No Nose Knows

by Irrespective

Chapter 9: 9. - Mind the Gap, This Way Out

Previous Chapter Next Chapter

Baked Bean sighed as he leaned back in his chair. Before him was an empty page in his notebook, and he was trying to figure out how to write what he was thinking.

He hated it when he couldn’t find the right words, so he settled on just using the simplest words possible.

How to flirt with, date, court, and/or woo Princess Celestia.

He leaned back again, looked over his writing, and then laughed. “I’ve done it! I have managed to write the single most ridiculous sentence in the history of Equestria!”

He then groaned and slammed his forehead into the desk. This would all be much easier if he was not dealing with the immortal Princess of the Sun.

But he was, and so he had to figure out something.

The thoughts that had led to the creation of this one mind-numbing sentence had been passing through his head ever since last night. He had enjoyed the casual conversation with Celestia and Luna last night, and a part of him wanted to have more moments like that. It had felt so free, so easy, so natural. It almost was like he had always been able to speak with the rulers of Equestria so informally.

And then he would remember that he was speaking so informally with the rulers of Equestria!

He sat up, ran a hoof through his mane, and took a deep, cleansing breath. In all of his musings last night, he had come to one overarching conclusion: he could either try to have a relationship with Celestia or he could not.

If he did not, he was in for a rather miserable experience. Oh, Celestia would be kind, genteel even. She would probably offer praises when he did good work, and assist when he needed help.

But it would be no more and no less than what she would have willingly offered to a stray dog with a captivating, yet mournful expression. Things would remain professional, but never have the possibility of being intimate.

Was intimate the right word? Bean reached for the dictionary he’d bought while he had been out with Sego Lily and flipped the pages.

“Intimate, let’s see.” He looked for a moment, then smiled. “Intimate, noun: a close friend. Adjective: Closely acquainted, familiar.”

It was an admirable goal that he could only attain if he tried. Unfortunately, he continued to read. “Used euphemistically to indicate that a couple is having a sexual rela—”

He slammed the book closed and took several deep breaths, trying to return to the comforting mental state he had just departed. The memory of Celestia, speaking quietly to him such a short time ago, made that easier than he expected.

“All ponies see the light from where they stand, Mister Bean. To most of my subjects, I am the wise and graceful Princess who raises the sun and brings prosperity to our fair kingdom. To my students, I am a teacher who enjoys sharing deep magics and ancient history. To the rulers of other nations I am a shrewd diplomat and skillful negotiator, to Princess Cadence I am an aunt, to Luna I am a sister, to Shining Armor I am a military commander. Now that you’ve met me and seen me as I truly am, you have to reconcile what you thought with what you now know.”

He rubbed his chin again as he recalled her words. There had been a moment or two where he had been able to see her as she truly was, and what he saw, quite honestly, made him want to see more. While Celestia the Princess was obviously an interesting pony and was wonderful to meet, he found that plain Celestia—the Celestia he had seen when she didn’t have to be a Princess—was the one he would like to know better, and even dare to know intimately.

In the first definition of the word, that is.

He stood, crossed the room, and propped himself up on the windowsill. The sun would be coming up in just a minute, and Bean had become strangely fascinated with watching it burst over the distant eastern hills. There was no real reason for him to be so enamored; the sun came up all the same every morning, after all.

Yet he watched.

His smile grew deeper once it did make its appearance. The rays swept across his coat in gently warming tones, and he felt revived and renewed in its embrace. This was peace, this was contentment. This is what he really wanted in life.

With the sun now up, he decided to go get breakfast and to worry about courtship later. Food really did help him think clearer, and there was a chance that Celestia would made funny face pancakes again.

But he shook his head at himself as he left his room, notebook in hoof. Given that she had just lost three perfectly good working days, in essence, because of noses she was probably overbooked and wouldn’t really have time for him today. He was fine with that; it gave him a day to figure out how to work on his question.

He paused in the hallway when another interesting thought hit him. He then trotted up to a nearby guard. “Good morning!”

“Good morning, sir,” the guard replied. “May I help you with something?”

“If you wouldn’t mind. I have a question.”

“Lay it on me.”

Bean smirked at the guard, and he smirked back. “It’s going to sound really, really dumb, but please just answer it anyway. Who am I?”

“Who are you?” he repeated, obviously confused. “Well, you’re Baked Bean, a guest of the Princesses.”

That’s what Bean figured. His new titles probably hadn’t had a chance to make the rounds yet. “Thank you, sir. I appreciate your honest answer.”

“May I ask why you’re asking, sir?” the guard replied.

