No Nose Knows

by Irrespective

Chapter 5: 5. - Terms and Conditions Apply

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“Good morning, Mister Bean!”

“Good morning, Your Highness,” Bean replied with a smile.

“Please, have a seat wherever you like. I will have the pancakes out shortly. Luna may join us this morning, but I believe she will be better behaved than she was last night.”

“I’m sure she will be,” Bean replied. Celestia gave him a broad smile and moved back into the kitchens.

Bean was feeling pretty good about today. After his late-night discussion with Luna, he had slept pretty well. He wasn’t sure if Celestia could alter the brightness of the sun, but it seemed to be exceptionally shiny and perky today. He had watched it rise that morning before preparing for the day and now he was eager to go back out into Canterlot and to try his hoof at writing again. Perhaps he would only produce hen scratches and nonsense, but inspiration was like catching butterflies, to use an allegory, and he felt the need to get out into the fields to have a chance at catching something wonderful.

He was also resolved to try sending his descriptions of Canterlot out for review again as well. He would love to gain the interest of an editor, but at the very least he could start getting an idea of what he needed to work on and where.

Perhaps he should let Celestia look over more of his works. She was bound to be an expert in equish, having probably been alive when half the words for it were invented, and being a teacher she could at least give him a list of books to read that could go over syntax and grammar. Hopefully she would be willing to, as he suddenly realized that she probably had graded so many papers on said subjects that she might actually hate the things.

Just the book list, then. That would be useful by itself.

“Here we go!” Celestia reappeared with three plates of pancakes in her magic. She sat down next to Bean, set the plates on the table, and he was pleased to find that she had given him a funny face pancake, crafted with strawberry ears, blueberry eyes, a whipped cream mane and decoratively placed fruit pieces around the edge of the plate to enjoy.

“This looks delicious, Princess. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome!” she cheerfully replied. “I hope the silly face is all right. I thought it might be kind of corny.”

“I like it,” he replied. “It’s cute.”

“Now the true test. You are the food critic here, so tell me what you think. Is my cooking worthy?”

“I don’t know that I should be judging you,” he replied while feeling a knot of worry develop in his gut. He didn’t want to offend her by criticizing her cooking. There was a vacancy on the moon, after all. “I bet you’re a really good chef.”

“I haven’t had as much practice as you think I’ve had,” she replied. “Please, I want to know. I have a tough hide, I can take it. Be honest with me. Are they any good?”

Bean shook his head with a small laugh. She asked for it! He picked up his fork, cut a bite-size chunk from the short stack, stifled a snicker at cutting the ‘ear' off of the pancake head, and then he went to work.

Celestia watched him intently as he first took a deep sniff of the pancake. Out came the tongue, a brief lick, and then his eyes drifted upward again while he thought out his evaluation. “Hm. That’s… hm,” he said after a moment. This time he went for actually eating what was on his fork. “This is quite interesting, Princess. Different for sure.”

“You’re not just saying that, right?”

“No, no. I’m giving you my honest opinion. You’ve got all the expected ingredients: flour, milk, salt, eggs, but then you’ve added extra sugar and vanilla. Be careful with that, because you’d make this way too sweet if you get the balance wrong. Also, make sure you take the fruit of the face into account. The flavoring here could easily overpower the berries and banana. Hm, hm, hm. Pure Vermount maple syrup, but I wouldn’t really expect you to have that cheap imitation stuff. In all honesty, Princess, this is a really tasty treat. I’d maybe dial down the sweetness a few notches, though. It’s ok the way it is, but the syrup, fruit and vanilla all add together to make it a bit overwhelming. It could be argued you’re trying a bit too hard with this.”

“And now I know.” Celestia gave a pleased chuckle. “Thank you for your honest review. I'll maybe cut back on the sugar and vanilla.”

Bean made a show of eating a big bite, just to reinforce that the pancakes were indeed good. Celestia laughed at his theatrics before cutting and taking a bite of her own stack.

It was just then that Luna made her not-so-grand appearance.

Bean sat back a bit in surprise. He had assumed that her dream walking was easy enough; there was no physical exertion to it. All she had to do was dream too, right?

It appeared not. Her hooves were dragging on the floor, her head and neck were lowered in exhaustion, her eyes were lined and bloodshot, her ears were drooping, and even her ethereal mane seemed to have lost some of its luster and strength. He’d almost be willing to guess she had run a marathon the night before.

“Good Morning, Luna!” Celestia cheerfully called out.

“Muh,” she grumbled back.

“Long night?” Bean asked.

