No Nose Knows

by Irrespective

Chapter 29: 29. - A Wrinkle In Time

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“This is all your fault,” Luna grumbled as she blew her nose into an already-overused tissue.

“It’s always my fault,” Celestia replied with annoyance and a matching honk of her own.

“Oh, stop that, you two,” Horsenpfeffer admonished. “You’re worse than my twins.”

“She started it,” Celestia muttered.

“I’ll finish it, too,” Luna weakly threatened.

Horsenpfeffer groaned and bopped Luna on the nose just hard enough for it to smart. “It’s not her fault. You could have caught this from anywhere.”

“This is Bean’s doing. He infected me somehow,” Luna groused while rubbing her snout.

“He did not. Earth ponies can’t carry the virus. You picked this up from a pegasus somewhere.”

Discord’s amused chortling drifted over from the corner, and all three mares turned to give him an icy stare.

“You do know the feather flu can jump species, right?” the good doctor remarked dryly. “And, opposite though they may be, you do have wings.”

Discord immediately stopped laughing, sat up straight and emitted a honk from… somewhere, gulped as his left eye twitched and then promptly disappeared in a flash, leaving nothing behind but the smell of menthol. Both Luna and Celestia chuckled at the revelation before passing a tissue box between them for the eightieth time.

“Where did my husband disappear to?” Celestia asked.

“I told him to go order a nice warm stew from the kitchens,” Horsenpfeffer said. “And I believe he said something about checking with Wysteria to make sure there was nothing that needed to be done.”

Celestia snuggled down into her pillow with a sigh. “Order? My Bean is a most disobedient spouse. He’s going to make something, and since both of us are indisposed, he’s going to make a lot of it.” The corners of her lips turned up ever so slightly, even after another long nose blowing. “Don’t worry, dear sister. I’ll share.”

“Good,” Luna sighed. “A warm bowl of anything would be most welcome right now.”

“He shouldn’t be long.” Celestia chuckled. “If I were to guess, I imagine he is being a rather large pest in the kitchen right now in an effort to help both of us feel better.”

“Well, other than the Feather Flu, I think you’re fine,” Horsenpfeffer announced to Luna. “Your treatment is the same as your sister’s: lots of orange juice and rest. If you exert yourself, you’ll stay sick longer. Also, stay away from anypony with wings.”

“I will.” Luna nodded. “Thank you, Doctor.”

“You’re welcome. I’ll be back in the morning to check on you,” she continued. “If you need me before then, just send Prince Bean after me.”

“We will, but we will also try not to disturb you.”

“Sounds good. Good evening, Your Highnesses.”

Luna and Celestia shared a round of coughs between them as the doctor left, and then Luna moaned. “I hate getting sick.”

“That makes two of us,” Celestia added. “But, I do have to admit it has been peaceful to simply rest. I didn’t realize how nice it could be to let somepony else take over for a time.”

“Perhaps this will cure you of your workaholic nature then.”

“Probably not.” Celestia chuckled. “I know I need to ease up but it’s hard to do so after a millennium of being unable to.”

“You should, though. You’re going to drive away your Bean if you don’t.”

“Drive him away? He’s been helping me run the kingdom already.”

“Has he, in truth?” Luna asked with a wary eye. “From what I have heard, his help was most unwelcome yesterday.”

“That wasn’t help,” Celestia said, her mood souring instantly with the mention of the incident. “He was pandering to me, Lulu. I told him about Daybreaker, and then he decided to start walking on eggshells.”

“Hmm. Are you sure that was his only motive?”

Celestia glared at her sister. “Lulu, you know I can tell when a pony is lying to me, and when they’re trying to stay on my good side.”

“With most ponies, yes. But I would suggest your view might be a bit skewed when it comes to the one who has your affections. You look at Baked Bean in a different way from me, or Wysteria, or anypony else. He has a singular place in your heart, and that changes things.”

“Luna, he was trying to placate me when I wasn’t upset.”

