The Harem Noses

by Irrespective

Chapter 7: 7. Wishes, Hopes, and Desires

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7. Wishes, Hopes, and Desires

* * * *

“Well, this is a fine mess our husband has inflicted on us, isn’t it?” Cadence fairly spat the fiery words at her Aunt Luna, although it would have felt better to really breathe fire at the old bat while she paced the length of Aunt Celestia's drawing room. “First you force me to marry him instead of Shining Armor, and now you’ve gotten him to dump an entire tribe of sex-crazed thestrals into the mix. At the rate we’re going, he’s going to be married to every female in Canterlot within a month, but hey, sharing is caring, right?”

“If I had known this was a possibility, I would have gone myself,” Luna snarled back. “These ‘rights of concubinage’ did not exist in my day.”

“Arguing will get us nowhere,” Celestia interjected, her wing stretching out to keep her sister and her niece apart. “Cadence, I know this is difficult, but—”

“Oh, would you please stop saying that!” Cadence fumed, her wings flaring up with a stomp of her hoof. “This whole situation has shot clean past difficult and gone straight into insane! Keeping my Shiny despite being married to Baked Bean was one thing, but do you really expect me to share with hundreds of batponies just because of some stupid laws?!”

“No, Cadence,” Celestia said calmly. “I do not.”

The answer caught Cadence off guard. “What?”

“I will not force you or Shining Armor to submit to the thestral demands. We are the Princesses of Equestria, and our word is law, not theirs. I promised that you and Shining would remain together, and I fully intend to fulfill that promise.”

“But how?” Cadence asked.

Celestia’s proud demeanor faltered ever-so-slightly. “I do not know, but I will find a way. I always do.”

Cadence’s wings slowly slid to her sides, and she studied Celestia’s face. She had known her aunt long enough to notice the cracks as they appeared in her facade, and underneath, she could see how the daytime diarch truly felt about the situation.

Beneath it all, her beloved aunt looked old, tired, and worn-out. This was an encumbrance on top of a hinderance, shaken, stirred, and served as a bitterly sour complication cocktail—complete with an olive of obnoxiousness hanging on the rim—and it was one she had created all on her own a thousand years ago just because she found herself in an uncomfortable situation. Once again, she was being called upon to solve this complex problem, and it was clear that the toll was quickly becoming more than Celestia could pay.

“Bean mentioned something about prize laws,” Cadence finally said, desperate to change the subject. “How does that work?”

“The prize laws were created to allow for fair distribution of the spoils of war to our soldiers back in my day,” Luna said. “However, the regulations were meant for use on things like gold or silver, not for concubines or slaves. Or husbands,” she added.

“It is strange that the Oberjahrl is trying to invoke those laws,” Celestia added, her stoicism quickly returning. “In fact, I am confused by her actions in general. Why did she not agree to return? As I recall, the Oath they swore was to serve and obey every command they were given.”

“And as our husband, Baked Bean’s word was to be treated as our own,” Luna added. “It is clear that this Pansy has some sort of plan in motion. We must determine what her motives are, and we must ensure that she understands her place.”

“Indeed,” Celestia said. “Come, let us speak with her and address this matter. Perhaps the way to move forward will be clearer once we have done so.”

* * * *

“Sister, when this is over, you and I will need to discuss the design for your new throne,” Celestia said as the alicorns strode into the seat of Equestria’s government. “I wanted to have a throne ready for your return, but I realized just how insensitive it would be to impose on your selection. Something like this should be yours and only yours, much like... um... well, discounting Bean, I suppose. He is a warm-hearted stallion who will make an excellent husband, although I don’t think I would have picked him without your... impetuous decision. There are some parallels, I suppose. Comfort, for one, and a certain color scheme that goes well with the draperies...”

While Celestia was nattering onward about trivialities, Luna took a sideways glance up to her sister and despite her best efforts to remain strict and royal, she allowed just the smallest of smiles to emerge. This Celestia was so different from the one she had fought against a thousand years ago, and it filled her heart with joy to see the concern and love in her sister’s eyes. Celestia truly was doing everything in her power to ensure that Luna received all that she was entitled to, but more importantly, Celestia’s love for her younger sibling was shining as brightly as the sun in the noonday sky.