“Yes, and your little nightmare didn’t help anything,” she groused. “It would have been better without that.”

“You had a nightmare last night?” Celestia asked Bean, with a note of worry.

“It was quite vivid,” Luna answered for him. “You tried to incinerate him, Sister. Something about finding out his true motives.”

“I would never!” she protested. “Mister Bean, I have absolutely no wish for you to be injured in any way. Please understand that nightmares tell only lies, and that you should not heed anything they say.”

Luna shot him a mischievously wicked smile, then simply dropped her muzzle on to her plate and began snarfing down her pancakes with noisy slurps, snorts, and snaps of her teeth at every piece of fruit, real or imaginary.

“Oh, Luna! Really. You should have better manners for our guest.”

“Yeah. Probably should.” Luna’s words came out slightly mumbled and with little bits of food still stuck to them. “Good pancakes, by the way.”

Celestia gave her sister an annoyed look and muttered something under her breath. Bean forgot his own laden fork and simply watched the pancake carnage that Luna was creating as he contemplated the conversation he had shared with her last night. Had things really changed between them, or did Luna still hate his deceptive hide and was merely being civil… well, relatively civil for her sister?

It certainly gave him the impetus to behave, if he wasn’t going to already anyway. He still thought Princess Luna would be a much better friend than an enemy, and he really didn’t want to provoke her anymore. Besides, she could probably eat him. Whole, with the size of bites she was taking.

“Do you plan on heading back today?” Celestia asked her mess of a sister.

“I am not sure yet,” Luna replied through the vanishing crumbs. Once the last bit on the plate was gone, she stuck out her far-too-long-for-Bean’s-nerves tongue and licked the entire plate so clean that it could have gone back into the cabinet, then smacked her lips. Bits of pancake and fruit were still stuck in the syrup on her nose, and Bean struggled not to laugh. “I have sent a missive but have not received the reply. Once I do I will know if I am still needed.”

Celestia was clearly struggling to retain her own composure despite Luna’s antics. “You have some breakfast on your nose.”

“I’m sure I do.” Luna pushed away from the table and stood with her eyes just barely open under hooded lids, looking back to Bean much like he was on the menu. “Maybe your fiancé would like to help me clean it off.”

Baked Bean’s official response to the offer was to choke on a blueberry eyeball.

“Luna.” Celestia gave Luna stern glare and a fierce frown.

“Well, why not? Polygamy was still in vogue when you wrote the clause, so we could simply say we’re following the letter of the law.”


“What? It’s not like I'm proposing we divide him down the middle. If you do not wish to share, then fine.” Luna turned her sticky nose upwards as Bean started to turn purple again and gagged breathlessly on his food. “You can be selfish if you want. I shall say good day to you both for now. Mister Bean, you really should take smaller bites.”

And with that, Princess Luna strode away, her fruit-decorated nose held high in the air. Bean managed to clear his airway enough to cough up the obstruction, and Celestia patted him on the back as he tried to suck in as much air as possible.

“I really don’t know what’s gotten into her,” she commented. “She’s hardly ever this hostile towards any pony.”

“Hostile?” Bean replied through his gasps for air. “I wouldn't go that far. I think she just doesn’t like the situation.”

“She's hardly one to make judgements on worthiness,” Celestia grumbled darkly. “But I suppose what you say could be true. Will you accept my apologies for her behavior on her behalf?”

“It’s fine, I don’t hold it against her. I don’t have any siblings, but I bet I would be protective of them too.”

“I appreciate you understanding. I guess we can only hope she will tone down the hostility as she gets to know you.”

“Or until you find that loophole.”

“Then she will be very pleased indeed.” Celestia giggled a bit. “But I’m afraid my duties call. Did you decide what you will do today?”

“I’m thinking I’ll go back out into Canterlot and maybe try to write some more.”

“You should try the Natural History Museum, just to the south of here. There are a number of fine exhibits that might spark your imagination.”

“I will.” He nodded. “Thank you. When should I return tonight?”

“Let’s say around sunset. I should have at least some idea of how to get you out of this by then. When you do return, ask any of the guards on duty to notify me, and then just follow their directions.”

“I will.”

“Enjoy your day!” Celestia called back as she left the hall.

One simply cannot visit Canterlot without seeing the Equestrian Natural History Museum. Located in the Quarter District, it a veritable treasure trove of wonderment and enlightenment.

