No Nose Knows

by Irrespective

Chapter 1: 1. - Whoops

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The Grand Station of Canterlot is a sight that one must see to truly understand. It is a grandiose place of a scale that tends to boggle the imagination, yet is inspiring at the same time.

Baked Bean looked up from his notebook and considered the words he had just written there. As a first line in a travel brochure, it could use some work.

Well, a lot of work, but that was for the editing process later. Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, and all that. Nopony outside of Canterlot would want to read an advertising brochure that included the soot and loose cinders blowing around on the breeze, so a little creative adjustment was in order.

A visitor will first notice the sheer size of the building. With twenty-five tracks entering and exiting, the building encompasses such a vast territory that several small hamlets would be able to fit within it and still leave room for modest gardens. The ceiling is a grand, vaulted affair, with pale yellow glass interwoven between the steel girders and supports in oversized shield shapes and configurations.

The walls are a simple red brick, bound together with white mortar. Large bay windows are set every ten to fifteen feet along the sides, allowing a great deal of natural lighting to enter, and for visitors to catch their first glance of Canterlot proper as they leave their trains and move towards their destinations.

Several shops and open-air stalls are scattered among the tracks, offering such sundries as luggage, newspapers, magazines and a great many basic necessities that a pony may have forgotten in their haste to pack. The shops are surrounded by throngs of ponies, so business is brisk. With a train arriving or departing every seven minutes on average, one never has to wait long for customers to filter by. Bright signage advertises the wares, both from the rooftops and from the ground level, and one will occasionally hear the calls of the owners, enticing any and all to come and partake.

Baked Bean sighed, slid his pencil into the spiral binding along the top of his notebook, and placed both into his saddlebag. He had gotten a good start on his description of the station, but there was still one more stop he wanted to make before getting some food and heading back to his hotel room for the night.

“I hope I’m not overdoing the descriptions,” he muttered to himself as he merged into the crowd and began walking towards the exit. He was new to writing, and with no formal training he was forced to improvise for the moment and hope he wasn’t screwing up too badly. Still, he remained hopeful that he could perhaps earn enough bits to pay for a modest place out in the more affordable countryside with his tour guide descriptions, leaving enough left over to pay for some creative writing classes.

Then, he would feel confident to write his story.

The air outside the station felt clean and a bit crisp as he walked out into Celestia’s bright sunlight. He had been sitting in the station for a few hours before he’d begun writing, hoping to absorb the atmosphere and the feel of Equestria’s third largest rail terminal. Now that he was out in the fresh air, he realized he should have left a bit sooner, but a few deep breaths rejuvenated his spirits and sent him on his way with a sprightly step.

Indeed, he began using adjectives—or were they adverbs?—in his mind to describe the bright marble storefronts and homes that lined the broad avenue. Words like ‘resplendent’ and ‘radiant’ and ‘respectful’ first came, then followed by ‘stately’ and ‘magnificent’ so he wouldn’t use too many words starting with ‘R’. However he described them, the overall feel of Canterlot’s architecture was summed up to him in one word:


There was a small part of him that would like to live here, surrounded by the gilded trappings and the peaceful structures that made Canterlot the world-renowned capital that it was. Despite the obvious affluence that was on display before him, there was a definite feel of openness and acceptance, and everypony he passed was far friendlier than he had anticipated. The overall feeling of home that radiated from the core of this city outward was extended to all who came, just as Equestria was open to any who wished to avail themselves of the opportunities that could be found within her borders.

Yes, Baked Bean felt that he was being treated quite well. Of course, Canterlot was known for being very accommodating to tourists and visitors, whether they had come to petition the Royal Sisters as they sat in court or were simply here to take in the sights. It was delightfully easy to find a hotel room, and most restaurants featured a ‘light and thrifty’ section, so ponies from all across Equestria could enjoy the flavorful experience of Canterlot without breaking the bank.

But even in this generous city a pony needed to have some bits in hoof, and Baked Bean was quickly running out of them. Though he could possibly stretch his purse for another week or two, he would soon find himself in a soup kitchen line if he didn’t get some sort of income going.

Hence his trip to the station, and now his quick canter over to the Royal Gardens.

The flowers were said to be beyond compare there, with several unique varieties that could only be found within the neatly trimmed hedge walls. One could also stroll among softly gurgling fountains, great stone sculptures, and if one was really lucky, even catch a glance of Princess Celestia herself. It was rumored she frequently strolled the gardens, and while she didn’t usually have time to meet with ponies for very long, she would make an effort to at least greet and share a few pleasantries with those who happened to be nearby.