It was a shame that Luna had done nothing to earn that love, but in that moment, she resolved to do anything and everything within her power to show her gratitude and loyalty to her far-too-forgiving sister. It was the least she could do after all of the pain and anguish she had caused, particularly in regard to an extremely compassionate sister and a soft-spoken stallion. In fact, by his simple predicament, Bean had drawn Celestia far closer to Luna than either of them expected. He was a good influence on the Royal Sisters, blunting their natural tendency to clash at every opportunity, and Luna held a sliver of fear in her heart that if some solution could be found to send him away, the Nightmare might return.

Then again, his presence vexed Princess Cadence in her pursuit of the handsome Shining Armor. Bean could not be considered any sort of addition to their obvious compatibility.... except he did convince Shining Armor to persevere in bringing back her loyal batponies, and he was making Cadence fight for her beloved. That had to be a first for the Princess of Love, and a little competition sharpened the wits, after all. It was certainly worth some thought.

“Cadence, I believe we should allow Luna to speak for us during this meeting,” Celestia continued as the three acended the stairs of the dias. “The thestrals swore the Oath Tripartite to her, and they will be under her direct command.”

“I will speak up if I feel like I need to,” Cadence cautioned.

“As will I,” Celestia said with a nod. “Are we ready to begin?”

“Ready as I’ll ever be,” Cadence murmured, her wings unfurling once more.

Luna said nothing, because she was honestly at a loss for words at the moment, and did not see just exactly how to treat the situation. Was it diplomacy or warfare, after all? The differences were frequently difficult to determine until afterward.

“Sergeant Pepper, please bring in Anstasi Pansy Von Wünschenswert,” Celestia ordered, her wings also flaring upwards in perfect synchronization with her sister.

The Sergeant nodded, and a few short moments later, the Warleader of the thestrals entered the throne room, her head held high and her leathery wings unfurled to their full reach. Pansy’s ornate purple-black armor had been polished to a brilliant shine, and as she took the knee before her princesses, Luna noted the lack of weapons or helm.

The Warleader was presenting herself before the throne as one who had been conquered, but her smile betrayed her inner glee. She looked like a mare who was victorious, despite her defeat, and Luna didn’t like that one bit.

“Empress Selena Luna mond Gealach, Queen of the Night, Princess of Equestria, Mistress of the Moon, Defender of Dreams, and Baroness of the West Tartarean Estates,” Pansy humbly submitted, her head still bowed. “Empress Cielia Celestia na Grèine, Queen of the Day, Princess of Equestria, Sovereign of the Sun, Mare of the Morn, and Baroness of the East Tartarean Estates. Princess Mi Amore Cadenza. It is my great honor and humble privilege to stand before you this day.”

“Empress?” Cadence said, the confusion heavy in her words.

“You pick up a title or fifty over a thousand years,” Celestia said with a small sigh. “I’ll explain later.”

“I think you’re missing a duchy in there somewhere,” considered Luna.

“Five.” Celestia seemed to be counting under her breath. “Six countships, about fifty or sixty baronies, and I think technically we’re abbeyesses of the Church of Sun and Moon, although the last worshippers passed away three or four centuries ago.”

“Really?” Luna shook her head. “They had such delightful music for their services. Nopony could understand the words, of course. The old mare who established the church was mad as a hatter.” She pursed her lips in thought. “Not a premonition of my fate with Nightmare Moon, I hope.”

“Ex post facto predictions are too easy, my sister,” said Celestia with a warm nuzzle. “With a wide enough prediction base, you can turn anything into having a gift, much like stock fraudsters do every week.”

Luna shook her head and returned her attention to their ‘guest.’ “Anstasi Pansy Von Wünschenswert, Oberjarhrl and Warleader of the Thestral Tribes.” Luna’s voice held no mercy in it, and she glared at the prone pony before her. “You have been summoned to discuss why you have forced yourself upon Our husband, Prince Baked Bean.”

