The castle was abuzz with activity, the Waddle Dees carrying platters of food to and fro, and tripping over their own feet as they attempted to put up decorations. It wasn't Dedede's birthday, nor were they expecting a visit from a queen- but rather, from their very own Fumu who was returning home after so many years away.

She had been ecstatic to learn she'd been accepted at one of Popstar's most prestigious universities. But it was far away- far enough that she would need to live there while she attended. It had been a painful time as she said her goodbyes to her family, to Kirby, and everyone else she held dear. But it was an opportunity she simply could not ignore.

Now, four years later she was scheduled to return home. She had written to her family and friends dutifully while she was gone, and had mentioned she had a surprise in her most recent letter.

Parm and Memu ran about in a near panic, trying to ensure everything would be perfect for their daughter's arrival. Dedede had, miraculously, decided to keep his nose out of things (but only after Memu had threatened his well-being.)

Kirby could hardly contain himself. It had been so long since he'd seen her. Life without her had been hard for him, as she had always been such an important person to him.

Distancing himself from all the fuss, one figure stood high in one of the castle's towers, observing everything that went on. Sir Meta Knight's cape fluttered in the cool breeze as he stood precariously on the battlements. He held a small, simply wrapped box under one arm. It was only proper, he though, to have a gift prepared. It was nothing fancy.

He had known Fumu for some time, he thought. To him it felt like only yesterday that he found himself face-to-face for the first time with a temperamental little girl who took one look at him and declared that 'He was too short and round to be a real knight.'

He checked the position of the sun. It was almost time for her to arrive. He didn't want to be among the group that met her at the entrance- instead he would find time to talk to her later. He turned around and headed downstairs.

Fumu had arrived just on time, and was more than a little embarrassed at all the attention.

She had grown up. In only a few short years she'd nearly transformed. She had grown to resemble her mother in ways, but she had a completely different presence. Frightfully intelligent, confident, determined, though with a better control over her infamous temper, and still compassionate towards those who needed her help.

She had decided to pursue a career as a teacher, specializing in math and various sciences. Everyone at the dining table, including various people from the village, had oohed and aahed as she presented her diploma. It was such a rare thing to see, but not surprising for one such as her.

Meta Knight avoided all the initial festivities, except for sneaking food from the platters the Waddle Dees were carrying. He waited quite some time until later that evening, out on one of the balconies. It wasn't long before he heard footsteps.

"I knew you'd be up here somewhere," she said. She sat on the stone ledge, and Meta Knight stood on it next to her so he could be at eye-level.

"Sorry for getting taller than you," she laughed. Her hair curled around to frame her face. She'd grown it longer and wore it loose, a clip securing it near the bottom. She didn't wear makeup like her mother either. "So I had heard things were always pretty peaceful while I was gone…"

He nodded. "Dedede tried a few things, but I think he found it less interesting without you to try to foil him."

"I bet you must have been bored."

"Oh, I always have things to do," he lied. He was often simply content with doing nothing, to be honest. "How does it feel to be back?"

"Good," she said, leaning back slightly. "It feels… well, like I'm home, you know? I thought I would have to get used to the castle again, but everything feels just right."

"Was getting used to the school difficult?"

She nodded. "Definitely. I mean… I'd never been outside of this country before. There were so many people, and it was so big… It was right next to a huge city… But you've probably seen things even more fantastic than that." She paused for a moment, her voice quieter. "I really missed everyone. I wrote all the time, but not being able to see you all was hard… I never really thought about all these little things until they weren't there anymore… Like Bun's roughhousing, always having to worry about Dedede, or having to eat your meals fast before Kirby ate it for you…" She paused again, smiling a little.

"Hm?" He looked over at her.

"And… well, it's kind of silly, but… the way you just sort of show up," she said with an embarrassed laugh. "Just… whenever I was having a problem or I was in trouble, I'd always think in the back of my mind that you'd just show up like always. Of course, you never did… but I could never shake the feeling…" She looked down at her hands, folded in her lap.

Meta Knight felt a twinge of worry. "Did something happen?" He wasn't sure why he suddenly thought that, but he didn't want to think that something had happened to her when she had no one to protect her.

"Hm? Oh! No, no…" She laughed as she realized what he meant, waving her hand in the air. "I was never hurt or anything. Well, once when I fell and hurt my arm, but nothing serious. Don't worry…" She smiled. "I guess I never really noticed how much you always helped me back then. Or thanked you enough."

"You don't need to. It was just the right thing to do."

She sat back, giving him a look. "You never did it for anyone else."

He turned away slightly. "…Most others aren't worth bothering with. They would just get themselves in trouble again."

Fumu laughed. "You haven't changed a bit, have you?"

"Four years isn't that long for me. You've changed quite a bit, in comparison."

"Have I? I guess I must have…" She shook her head and looked up at the darkening sky. "I'm going to probably teach here, first. Set up a real school for the Cappies… They need it."

"Indeed." She laughed again at that. "And after that?"

She shrugged a little. "I want to travel more. I've only seen the rest of Popstar in books… I want to see it for myself. But maybe I can take Kirby and Bun with me? I'm sure that they'd love it."

He nodded. "I'd like to see more of Popstar myself. I've been in this country for years, and I think it's starting to get it me…"

They were both quiet for a moment, but it was the kind free from awkwardness that only happened between close friends. More than anyone else he knew at this time, he could say he found himself most comfortable with her. And even more so now that she was an adult. She didn't seem as impetuous and spoiled as she often was as a child- for that he was grateful. He felt a kind of connection that he'd previously only shared with a select few of his fellow soldiers.

Meta Knight suddenly remembered the gift he had, reaching into his cape to retrieve it. "Oh… I had heard you mentioned some surprise you were going to tell everyone. Did you?"

"You weren't at the dinner?" she asked. He shook his head. "I told everyone there. I thought my mom would faint…" She laughed and held out her hand, revealing the glittering gold and blue ring adorning it.

"I'm engaged."

Meta Knight didn't really understand the sudden feeling that overcame him, drowning out his senses momentarily. He knew full well he should feel happy for her, and yet… Regret, disappointment, a confusing flare of anger. But he showed no outward sign except his unusually long pause after Fumu's announcement.

"…That's wonderful," he said. His voice didn't sound right to his ears. He had to force himself to say anything.

She apparently hadn't noticed, smiling radiantly and admiring the ring. "I met him in my first year. He always helped me out, I think I would have been lost there without him… I was so amazed when he proposed. He wasn't able to come with me because of his job, but he plans on coming here to help with my teaching. I'd really like to have the ceremony here too… I really can't wait."

He wasn't really able to focus on her excited flurry of words, feeling almost numb. He only nodded, suddenly thankful that his mask hid his expression.

He slipped down off the ledge and turned to her. "Fumu, I'm truly happy for you. I'm glad you found the person you want to spend your life with."

Fumu smiled. "Thanks, that's nice of you…. Need to get going?"

He nodded, and as typical of him, left without another word.

She watched him leave, a little confused. There had been a strange flicker to his eyes, the color looked wrong… But she knew better than to try asking him what was bothering him.

Meta Knight was halfway to his room when he realized he hadn't given her his gift. But it didn't matter, he thought. He couldn't compete with what she had.

A/N: Change of pace for me, eh? This of course isn't directly connected to any other story I've done, just sort of a one-shot off on it's own. Still debating whether or not to continue or if I should do a different story with em...

Yeah, been converted to the idea of a MKxFumu pairing. It just makes a weird sort of sense- but only with Fumu older:D Gotta admit it's better than pairing MK up with some retarded Mary Sue self insert. :