “I’m sure it will be no trouble. Until this evening, then?”

“Until this evening,” Bean muttered to the table.

Another glance was shared between the alicorns, but this time, Cadence added a shrug. Thankfully for Bean, the two did not ask about his change in demeanor, and Celestia simply nodded and left without another word.

“Is everything all right, Mister Bean?” Mi Amore asked, and Bean sniffled.

“Yeah, sorry. Don’t mind me, I’m just… yeah. I’m just being weird.”

“Is there something you’d like to discuss?”

“No, thank you. I’m fine, really.” Bean hoped his lie was somewhat convincing, but even if it wasn’t, Princess Mi Amore didn’t press the matter.

“Very well. Let’s get you back to your guest room.”

* * * *

“I hate writer’s block.”

Baked Bean stared at the empty page before him, and he chewed on the end of his pencil in frustration. For the last several hours, he’d been left alone in his guest room, which should have been the ideal setting for writing and idea production.

But as soon as he’d sat at the desk in his room, he had run face first into a Princess Celestia sized wall of inability, and he just couldn’t figure out how to start his story.

Most of the problem lay in the fact that there were too many choices for him to make at this critical juncture. Should he write the story in first pony, or third? Should he start in medias res, and then reveal the backstory in steps as the story went along? Maybe it would be better to write a prologue, but if he did, how long should it be? Would doing so reveal too much of the story, and ruin the surprises he wanted to put in?

It was maddening, and at this rate, Baked Bean wondered if he was doomed to failure as a writer, too.

A knock at the door interrupted his frustrations, and he huffed as he stood and crossed the room. A small break would be nice, but was it time for dinner already? He’d lost track of time, but the sun was still up, so it couldn’t be that late.

“Fair afternoon, Mister Bean. Am I disturbing you?”

Of course it was Princess Luna. Why wouldn’t it be the Princess? It was like he was a magnet now, drawing in all the hapless alicorns who dared to exist in the same country. Maybe he’d accidentally drank some bad batch of love poison before leaving home, and now he was experiencing the consequences. “Good afternoon, Princess. How are you?”

“I am well, thank you.” The end of her nose twitched, and she took in a deep whiff of the air in his room. “Have you been with my sister today?”

“I had breakfast with her and Princess Mi Amore Cadenza this morning, but not since then. I’ve been trying to get my story started, but I’m not having any luck.”

“I see. And has my sister requested your presence for dinner?”

“She did, yes.”

Luna’s eyes narrowed. “As I suspected. She is…” she trailed off, glanced down, and shook her head. “Well, let us not trouble ourselves with that. She is being a gracious host, nothing more.”

The unspoken implication that Princess Celestia had ulterior motives was left hanging in the room, fat and suspended by a few weak threads. Bean didn’t dare touch such a sensitive and fragile subject with a ten foot pole, so he decided to say nothing.

“What, praytell, have you been doing today while my Sister and I have been engaged elsewhere?” Luna went on, much to Bean’s relief.

“I’ve been here all day, actually. I’ve been trying to get some writing in, but so far, I’m not having any luck.”

“You are intent on moving forward with your designs to be an author, then?” Luna asked, and Bean nodded. “Interesting. Praytell, what subject do you intend to write upon?”

“Well, it’s kinda dumb. I have this idea for a story about some dragons, but I don’t know where to start with it.”

“Dragons?” Luna looked intrigued. “An interesting topic. Do you intend to write about their culture and society? They are fearsome beasts, and can be quite difficult to reason with at times. They are rather self-centered and self-serving, and are prone to fits of grandeur. In fact, their ‘kings’ are selected by ferocious fights to the death, and their leadership changes quite often.”

“Really?” Bean was enthralled, and he desperately wished he’d been writing all that down. “I really don’t know anything about them, which is part of my problem. Maybe you could help me learn more, if you have some free time.”

“Certes,” Luna said with a warm smile and a small nod. “I would be pleased to assist you. I think you will find their mating rituals to be quite fascinating. Did you know that, for all of their fury and rage, mates are chosen with rocks?”


“Yes. A female will choose the male who brings her the stone that is most pleasing to her tastes, so gemstones do tend to be utilized with great frequency. Once she has made her choice, the pair will then find an ideal place to lay her clutch—which, again, usually involves fighting others—and once the eggs have been quickened, the male will guard them with his life while the female strikes out and feasts to prepare to nourish the hatchlings.”

“Huh. That sounds something like how penguins do things.”

Luna tilted her head. “Peg-win? What manner of creature is this?”

“Oh. It’s a small, flightless bird that lives at the south pole. I’m surprised you don’t know what they are.”

