An apology such as the one Grima planned to give wasn't one that could be given offhandedly. "Sorry for all the death and destruction, have a good lunch" would ring hollow and only aggravate the wounds that had already been opened. For both their sake and her own, Grima had asked the summoner to help her broker what was essentially a peace treaty between her and the people of Ylisse, with Chrom, his queen Robin, and their daughter Lucina as their representatives. (The male Robin had bowed out of the negotiations - he felt that, his world having had to deal with an entirely different Grima, it would not be appropriate to accept any apology on their behalf, no more than it'd make sense for him to apologize for the female Robin's actions. Morgan, meanwhile, was not remotely equipped for any such discussion.) The summoner was all too eager to help, always excited as she was to see the Heroes "bonding", and together with Alfonse and Sharena arranged for the use of one of Askr's conference rooms as the setting for Grima's apology.
Grima sized herself up in her room's mirror. She wanted to present herself well for the meeting, both out of a sense of pride but also out of a hope that she could somehow... look earnest? Dress apologetic? She wasn't sure what she wanted exactly, let alone if it was possible. And yet she attempted anyways, pulling her hair into a variety of arrangements. Something she had inherited from the previous owner of the body - the nascent proto-Robin, she reminded herself - was a preference for the long pigtails she normally wore her hair in, but considering how touchy of a subject that was already going to be, she decided to do anything to break the symmetry between herself and Robin. But what did that leave her? A ponytail seemed too casual, an updo too uptight, her hair down...
"Hey, Grima?" Olivia pushed open the door to Grima's room, sticking her head in. "You just about ready? It's almost time."
Grima sighed, letting her hair down and taking herself in. "I don't know if I can be ready."
"Hey, you've got this, honey." Olivia entered the room, gently closing the door behind her. "Chrom is possibly the nicest person in the world. And once you win him over, you'll get everyone else in time."
"I know, it's just... that's exactly the problem. I've probably hurt him more than anyone else. How can I possibly give him an apology that'll make things right?"
Olivia took Grima's hands in her own. "Okay, so some perspective here. That literally can't be true, because of everyone else. That you killed. People talk a big game but killing someone stings a lot more than hurting them, it turns out."
Grima chuckled before she had a sudden realization and cut herself off. "That's exactly the kind of joke I'm not allowed to laugh at during the conference, is it."
"Definitely not," Olivia confirmed, patting Grima's hand in reassurance. "Let's get the dark humour out now."
"I think I'll pass. Gods, I have killed so many people, haven't I?"
"That's the other thing," Olivia continued, brushing her hand against Grima's cheek. "No apology is ever going to make up for some of the things you've done. Dead people are going to be dead, no matter what."
Grima took a deep breath. "All too true, unfortunately. So my goal isn't to make up for all of that in one go, is it."
Olivia shook her head. "You said it yourself when we were planning this originally. This is a peace treaty as much as it is an apology. What you choose to apologize for is what you're promising not to do again."
Grima turned to face Olivia, her head tilted. "That's a curious level of insight. Have you helped war criminals apologize in the past?"
Olivia giggled. "That's just what I tell small misbehaving children when they're insisting they don't need to apologize, actually."
"I'm not sure I appreciate the insinuation," Grima countered with a scoff.
"And I'm not sure that you have much more social experience than them yet." Olivia grinned teasingly, before her face and voice softened. "You've got this, Grima. I believe in you."
Grima closed her eyes and focused on her breathing. "... thank you, dear. I'll do what I can to make you proud."
When Grima entered the room, the Ylissean delegation, as it were, were already seated there. Chrom was clad in the gleaming white regalia of the Exalt, shining with a kingly radiance that betrayed his nobility even if his manner didn't. Robin was wearing the armor and robes of a Grandmaster, showing her military rank in addition to the noble one she held by virtue of marrying the Exalt. And Lucina, brave Lucina, was clad in her blue breastplate and pauldrons, no official uniform but one demonstrating her strength.
Grima almost felt self-conscious as she approached her seat on the opposite end of the table, wearing only her usual robes. It had not occurred to her that without her draconic form, she just presented as... human. And compared to the others, 'just human' didn't feel like enough.
"You know, I didn't quite believe it when I first heard it," Robin said half-mockingly as Grima sat down in the too-tall-for-any-of-them chairs. "The Fell Dragon Grima, offering to extend a personal apology? If it weren't for the summoner's word, I would have assumed this to be a trap."
Oh, please. I wouldn't need a trap to take out all of you, Grima emphatically did not say. "Just the opposite. I'm hoping that putting myself out here, alone in front of you in neutral territory, will help emphasize that I'm coming to you in good faith."
"If only that were the case, Grima," Chrom sadly replied, shaking his head. "But we've already been betrayed by your people's 'good faith' before. We can do nothing but be on guard against your deceit."
Internally, Grima grimaced. She should have anticipated something like this coming up, but... "I'm sorry to say, but I don't know what you're talking about."
Chrom scoffed. "You mean to play innocent, here at your confession? Validar played us like fools and sent us against Walhart's armies in his own place, putting his two greatest enemies at each other's throats while he lined up the knife for our backs."