“Hmm,” Bean grunted in thought. What to write about next, and how? Should he write about the exhibit on ancient fossils and the recent Mesohippus finds? Or maybe the dioramas from the Cavepony exhibits would be a better choice. He knew he would need to write something based on the information he’d gleaned from the Founding of a Kingdom section, no matter what.

It was hard to decide.

“The Writer's Curse,” he muttered around his pencil. “Too many good ideas.”

He wasn’t even sure he liked his opening paragraph. It seemed a bit flat, with a grandiose statement but not enough support. It probably needed a few more adverbs –adjectives, adjectives– to get the proper feel across.

He had wanted to stay longer, but a sudden hunger had seized him while he had been contemplating the one and only Ode to The Waning Moon – a painting so masterful that nopony could speak of it but in hushed and reverent tones. So he had curtailed his studies to sally forth and procure lunch with an abundance of grandiose terms to make what he was doing sound more epic. He then planned on taking some time to try writing before going back to the Shoe and Nail to make sure they had held his room. There was a paranoid part of him that thought the front desk would not believe that the palace would be paying for a random tourist's room, and that they would give it away to the next pony in line. He still needed a place to stay after the loophole was found, after all.

He’d paid in advance for that room and he didn’t want to lose the bits, in all honesty.

Unsure of what to try for lunch, he simply settled for walking up and down a street until something smelled good and tempted him enough to try. He figured it wouldn’t take long, given how his gut was both mourning in respect for the long-digested pancakes and pining for another Royal meal, and he could try writing a few paragraphs while he ate as well.

“Maybe this: Any pony with a taste for history would greatly enjoy the masterful displays that can be— No, no. I’m using ‘masterful’ too much. I knew I should have brought that thesaurus. This would be easier if—”


Bean registered the shout too late, and he collided into the side of another pony. The force of the impact somehow took him off his legs, and he quickly found himself sprawled across the cobblestone street.

“Oh, feathers! Are you ok?”

“Ow,” he groaned deeply in pain as his ribs reminded him that they really would rather be introduced to immovable objects from a distance and over time, not all at once and with cracking results.

“Here, let me help you up.”

Bean felt a hoof grab him and help him upright. He groaned again as he did so, but managed to stay up and block some of the pain.

“You okay?”

“I think so,” he replied as he rubbed his injuries and looked himself over. “That was my fault, I wasn’t watching where I was going.”

He then turned to face the pony he’d collided with, and found the most intense pair of green eyes he’d ever seen. “I'm sorry,” he finished slowly.

“It’s okay, so long as you’re not hurt,” she replied. “That was quite the spill you took.”

A female pegasus was attached to those green eyes, with a soft yellow coat and powder blue mane. A sunflower was tucked behind one ear to complete the look, and Bean couldn’t help but think that she was pretty.

“I’ve had worse. Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” she replied. “You broke my fall.”

“I really am sorry. I should have been watching what I was doing.”

“What were you doing?”

“Writing,” he sheepishly admitted. “Or, at least, I was trying to think of what to write.”

“You’re an author?” she asked as she turned and picked up his notebook.

“I’m hoping to be, someday. I’ve still got a lot to learn.”

“Well, that should be easy enough for you,” she replied with a laugh and a snort.


“Your cutie mark.” She smiled a bit as she pointed to it. “Doesn’t get much more obvious than an open book with blank pages, does it?”

“Oh! Oh.” He twisted to look at it himself. “Yeah. I suppose not. Although it would be nice if something were actually written on those pages.”

“I’m Sego Lily.” She smiled a bit deeper, and offered a hoof. “If you’re going to crash into me, we should at least have proper introductions.”

“Baked Bean,” he replied, and he shook hooves. He quickly snuck a look at her flank—a trio of sego lily flowers, made sense—and then he continued. “Are you from around here?”

“Nah, just visiting. My Nana lives nearby. You visiting too?”

“Yeah. I'm trying to get some inspiration.”

“Well, I tell you what. Since you crashed into me, you can buy me lunch. Fair enough?”

Bean smiled. “I can live with that. Do you have any recommendations?”

“I really don’t appreciate you being so mean to him,” Celestia stated in that familiar, mothering tone that Luna had not missed in the slightest. “The poor pony finds out he has to marry me—which is quite overwhelming in and of itself—and then while he’s still trying to sort that out you start breathing fire down his neck. It’s not like he’s trying to court me to conquer Equestria, you know.”

“Celly, I know. Just give me some time to come to terms with all of this. You know I have impossibly high standards for any potential suitors, accidental or not. I don’t like how this is turning out in the slightest.”

“I know. It’s not ideal, but if all goes well he’ll soon be on his way. Please give him something positive to remember about this whole experience, will you?”