Luna’s ears drooped, and her flowing mane slowed to a limp wave. “Alas, as I have learned today, there is a figurative and literal mountain of things that I do not know. In my day, we did not have what I believe is called science or art, and if we did, it was very simplistic. Equestria was being challenged from both external and internal sources, so knowledge of the natural world was ignored in favor of improved blacksmithing possibilities. We needed armor and spears far more than we needed to know about birds at the bottom of the world.”

Bean felt horrible. It was clear now that Luna’s education would be a thousand years out of date, but he hadn’t even considered that fact until it was far too late. “I’m sorry, Princess. I should have…”

Luna lifted a hoof and drew in a sharp breath to stop him. “Nay, do not apologize. You did not speak with the intent to injure. You bear no fault for my lack of understanding.” Luna turned, pulled herself up to her full height, and flared her wings. “If you will excuse me, Mister Bean, I believe you are needed for dinner. Until the morrow.”

And with that, Luna briskly trotted away. Bean’s guilt compelled him to take a few steps into the hall after her, but he stopped when he found that he had nothing to say.

“Excuse me, Mister Bean?”

The unfamiliar voice caught Bean off guard, but for a change of pace, he was able to keep his composure. “Yes?”

“Am I interrupting anything?” the pale white unicorn mare with a brown mane asked.

“No, I don’t think so. How can I help you?”

“My name is Wysteria, Mister Bean. I’m Princess Celestia’s secretary.” She offered a hoof, and he shook it. “It’s nice to meet you.”


“The Princess, unfortunately, has had several urgent matters of state come up, and she will not be able to host you for dinner.” Wysteria adjusted her glasses, glanced quickly at a paper on her clipboard, then went on. “She sends her apologies, and she wanted me to make sure you got something to eat. So, what can I get for you?”

“Is there a menu or anything?” he asked.

“Oh, no. You name it, Chef Sugar Beet will make it. She’s probably the finest chef in Canterlot, if not Equestria.”

Several different options came to him, but most of them would take hours to prepare, and he didn’t want to bog down the kitchen with an overly complicated request. “Would it be possible to get one of those rosemary salads that the Princess was talking about? That sounded pretty good, and I don’t think I’ve had one before.”

“Sure! I’ll have one brought right up. Would you like the breadsticks as well?”

“Please. And just water to drink,” he added before she could suggest a wine to go with the meal.

“Of course. I’ll put the order in right now. If you’d like anything else, just pull the rope in the corner of the room. Somepony will be right along to take care of anything you need.”

Baked Bean couldn’t sleep.

Though he wasn’t quite sure what time it was, he was pretty extra sure it was close to midnight by now, and yet he just couldn’t get his brain to be quiet. His conversation with Princess Luna kept playing in his head, and his mind was adamant about going over everything and anything that he could have said or done to not injure the newly returned alicorn. His thoughts were reinforced by the guilt that he felt over the matter, and he just wished that he could do something to fix the damage he’d inadvertently caused.

Maybe he did need to leave, just so he wouldn’t do something else stupid.
With a groan, he rolled in his bed so his back was to the door and his nose was nearly touching the wall. The surface was smooth and plain, thus providing nothing to distract him while he shut his eyes so tightly that little lights began to dance on his eyelids.

This was going to be an extremely long night.

His ears flicked, and for half a moment, he thought he heard the door to the room opening. Absolute silence came back, so he dismissed the noise as a trick of his mind, or a small gust of wind outside the window.

Half an instant later, Baked Bean felt a weight settle in next to him, and to his great alarm, four long, dark legs wrapped around him and pulled him into a tight embrace. The shock of the action made him go stiff as a board, and he was unable to make a sound as somepony rested their head on his.

Though Bean couldn’t see who had him in their grip, he had a very good guess, and he began to ponder how he was going to explain Luna’s multi-night snuggle sessions.

But before he could get very far with the thought, his ears flicked again. It was almost imperceptible, but to Bean, it sounded like…

Like Princess Luna was crying.

He didn’t know what to do with this information. Why would she, an Alicorn and a Princess of Equestria, be in such a sad state? Why had she decided to come to him in this time of anguish? Shouldn’t she go to talk to Princess Celestia?

Whatever the reasons, Bean just couldn’t just lay there, listening to her silent sobs. Slowly, and with great care, he moved one foreleg up, and began to trace a small line from her hoof up to her elbow, and back again. The simple motion seemed to comfort the troubled ruler, so he kept at it until he heard her softly snoring.

Had his previous insomnia still been in force, he would have taken the time to ponder over everything that had happened. But now, held comfortably in her grasp and with her soft coat against his, Baked Bean was unable to fight off the slumber that was overtaking him.

Tomorrow, he thought with a large yawn. Everything will make sense tomorrow.

* * * *