No Nose Knows

by Irrespective

Chapter 20: 20. - Meetings, Meals and Makeovers

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“Wow, that was boring.” Bean couldn’t stop the truth from spilling out. “I could also use tedious, trite, monotonous, stupefying, dull, and to get any further, I’m going to need a thesaurus and a few minutes to find the really good words.”

“That it was, but it was also very important.” Celestia gave his cheek a kiss before they began walking down the hall. “The wrong gravel will lead to drainage issues and flooding, just as Minister Dusty Bottoms said.”

“Yeah, but still. Two hours to talk about rocks? And not even big rocks. Teeny-weeny rocks just the right size and made out of just the right rock-stuff to allow drainage without clumping or shifting. And what’s worse, I think I was starting to understand him at the end there, just about the time my brain started oozing out of my ears from boredom.”

“I’m afraid this is what the life of royalty is really like. There will be a healthy amount of tedium in your days from here on out.”

“Well, I’ll just stay by you then. I bet we can liven things up together.”

“Don’t tempt me.” She giggled with him. “I believe it will take very little to convince me to engage in your ‘nefarious’ plots.”

“Auntie Celestia! Bean!” Cadence called out from behind. The newest and yet oldest royal couple paused, and both smiled as they turned to greet her.

“Good morning, Cadence,” Celestia warmly greeted her niece. “You seem to be missing somepony.”

“I don’t know where he ran off to. I was actually hoping you’d seen him.”

“No, I’m afraid we haven’t,” Celestia replied, and Bean shook his head to emphasize the point. “We’ve been in a meeting for most of the morning.”

“Where’d he go, then?” Cadence asked herself.

“I’m sure he’s around here somewhere. Have you checked with the guards?”

“A couple of them, but they haven’t seen him either. Or they’re covering for one of his Hocus Pocus: The Get-Together games. He mentioned something about perfecting his agro deck last week.”

“Well, he couldn’t have gotten too far away. It is possible he was called away to deal with an issue within the ranks of his guards.”

It was just then that Sergeant Pokey rounded the corner and cleared his throat. “Excuse me, Your Highnesses, but Captain Armor wants me to inform you that he has lunch ready in the private gardens. He will receive you at your leisure.”

Cadence instantly went from worried to delighted. “He made lunch? That is so sweet! He hasn’t tried to cook since the talking cake incident.”

“Talking cake?” Bean asked.

“He somehow used an animation spell on a two-layer chocolate cake he made for me,” Cadence explained, as they all began walking with the sergeant towards the gardens. “It was a lovely cake but it kept shouting and hurling insults at us in Neighponese for some reason.”

“So what did you do with it?”

“Well, it wasn’t easy to find a translator, but apparently it had anger management issues stemming from when it was just a little Bundt cake and its cocoa father left its milk mother. We got it into some counseling, and now it’s on a speaking tour of the Empire, sharing motivational advice and positive, life-affirming lessons. Eventually it would like to settle down with a cute cream puff and have some mini lava cakes of its own.”

Bean really didn’t know what to say to that.

“I told him he needed to work on his animation spells,” Celestia casually replied. “He had a whole room of spears dancing around once with no way of stopping them.”

“Oh, but I’m sure he’s gotten better, though. He wouldn’t have tried cooking again if he didn’t feel confident.”

“Do you seriously have a talking cake walking around the Crystal Empire?” Bean blurted.

Celestia bit her lower lip to hold back a snicker but Cadence remained calm. “Why would you doubt my story, Bean?”

“Because if a cake had come to life in my house my mom would have stabbed it to death and then my dad would have sold it for twenty percent off.”

Celestia did snicker that time.

“All right, you got me,” Cadence replied with a laugh. “The cake started talking, yes; but as soon as it said that it was going to go straight to my hips I cancelled the animation spell on it. Sadly, I remember it being a bit dry too.”

Bean chuckled with the other two. “You had me worried there for a minute. I guess Shining Armor needs to learn how to put chocolate pudding in his cake mix and I need to learn how to be less gullible.”

“That’s not so easy, given your present company,” Cadence said. “I remember Auntie Celestia pulling a few fast ones on me.”

