Cloud brings sad tidings to Elmyra.
Still, burying her head in the sand would only delay the inevitable, so Elmyra pasted on her best smile and opened the door. "Good afternoon--Cloud, wasn't it?"
He nodded. "Good afternoon, Elmyra." His voice was as somber as his face.
She stepped back, holding the door open. "Won't you come in? I can fix some tea."
"Thank you." He came in and stood awkwardly just inside the door. "I can't stay, but there's something I needed to tell you."
She folded her hands in front of her. "About Aeris?"
She had expected a solemn reply, the polite and terse speech of a military commander delivering unfortunate news to a soldier's family. She was not prepared for the grief that washed through his expression, or the way he turned his face away. "She...Sephiroth killed her, in the City of the Ancients."
Elmyra sat down hard, nearly missing the edge of the chair. "Why?"
Cloud paced along the edge of the room. "Sephiroth wanted to call Meteor. He had obtained the Black Materia..."
"And Aeris was going to stop him with Holy." Elmyra sighed.
Cloud nodded. "I'm sorry."
"Once Aeris made up her mind, there was no stopping her." Elmyra pushed back a few strands of hair that had come loose and were tickling her forehead.
"I..." Cloud's stance turned awkward, defensive, arms crossed over his chest and head tilted downward. "We destroyed Sephiroth."
She nodded. There didn't seem to be much else to say. "Thank you for telling me."
He muttered a brusque response, a hasty goodbye, and left her house in a rush. Elmyra sat for a long time in her kitchen, which seemed echoingly empty now. No longer would she hear Aeris's bright chatter, or see her cups and glasses and every vase in the house filled to bursting with vibrant flowers Aeris could coax out of the most unlikely soil.
The clatter of small feet on the staircase preceded Marlene into the room. The child stopped short when she saw Elmyra sitting at the table with her head in her hands. "Miss Elmyra? Are you okay?"
Elmyra forced a smile onto her face. She could grieve later. For now, there was another child to care for. "Just sad, Marlene. Come, let's go water the flowers."