“I will try.”

“Thank you,” Celestia sighed, then smiled. “Have you heard from Blueblood yet?”

“His reply missive is what awoke me. He reports that negotiations with Prince Rutherford actually seem to be progressing faster now—”

“HA!” Celestia blurted out suddenly. Luna gave her an icy stare as a hoof went to her mouth in alarm.

“I fail to see the humor in that, Sister.”

“My deepest apologies, Lulu. I have no idea where that came from. Obviously there is nothing to laugh about.”

The icy stare continued unabated. “As I was saying, progress is being made and Blueblood believes that he can gain more ground by himself than with me.”

“Your sudden disappearance yesterday didn’t upset the Yaks, did it?”

“It seems not. Blueblood reports that they assumed my work was done and that he had been left to continue negotiations.”

“Good,” Celestia replied as they rounded a corner in the hallway. “How much longer will it take?”

“I don’t think it will be anytime soon. The Yaks are temperamental enough that—”

Celestia suddenly stumbled over her own front hooves, and she careened sideways before hitting the wall and collapsing to her knees.

“Celly?!” Luna instantly was at her side.

“Woo!” Celestia hooted. “Me and my fat feet, ha! Gonna need to watch them more closely.”

“Sister?” Luna asked while Celestia began stumbling down the hallway again and intently staring at her feet. “Are you feeling alright?”

“Why of course, dear sister!” she called back, and her head dropped closer to the ground. “’cept for those cracks. I knew it! They’re the source of my woes!”

She then tipped to her right, but her wings flared out and helped her maintain her balance. Celestia stopped, looked over her shoulder, and gasped in wide-eyed awe. “Lulu! I have wings!” she whispered. “When did this happen?”

“Over a thousand years ago?”

“You think I woulda noticed by now. Hey! I can fly then, right?”

“I don’t dare answer that.”

Celestia gasped even more loudly, and she planted her rear to put both hooves in front of her mouth. “Lulu! You! You!”

“I have wings too?” Luna hazarded a guess.

“AND THEY'RE SO PRETTY!” she bellowed in reply. “Please say mine look jus as pretty, pleasepleaseplease?!”

“Celly, what has gotten into you?!” Luna shouted while Celestia grabbed one of Luna's wings and began poking through the feathers.

“…and then I decided to move to Fillydelphia. Not so crowded, but still close enough to see everyone.”

“I could see why,” Bean chuckled.

“What’s it like in Salt Lick?”

“Well, take every stereotype you have about what a small town is like, and then you’ve got it.”


“All right, that’s a bit of an exaggeration,” he chuckled. “It’s more like if you took a quarter of Canterlot and placed it down somewhere. We've got some theaters and a museum and such, but there’s probably not enough there to keep a filly like you entertained. If you go to Salt Lick, you’re going to be out in the woods. That’s our biggest claim to fame.”

“It still sounds like a nice place,” she replied. “Maybe I’ll come visit sometime.”

Bean’s gaze stayed on those green pools before him for a moment, and then he looked away and cleared his throat. “Well, I’m sorry again for running into you.”

“That’s all right,” she replied. “This was nice. Where are you off to now?”

“I’m not sure. Since you’re something of a local, what would you suggest?”

“Let’s see. Have you taken the tour of the palace yet?”

“Yeah, I’ve been there,” he replied a bit awkwardly.

“Did you visit the gardens? They’re really quite amazing.”

“I was, uh...” he stalled for a second. “I was there yesterday.”

“Did you like it? Oh! Did you get to see Princess Celestia? I visit every time I’m here but she’s never out there. I’d love to meet her sometime.”

“You've never seen her?” he asked, in the hope that she’d forget her question.

“It’s actually pretty rare for any pony to see her, even if you do live in Canterlot. Her schedule and duties keep her pretty busy. She doesn’t have a lot of time to just walk around.”


“Don’t feel bad,” she replied, and she patted his hoof gently. “Even if you don’t see her, there’s lots of other stuff to make memories with. Why don’t you and I go check out the bazaar?”

“What’s that?” he asked, as they both stood.

“Big open air market, not too far from here. There's merchants there from all over selling just about anything you can imagine. You ever have a macarena nut?”

“Once or twice.”

“You gotta try one from the stands. I don’t know what they do to them, but they are delicious!”

Bean smiled wide. “Well, lead on then! Maybe I’ll find something to write about.”

She gave him a winning smile back, took one of his hooves in hers, and gently began leading him towards the bazaar.

“Princess Luna?”