“If you can be good-natured about our teasing you’ll be fine,” Celestia added. “And you’re welcome to try to get one on us as well.”

“Right.” He gave them both a flat smile. “Nothing possibly could go wrong with that.”

The three of them chatted about a couple of their favorite stunts and pranks as they made their way out to the gardens. Bean was interested to find that this little area was walled in and guarded, but yet open enough to allow perhaps forty ponies or so at any one time. Other than that, it was a miniature of the regular gardens: stone paths, two or three small statues, a quaint pond near the middle, and small flower patches spread here and there. It was pleasant, and Bean liked it.

“You know, I have been neglecting that corner of the gardens for too long.” Celestia glanced down to Bean and gave him a smile that was brighter than her own sun. “I think I should plant some sunflowers over there. They would be just perfect, and add some much needed life and color.”

“I dunno,” he said with a wary grin. “There’s some weird pests that get into them. You’ll have to be careful.”

“Mm, I think the risk is acceptable.”

More laughter came with this, and the Royals then found Shining Armor near the pond and under a stately and shady oak tree, a large red-checkered tablecloth beneath him. He smiled and waved once they made eye contact, and he pulled a rather sizeable picnic basket from the side of the tree as they finished walking over.

“Shining Armor, you stupendous stallion!” Cadence gushed. “You made us a picnic lunch!”

“I thought I would try and give Bean some competition,” he replied, with a wide grin. “It’s nothing fancy, but I think it’ll work.”

Cadence peered in the basket, giggled a bit, and then levitated the plates and cutlery out as Bean and Celestia sat down together. It only took a moment for the picnic items to be distributed, and Bean thanked Cadence when she presented him with a fluted glass filled to the brim with freshly squeezed lemonade.

“So, Chef Armor, what exquisite cuisine have you created for our enjoyment?” Bean asked.

“Well, I tried to channel my inner gourmet chef as I prepared this, so I have a three-course meal. For the appetizer, I have fried green tomatoes.”

“Oo, those look good,” Cadence remarked as Shining levitated a bowl of them out. “You did this by yourself?”

“Chef Beet may have given me a few pointers, but I did do most of it. Please, dig in!”

Bean took a bite, chewed thoughtfully for a moment, then forced his face to a pleased neutral. He didn’t need to critique this, he just needed to enjoy it.

And, in fairness, they were decent. A touch on thin side, now that he took a good look at them, and a bit too thick on the breading. He also had used tomatoes that were a shade too green, and they were nearly swimming in pepper. Shining had let the frying oil get too hot, so the outside was seared dark while the insides were barely cooked. They were crunchy little concoctions, but they were made with love for those who he loved, and that was all that mattered.

Bean listened politely and tried not to crunch too loudly while Shining and Cadence discussed some things relating to the Crystal Empire over with Celestia as they ate. Production was up, and the manufacturing of crystal related items was really beginning to take off, but the overall capacity to manufacture was still stunted and the ability to get it to market was a concern as well. A few ideas were thrown about on how to alleviate these problems, and Celestia also encouraged them to work on broadening their industries so they could better weather any potential downturns in the economy.

Then the main course came out: daisy sandwiches. Bean smirked a bit as Shining described how he had slaved and toiled over a hot oven to make the sandwiches perfect, but he said nothing and allowed the Captain to play it up. Compared to the fried green tomatoes, the sandwiches were quite delicious, but Bean questioned the use of pumpernickel bread, and Shining really could have cut back on the amount of daisies he’d smashed into the middle.

“Bean, are you okay?” Celestia asked. “You seem awfully quiet.”

“Oh, I’m fine; I’m just listening. I don’t have anything to add to a discussion on factory output and logistical concerns.”

“Well then, let’s change the subject,” Cadence replied. “We did come here to get to know you better, Uncle Bean.”

“And I thought Prince Bean was going to be weird to hear.” He chuckled.

“It’ll grow on you. I know! Let’s play a game.”

Shining gave his wife a knowing look. “Twenty Questions?”

She smiled at him smugly. “Twenty questions, but I think we’ll just do a couple for today.”

Bean smiled a bit as he glanced between them. “I get the feeling this is not the twenty questions I’m familiar with.”

