When they first met, Tifa fully expected this kind of behavior -- a lot more often than it's actually materialized, in fact -- and also expected to have no patience with it. They'd been traveling on foot, Aerith had fallen behind, and Tifa, the first to notice her absence, had to backtrack to look for her, only to find her, oblivious and content, sitting in the middle of a field of flowers.
And it's true, Tifa huffs a mildly exasperated sigh. But she also walks through the field, picking her way carefully to avoid disturbing the local flora and fauna too much, and drops to her knees next to Aerith, who just smiles at her and says, "Just in time."
"In time for what?" But she can already tell. Aerith's weaving a wreath of flowers; daisies and clover, as far as Tifa can tell, purple flowers that might be violets, yellow things -- black-eyed susans, she thinks -- and something red she can't identify. Tifa smiles, working the fighter's gloves off her hands, watching Aerith's nimble fingers at work. It looks a bit like she's braiding them.
"I remember making flower chains when I was little," she says. "Not like yours. Really simple ones."
"What did you do?"
"Can I show you?" Aerith nods, not really looking up from her work -- she's turning the chain into a ring, a wreath, and the final step seems to be a bit tricky. Tifa plucks a few clover that Aerith hadn't touched, and uses one fingernail to partially split the stem. The stem of the next flower goes through that, then she makes a slit in that stem, too.
"Lift your head just a bit," Aerith says, and when Tifa looks up, the garland is suddenly plopped onto her head, a surprising weight, rustling and fragrant. She's not sure if she's smelling flowers, or just freshness, nature, and spring. Aerith scents, all of them. "Now you're the queen," Aerith says.
"You should be wearing this," Tifa says. "I'm a city girl, remember?"
"You came from the mountains first," Aerith says. "You told me. I'm the one who never saw the sky growing up, not you."
"I'm still not the... I don't know, flower queen."
"You're my queen," Aerith says. "But I can make one for myself if you insist."
"I do," Tifa says. "By... royal command. Or something."
Aerith laughs, which Tifa has been discovering is far and away her favorite sound in the world, and gets up to pick more flowers. Tifa turns her attention to the grass around her, looking carefully so she won't disturb her crown. She can't make anything like that, but she can make her own kind of crown for Aerith, one that's nearly done by the time Aerith returns with her arms full of flowers, yellow and blue and pink. Tifa has an idea, and starts plucking clover leaves, tucking them in next to the flower heads, almost absently, while she watches Aerith select flowers from her haul, braiding and tucking and occasionally humming snatches of a song Tifa's never heard.
"It's a Cetra song," Aerith says, out of the blue; Tifa has a moment's disorientation, wondering if she'd asked aloud. "My mother used to sing it to me, when I was little. My bio-mom, I mean. She didn't remember all the words, and I remember even fewer, but I'll never forget the tune."
"I can see why. It's beautiful."
"It's just a lullaby. I wish I knew more of the things I should have learned when I was older. Culture and history and everything." She shakes her head; her hands have never stopped moving. "But it's true. It is a beautiful song."
Tifa can't say anything; her throat's aching and tight, frozen shut with the memory of her own mother, her father, with the image of a seven-year-old Aerith who knew her mother was hurt but not why. She wants to say something, she should say something, but she can't, so she pushes herself off the ground and drapes her crown of clover over Aerith's head. It's just a little too big, and falls down over one eye, but Aerith's smiling at her, surprised and delighted, and surges forward to kiss her, the half-finished second crown of flowers draping over Tifa's shoulder. They both overbalance and half fall over, Aerith laughing, Tifa trying to squirm off the flower braid to make sure it's okay.
"They're just flowers," Aerith says. "There are plenty more here, and the plants will keep going without them."
"But all your hard work..." Several of the flowers are bruised or crushed, much to Tifa's dismay.
"I do this just for fun! Tifa, stop worrying for a little while, okay?"
Tifa wants to object -- there are just so many reasons to worry -- but the sun is shining, and Aerith's on top of her, smiling and trying to kiss her back into good humor, and it's hard to worry right then.