“All right. Let’s say you’re totally right, and that all his actions yesterday were only to ‘placate’ and pacify you. How did you decide to tell him that you did not appreciate what he was doing?”

“Well, I had a talk with him last night after he apologized for being ridiculous. He agreed that he was wrong, and then we kissed and made up.”

Luna gave her a flat look. “Celly, you never just talk to anypony when you’re upset. You lectured him, didn’t you?”

“No. I had a conversation with him.”

“What was the ratio of talk time between you and him?”

“Well, he…” Celestia stalled, and offered a cough. “He really didn’t say anything.”

“Forgive me if I am mistaken, but I do believe a conversation requires two active participants. When one pony speaks and another listens, that is a lecture.”

“No! It was… was…” Celestia tried to think of how it hadn’t been a lecture, but her efforts failed.

“It was a lecture, and I would suggest that you really didn’t make up afterward. If I forced him to tell the truth, I am willing to bet he would say he did no wrong and that he felt irritated by your reaction.”

“Why didn’t he say so, then?”

“Bean is a pony who likes peace, Sister, and he’d rather let you be right than have a fight about it. He wants you to be happy, so he let you win.”

“But he should have said something.” Celestia pouted.

“If he had, would you have listened to him?”

Celestia didn’t answer, but her ears folded back and she glanced away.

“Celly, if you intend for him to be your equal than you have to treat him as such. He is no longer merely one of your subjects, or one of your students. You are not the first, last, and every word in between anymore with him, and this is doubly true when you are discussing domestic issues. You have to let him have an opinion, and you’re going to have to let him take the lead sometimes. If he is doing something that irks you then you have to be willing to listen to the why behind it. What if he really just thought he was being helpful, like with the citron pressé? Is it reasonable to suppose that he wasn’t actively trying to pander, and that he just assumed you wanted lemonade? There are a lot of moving parts to consider in these things.”

“I guess you’re right,” Celestia sighed after a moment of reflection. “I probably did come down a bit hard on him.”

“One of the biggest challenges Star and I faced was making sure we were actually communicating. You will need to watch yourself in this regard as well. Talk with him when you sense a problem, not at him.”

“Thanks, Lulu. I’ll work on that.”

Luna blew her nose in reply just as Bean came back into the room with a delicious-smelling pot of homebrewed goodness sitting atop the trolley cart.

“Not getting sick huh?” Bean smugly offered to Luna, and he received her tongue stuck out at him for a reply.

“Is everything alright, Bean?” Celestia asked. “Did Wysteria need anything?”

“Everything is fine,” he reassured her. “Wysteria has taken care of the reschedules, and I believe she’s heading home for the night.”

“Good. Hopefully I will recover enough by tomorrow to get back to work.”

“I hope so too, but more because I want you to get better.”

“Och, you’ve gone and gotten yourself sick again, haven’t you?”

Luna’s ears flicked. That voice, that delightfully deep brogue…

“What did you make?” Celestia asked Bean, as she tried to peer up and into the pot.

“Make?” He scoffed. “I ordered a nice cabbage stew, just like Doctor Horsenpfeffer asked me to.”

“I am not sick. This is naught but a tickle in my throat.”

“You did not,” Celestia challenged.

“I did too!” Bean protested with a laugh. “I ordered it and then ten seconds later I got impatient and forced my way back to make it myself.”

“That sounds right.” Celestia chuckled.

“Aye, Love, you’re sick. C’mon, I’ll get somethin’ warm goin’. Ya best be gettin’ that beautiful flank into bed.”

“Here, careful. It’s still hot.” Bean offered a bowl to Luna, and she nodded as her magic took it from him.

“Cabbage? Thou knowest I despise cabbage.”

“Ah know, Ah know. But the war ain’t been kind to the crops, and your sister insisted the staff cut back to half-rations to help feed the front lines. It’s all we have at the moment, Love.”

The smell of pinewood and moss drifted into Luna’s nostrils, smells that had not deigned to introduce themselves nor to keep her company for well over twelve hundred years. She inhaled deeply to savor them, to relish them, and to help recall the memories that they had brought as company with them.