“Twilight Sparkle!” she shouted, but then she grunted as a large thump pushed on the door she was trying to hold shut. “Thank the Great Hasbro! No time to explain, I need you to go get a broom or mop or anything that will hold this door shut.”

“Is Celestia in there?”

“Luna!” came the Princess of the Sun's voice, along with another loud thump. “There's no cake in here! You lied! I’m gonna send you to the moon for this!”

“No time, Twilight!” Luna admonished. “Quickly!”

“What is going on?!” Twilight demanded.

“Hey, whas this pointy thing on my head?” The closet became quiet for a moment, and Luna looked at Twilight with absolute horror in every line on her face.

“It is too late!” she whispered. “Save yourself!”

Celestia suddenly teleported out into the hallway, but she promptly grabbed her head in pain. “Ow! Luna, I don’t know what this thing is, but it hurts!”

She then noticed Twilight, who smiled sheepishly and took a step backwards.

“TWILIGHT!” she roared. “My moos faifful student! I haven’t seen you in forever! When did you get here?”


“That long ago? Somepony needs to quit messing with time. Not nice to keep Twilight here for so long. HEY! HEY, HEY, HEY! You have wingie dings too! Mine are prettier but yours is okay too.”

“Luna?” Twilight asked, through her eyes remained on her oddly-behaved teacher.

“I don’t know why she’s acting so strangely, but she’s been this way since just after lunch. I’ve had my hooves full just trying to keep her from running into something sharp.”

Twilight watched her beloved mentor giggle to herself as she shuffled the feathers of her own wings for a moment, but then her face then went sour in a flash. “Discord! Show yourself!”

“I have nothing to do with this, for the record!” his voice replied. “But I have quite thoroughly enjoyed the performance. Do you think she does encores?”

“Where are you?!”

“Shh! You’ll startle her!” he replied. A clawed arm reached out from nowhere, grabbed Twilight, and pulled her back behind some sort of badly camouflaged duck blind.⁽*⁾
(*) Not blind ducks, because Fluttershy seriously frowned on such behavior. There was, however, a duck in a pair of dark glasses.

“What did you do?” she growled at him, as Luna tried to keep Celestia from walking away.

“I recorded the performance for future enjoyment,” he offered while he donned a beret and held up a camera and its tripod. “I have captured the Celestia in her natural environment, my life's work really. Now I can finally release my documentary, which I shall entitle “Celestia: Raw and Uncut!”


“Look, I really had nothing to do with this!” he protested, as something in the hallway shattered and Celestia guffawed loudly. “I’m reformed now, remember? I would hate to see what Fluttershy would say if I did do something to her beloved diarch. I’m innocent on all counts.”

“Then what’s wrong with Celestia?” she asked in alarm. Discord shrugged.

“Maybe she got into a bad batch of baked beans,” he offered. “Those things can cause all sorts of trouble if you’re not careful.”

“You think she ate something that caused this?”

“I’m just brainstorming over here,” he replied as a lightning bolt hit him on the head from a very small thundercloud. “Maybe she hit her head on something. Maybe somepony—not me, of course, but somepony else—used some kind of magic on her.”

“Of course!” Twilight brightened. “Magic! She must be under the influence of some magical curse! I just need to isolate the cause!”

“Say, is it just me, but is there something different about your teacher? I mean, other than her behavior of course. Maybe she put on weight?”

“What?” Twilight balked. Desperate to prove him wrong, she quickly jumped out from behind the blind and looked Celestia over intently. One horn, two wings, mane and tail, four legs. Everything that should be there was.

But then she saw it: Celestia's cutie mark had begun to fade.

“Somepony is pulling magic out of her!” Twilight shouted. “Princess Luna, quick! We need to find out who is stealing her magic!”

“You’re welcome, by the way!” Discord shouted, as Twilight ran off. “Ingrate. Oh well, this’ll be perfect for home movie night.” He cackled as he began turning the crank on the camera. “Maybe I’ll finally win a Ovation from the Moving Pictures Club. Those guys have been snubbing me for years!”

“…and then she ate it!”

Both Sego Lily and Bean laughed. It seemed Sego had quite the animated family, and she was a pretty decent storyteller herself.

“Is she okay?” he asked.

“Oh, yeah,” Sego replied. “She laughs about it now.”

“That’s good. Oh, but I gotta get going,” he suddenly said, as he noticed the sun slipping behind the horizon, although a little shaky and with an extra wobble. “I didn’t realize it was so late.”

“Do you really have to go?” Sego pouted.