“No, I’ve modified it a bit. I would play this with my new clients when I was a foalsitter to help break the ice and to get to know the foal I was watching. I ask a question about you and then you ask me a question. It’s a fun way to learn about a pony, and I usually gave a little toy or permission to stay up past bedtime as a reward.”

“Can I not answer a question?”

“You can. The fun of it gets ruined otherwise.”

“All right,” Bean said with a smile. “Why don’t we all try it. This does sound kinda fun.”

“We’ll start with you, then. What is your favorite color?”

“Well, it was red but I’m thinking I like white now,” he replied, with a smile for his wife.

“Fair enough. Your turn now.”

“One for you, my dear Celly, and it’s one I was going to ask about yesterday. What was with that question you asked Twilight about the square root of a negative number?”

“Oh, that.” Celestia tittered a bit. “Twilight is a remarkable and intelligent young mare, but she has always had a tendency to obsess and fixate on details, as Cadence can attest to. Finally, in a fit of annoyance and desperation one day as she was prattling on about how I needed to conduct her math review before her first recess, I asked her that question. She ground to a stop, just like yesterday, and we later established that question—exactly the way I phrased it—as a signal for her to stop and to listen to me. It has been some time since I’ve had to ask her that, though.”

“My turn to ask.” Shining smiled deviously. “Bean, did you go to public or private school, and in either case, could you stand the meals they provided?”

“That’s two questions,” Bean noted.

“So answer twice.”

Bean rolled his eyes a bit. “All right. I went to public school, and yes, I ate school lunch most of the time. My family being in the business they were in meant that a home lunch was always over-complicated.

“In fact, there’s a kinda funny story with that. First day of kindergarten, right? Little Bean is elated to go, and my parents let me make my own lunch for the first day. I was so eager to show off what I’d made, and to see what everypony else had, ‘cause obviously everypony works in a restaurant and has access to premium ingredients.

“So we get to lunch. I sit down at the table, and I pull out a little napkin and put it in my lap before I begin, all proper and neat. I then started to unpack.

“Now, of course the other kids have the usual stuff—peanut butter and jelly, hay chips, little sandwich cookies, the like—and then Little Bean pulls out a mixed greens salad lightly tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette dressing, a glazed vegetable dumpling the size of my five year old hoof, a small container of apple puree—not applesauce, mind you, there is a difference—and six ounces of grape juice that was less than twelve hours old. I remember getting it all set up, grabbing my fork, and then finally looking around at what everypony else had. I was shocked they all had such common fare and they were all astonished that I had such fancy food. I think I spent most of that lunch trying to get my classmates to pronounce vinaigrette properly.

“And the worst part?” he added as they all laughed lightly at the story. “The worst was when I pulled out my dessert. I had a homemade pudding that was so rich and creamy it made everypony’s mouth water, including Missus Willow’s. I had to bring a tub of it with me the next day to share with everypony.”

“I would love to taste your pudding. Could you show me how to make it?” Celestia asked with a sly smile.

“I do. I’ll show you how to make it tonight, how’s that?” said Bean, trying to figure out why Cadence was snickering into a hoof and Shining Armor had turned away to cough vigorously into his napkin. “What did I say?”

“I’ll tell you when you’re older,” Shining replied somehow.

Bean shrugged before turning back to his wife. “Is that acceptable?” he added.

“It sounds delightful,” Celestia replied with a quick nip of his ear.

“Good. Now, let’s see.” Bean thought for a moment. “Cadence, have you ever regretted helping two ponies fall in love?”

“No,” she cheerfully answered. “But I don’t force ponies to fall in love either. That makes all the difference. I just help them to see what they already have.”

“Wow. Not one, not ever?”

“Not a one. Now, some relationships haven’t worked out, but even then they stayed friends. So I haven’t had any regrets⁽*⁾.”
(*) Except for the guppies. Don’t ask about the guppies.

“I hope that continues,” Celestia remarked. “Perfect streaks are hard to maintain, however.”

Bean somehow felt that she was speaking from some personal experience.

“It may have one happen one day, but even then I’ll keep at it. It is my destiny after all,” Cadence said.

Bean felt impressed, and he was sure it showed. Cadence’s devotion to her craft was inspiring, to say the least.

