Edit: whoops, posted this one twice in one doc. Thanks for the heads up, kind anon! :)
During the autumn season, when the leaves changed their colors and the air was crisp, they finally arrived in Wutai.
There wasn't much time to look around. Yuffie had made that certain when she yanked their materia and ran off. Cloud was notpleased, and chasing the girl around the unfamiliar town put most of the group in a bad mood. It was only once they spoke to Godo, got their materia back, and left his house that they noticed the jovial air in the town.
The Autumn Festival was starting, and they needed a break. This was the perfect time for it.
Yuffie had tried to convince the group they didn't have to put on traditional Wutai dress. It's so stiff and boring, she whined. However, there was no stopping Aerith, and then Tifa, when they discovered just how cute the outfits were. It was with great reluctance that she introduced them to some of the older women in town. They immediately converged on the group, chattering in Wutaiian as they ushered most of the group inside one of their houses.
After all was said and done, the girls found themselves dressed to the nines, flowers woven through their hair. Though she wouldn't admit it out loud, Tifa hoped Cloud would notice her, maybe compliment her. She was a little disappointed as he stared at her, a little wide eyed, then turned away without a word. She had no idea he just couldn't come up with anything to say to tell her that she looked beautiful.
Aerith had no such reservations.
"Aren't youall lucky," she stated with a smile, looping an arm through Cloud's. "You get to escort the three prettiest girls here."
Nobody could argue with that. Even Yuffie looked pretty in a delicate way, despite her sullen expression. An expression that quickly disappeared as she remembered just how fun Wutai could be during a party.
"Hey, there's a bunch of games and stuff! Let's play. I bet I can beat your ass at one of them, old man." Her challenge to Cid was met with a smirk.
"Bring it on, midget."
As they trotted off, arguing about which game to start, Cloud looked around at their group at a loss. Chasing Sephiroth and traveling with little breaks was something he knew how to handle. Relaxing and having fun hadn't been on his agenda in...well, he couldn't actually say how long, but it'd been a long time.
Barret was quick to spy stalls that sold many cute things, and with Marlene on his mind made a beeline to them. Nanaki was being accosted by the local children, calm as they petted him and pulled on his mane. Tifa gave him a curious look and he shrugged. "They're inquistive. I don't mind, really," he said, his head jerked to the right as a young girl pulled on one of his braids.
Vincent had vanished. Aerith looked around, trying to spot his red cloak and finally giving up after a few minutes.
So it came down to the three of them, Cloud looking over the crowd with a serious expression on his face, and Tifa looking at Cloud with an expression of quiet longing. Aerith sighed heavily at the pair. They were her friends, she loved them both dearly, but they needed to let go and have fun at least for a night.
"Come on you two," her arm was still looped through Cloud's as she grabbed Tifa's wrist with her free hand. "I've never been to one of these, and I want to see everything."
They both always found it hard to say no to Aerith, especially when she got that gleam in her eye. So they allowed themselves to be lead into the heart of the celebration, trying to put aside their troubles for a night.
How Cloud managed to get caught up in the parade that happened later...well, that is a story for another time.