“I should be at the front with my troops.”

“Och, and what good’ll that do? You’d spread that cough through the ranks and do more damage than the ‘Squatch ever could.”

“But my place is there, with they who labor under the banner of Equestria,” she protested. “I refuse to lead from the rear.”

“Ah, well, you best be restin’ then. Sooner you get over this the sooner you can get back to ‘em, ya mule.”

“I am not a mule!” she said with a laugh.

“You act it sometimes,” he replied with a scoff and a smile.

Luna watched silently as Bean sat down in front of Celestia and began gently blowing across the top of the stew. Celestia chuckled as he aimed the vapor towards her, and she took deep breaths of the savory aroma each time they wafted towards her.

“How are things at the front, Love?”

“There are steady gains, and my sister hath raised a flag of truce to offer terms of capitulation. Time will tell if the envoy is accepted or not, however.”

“Aye, it’d be a right day if’n them ‘Squatch could come to terms. It gets a mite bit hard explain’ why you’re gone, and I canna help but worry about ya. Spears pierce the hide all the same, immortal or no.”

“Oo, careful,” Bean cautioned. “It’s still pretty hot. Here.”

Celestia picked her head up and readjusted her front legs, and she gladly opened her mouth as Bean approached with the spoon. She hummed a little as he fed her gently, and with a gentle toss of her mane she prepared for him to come again.

“Och, here. Best not to burn you with this. Open up.”

“You sure you want me to keep doing this?” Bean asked. “I was just letting you sample it, to make sure it was the right temperature.”

“Oh, but my dear Bean, I am sick!” Celestia gently pouted. “And you were given instruction to keep me from exerting myself! I have just enough strength to chew and swallow. I will need your assistance with the rest.”

“You’re terrible.” Bean laughed, as the flames in the fireplace behind them whipped and surged slightly, and the crackle increased a tick in volume. “But if you insist.”

“I do insist. Thy princess requireth sustenance, and thou art the only stallion who can satisfy mine appetite.”

“Ah, yah must be sicker than I thought.” Star Struck chuckled a little, as he scooped out another spoonful. “Broken to the point of bein’ unable to feed yourself? I guess Ah’ll just ‘have to nurse ya back myself.”

“Thy princess expecteth it,” Luna said with a snort of happiness.

“Ah always knew you enjoyed bein’ pampered.”

“I am not being pampered. Thou art assisting thy very weak and famished wife.”

“‘Assisting.’ Darlin’, you may be a warrior on the surface, but deep down you’re a princess, and ya enjoy bein’ treated like one. You’d keep me here, waiting on your every need if you could.”

“And I would regret not a moment of it,” she said with joy.

The flames surged again in the fireplace, but Baked Bean and Celestia were so absorbed in each other’s eyes that the action went unnoticed. Luna smiled to herself as Bean would gently blow across the stew in the spoon, move carefully to feed it to Celestia, and then retreat and start again once she had delicately sipped the succulence off and smiled anew.

Luna smiled more as she continued to watch. Hundreds of years had passed, and yet love still had the astonishing power that it always held. A princess had, again, allowed a pauper into her heart, and a pauper was willing to climb the near-impossible mountains of expectation in order to have his princess. Love was weaving two hearts into one, caring not for station or power or custom. He was hers, and she was his. What else mattered in the end?

The fire once again surged, and Luna closed her eyes softly. Nothing else had mattered then either.

* * 🌙 * *

Aye, there ya go. How’s that cough feelin’?”

“Better.” Luna hummed. “If thou wilt continue to provide to my needs in such manner, I believe my recovery shall be swift and sure.”

“Glad to hear it. I hate to see you sick.”

Luna softly slurped the contents of the offered spoon, and she quickly booped Star Struck’s nose before he could pull back again.

“I love you.”

“Aye, I love you too.” He chuckled. “Even when you’re actin’ like a mule.”