Baked Bean didn’t believe luck would be willing to favor him with such a visit, so he really wasn’t interested in waiting around to try and catch a glimpse of the fair Princess of the Sun. Though she was well-renowned for her beauty and her intelligence, he felt that nearly everything that could be written about the daytime diarch had already been produced, and that there was nothing he could add to the subject matter. He was content to write about the plants, and perhaps that coupled with his train station description would be enough to get sompony to give him a serious opportunity to make his mark... no. He had his cutie mark already. He wanted something more out of life, something beyond the destiny that was written on his flank, and maybe he could find it here.

The walk to the gardens was a short one, with only a couple of wrong turns taken and some cheerfully happy directions given by both patrolling guard ponies and pleasant locals. Once Baked Bean did arrive, he took a slow walk around and admired the beauty of the reds, blues and greens before him, and he especially enjoyed the smooth aromas that drifted past his nose. Everything he needed was there: the neat rows of shrubbery, the patchwork planting of roses, hyacinths, and gardenias, the soft and sweet grass, the cobble-and-flag stone paths that meandered about the place without a care in the world. He nearly forgot the reason why he’d come in the first place, and for several long minutes, he simply soaked in the serenity and balance. These gardens seemed almost indescribable, but he was determined to try.

“’The air is awash with the sweet smells of such a variety of fauna that—’” He stopped and shook his head. “No, it’s flora for plants, fauna for wildlife. Okay. ‘The flora is such that one can spend most of a day amongst the petals and vines, admiring all the lush life and distinct blooms that can only be found within this serene place.’ Hmm. Is that too verbose? Or maybe not enough? Perhaps I need to use a few more adverbs.”

But was he really after adverbs, or was it prepositional phrases? Oh, how it drove him nuts! He just knew he was meant to be a writer, but having a very loose understanding of the rules made it so difficult to know if he was doing things right or wrong.

Growing frustrated with his lack of skill, Bean moved towards a large sunflower patch that was shining nearby and glared at them for a moment, as if they were the source of his inability and defeats. There just had to be a way to describe these things, and by Luna’s left leg, he was going to figure it out or he would eat his horseshoes!

The best way to prevent adding far too much iron into his diet was to immerse himself in the subject material he intended to write about, and this was promptly accomplished by shoving his snout into the sunny suckers, and ignoring any discomfort he might feel until he came up with a way to write what he was sensing. Robust? Earthy? Homely and simplistic? Relaxing? None seemed to fit totally.

He struggled for perhaps a good fifteen minutes before deciding he needed to be more immersed. He moved his front half into the tall green stalks, so anypony else who was walking by would see nothing more than two rear legs and a twitching, swishing tail. With his eyes shut tight enough to see little lights on the inside of his eyelids, he began again: Peaceful. Ennobling. Uplifting. Inspirational. Motivational.

Wait, what? No! That was what he was after, not what the flowers were! He quickly shoved his whole self into the flowers so that nopony could see him as they walked by, and once again he took a stab at success. Standing straight and lifting his snout into the air in hopes of catching either a scent or a muse, he stood stock-still, inhaled a deep and calming breath, and proceeded to think.

So focused on inspiration was he that he began to block out anything that didn’t pertain to the feel of the flowers. His ears slowly washed away sound into a blissful background of white noise, his eyes clamped shut to prevent stray thoughts from seeing something not sunflower related, and his breathing stilled to a deathly whisper. Slowly, over a period of half an hour or so, he achieved a sort of bizarre zen balance with the tasty seed producers, and then…


Was this it? Was this what inspiration felt like when it began to distill upon a pony? Was he about to achieve the breakthrough he was so desperately seeking?

And why did inspiration feel like somepony was touching his nose?

His eyes slowly opened, with the hope that the words that would perfectly describe the sunflowers would be floating before him in a grand, golden-banded, swoopy-cursive style.

Instead, what he saw was a snow-white face, connected to a snow-white nose, touching his own.

“GAAH!” he shouted, and his legs jammed into reverse. He fell over himself as he tumbled out of the sunflowers, and then he stumbled, fumbled, flipped and flopped for a moment to both get himself oriented on the cobblestones and to figure out what in Equestria had just happened.