“I am most pleased to answer for myself today,” Pansy said as she stood and met Luna’s gaze directly. “The answer, Your Most Royal Majesty, is really quite simple. I want grandfoals.” The hint of a calculated thought crossed the mare’s face, and she added with just the slightest hopeful lilt to her voice, “And perhaps just one more foal of my own.”

There was a pause as Luna glanced between Celestia and Cadence. “You turned yourself and your tribe into concubines just for grandfoals? That seems to be a rather extreme solution to a problem that you shouldn’t have yet.”

“Your Majesty, I will not waste your time,” Pansy said in a confident tone. “I am sure that you know of what happened last night when your husband and his guards came to reclaim the thestrals for your guard. I am also sure he spared no detail from you, so you know that we are few in number. From the time of your fall until this present hour, we thestrals have carefully controlled how many foals were born, and to whom, so that we would be able to deny and deprive Nightmare Moon of our oath-bound services, should your redemption have failed to be.

“Since you have returned to us as Princess Luna, my tribe now wishes to rebuild and regain their former glory. I fear our control over the years has been far too restrictive. We are an endangered species, Your Majesty, and the only way we can escape total extinction is if the entire tribe rapidly reproduces.”

“But couldn’t you do that without becoming concubines?” Cadence asked.

“Perhaps.” Pansy shrugged. “When the Prince first told me of your summons, I fully intended to return, eventually. We are still oath-bound to serve the crown, but you could hardly begrudge us some indulgences.”

“It is not your place to determine such things,” Luna said, her anger rising. “We did not send the Prince and his entourage to satisfy your loins. We sent him to retrieve you, and you know that a summons from any Princess is to be answered immediately.”

“I am aware of that. However, Your Majesties must admit that there will be some… resistance, let’s say, among the populace of Equestria at our return. As concubines to the Prince, we will be afforded protections that would not have been open to us otherwise, and those who might have wished to harm us will be reluctant to act against the crown. I did what I did because I felt that it would offer my tribe the best possible future.

“Now, if I must be punished, then I will gladly suffer whatever penalty Your Majesties deem worthy for my arrogance. I would only ask that you not punish my thestrals for what I have done. They are not responsible for me, or my decisions. Allow them to prosper, allow them to grow. Your Majesties know that we were once a mighty and fearsome tribe, and I only wish for us to regain that glory which we have lost.”

Luna hesitated for a moment. The logic behind Pansy’s actions was sound, if a bit convoluted, and she could see herself or Celestia doing the same, if they had been put into a similar position. “Are the thestrals prepared to submit themselves to our dominion?”

“Completely and totally,” Pansy answered proudly. “We are yours to command, Princess.”

“Even if we order you to stay away from those who have won the rights of concubinage over you?”

For the first time, Pansy frowned. “We will submit, but if you withhold your husband and the guards from us, we must seek out others. You know better than anypony else that the race of thestrals will not go quietly into the night, nor shall we vanish without a fight, Your Majesty.”

* * 📖 * *

“What is this thing that my sister has brought to us?” Luna asked, her eyes studying the black disc in her magic with a fervent intensity that Baked Bean had never seen before.

“It’s called a phonograph record,” Baked Bean answered, his gaze drifting slowly—very slowly—from Luna’s front to Luna’s rear with a number of detours to admire the ‘Of The’ accouterments she was wearing. Some of them looked quite painful, and he was suffering mixed feelings about offering to remove them for her.

“And what is the purpose of it?”

“Well, it…” Bean paused and took a moment to think of the best way to describe a record to somepony who had never heard of one before. “It has music on it. Do you see how that disc has a bunch of grooves in it? Okay, now do you see the needle at the end of the arm on the phonograph?”

“You mean this other odd contraption that was brought into my room?” Luna asked, the silver bells on the Bridle of the Newlywed Bride chiming slightly as she nodded to the phonograph next to her.

“Yeah. When that needle moves through those grooves, it vibrates, and those vibrations are then turned into music, or words, or whatever else got recorded.” Bean moved in a bit closer, took a deep breath in a failed attempt to calm his wildly beating heart, and glanced at the label. “The King Biscuit Flour Hour, interesting. Basically, this is a variety of new bands, all put together in one place. This’ll be a good way to learn about modern music.”