“Well, someone recently told me I was having an existential crisis. I was just seeing how right they were.”

“Are you, sir?” The guard allowed his spear to drop a fraction.

“No, I’m not. I am who I am. Thank you for assisting me.”

The guard nodded, and Bean continued on for about five steps before he suddenly stopped and turned around. “Wait. ‘Princesses?’”

“Yes, sir,” the guard replied. “Both Princess Celestia and Princess Luna have named you as their friend and guest.”

“Did they say that together?”

“No, Princess Luna’s statement came a day after Princess Celestia’s.”

Bean chuckled. It seemed that Luna had been able to overcome her antagonistic annoyance with him faster than either of them thought they would.

Bean thanked the guard again and moved on. While he figured Luna might not like him, per se, she could at least tolerate him and that made him feel tingly inside. She was making the effort, and she could be a wonderful sister-in-law, if things ever got close to normal in his life again.

Once in the dining hall, he simply sat and waited for someone to come take his order. He was pleasantly surprised when, after a few minutes, Celestia walked in with two plates of pancakes in her magic. Both Bean and Celestia smiled brightly when they made eye contact, but she was the one who managed to speak first.

“May I safely assume at this point that you are a morning pony?”

“I guess so. I didn’t realize I was either until now.” He chuckled as a plate settled down in front of him. “I guess I have something to get up for.”

A hint of blush appeared on Celestia’s muzzle. “You can just admit that my pancakes are addictive, you know.”

“Must be all the sugar in them.”

She tried to glare at him, but the attempt failed and instead devolved into laughter. Just then, a scroll popped in from thin air a few feet away from them. Celestia’s magic quickly snagged it, and Bean looked at her curiously as she broke the seal and unraveled it.

“What’s that?”

“It’s a message from Twilight.”

“Really? Does she write to you a lot?”

“Not as much as she once did.” Celestia began to read with a peaceful smile, obviously pleased at getting a letter from her former student, but as her eyes darted back and forth, her smile faded slightly before turning into a deeply serious frown.

“Everything okay?” he asked.

“I’m not sure,” she replied, as she stood. “Forgive me, Mister Bean, but this does require my immediate attention.”

He nodded and watched as she trotted out of the room, although he tried not to show the worry that had begun to build in his gut. What could possibly unnerve the Princess that quickly? Some kind of national threat? If it was, it must be bad since Twilight, one of the Elements of Harmony, was the one sending the letter. Was there anything he could do to help?

He frowned at his pancakes. Whatever it was, he seriously hoped it wouldn’t take long to fix. She had said she wasn’t sure if it was good or bad, so maybe it was something that just needed some Celestia thrown at it to get it squared away.

“You didn’t hear anything, did you?” he asked the fruit face before him. The banana slices that made up the mouth were shut tight, and Bean didn’t figure the short stack would blab.

“Fine. I’ll just eat you until you confess!”

And he took a large bite to show he would make good on his threat.

“Mister Bean.”

“Princess Luna.” He turned to face her, and came nose-to-nose with her fierce scowl.

“Did you upset my sister?”

“No?” he nervously replied while leaning back. “She got a letter from Twilight.”

“And what was in this missive?”

“She didn’t say, only that it was something she had to deal with right now.”

Luna retreated a step and relaxed slightly. “Hmm. Such a letter from Twilight could be serious. Perhaps Discord is causing problems.”

“Oh, my dear sweet Luna.” A nearby syrup pitcher promptly sprouted mismatched limbs and a face, which looked up at Luna with mournful yellow eyes. “Why do you automatically assume I’m the one causing problems?”

“Because you have a great propensity for doing so.” Luna growled while the draconequus poured himself into Celestia’s vacant chair. “Did you come here to confess or to hide from your crimes?”

“I’m here because I want to be here,” Discord replied, as he reached across the table and grabbed Celestia’s uneaten food. “I still haven’t done anything, despite repeated requests from Pinkie Pie for chocolate milk rainclouds.”

“Then do you know what Twilight wrote?”

“I do,” he replied while he snapped a whisk into existence and used it to cut the pancakes. “But Celly will be awfully mad at me if I tell anyone. I can say it’s nothing that threatens life or limb.”

“What else could it be, then?”

“Something far more sensitive, I’m afraid,” Discord replied sadly as he scarfed a bite. “Mm, this needs more sugar.”

Luna glanced over to Bean, but he had no idea what Discord’s cryptic comment meant so he shrugged.

“So would it be safe to assume that, whatever this is, it will cause a great amount of chaos?” Luna continued.