“Thou wouldst be most displeased if I was not, and thou knowest it.”

He simply nodded to this, and offered another spoonful to her. “Aye. I canna deny that. Yer just perfect.”

Luna purred a bit, and a happy silence passed between them for a few minutes as he continued to spoon feed her. He then chuckled, and she gave him a curious glance.

“What doth amuse thee?”

“Ah, nuttin,” he said. “Just thinking.”

“Wilt thou not share thy thoughts?”

“Och, ‘tis nuttin’ but a memory.”

“Please?” Luna gently asked, before taking another sip. He gave her a soft smile, and then sighed happily.

“D’ya remember the first time ya raised the moon with me?”

She hummed as the memory instantly came back to her. “I shall never forget it.”

“‘Twas a night I dunna think I could ever forget either. Ah knew yer were up to something when you invited me out on that veranda, but no stallion in his right mind could turn away from that teasing flick o’ the tail ya gave me.”

“Thou hast always had a strange fascination with my backside.”

“D’ya blame me? That ‘backside’ o’ yours is mesmerizing,” he said with a laugh. “But then you draped your wing over me, and Ah thought Ah’d never find a deeper happiness.

“But then you raised the moon,” he continued that soft and smooth tone that drove her absolutely wild. “There Ah stood, under the wing o’ the most beautiful mare to ever grace the fields o’ Barra, watchin’ as the magic of the moon mixed with the gentle caress of your side against mine. Ah just couldn’t believe that a low-born mud-trotter like me could ever catch the attention of a princess, and Ah had not only done that but Ah’d somehow fallen in love with ya.

“And then you leaned in close to my ear. You have a voice that can shake the very stars above, but when you started to whisper you were as smooth as silk. You told me of your love for me, how you cherished me. You spoke of how Ah’d changed you, tempered you.

“And you told me you’d give it all up if you had to. The titles, the power, even the moon itself if’n it came to that. All of it was nuttin’ if you couldn’t have me.

“Ah knew, right then, that Ah couldn’t live without you. We had been woven together, so fast and tight that the only way to separate us was to rend the very heavens themselves. Come what may, my destiny was with you, from then to forevermore.

“Heh. It’s amazin’ how one moment like that can change everythin’. Right then Ah knew that Ah knew, and Ah could never turn away from you without turnin’ away from myself.”

“Hmm,” Luna sighed happily. “And thou hast remained, amidst toils and tribulations most severe. Thou hast been a most loyal companion, and I will forever be grateful for thy devotion.”

A soft tapping came at the door, and Luna visibly grew eager in anticipation while she sat up and turned to face the source of the sound.

“Och! Who’s makin’ all that fuss?” Star Struck called out playfully. “Get in here and present yerself!”

“Can Ah come in? Auntie Celly says Mum is sick.”

“Get in here, yah wee rascal!”

The door nudged open just enough for a small lavender unicorn filly to stick her head through. She wore a worried look, but as soon as she saw Luna’s outstretched arms she flung the door open and galloped over as fast as her little legs could carry her. Both she and Luna laughed as they embraced, and Luna gave the small bundle a quick noserub after they had done so.

“My precious little Twilight! How art thou this fine evening?”

“Ah’m good, Mum,” the blank-flanked filly replied with a huge grin. “Are you really sick?”

“Indeed, but ‘tis nothing more than the Feather Flu. Thy father hath been most attentive to my needs, and I believe my recovery shall be swift.”

“Good, ‘cause you said when you got back you were gonna show me how you raise the moon.”

“I did?!” Luna gasped in faux surprise. “Mine illness must be most severe. I do not recall any such promise.”

“You did too!” Twilight protested vehemently. “You said Ah could help you raise it!”

“Ah, now the memory returneth,” Luna said with a sly smile. “You will want to raise it tonight, I suppose?”