“Yeah, I do. I’m sorry. I did have a lot of fun today, though. Thanks for showing me around.”

“No problem.” She smiled at him. “Are you leaving Canterlot anytime soon?”

“I’m not sure when I’ll be heading out.”

“Well, if you want to hang out again, I’m staying at the Shoe and Nail.” She pulled the sunflower out from behind her ear and put it behind his. “Just ask for me at the front desk. I’ll be there for the next two days, then I gotta head home. I’ll show you around some more, if you want.”

“If I can, I’d love that,” he replied. “Thanks.”

“If not, it’s been fun, Baked Bean,” she replied, and they shook hooves again. “Take care of yourself, eh? Try not to run into anypony else.”

“I will. You as well,” he chuckled.

“See ya!”

With that, Sego Lily took off and flew towards the hotel. Bean sighed contentedly, and then turned to get back to the palace. Hopefully Celestia wasn’t too worried about him, and she’d found that frequently-mentioned loophole. That would make his day complete.

He trotted quickly to the palace, and the guards gave him no trouble at the gates or at the front doors. One even told him to head up towards the dining room, and he’d probably find Celestia there, getting ready for the evening. He did so, but found no pony in sight. With a bit of confusion, he then turned back out into the hallways and began glancing around.

“Princess?” he called out. “Are you up here?”

“Baked Bean?!” Luna’s voice rattled the windows, and a light dusting of plaster rained down and into his mane. “If that is you, get your sorry flank up here right this instant!”

Now what had he done? He was beginning to wonder if Luna would even let him breathe in peace anymore. He quickly moved up a flight of stairs, around a corner, then followed what sounded like maniacally delirious laughter.

“What did you do?!” Luna thundered, as soon as he met up with the Princesses of Night and Day in the hallway. Celestia was sitting, staring into a vase with wide eyes and giggling slightly as she ‘ooo’-ed her reflection.

“I took a tour of town!” he replied in alarm. “What is she doing?”

“Admiring herself at the moment, which is better that what she has been doing. You better not have done anything else today!”

“I swear, all I did was walk around and tour the city,” he replied. “I don’t know what I could have done to make this happen.”

Celestia then turned her head, caught sight of Bean, and took in a huge breath.

“BEEEAAAANNN!” she shouted with unabashed glee and in the Royal Voice. “You came back! I just knew you would. Luna said you was long gone, that you would run to Slick Rock and hide in your bed, but I said, I said ‘No way, Seester! He’s totally gonna come back, jus you wait! Gimme hug, Bean!”

She then reared up and spread both her arms and wings out wide, thus hitting the vase next to her and sending Luna scrambling to catch it before it hit the ground. Celestia then promptly lost her balance, tipped over sideways, then had enough momentum to keep going until she was resting on her neck, upside down, with her rump on the wall and her limbs hanging in odd directions. Her eyes then clamped shut, and after a moment she began snoring.

“Did she just knock herself out?” Bean asked, as he took a hesitant step closer.

“I certainly hope so,” Luna sighed and gently placed the vase back on the pedestal. “She started acting like this right after lunch. Twilight Sparkle is in the Archives right now, trying to figure out how somepony could pull magic out of her. She has struck naught but dead ends so far.”

“Pull magic out of her?” he repeated.

“Yes. I fear time is short. Look at her cutie mark.”

Bean did so, and gasped. It was so faded that it was hard to make out where it was.

“The only thing I can think of that may have caused this is something to do with that marriage clause,” Luna continued. “I am sure she told you she would cease to be a Princess if she did not marry you. But if what you say is true and you simply looked at the sights, then I am at a loss.”

“Celestia,” Bean softly said, and a tear slid out of his eye. He was rapidly beginning to figure out what had caused all this. “This is my fault.”

Luna started to say something, but then stopped as Bean quietly stepped over towards the serenely snoring Celestia. There was something in the air; something compelling, something magical, and it seemed to be moving Bean towards his unintentional intended. If whatever he was doing would solve the problem, she was all for him doing it.

“I’m so sorry,” he whispered, once he drew close to her. “I did this to you. I hurt you. I never wanted to hurt you. I don’t want you to lose your magic. I’m sorry.”

He then went down on his knees, leaned in, and touched his nose to hers.

Luna stumbled back a few steps as a sudden rush of energy blasted down the hallway. It swirled and twirled around, like some barely-contained tornado, until it reached Bean and Celestia. Golden light began to swirl around with the energies, illuminating the hallway and forcing Luna to shield her eyes.