“One from me,” Celestia stated. “Where does the phrase ‘bite the bark’ come from?”

“Ah yes. That just bites the bark, doesn’t it?” Bean paused for a moment and gathered the details he would need in his head. “Honestly, no Bean is totally sure where it came from or how it started. However, folklore tells of an ancient Bean, the first to take up a ladle and knife and to ply the trade of cooking. He made music with mashed potatoes, soliloquies with string beans, and a fortune from figs.

“This Bean of beans, however, became cocky and arrogant. As his skill grew so did his fame, and as fame came so did ego. He soon proclaimed himself the greatest cook that had ever been or ever would be, and that none could or would dare challenge him. Interestingly, some versions say that you, Celly, sent a challenger to bring this Bean back down to reality, though I think you would remember if this happened.”

“It is rather amazing to see how often I commission a warrior for these sorts of things.” Celestia smiled and tapped her chin with a hoof. “I don’t recall sending a challenger for any cooking competitions or to eliminate rogue chefs, but it is within the realm of possibility, I suppose.”

“Well, Celestia sent or not, a challenger did step forward. The terms were simple: cook a better meal for a panel of judges. It would be an epic clash of skill, and the Bean agreed readily to the contest.

“To make a long story short, the Bean lost. It was then he realized he’d never bothered to find out what terms he’d agreed to, and the challenger set him to gather and split firewood with only his teeth. He began to do so, and thus began biting bark.

“It’s also not clear how long he had to do this, but once the lesson was learned the challenger allowed the Bean to stop, and from then on the phrase ‘to bite the bark’ came to mean either dealing with an extremely uncomfortable situation or as a reminder to avoid arrogance and pride. My parents on occasion would send me off to school with the admonition to ‘remember not to bite the bark,’ and it was a catchy little way to remember to be humble and friendly with others.”

“That’s a fun little story,” Cadence said with a smile.

“Now, a question for the good Captain,” Bean said.

“Uh oh,” said Captain replied while bobbing his eyebrows.

“What is the one piece of advice you would give me to help me transition into being a prince?”

Shining nodded his head in appreciation. “Honestly? Be yourself. You’re going to feel an immense amount of pressure to change or to be different so as to fit in with Celestia or the nobles better, but don’t let it get to you. Celestia loves you the way you are now. If you change in a way that is not true to yourself, you’ll ruin the magic you share. Don’t be afraid to do Bean things and to say Bean stuff. Don’t worry about if you’re being princely enough. Worry more about being Bean enough.”

Bean glanced up at Celestia, who gave him a warm smile.

“He is right, there will be some who will want you to twist and contort yourself to fit their mold and ideals. They will say you are doing a disservice to Equestria by being a Bean, that you are an embarrassment and an outrage. You’re not. I think you are perfect just the way you are.”

“Thanks. I’ll remember that.”

A few more questions were tossed back and forth as they finished their sandwiches, but they were light and fun in nature. Celestia, however, was eventually forced to announce that she and Bean needed to attend to Day Court. Before they left, however, Shining had one last part of the meal to share: fresh brownies.

“Oo, these look good,” Cadence remarked, as Shining handed out a sizeable square to everypony.

“I hope they are. Chef Beet said this was the absolute best recipe for brownies. Hopefully they measure up to Bean’s.”

“Ah, but I haven’t made brownies here yet. I need to now so we… can…” Bean squinted at the brownie in his hoof. He had given it his usual sniff for a new food, but something smelled very wrong. He took another deep whiff, then coughed.

“Shining, are you sure you put—”

“PLAH!” Shining spit his bite out and then began wiping his tongue with his hooves. Celestia and Cadence were a bit more dignified about it, having calmly lifted their napkins up, but still the offensive square came out and faces of disgust were pulled.

“—sugar in them,” Bean concluded. “I think you grabbed the salt by mistake.”

“You get to cook from here on out,” Shining groaned as the lemonade began to disappear quickly.

Bean chuckled a bit as he watched his love gargle yet another glass of water, swish it around in her mouth and cheeks, and then swallow it with a “blagh” thrown in for good measure.

“You going to be okay? I’ve lost track of how much water you’ve drunk.”

“I may be a little longer in the lavatory this evening, but I’ll be fine.”