“Uh-huh!” Twilight replied with a vigorous nod of her head. “Ah’ve been goin’ over all the instructions you gave me. Ah calculated the relative velocity, accounted fer atmospheric interference and weight distribution—”

“Aye, that she has,” Star Struck confirmed as Luna glanced over at him in surprised joy. “Ah’ve even caught her mumblin’ things like ‘apogee’ and ‘sidereal rotation period’ in her sleep.”

“And how have thy studies with Master Starswirl fared?” Luna asked her daughter.

“Uh, well…” Twilight twiddled a hoof on the floor. “My grades are good, Mum, they really are.”

“But?” Luna asked after the pause.

“But he’s so BORIN’!” The little unicorn couldn’t help but blurt out. “All day! Nuttin’ but formulae and theory and conjectures. He dunna know how to have fun!”

“Aye, our little Twilight Starbright got herself into a wee spot o’ trouble yesterday,” Star Struck added.

“Oh?” Luna asked.

“Ah canna help it if Starswirl canna take a joke,” Twilight muttered. “All Ah did was turn his beard green.”

“Green?” Luna chuckled. “Thou madest his beard green?”

“Yeah! Wasn’t hard neither,” Twilight announced in pride. “All Ah had to do was sneak a reactive agent in to his prune juice. I dunna know how he figured out it was me, though.”

“Thou art a wee rascal indeed,” Luna said with a laugh. “While I do not condone thine actions, Master Starswirl doth need to ‘lighten up’ in my opinion. If thou dost vex him again, make sure thou art not caught.”

All three of them laughed at this before Twilight piped up again. “Ah will. So can ya show me how to raise the moon?”

“I suppose I can,” Luna replied, and her little filly whooped in joy. Another knock at the door interrupted the celebration, but all three were pleasantly surprised when they saw who had knocked.

“Auntie Celly!” Twilight cried out.

“Good evening, Twilight!” Celestia replied, as she placed her golden helm down and strode into the room. “I trust thou art well?”

“Yeah! Mum’s gonna let me help her raise the moon tonight!”

“Ah! Wonderful news!” Celestia replied. “Thou art sure to be an expert at it, just like thy mother.”

“What bringeth thee back here, Sister?” Luna asked. “Thou art still in thine armor, so thou must be leaving again soon.”

“Of a truth, I return only to share good news with my friends. The Sasquatch have surrendered and accepted the terms of capitulation! The war is now at an end.”

Twilight whooped again, and Luna shared a quick nuzzle with her husband to celebrate.

“I must return to oversee the disarmament and to ensure compliance with the terms, but I felt that thy recovery, dear sister, might be expedited if thou knewest of these things. I have given thy division to Flash Magnus to oversee, and thou art relieved of thy duties at the front. Stay, be with your family, and rest. I shall return when all is completed, and we shall then have a banquet in celebration of our victory.”

“Will it actually be ‘our’ victory this time, or wilt thou somehow make it thine own success again?” Luna replied darkly.

“Now,” Star Struck interjected. “this is not the time to be pickin’ more fights, love.”

“Very well,” she replied before focusing back on Celestia. “Now leave before thou art struck down by my illness as well!”

Celestia chuckled and recovered her helm with her magic. “By your leave, then. Fare thee well.”

“Well!” Luna announced after Celestia had left. “My spirits are most renewed. Come, my precious Twilight. Tonight thou shalt assist me in raising the moon.”

* * 🌙 * *

“Now, remember that the moon will be much heavier than thou art anticipating. Thou must—”

“Ah know, Mum! Ah know,” Twilight protested.

“Ya best be lettin’ her get to it. She canna take the anticipation anymore.” Star Struck laughed.

“All right. Since thou art so eager to proceed,” Luna replied. Twilight let out a grunt of anticipation, quickly twisted to face the east, then crouched slightly and flared her horn.

“Och, she looks like a right proper stinkbug she does,” Star whispered to his wife.

Luna began to protest, but she had stop and hold back her laughter as her daughter began wiggling her rump slightly and swishing her tail. “All right. Art thou in harmony with the moon yet?” Luna asked while draping a wing over her beloved.