“So, you’re telling me that this dish-like… thing can capture music, hold it hostage, and then present it again on demand through this device?”

“More or less, yeah. Here, let me show you.” Bean gently took the record from Luna, placed it on the turntable, gave the crank several good turns, and then moved the needle to the lead-in.

Luna cocked her head to one side and stared at the cheerfully upbeat music that emanated from the horn of the device, but then she snorted. “Hmpf. Do ponies not enjoy watching live performances anymore?”

“Of course they do. Records were created so ponies could enjoy music whenever they wanted to, not just when a band performs.”

Luna said nothing to this, but even Bean could see the depression settling over his wife like a thick fog.

“So!” He moved back to the tray of food that had been delivered with the phonograph and looked over the offering. “How did the rest of the conversation go with Pansy?”

“It was very diplomatic and very boring,” Luna replied. “There wasn’t even any bloodshed. It did become a bit more lively when Cadence quite adamantly insisted that Shining Armor would not be receiving any concubines, no matter what the thestral laws decreed. It will take some time to determine how best to deal with this situation.”

“I really had no idea that—”

Luna held up a hoof and cut him off. “You have apologized enough, husband. In all honesty, I must admit that I do not see a problem with the Anstasi’s solution. I only wish she had returned first and presented her idea to Us; but I suppose her request to become your concubine would have been rejected. She wishes for the thestrals to repopulate, and by mating with royalty, the next generation will have protections that they would not have had otherwise.

“But I will hold my tongue on the matter,” she continued, her wings drooping as she glanced again to the phonograph. “Since I am a thousand years behind the times, my opinions are ancient, out-of-date, and offensive.”

“You’re not offensive,” Bean said, though he was careful to make sure the part about that applying to his eyes remained unspoken.

Luna scoffed. “If that were true, husband, then we would have consummated our marriage by now. You retreat and withdraw from me, since ponies today believe in things like ‘dating’ and ‘relationships.’ A thousand years ago, such concepts would have been derided as the fanciful wishes of a delusional mind. Love was a byproduct of marriage, not the other way around.

“No, I must keep my peace until I am educated on what is proper in modern society.” Luna’s bells chimed softly as her gaze dropped. “Though when I am left alone with my thoughts, I do wonder why the Elements did not destroy me. Did they not foresee how difficult it would be to adjust, or is this part of the punishment that I must endure for my betrayal?”

Bean hesitated. Luna’s words had pricked something deep inside him, and his heart hurt to see the Princess in the throes of depression like this. He wanted to help her overcome this, but what could he possibly do?

Other than loosen some of her accouterments. That could easily be taken wrong.

“Princess Luna has just returned from a thousand year banishment. She’s going to need help adjusting to the modern Equestria,” Bean murmured under his breath as he recalled Shining’s words. “Who better than the most common of commoners?”

Luna sniffled when Bean moved to her side, but she gave him a curious glance when he placed the tray of food down in front of her, and then laid down by her side. “Husband? What are you doing?”

“I think I know how you feel,” he said softly. “Or, at least I do a little bit, maybe. Both of us have been shoved into an unfamiliar world, and we’re trying to figure out what we’re supposed to do now that everything is different. So, maybe we can help each other figure out what to do together?”

“And how do you propose we do that?”

“Well, how about something like a trade?” he offered softly. “I can teach you about modern things like records and dating, and you can teach me about something.” Bean’s eyes drifted from her face to her neck, and a hoof reached out and gently touched the Consort’s Collar that she wore. “Like this. Why are you wearing all of this? Is it some sort of ancient standard or something?”

“Do you truly wish to know?” Luna asked, a spark of hope in her eyes.

“Yeah. I’ve always enjoyed learning about history, and who better to teach me about it than somepony who actually lived during the events?”

“You need to speak with my sister, then. I have been absent for much of Equestria’s history,” Luna said with a small grin. “But if you wish it, I can share what I know.”

“It wouldn’t have to be just history, either. Since it seems like I’m going to be stuck here, you can teach me how to be a royal, or maybe you can show me how you raise your moon, or even what I’m supposed to do with an entire harem of thestrals. But I think both of us will adjust to our new lives better if we try to work together.” He smiled, but then frowned and shrunk back. “Oh, but only if you want to, of course.”