“A healthy amount, yes,” he said, as he shoved another large bite in. “And now I’m stress eating, see? This is horrible. I’ll have to go on a diet for a month because of this.”

“I hope you can forgive our lack of sympathy on the matter.”

Discord took a moment to clear his mouth and to dab lightly at the corners of his mouth with a napkin.

“Yes, well, you were always known for your compassion weren’t you?”

Luna grunted and glared at him fiercely.

“Fine. I came here mostly for Bean anyway.” He stuck his nose in the air for a moment before he teleported Bean into his embrace. “Bean-o, you’ve been mi amigo in bedlam, so it’s only fair that I make you this offer: mi chaos es su chaos. If you ever need a place to crash, you just give me a call. I’ll come running, rain or shine, snow or sleet, Monday through Friday nine to five, Saturday ten to three with time off for good behavior, closed Sundays. You’ve been such a wonderfully unintentional deviant that I just can’t stand the thought of you living out on the cold, cruel streets of Canterlot.”

“May I ask what you are even talking about?” Bean replied.

“Just know that I’m still here for you, Bean-o. Us chaos creators have to look out for one another.”

And then Discord snapped his talons and disappeared. Bean flailed his limbs in midair for a split second before he went crashing to the ground, and he groaned in pain once there.

“I could have lived without that. Do you have any idea what he was talking about, Princess?”

“I am afraid I do. Let me speak with my sister about this first, however. Are you injured?”

“No, I’m okay.” He staggered back to his hooves. “But will you please let me know if I can help? I don’t want to just sit here and be dead weight.”

“I promise I will do so,” Luna replied with a quick nod of her head. She then turned and left without another word.

Bean sighed. He was really worried about what was going on, and why he seemed to be in the thick of it again. But since there wasn’t much he could do at the moment, he figured the best thing to do would be to stay out of the way and to let the Royal Sisters handle it.

He wondered if he could do some studying. It would be a shame to just sit, but he wanted to stay nearby in case he was needed, and if he could gain access to the Archives he could make some progress on his story. He would like to get that started, he had to admit.

First things first, though. There were pancakes to devour.

“Mister Bean?”

“Oh! Hi, Luna. You startled me.” Bean looked up from his notebook. “Can I help you with something?”

“My sister requests your presence in her private drawing room at this time,” Luna replied flatly. “If you would follow me, please.”

“Uh, okay. Let me gather up my stuff.”

Bean did not like Luna’s tone. Had he done something wrong, or something just stupid? Was he going to be punished? He didn’t think he’d done anything wrong in the last hour, so the Princesses shouldn’t have a reason to be mad with him.

It only took a second to gather up his things, and he fell in step behind Luna as they entered the hallway.

“So, what’s going on? Did I do something?” Bean asked.

“That is for my sister to discuss with you,” Luna replied without looking back. “But know that you have my best wishes going with you.”

That left rear leg took off in the familiar terrified tango yet again. Seriously, what had he done this time?! He was getting tired of constantly being in trouble.

The rest of the walk was in silence. Once they reached the drawing room door Luna knocked, looked at Bean, sighed, and then walked away while keeping her face impassive.

“Come in, Mister Bean,” Celestia called out.

Bean gently nudged the door open and slowly stuck his head in. Celestia gave him the saddest smile he’d ever seen before motioning for him to come sit by the table. He slowly did so, and while he did, Celestia poured out a cup of what smelled like chamomile tea for each of them.

“Thank you for being patient and understanding today. I’m sure you realize that I am called away for urgent matters on occasion.”

“Yes, I’m sure you are. What’s this all about?” Bean didn’t feel like wasting time in pleasantries.

Celestia started to reply, then stalled, looking down at the table instead. Even her proud ears drooped, and a brief rustle ran down the lengths of her folded wings as they shuffled position behind her. “C’mon, Celly,” she muttered. “Just spit it out.”

Taking a deep breath, she looked up and fixed Baked Bean with a steady gaze that he thought quite possibly contained a suppressed tear or two in the corners of her lovely eyes.

“Mister Bean,” she continued in a steady voice. “Twilight Sparkle has found a loophole for my law.”

Well, that was a fantastic way to suck the air out of the room. Bean’s rear leg began shaking wildly as the full impact of her statement sank in.

“Sh-she did?” he stammered.

Celestia nodded, then pushed a small pile of papers towards him. Bean leaned over and read the bold words at the top:

Divorce Decree

Bean slumped back. It felt like Celestia had just slammed both of her rear hooves into his gut at full force.

“A divorce?” he managed to weakly ask.