“Just...about…” Twilight grunted.

“Remember, thou shouldst feel the harmony. Tis not something thou canst touch with thy natural senses.”

Luna’s own magic began to work, and she gently weaved her magic in with her daughter’s. She felt along the threads Twilight had created, and she was impressed. Her daughter had everything nearly perfect.

“Now, guide it up.”

Twilight grunted in exertion. Despite all of her bravado earlier, Luna could feel her young one straining against the weight of the moon, and she smiled deeply. With a touch of her own magic to assist, the moon gently rose over the treetops and into full view.

“Ah did it,” Twilight panted, the exertion showing in her flushed cheeks as she turned to face her parents with a pleased smile. “Ah did it! Ah raised it!”

“Aye, and a fair job ya did of it too,” Star Struck remarked. “Good job, Lass!”

“Can Ah help again tomorrow?” Twilight eagerly asked her parents. “Please?”

“I believe that can be accommodated,” Luna replied, and she laughed with her husband as Twilight began cheering and hopping around in a circle in joy.

“D’ya think she’ll be able to raise it on her own one day?” Star asked.

“That I am unsure of,” Luna replied, and her gaze turned back to the silver orb before them. “My magic is greater than hers, and…”

No. Not here, not now.

“Love? What is it?” Star Struck asked.

Luna’s eyes narrowed as the featureless expression of the Tantabus began to drift across the moon. There was only one reason why it would show now.

“Leave,” Luna commanded. “This memory is not given to you, nor will it ever. You are to remain within the dream that I have created for you. Disobey and you will cease to be.”

The Tantabus paused, and Luna almost thought she could see defiance moving across the deep purple aether that made up the nightly reminder of her betrayal. After that moment was over, though, it complied and slid out of view, and Luna turned to her husband and offered a wane smile.

“Forgive me, Love. My thoughts became troubled for a moment, but they are hampered no more.”

“Are yah sure? I dunna know what ya rebuked but it seemed serious.”

“I am sure, Star. Come. Let us dwell on this no more. I believe we shall now make a daring midnight raid of the castle’s stores in celebration of my daughter’s achievements!”

“Yes!” Twilight cheered. “C’mon! If we hurry we can beat the patrols!”

“Oy! How d’ya know how to do that?” Star Struck called out in amused alarm as his daughter shot off into the keep.

* * 🌙 * *

“Did she really?” Celestia asked.

“Yup. She’s out,” Bean confirmed.

“Dear Lulu.” Celestia chuckled warmly. “Good thing she raised the moon before her energy left her.”

“I’ll go get another blanket,” Bean offered.

“Good idea. She’ll need it tonight if she has the chills like I did.”

“I hope she doesn’t,” he said before moving back towards the closet. “What do you suppose she’s dreaming about?”

“Something pleasant, I hope,” Celestia said with a sigh. “She always seems so tortured when I see her sleeping, so restless. I sometimes wonder if all those nightmares that she fights off somehow affect her own sleeping.”

“That wouldn’t be fun.” Bean walked back into the room, nearly covered in a thick blanket. “She deserves to have sweet dreams when she sleeps.”

“That she does,” Celestia agreed. She smiled deeply as she watched Bean unfold the blanket, drape it over Luna’s sleeping form, and then tuck in the edges around her body to keep any cold drafts from disturbing her.

“There we go,” he announced once he was finished. “That should keep her warm.”

“We’ll keep an eye on her tonight, too,” Celestia replied, lifting her wing and allowing Bean to snuggle in beside her again. “But, I guess when I say ‘we’ I should really say ‘you.’ I may not be so easy to rouse this evening.”

“I don’t mind. One night’s worth of lost sleep is worth having the both of you feel better.”

“So devoted,” Celestia replied warmly as she nuzzled him. “Thank you for everything you’ve done today.”

“Aww,” he stammered. “You’re welcome. Just don’t get sick again!”

Celestia laughed. “If I can help it in any way, I will certainly avoid it.”

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