“Whatever you are doing, Bean, keep doing it!” she shouted over the rush of wind.

There was now an increase, both in luminosity and in energy, and Bean could feel the individual hairs of his hide standing on end while he stumbled backwards in alarm. Had he screwed up yet again?

He didn’t have time to ponder the question. There was something resembling a boom, a final surge of energy pulsed through the hall, and then all of the coalesced magic flowed immediately back into Celestia. The light decreased, the wind died out, and Luna eagerly moved up with Bean to evaluate the hopefully restored diarch.

After a moment, one magenta eye fluttered open, then the other. Celestia groaned, and her legs twitched a bit, although she still remained upside-down.

“Am I on my head?” she asked.

“You are,” Luna replied. “And you look like quite the old fool doing it, too.”

“Mister Bean! So good to see you’ve returned. I suppose I should set the sun… now…” Celestia trailed off, and her eyes darted about for a moment.

“What is it?” Luna asked.

“Did I say, at some point today, that Twilight had pretty wings but not as pretty as mine?”

“Something to that effect, yes.”

“And by any possibility, did I slide down a banister?”

“Two,” Luna confirmed. “You made it down five flights of stairs before falling off the second time.”

“And,” added Celestia, still upside-down and with a long, slow blink of both eyes, “did I at any time challenge a duck to a race across Canterlot Lake?”

“That was your dream last night,” said Luna. “Thankfully.”

Celestia paused, flipped herself down and upright again, then looked up and down the hallway again. “I believe I have been acting most inappropriately today.”

Luna let loose a snort of amusement. “To put it mildly.”

“Twilight is trying to figure out what is wrong with me.”

“She is.”

“Will you go tell her that I am fine now, and that she need not worry anymore?” Celestia asked, a hint of fear in her voice. “I think I will go freshen up quickly and then talk to her about my behavior.”

“Of course.” Luna nodded, and then left. Bean gulped as Celestia looked at him.

“What have you been doing today?” she asked. “And why is there a sunflower behind your ear?”

Celestia did not knock at doors.

This was her house, after all. Still, she tapped very gently at this door, and when she received no response after some time, she opened it and sighed at the sight on the other side. There was a Bean shaped lump under the blankets on the bed, and some slight sniffling coming from it. Luna followed after her sister, smirked at the sight, but said nothing about it.

“I think we need to talk about what happened today,” Celestia gently said, as both sisters sat on the floor. “Can you come out, please?”

Bean’s head poked out and rested on the bed, and Celestia shot Luna a look of warning while she stifled a snicker. Even if he resembled a turtle, this was no time for laughter.

It was beyond obvious that he felt miserable. His eyes were red from crying, his nose was raw and red from frequent nose blowings, and his gaze remained fixed in front of him in morose misery.

“You weren’t responsible for this, Baked Bean,” Celestia began with as much tenderness as she could offer.

His bloodshot eyes rolled over to her. “I severely doubt that statement. Everything is my fault.”

“That is a very broad statement. You’re responsible for every ill that befalls a pony?” Luna quipped.

Bean huffed out an annoyed sigh and let his gaze return to depressingly neutral.

“Mister Bean, really,” Luna continued. “The events of today were not your fault.”

“Ha,” he deadpanned. “Right. I’m the one who betrayed Princess Celestia, a noble ruler of our lands and respected… everything. I'm the one who threw away everything we talked about at the first pretty face that trampled me. My stupid impulses nearly destroyed the magic of the sun. I’m pretty extra sure that what happened was, indeed, my fault. I’m a walking disaster zone. Maybe you do need to imprison me in the Everfree.”

“We are not going to do anything like that,” Luna replied. “It’s hardly fair of us to punish you for something we do not even fully understand.”

“Bean, my sister is right,” Celestia added. “Neither of us knew that the binding magics were so strong, or so sensitive. If we had known, we would have warned you, and then none of this would have happened. If anything, the fault lies with us for not taking this more seriously.”

Bean didn’t reply. There were a few moments of silence, but then Celestia had an idea.

“Luna, may we have a few minutes, please? I think this might be better if I speak to my fiancé alone.”

Bean nickered sadly, but Luna nodded, stood and left without further comment. Celestia sighed as she again turned to Bean, and then she noticed a sunflower on his desk. She picked it up with her magic, but the transfer into her hooves was feather soft.

“Was she pretty?”

“I’m pretty sure I’m in enough trouble already,” he replied.

“Was she?” Celestia pressed.

Bean sighed deeply, and closed his eyes. “Yes.”

“What was she like?”