“Hello?” a voice called. “Who’s there?”

Baked Bean’s mind took a fraction of a second to race into the past. To his mind’s eye came a Summer Sun Celebration in Las Pegasus during a family vacation when he was but a small colt, and he recalled how in awe he felt at the time when he had watched Princess Celestia gracefully and dramatically raise the sun before the assembled crowd, thus beginning the longest day of the year.

He recalled hearing Celestia’s voice. Though the exact words she had said had been lost, he could still hear her tone, her pitch, her timbre.

Complicated math equations had never been a strong point, but his mind quite easily managed to put this two and that two together, and was horrified when the answer turned out to be four. The voice that had just called out a hello… was…

He had just booped Princess Celestia’s nose with his own.

His eyes went wide in shock. There had to be at least three dozen laws against doing such a thing, if not four! He probably had committed a capital offence by even standing in the flowers! And since he had been hiding in the flowers, and had booped the Princess, she probably thought he was some kind of thief or assassin who was just waiting to strike and had bungled the job!

Again his legs flew into reverse, and he tried to twist around and move as fast as he could down the path he’d entered by. Perhaps if he just ran away fast enough, they wouldn’t bother to pursue him, and…

“There! He’s running away!”

Well, didn’t that just bite the bark.

“Hold it! Stop!”

There was no way Bean was going to comply with that order. He could only think of running as fast as he could back to the train station, hopefully losing the guards in the crowd, and then hopping on a train bound for anywhere but Canterlot and never coming back. Every other option ended in him being banished to the Everfree Forest, imprisoned, or being imprisoned in a previously unknown jail in the Everfree Forest.

Now, in fairness, Baked Bean was a pretty decent runner. Though no all-star in high school, he had long enough legs to be one of the faster ponies among his friends, and he had been on the long-distance track team for three years straight. There was a somewhat decent chance of him eluding the guards who were chasing after him, and a respectable chance he could complete his poorly devised plan.

That was until Celestia’s magic seized him, hoisted him into the air, and began levitating him back toward her.

“Where are you going, my little pony?” Celestia asked. “Usually ponies run to me, not away from me.”

I’m dead, I’m dead, I’ve died and I’m dead and I’m going to be drawn and quartered and turned into glue. Maybe they’ll be nice and use my tail for a violin bow, at least.

“Please, come here. I need to talk to you.”

“I’m so sorry!” he wailed. “I had no idea you were there, and I’ll pay whatever fine there is for trampling the flowers! Just please don’t throw me in jail, or banish me to the Everfree, or build a jail in the Everfree and throw me in there, or—”

Celestia’s magic clamped Bean’s mouth shut before he could prattle along any more. “Why does everypony believe that I’m going to imprison them in the place I banish them to?” she asked herself. “I’ve never done that. I’ve never even threatened it. I bet Twilight is behind this somehow, along with that silly ‘magic kindergarten’ thing I keep hearing about.”

She then took a moment to appraise him, and there was an awkward silence for Bean before she spoke again. “Now, I’m going to let go of your muzzle. Please don’t beg for mercy when you don’t even know if you’re in trouble or not, all right?”

He nodded, and then felt the magic release.

“There. Now, let’s just talk for a moment, shall we? I want to discuss what happened.”

“All right, I can talk. I’m very good at talking, and—”

Her magic grabbed his muzzle again. “Stop that. You’re not from Canterlot, are you?”

“No, Your Highness,” he replied, once the magic released again. She lowered him enough to look him straight in the eye.

“You have a most interesting accent in your voice. You must be from Salt Lick, yes?”

“How do you know that?” he breathlessly asked.

“I see I am correct.” She chuckled. “Most likely born and raised there. It’s not too difficult to discern individual lilts and drawls after a few centuries of travel, you know.”

“I would imagine so, Your Highness. And you have a very keen ear, if I may say.”

She gave him an annoyed look. “Sweet talking me to get out of trouble won’t help you right now.”


“Now, I’m going to put you down, and I’m going to let you out of this magic field. I want you to not run away, understand?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Good. Instead of running away, I want you to tell me who you are and why you were in the sunflowers. You are not going to be banished, you are not going to be imprisoned, and you are not going to be imprisoned in the place that I banish you to.”

“I understand.”

“Good,” she replied while she lowered and then released him. “Now, your name please.”

“Baked Bean, Your Highness.”

“Mister Bean, then. A pleasure to formally make your acquaintance.”