“Uh… well, uh…”

“I’ve arranged for very generous terms on your behalf. Alimony payments will be ten thousand bits per month, with annual reviews to account for cost-of-living expenses. You shall have free access to the palace, the grounds, and any services provided here, such as my personal carriage and chariots at any time you like. You will remain a friend of the Crown as well as maintaining the title of Duke, you may request an audience with me at any time and receive it, and Luna has even promised to keep all nightmares away. All you have to do is sign and date the last page, and you’ll be free.”

Bean wasn’t sure how to reply to all that, so he spat out the one question that seemed to be overruling all others.

“Why didn’t anypony find this sooner?”

Celestia heaved the deepest sigh Bean had ever heard. “Please permit me to answer that with a story, if I may.”

He nodded, and she continued. “When I sent Twilight Sparkle to Ponyville, I told her to write me a letter every week to tell me about her studies in friendship. My hope was that by doing so, she would recognize the lessons she was learning, and that it would imprint on her heart far more that it ever could on paper. She did so, dutifully, for well over a year. She grew by leaps and bounds, as she does in everything, and I was pleased she was learning so much from her new friends.

“But then a week came when there was no friendship lesson. It was a rather busy week for me, and I didn’t notice her missing report.

“However, just before sunset on the day of the ‘deadline’ I received a letter from Spike informing me of a most troubling development. Desperate for a friendship problem to write about, Twilight had cast a Want It Need It spell on and old stuffed rag doll she owned. Within the space of a few minutes, nearly the entire town of Ponyville had fallen under the enchantment and had devolved into fighting each other for possession of this doll. Thankfully, Spike sent this message to me with enough time for me to teleport and to clear the enchantment before anypony was seriously hurt.

“Now, let me ask you this: what should Twilight have done?”

Bean thought for a moment. “I can see her dilemma. If she did not have a friendship lesson to report, you might think her studies were over. She really should have written you to ask for your advice”

She nodded. “A prudent course of action. If she had, she would have been told the letters were not as important as she thought they were. I would have informed her that she could write when—and only when—a lesson happened.

“Now, Twilight is, arguably, one of the most intelligent ponies in all of Equestria. Why would such a pony be unable to come to such an obvious answer?”

Bean shook his head. “I don’t know.”

“Most behavioral experts call it ‘Tunnel Vision.’ For as smart as ponies are, we all have the propensity to see only what is in front of us and nothing else. Most believe it’s something that’s been passed down from our earliest ancestors, and that it is somehow related to the Fight or Flight response we see in wildlife.

“So, in simple terms, it means that when a pony is a presented with a problem, their tendency is to focus on one answer only. Usually the first response works, and normally it is an acceptable and reasonable solution, so the pony doesn’t even realize what they did.

“This is part of the reason nopony thought of divorce. The other part, I believe, is my fault. When I sent my law out for review, I asked if there was a loophole in the law itself. If one looks at it from the way I asked, there is no way to cancel it. However, there is nothing in the law that says we must remain married. As soon as Luna proclaimed us husband and wife, the terms were fulfilled. The only thing that binds you to me or me to you is the modern legal bonds of marriage. I also personally believe the subject matter hampered efforts.”

“How so?”

“Imagine if I placed before you a giant, one thousand year old boulder. The boulder itself is visually impressive one, with all sorts of swirls and colorful bands sweeping through it. I then give you a fork, spoon, and knife and ask you to find a way to move the boulder and command you to report back in three days. I then tell you that if someone manages to drill a hole into it, it will release a terrible plume of smoke that will turn my coat purple. What do you think would happen?”

Bean nodded as he saw the simile. It was a simile, wasn’t it? “I would probably chip away at it with the silverware for a few days before telling you that the task was impossible. I’d probably also laugh at the thought of you being purple, and get distracted by the colors in the rock, too.”

“Very well.” Celestia nodded. “What if I had not given you the knife, fork, and spoon? Just pointed to the boulder and let you go.”

“Oh.” The inspiration was dizzying. “I’d go buy some rope and a few pulleys. Maybe hire a couple of beefy earth ponies to help pull, and we’d have that boulder moved by the end of the first day.”

“Exactly.” A broader smile managed to work its way onto Celestia’s face as she nodded again. “I believe this happened with my law as well. Most anypony at a University would probably be far more interested in the insides of a previously unknown, thousand-year-old document. Judges and Lawyers would laugh at the subject and would assume such an occurrence is next to impossible. When we look at the problem from the outside, it’s easy to see how divorce could be overlooked.”

Bean didn’t reply for a few moments as he processed all this, but when he did, his voice was soft and thoughtful. “So, all I need to do is sign?”