“If you say so.”

“Bleh.” She stuck her tongue out at him for a moment. “Luna will love this when she hears about it. Wysteria, send in the next petitioner, please.”

Two pegasus mares then entered, and both looked extremely cross. One roughly bumped into the other as they walked up, but it was returned in kind without hesitation.

Bean groaned inwardly. He’d seen the look they shared back home, and it always meant that somepony was upset about their meal. They would now demand a refund, a free meal, and an apology while kissing their hooves and begging their forgiveness, in that order.

But how would this all work out since, by some fantastic means, he technically was one of the supreme voices in all of Equestria? He fought back a smile as the two pegasi bowed. No more apologizing because the carrots were slightly overcooked for him!

“Good afternoon, my little ponies,” Celestia greeted them evenly. “What do you have to bring before the court?”

“Your Highness, we’re here to appeal a court decision,” the mare on the right answered.

You’re here to appeal,” the other mare cut in. “I’m here to make sure your appeal fails.”

“Oh, go jump in a cactus!”

“Go spit in the wind!”

Celestia lifted one hoof just a fraction of an inch, but it silenced both mares as swiftly as if she had used her magic. “If you two can’t behave, I will dismiss you from this court. There is no call for your behavior. Now, let’s start with names, one at a time if you please.”

“I’m Foxglove, Princess,” the mare on Bean’s left spoke first.

“Calm Breeze, Your Highness.”

“Thank you. Calm Breeze, what is the nature of your appeal?”

“I’m contesting a ruling by a probate court on my father’s estate.”

Bean wasn’t surprised at all to hear that. Money always made for the most nasty fights.

“I see,” Celestia replied as a guard quickly handed her a bundle of papers. “This would be the lower court’s ruling then, yes?”

“It is.”

“Let’s see.” Celestia began skimming the first page. “The estate is that of one Rock Bottom, Esquire, a lawyer in Barrelstown. If I am reading this right, it says that Calm Breeze is a biological daughter, while Foxglove is a stepdaughter. Is this correct?”

“Yes,” both mares replied.

“Very well. Calm Breeze, since you are the one making the appeal we will have you go first. Foxglove, please go with Sergeant Pepper into the hallway, and we will call you in to testify momentarily.”

Foxglove nodded and left, and Celestia took a slow breath in. “Let us start at the beginning. Please explain why you are appealing this decision to Prince Bean while I read this over.”

Bean felt a small wave of panic before remembering Celestia could multitask. He then focused on Calm, and she cleared her throat.

“Your Highness, as was mentioned I am Rock Bottom’s biological daughter. My mother passed away when I was four, and Father remarried two years later. Foxglove is her daughter.”

Bean most definitely caught the note of anger in her voice. Her was fairly spat, as if it were a brownie made with salt and bile.

“My father suffered from some kind of senility after her death, however, and my step-sister took advantage of this fact by having his last will and testament altered to show her as the sole beneficiary of his estate, when he had planned to give it to me. She’s a manipulative, spoiled brat who will stop at nothing to—”

“Ah-ah,” Bean chided. “Just the facts, please. This is not the time for character assassination.”

“Well, she’s stolen Father’s things from me. I just want back what is mine.”

“Did your father leave literally everything to Foxglove?” Bean asked. “There isn’t a thing for you?”

“Well, there are a couple of token items for me in the revised will, but I was originally going to get most of everything.”

“I see,” Bean replied thoughtfully. “When was the will changed?”

“Five years ago, I think.”

“And you claim your father’s mental issues began shortly before this change, correct?”

“Yes, Your Highness.”

“When did your stepmother pass away?”

Calm pouted. “About five years ago, Your Highness, but that’s just a coincidence.”

Bean nodded. “I see. And your appeal requests that the revised will be revoked and the original reinstated, yes?”

“Yes, Your Highness.”

“Thank you. If you will, please step out while we speak to Miss Foxglove.”

The mares switched, and Foxglove bowed deeply before the throne of Equestria. “Your Highnesses, I appreciate your willingness to hear my side of this ordeal. Calm has been harassing me ever since my mother died, and I just want this nightmare to end.”

Bean nodded. “Why don’t you tell me how this all came to be.”