“Would it be out of place to say the pleasure is mine?”

“Only if you are saying it to get out of trouble. If you mean it, then I will accept it as a compliment.”

“I very much mean it,” he said. “As for your flowers, it’s… uh…”

“Yes?” Celestia prodded.

“It’s a bit hard to explain. I was trying to describe the sunflowers.”

“You describe flowers by putting yourself in the middle of them?”

“Well, it was an experiment,” he sheepishly admitted, as one hoof rubbed the opposite leg in embarrassment. “I came to Canterlot yesterday to start a career as a writer, but I’m not very good at it yet.”

Celestia took a long time to respond while slowly shaking her head from side to side. “Just yesterday? No wonder you’re having problems. You should have seen some of the disasters Luna and I caused when we first started—”

She stopped and shook her head again. “Well, never mind about that. Did you receive any inspiration?”

“Why do you care?” he asked. “Look, I get that I screwed up, and I shouldn’t have been in the flowers. I appreciate you not getting angry at me, but I really am willing to take my punishment and then to just leave and never bother you again.”

She leaned in a bit, her eyes boring into his. The intensity made him flex backwards and gulp loudly.

“I believe you,” she finally said, after a few agonizing moments, “but I’m afraid I can’t just let you go, at least not yet. I will need you to remain here for the evening.”

“I can do that.”

“What hotel are you staying at while you are visiting here?”

“I’ve been at the Shoe and Nail, not far from the train station.”

“A fine choice. I have heard good things about that particular establishment. I will make sure your room is held for you while you are gone, and reimburse you for the cost.”

“Uh, thank you, I guess.”

She nodded. “I would like to have you stay in the north tower this evening. It’s a bit drafty in the winter, but in this summer heat it’s really the best spot in the whole palace.”

“I appreciate that, I guess.”

She nodded again and smiled at him, then motioned with one hoof towards said domicile. “You’re very welcome. I would also greatly appreciate it if you would join me and Princess Luna this evening for dinner. I understand there will be a very delicious rosemary salad with shredded carrots served for the main course.”

“Why are you being so nice to me?” he blurted, as they began walking.

“Why shouldn’t I be?” she countered. “I try to be kind to all of my subjects.”

“Well, yeah, but this is, like, way beyond what I would think is normal. I don’t get the feeling that you offer free lodging and personal dinners to everypony you meet in a day.”

“You would be correct in that regard,” she replied with a heavy sigh.

“Not that I’m ungrateful for the hospitality, really. It just seems a bit… much.”

Celestia nodded yet again. “And it most likely is. But it is to try to help ease you into what I need to tell you.”

“About my punishment for being in the flowers and touching your nose?”

“There is no law that says a pony can’t be in the flowerbeds.” A wistful tone slipped into her voice. “And you are not the first pony to be found in them. As for my nose, well…”

“I can take it,” he offered when her words stalled.

“I hope you can. There is a law about—not against—touching my nose. It is a very old law, and a very silly law. I should have revoked it many years ago, but I’m afraid it totally slipped my mind until now.”

Her words stalled again, and Bean glanced up at the Princess of Equestria while she apparently tried to sort her thoughts out. She was troubled, that was obvious, but what could possibly be so bad about touching her nose? Was it just really taboo and would create a very awkward social scene for her? He just wished there was something he could do to help fix the mess he’d created.

“C’mon, Celly, just spit it out,” she muttered under her breath, and then she inhaled deeply. “Mister Bean, the law states that the first stallion who touches my nose with their nose is to be my husband.”

Bean instantly locked up, both physically and mentally. Celestia managed to take four or five more steps before she realized he wasn’t by her side anymore, and she craned her neck around.

“Hah!” he forced out a laugh. “That’s a good one, Your Highness. You know, I had heard you could be mischievous at times, but I never really could believe it until now. Me, forced to marry you? That’s pretty good. You had me there for a second.”

“I’m perfectly serious,” she replied while he walked up to her again.

Bean’s legs again failed in the effort of forward motion, but he then barked out another forced laugh.

“All right, all right. I get it. I made things very awkward for you by touching your nose. You’ll have to explain what happened to somepony, and it’ll be embarrassing. This whole ‘marry me’ thing is just so I feel the discomfort you’re going to feel, but there’s no way I could be the first pony to touch your nose with mine. I really am sorry it happened, truly. If you happen to know a time travel spell, I’ll gladly go through it and pull myself out of those flowers so this’ll never happen. I’ll write a confession, whatever. Publicly shame me, if you have to.”