“Yes. You can then go back to your regular life and your own dreams. I’ll even go find Sego Lily for you, if you want me to.”

Bean looked down at the divorce papers, and Celestia placed an inkwell and quill next to them. His mind began churning with thoughts, and he tried to keep them all in order.

This was, as she said, everything he had wanted. No more trying to figure out how to date a princess, no more worrying about being a prince and doing princely things, no more Luna glaring at him and yanking his chain. The terms were generous enough that he could very easily buy a home out in the country and be able to write his story uninterrupted. He would, in pretty much any way he could think of, be set for life. He could even probably use this amusing incident to launch his writing career.

He pondered this for quite some time, but then he made the mistake of looking up. Celestia was sitting calmly, her body facing him but her head turned to look out the window. She was the perfect picture of her reputation right then: peaceful, serene, stoic and steadfast. She looked like a Princess, in every way.

But Bean could also see something else. True, he didn’t have the centuries of experience in reading body language like she did. He really couldn’t say that he knew her inner feelings based on how she inhaled or how she blinked.

But there was still a feeling of sadness draped across her form. It wasn’t the sadness that came from doing something wrong. It was more like the sadness that came from the realization that something good was coming to an end.

He ran a hoof through his mane as she took a gentle sip of tea. It had not been a mistake to look up. As he watched her mane float on the ethereal breeze that moved it along, he knew what his answer needed to be.

Celestia inhaled slowly and deeply when she heard Baked Bean slide the divorce papers back across the table. She then slowly turned her head and looked down.

One eyebrow moved up as her interest seemed to grow. On top of the divorce decree, Bean had placed his notebook and opened to a page that had one sentence written across the top.

“How to flirt with, date, court, and-slash-or woo Princess Celestia,” she read, and then laughed slightly before Bean continued.

“Ridiculous, right? I mean, really. What chance does a commoner like me have with you?”

He paused to take a breath. “Three days ago, when we first booped noses, if you had told me this, I would have married and divorced you right then and there with no further thought on the matter.

“But then I started talking to you. I got to know you better. My preconceived notions were challenged, and I had to reconcile what I had known to what I had learned. You acted out my little paragraph of writing. You talked to me about Sego Lily. You made me funny face pancakes, and you ate my soup while listening to my little sob story.

“I realize there’s still a ton we don’t know about each other, and that would need to change. I’m also not sure if we can ever really love each other, but I’d like to find out for sure,” he admitted while his gaze went to the window. “As crazy as this whole thing has been, I’m delusional enough at this point to think that maybe, somehow, we could have something. I’ve had little glimpses into what life with you could be like, and I’ve loved them. I really would like to see if there could be more.

“I also want to keep your feelings in mind, too. If this is too forward of me, or if you want the divorce for whatever reason, I’ll sign the papers. I don’t want you to be forced into something you don’t want either.”

He then heard Celestia’s magic working. He glanced back, and saw his notebook had been picked up and she was flipping the pages of the decree. She stopped on the last page, and Bean saw that both he and she needed to sign it, but both places were blank.

His notebook then was placed back on the table. Under his sentence, she had written one simple line:

Call me Celly.

“I think you are slightly mistaken in one area.” He looked up at her, and found a completely different mare before him. The previously stoic and sad Celestia was now a perky, smiling mare, and her eyes were sparkling with mirth.

“How so?” he asked, as a smile invaded his face too.

“You said we don’t love each other yet. If that was totally true, you would have signed the paperwork. What we have is a start, an ember. I would like to see if it could be something more as well.”

“You would?”

She nodded. “It’s going to take time, though, and there’s still much that could change your mind. Let’s leave the divorce option open with the understanding that if either of us wants out in the future, we will part as friends and with no ill will.”

“I can agree to that, Celly.

The smile she gave him sent a shiver of joy throughout his whole body. Even his tail felt tingly.

“Then we are agreed. I’ll even help you add more things to that list.”


“But you need to add most of them,” she added slyly. “If you want this to work, you’ve got to put some effort into it. That’s how any relationship works, really.”

He gave his own sly smile back. “That sounds like a two way street to me.”

“As it should be, Mister Bean.”

He then pulled the notebook a bit closer, produced his pencil, and began writing. Once done, he pushed it back towards her, and she leaned over to see what he’d just added.

How to flirt with, date, court, and/or woo Baked Bean.

And underneath that, one simple line:

Call me Bean.

“You get to add things too,” he remarked.

“I would love to, Bean,” she said with a quick boop for his nose.

Next Chapter: 10. - So, Now What? Estimated time remaining: 7 Hours, 10 Minutes
Return to Story Description


Login with