Luna appeared to think the offer over, but then her wing reached out and wrapped over Bean. “I believe we can come to some sort of an agreement. It would be nice to have a trusted guide to help me understand this strange new world.”

* * * *

Princess Celestia drew in a deep breath as she tread the familiar path to her chambers. The day had been emotionally draining, and she was eager to forget her problems for a few hours while in the embrace of slumber.

Hopefully tonight would provide some actual rest, but she knew that wish would go unanswered. For the last year, her nights had grown increasingly restless as she contemplated and anticipated her sister’s return, and when she had sent her most faithful student to Ponyville, sleep had fled completely. The unexpected marriage to Baked Bean had only added fuel to the sleepless fire, and with this new batpony complication, it was likely that the insomnia would now be fanned into a roaring bonfire.

Her hooves stopped as she reached her sister’s bedroom, and she stared at the nocturnal themed door that was slightly ajar. Luna had again absconded with Baked Bean, but Celestia felt that having the two of them… do whatever it was they were doing would be the best way to help her sister adjust to modern life.

She would never tell Cadence or Luna, but Baked Bean’s forced marriage had actually saved Celestia from a larger problem that she had not wanted to deal with. Had Nightmare Moon not invoked the Oath Tripartite, Shining Armor would have been forced into a marriage with Luna, and her sister would have claimed her new husband with the same haste—and the same forcefulness—that she had with Baked Bean.

Celestia shuddered when she thought of what could have happened when Cadence would naturally refuse to share, just as she had refused to share with the batponies. Shining Armor was indeed one healthy hunk of hubba-hubba, but Celestia really did not want to know what would happen if Cadence were to travel the same path as Nightmare Moon. With Bean, Luna’s ancient notions of relationships and love could be satisfied while keeping Shining Armor firmly in the hooves of her beloved but possessive niece. Baked Bean was as easy to read as an open book, with large print and full color illustrations, and Celestia knew Bean would keep his relationship with the Princess of Love purely professional, thus allowing Shining and Cadence to have the relationship they would have had before in every way except in name.

Celestia couldn’t resist taking a peek into the room, and she smiled slightly when she saw her younger sister stretched out on a pile of pillows in the middle of her room, peacefully slumbering with the new prince by her side and under her wing. A pleased warmth spread outward from her chest at the sight, and in that moment, her gratitude for the meddlesome yellow stallion grew by several degrees. Shining Armor was a wonderful, faithful, and devoted stallion, but his personality would have clashed with Luna’s, since each were used to issuing orders without questions and receiving prompt results. Cadence was a mellowing agent to Shining, and Bean was proving to be the same for Luna.

The smile began to fade as Celestia’s mind traveled back to when Star Struck had been alive. Their first husband had been a calming influence on the brash and impetuous Luna as well, and the love he shared with the younger princess had been so strong that Celestia still felt guilty for inserting herself into their marriage.

She would never say it, but deep inside, Celestia had felt some jealousy over their relationship. A hoof slowly went to her lips as she contemplated for a moment what it would be like to have a special somepony in her own life, and for a brief moment, her entire demeanor sagged slightly in depression.

Despite all of the titles, honors, and accolades she had received through the years, it was again made clear that there were some things that the Grand Princess of Equestria would never possess.

Celestia fought back a tear and turned away from the room. There were far better things to concern herself with, and she obviously was not tending to them properly if she had time to pout over her fate. She quickly strode away, convinced that if puzzling out a solution to the batpony concubine problem didn’t take her mind off herself, a ream or two of paperwork certainly would do the trick.

Had her musings not distracted her, she might have noticed that there was one pony who was not as asleep as he appeared to be at a glance. She probably would have seen him watching her through one half-opened eye, and if she had taken one last look before walking away, she definitely would have seen the millstones beginning to grind in her new husband’s head.

And with her centuries of experience, she would have easily noticed that he was trying to figure out what help he could possibly offer to her, since he was her husband, too.

* * * *

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