The look that passed over his face gave away his inner thought. After all, he probably couldn’t make things much worse at this point. “She was loud, and talkative. She had a lot of stories, and one reminded her of another, so it was hard to get a word in edgewise. She liked it when ponies praised her. She had deep, green eyes and a soft blue mane. She laughed a lot, she joked a lot. And she spent most of the afternoon walking and talking with me around Canterlot.”

“Do you want to meet with her again?”

A tear escaped. “Yes.”

“Your sadness is not caused by what you think you did to me,” Celestia said, “nor is it from a perceived betrayal. Your sadness comes from what you are missing out on.”

His eyes rolled back to her with some confusion showing in them, and Celestia nodded before she continued. “If you hadn’t bumped into me yesterday, this may have been the moment when you found your special somepony. This kindly mare you met was interesting, amusing, and worth getting to know better. Your depression stems from the fact that, despite how well your first encounter with her went, you will never be able to see her again. You will never know if there could have been something, because my law forces you to marry me. The future isn’t what it could have been, but rather is something totally out of your control.

“So, in a way, most of this is probably resentment. You hate what is happening to you and how it has happened. You are angry that you have to be stuck with me, a mare that you have no right having any relationship with, and you hate that your life cannot proceed on a normal path.”

Silence reigned supreme within the room.

“Well.” Celestia stood. “I hope you can forgive me, in time. I know that what has happened has greatly upset your life, and believe me, I regret everything that has happened as well.”

“This isn’t your fault,” he said. “You weren’t the one in the flowers.”

“But I did write the law,” she replied, “and I am the one who stuck my nose into the flowers. I am a firm believer in placing appropriate blame in the appropriate place, especially if it involves me. I am not above my citizens, in any way. I must be held accountable, the same as anypony else.”

Bean didn’t reply, but he did appear thoughtful.

“I have cleared my schedule for tomorrow so I may devote my whole efforts to finding your escape from this nightmare,” she continued while she turned towards the door. “I will have a definite answer for you by this time tomorrow. In the meantime, you should continue about your activities. I don’t know of any other issues that should arise, so you should be fine.”

“Why did the magic start draining out of you?” he asked as he sat up. “We aren’t married yet.”

“The Heart Magic I used to bind the law was very powerful and very complex, the primordial magic of creation even. When I activated it, it began following us, ensuring that we both followed the terms that had been laid out. When you met that mare—”

“Sego Lily,” Bean quietly interrupted.

“Very well. When you met Sego Lily, the Heart Magic sensed that there was the possibility you could betray me. It can feel what is in our hearts, and it felt that your heart was turning towards Miss Lily. The terms of the marriage clause then began to come to bear, and my magic was siphoned from me, thus causing my odd behavior. When you returned and touched my nose again, you reaffirmed your commitment to me, and the Heart Magic restored everything to what it should be. So long as you maintain professional relationships with other mares, you cannot cause any further damage.”

“And there’s nothing else?”

“Twilight has read over the law seven times now and can find no other ‘surprises.’ If she cannot find any, we should be fine.”

“How did you explain your actions to her?”

“I told her the truth," Celestia replied casually. “There really wasn’t any other way to explain the situation. It took her a few minutes to fully understand and accept the news, but she’s now deeply committed to finding a loophole too. She’s also agreed to not speak of this to anypony else, as has the staff who saw my erratic behavior. I don’t think either of us want what has happened to become general knowledge yet. Or ever.”

“Not really, no.”

“The staff has also been instructed to take care of any needs you may have tonight.” Celestia stood, placed the sunflower back on the desk, and began moving towards the door. “Simply pull the cord, and a servant will be along shortly. You are free to do whatever you like tomorrow, as I said before. Please just check with me again at nightfall. Good evening.”

She then drifted out of the room, but Bean groaned once she was out of sight. “Celestia, wait!”

“Yes?” She poked her head around the doorframe.

“Will…” Bean stalled out, looked at the floor sheepishly, then looked at her again. “Will you be making pancakes again?”

Celestia smiled softly and warmly. “Just after sunrise.”

“Could I join you for breakfast again?”

“I would be honored.”

Author's Notes:

Ok. I know what you're all thinking, so let's settle it right now: alternate universe. In my messed up reality, this is what happens when an Alicorn loses her magic. Having Celestia simply lying around with no energy and a flat mane is very boring.
(This also means things are going to get very interesting if Tirek shows up. :pinkiecrazy:)

Next Chapter: 6. - The Verdict Estimated time remaining: 8 Hours, 18 Minutes
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