“Well, that’s a simple enough story. Calm’s mother died when she was four or so, and Rock Bottom married my mother a couple of years later. She—my mom, that is—had divorced my real dad a few months before this, so there’s always been some question about my mother’s real motivations. Mother and Father truly loved each other, though, and they had a wonderful marriage.

“So, when my mom died suddenly, Father took it really hard. I’m sure Calm told you he suffered from some sort of mental issue, but the only thing that afflicted him was a broken heart. He just… well, he lost the will to live, I suppose.

“A few months before he died, Father sat down and told me about the will. He’d rewritten it with Mother, and he explained that I would receive most of his estate, since Calm had squandered her part already. My sister couldn’t be bothered to visit us during Father’s last days, or for his funeral, but she showed up real quick when she found out she didn’t have any inheritance left. I don’t want her to steal what was left to me; she’ll just squander it on parties and expensive clothing and whatever else she wasted her portion on while she was in college. This is just a last-ditch effort on her part. I’m pleased the probate court has ruled in my favor, and I’m sure Your Highnesses will too.”

Bean asked one or two more questions about Calm Breeze and her wasteful spending habits before inviting Calm back into the throne room. The ‘sisters’ glared daggers at each other while Celestia continued to review the court ruling with Bean, but in low whispers, the Princess pointed out to her husband that there was no evidence to support Calm’s case.

“Princess, please,” Calm Breeze begged after a few minutes. “I just want what’s rightfully mine.”

“Yours?” Foxglove spat. “You spent your part already. Father was trying to protect me, you dunderhead!”

“Look, you hag! I was doing just fine until…”

“May I remind you that you will be dismissed if your behavior is not appropriate?” Bean stated. He wasn’t afraid to pull some authority on two squabbling foals; he’d done it dozens of times back home.

“Cram it, Mustard!” Calm shouted back at him, her face going red in anger. “You’re not in charge, Celestia is!”


Celestia sent a pulse of magic through the throne room that pushed everypony besides Bean and herself a foot off from where they were, and every flag and banner in the hall snapped loudly. The two bickering mares were immediately silenced by the outburst, and all eyes were on the Princess, who had her wings fully flared and her head slightly bowed.

“Listen to me very carefully,” she stated, without looking up. Her tone was cold and haunting, complete and absolute, and Bean felt a twinge of fear slink down his own spine despite not being the one who was in trouble. “Prince Bean has equal standing and authority with me, and I will NOT tolerate crass insults against him in this Court. Is. That. Clear?”

“Yes, Princess,” they both meekly replied.

Celestia gave her full and undivided attention to them now, and she took on an even more fearsome look in so doing. “Calm Breeze, I see no fault in this ruling. Do you have any physical proof—a statement from a doctor, a notarized document from a reliable witness, or anything of the like—that shows your father did suffer from the symptoms you have claimed, or that he was manipulated in any way?”

“No, I don’t.”

“Then until you can provide such, the ruling of the probate court will stand. You are dismissed. Foxglove, please remain for a moment.”

Sergeant Pepper moved to escort Calm Breeze out, but she was pretty quick to show herself the door. Foxglove then found herself under Celestia’s intense stare, and she gulped loudly.

“I am disappointed.” Celestia let the silence speak for her until she moved her head ever so slightly back and forth while taking a deep breath. “You did not need to provoke your step-sister. The flaw in her argument was quite evident. Egging her on like that was petty and beneath you. I was hoping that you could offer a path of reconciliation to her instead. She is, after all, your father’s other daughter.”

“But she wasted Father’s money!”

“There are things no amount of money can buy. A sister, for example. Luna tried to destroy me and bring about an endless night, yet she stands now as your Princess. For a thousand years, I would have given anything to have her back. Anything.”

Foxglove didn’t reply to that. She couldn’t even look Celestia in the eye.

“I grant there is much about your family that I do not know, so I will not pass judgement on your actions. I will only point out that forgiveness usually works far better than spite. I know I am grateful I did not condemn my sister for always and eternity because of what she did. Be willing to give Calm Breeze a second chance.”

“All right. I can do that.”

Celestia nodded, and Foxglove was shown out. Celestia then took a very deep breath, forced her wings down, and then smiled when Bean put a hoof on her shoulder.