“I promise I am not trying to shame you or to make you uncomfortable as some sort of punishment. I am as serious as the sun is bright: you need to marry me.”

There was some kind of reply trying to get out of Bean’s brain, but it was squished like a bug under a wagon wheel as the full weight of what Celestia was saying settled in. There was no hint of joke, no mirth, no ‘gotcha’ look in her eyes at all. She really was serious.

She fully expected him to marry her.

“Buh…” he sputtered. “Wha… duh… buh… oh… guh…”

“Oh dear.” Celestia sighed. “Sergeant, will you run ahead and fetch some cold water for poor Mister Bean here, please?”

“Yes, ma’am.” The guard quickly saluted, then ran off towards the palace.

“All right, Mister Bean. Take some deep breaths. It will be rather embarrassing if you pass out in the gardens and I have to take you to the infirmary.”

“You…” he said breathlessly, “really… expect me… to marry you?!”

“There is no need to shout,” she chided. “And only for the moment.”

“For the moment?!”

“Yes. Please, do try to relax. There may be a way to resolve this issue without resorting to drastic measures.”

“I’m all ears,” he replied as he forced himself to breathe in and out to the count of ten.

“As I said, this is a very old law; in fact, it predates the unification of the tribes. Since it is so old, there is a very good chance there is a loophole or a technicality we can exploit to cancel the whole thing. As soon as I can find that, you will be free to leave and to go about your affairs. I am asking you to stay here as a precaution, more than anything.”

“Why in Equestria does this law even exist?”

“That is a long story,” Celestia sighed. “It might be better to explain in a more relaxed and friendly atmosphere.”

“All right. I guess I’ll follow you, then.”

“There! That’s the spirit!” Celestia beamed at him. “Just this way, please. We’ll soon have this sorted out, I promise.”

“Wait. You’re the Princess,” Bean spoke the sudden thought, as they began walking again. “Why can’t you just void this law out, or veto it, or whatever the word is for it?”

“Another long story. Believe me, I would if I could; it would make things much easier. Suffice it to say for now that there are very powerful magics at work with this law.”

“What happens if I don’t marry you?” he challenged. “Like, if I somehow did run away?”

“Well, I would cease to be a Princess.”

Again, Bean’s legs failed him. The revelations he was getting were beginning to feel more and more like anvils being dropped on his head.


“Say what?” he asked.

“It’s sad to say, but it is true,” Celestia replied, as Bean forced motion into his hooves once more. “The terminology of the law states that if I do not marry the stallion who touched my nose, I will cease to be a Princess of Equestria.”

“Is this cease as in your title is stripped away from you but you go on living, or cease as in you cease to exist?”

Celestia glanced at him with a pleased look. “I’m impressed you thought of both options, Mister Bean, but more than my titles will be stripped from me. I would also lose the ability to raise the sun.”

That one felt like ten anvils at the same time, with a Rockhoof-strength blacksmith beating out a sword on each one for good measure.

“You… you couldn’t… couldn’t raise the sun?” he sputtered again.

“Yes. Only a Princess can raise or lower a celestial body. It helps to keep rogue elements from messing around with things they shouldn’t be touching.”

“Why does everything you tell me just keep making the situation worse?”

“I’m just trying to be honest with you so you know what you’re dealing with. But please remember, I said there may be a loophole that we can exploit. If we find that, then none of this matters.”

“I sure hope so. This is sounding very horrible otherwise.”

“Would marrying me be so horrible?” she asked.

“Well, no,” he quickly offered. “I don’t think there’s a stallion in his right mind who wouldn’t want to be married to you.”

“Shining Armor does not,” she said with a glint of playfulness in her eye that Bean nearly missed. “He is only interested in a single mare, and that is not me.”

“I don’t mean him, I meant any stallions who are looking for a mare,” he clarified quickly. “And I also meant that all those bad things that happen would be horrible.”

“Is that going to be a problem?” she asked seriously. “If we cannot find a way out of this, would you really deny me and bring all of these ‘bad things’ about?”

“Of course not!” he replied. “I would do anything to make sure you’re still our princess, just like anypony else.”


“I just really hope we don’t have to go that way,” he continued, but softly and more to himself. “That’s the last time I stand in any flower patch.”

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