“Remind me to never make you mad.”

“I may have let my anger get out of hoof slightly, but that really ruffled my feathers when she called you mustard. You’re not anything like that.”

“I can be a bit zesty sometimes,” he offered with a waggle of his eyebrows. “And I’ve been called worse. One bully back in middle school called me ‘piss spot’ for the longest time.”

“And you didn’t tell anypony?”

“Oh, I told. Didn’t stop him. I just accepted it one day, and I took all the fun out of it when I responded like it was my real name.”

The humorous anecdote released the tension that had built, and Celestia giggled with Bean a bit. “Wysteria, are there any more petitioners?”

“No, they were the last ones,” the faithful secretary said with a quick glance down the hallway.

“Good. Let us adjourn Day Court then.”

“Your Highness?” Sergeant Pepper walked back in with a large package on his back while the doors shut. “This just arrived from Ponyville for you.”

Celestia squealed slightly in delight, snatched the package up in her magic, and then eagerly ripped it open. She then tilted it up and away from Bean as he tried to peer in.

“What is that?” he playfully asked.

“Something that will help you feel more like a prince, once we deal with one little thing,” she replied with a wide grin. “Tell me, when was the last time you had your mane trimmed?”

* * * *

“Oo, I was hoping this would come today, particularly after what happened in the bath this morning.” Celestia giggled and clapped her hooves together gleefully. “Are you almost done, Bean?”

“I don’t know about this,” he called back from behind the blind. “I feel like a stuffed pepper that’s trying to pass itself off as saffron.”

“Don’t be silly. I bet you look perfect. Come out, I want to see!”

“Then why did you make me come back here?”

“So there could be a dramatic reveal! C’mon! Out, out! Unless you want me to have Rarity add a pair of trousers to it.”

“Pants?” Bean tried to put as much discouragement in that word as possible. “Isn’t that some sort of ancient torture device?”

“Only for stallions, and they fell out of fashion because I thought they looked funny and restricted free movement,” said Celestia with the full authority of her position. “If you really want to start a fashion trend, I can bring them back—”

“No!” he yelped. “I mean, that would be cruel and unusual punishment.” Bean tried not to think of thousands of uncomfortable stallions who would have blamed him for their plight due to a simple slip of the tongue.

Bean then slowly stepped out. He tugged at the collar of the jacket, but then turned to face Celestia broadside. “I look ridiculous, don’t I?”

Celestia didn’t reply. Instead, she levitated a full length mirror over from across the room, and stood to walk over to Bean as be looked at his reflection.

“You look magnificent,” she whispered to him.

Bean did have to admit he looked good. Rarity had created an official dress coat for him to wear, in a regal navy blue color with a royal gold belt and bright brass buttons running up the front that flashed brilliantly. The coat was trimmed in white, fit him like a glove, and yet felt as soft as a lamb’s ear against his barrel. Celestia’s solar emblem was affixed to each shoulder on a white pad, and coupled with his Celestial Crystal he looked as princely as anypony like him could ever hope to.

“You clean up well, too,” Celestia purred in his ear. “This is a good style on you.”

“Are you sure? I mean, the coat is nice, but do you really think the mane is okay? I haven’t had it this short in a long time.”

She gave him a sly look, then ran a bare hoof through it. She giggled a little as a shudder of delight ran through him.

“Mm, yes. I’d say it works. It’s a good thing I got to you first; I’d hate to lose this handsome Prince to Luna.”

“Naw,” he stammered. “It’s just a… just a coat, and a mane cut, and… well, y’know…”

He then turned and looked at her eagerly. “Do you really think I’m handsome?”

She smiled, and it was clear she understood his intent. He wasn’t asking because he doubted her, he was asking because he wanted to hear her say it again.

“You were handsome before in a messy way. You are handsome now, in a cleaned up way.” She then moved in close to his ear. “And you will be handsome to me even when you are old and gray.”

She nipped his ear playfully, and when she pulled back he felt an extremely dopey look spread with his joy. Bean then expressed how he felt in one word:


Next Chapter: 21. - Wysteria and Quill Estimated time remaining: 3 Hours, 36 Minutes
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