Grima closed her eyes and sighed. "I'm sorry that happened to you. Unfortunately, my followers did many horrible things in my name, and I cannot profess to know all of them, let alone to apologize for each of them."
"Is that so? Then we're done here," Chrom declared, standing up from the table, taking Robin's hand as he did.
Grima thought she was the one to say that, standing up to reach out as she did, but to the side Lucina had joined her as well, grabbing her father's arm. "Just wait, father. We at least owe her the decency of hearing her out..." Lucina asked, trailing off.
As Grima marveled at why Lucina might be intervening on her behalf, Chrom's eyes narrowed, but he made no move to escape. "Do we? Grima has done more harm to our world than anyone else, either directly or indirectly. It was only out of the kindness of my heart I even agreed to come here, but if she won't admit that she in some way caus-"
"Now hold on," Grima said, interrupting. "I haven't said any such thing."
Chrom, interrupted midword, turned to stare at Grima, before closing his mouth and sitting down once more. "Then explain yourself."
"When I say that I don't know what my followers did, I did not mean it to avoid judgment," Grima answered, swallowing her fears. "I say that to emphasize my guilt in the matter. I had my sights set on one purpose and one only - my revival. And in that singlemindedness, I failed to recognize the horrors I was letting perpetuate." Grima stood from her chair and took a deep bow towards Chrom. "For that, I beg your forgiveness, and I promise to never again let my shortsightedness compromise the safety of the rest of the world."
Chrom drummed his fingers on the table as he thought. "Can I accept that, though? The rest of your followers perished for their crimes in time. Why should you, who led them and created the environment that they thrived in, get off?"
"Well, um," Robin interrupted with a cough. "Gangrel's still alive, actually."
"Well, yes, but he said himself he was acting on his own," Chrom countered, waving off Robin's concerns. "He'll be held accountable on his own time."
"And Aversa. Aversa's also still alive."
"Uh," Chrom hesitated. "She was a special case. Brainwashing and all that."
"And Walhart did all sorts of things, and-"
"Okay, okay, honey! I get it, okay?" Chrom finally conceded. "I suppose if Grima is truly willing to make amends, then I can offer her a second chance."
"And I don't intend to come here merely offering empty promises," Grima finally continued as she sat down. "I'll also be accepting yearly reviews, even while here in Askr, from Tiki herself, or any other investigator you deem appropriate, to make sure that I'm not once again secretly organizing an army."
Chrom raised his hand to his face and turned to his wife. "Hey, Robin, that's a good deal, right?" he attempted to quietly whisper to her. Robin nodded vigorously, and Chrom turned back to Grima. "That will be acceptable. We'll draft a proper treaty once we're out of here and back in Ylisse."
Grima smiled, but inside she felt hollow. She had a feeling that she never could return to Ylisse - not only because of what it represented to her, but also to the all too likely possibility that if she returned she would find history catching up to her and killing her dead once and for all. But she had no reason to tell Chrom that, here and now. It would dilute the meaning of her apology if they knew that these negotiations meant little in the long term. She just wanted to help them live with the memories of her own sins.
"And to you, Robin," she continued, as Robin's eyes opened in surprise. "This is the more difficult apology, as I unquestionably murdered you by shoving out your soul from this body."
Robin nodded in agreement. "Though I'm honestly more upset about the time you possessed me and made me stab my husband."
"That one I do remember. I could explain why I did it, but that isn't going to change the fact that I've personally persecuted you more than anyone else. I failed to respect the dignity of human life in general, but I unquestionably did not respect the dignity of your life in particular. For that," Grima said, bowing her head, "I am sorry. Nothing I promise will help here, as I did what I did for a specific goal - saving my own life. I cannot pretend that I'd be able to ignore my one chance at survival."
"Well," Robin answered with a grin. "Just don't sacrifice children, and don't kill people who are trying to stop you from sacrificing children. That's all I want."
Grima laughed. "That should be one of the easier promises I'll ever keep, thought that wouldn't have been true even a year ago." And with that, Grima turned to the last of the delegation. "Lucina... I know I did horrible things to you. I don't know what they were, however. My memory of that entire time period is... a fog," Grima said with a groan, gripping her head a frustration. "I can only conclude from the stories I've heard that I unleashed hell upon your world. I can only say that I've formed too many new friendships to do that again."
Lucina... smiled? "I came to peace with that time a long time ago by my own hands," she answered. "And it seems to me that all the loose ends there have been wrapped up and tossed away into the tides of the universe. Personally, I'd prefer to just leave them there."
Grima stared. "Why are you so forgiving to me? I may have killed both Chrom and Robin, but from what I've heard the old me tortured you in unimaginable ways. How could you let this go?"
"Because I know what it's like to be the last survivor," she answered cryptically. "And I understand that personal feelings can all too easily get in the way of what's good."
Grima raised an eyebrow in confusion, but said nothing. She'd think on those words more later.
"I do have one request of you, however," Lucina continued. "Could you... dye your hair, or something? Even with a different hairstyle you still look uncomfortably like my mom."
Robin nodded. "It's like looking into an alternate reality mirror. Well, I suppose it is, but."
Chrom laughed. "Gods, I hadn't considered that before but you're right, it is extremely unsettling the more I look at you."
"I'm sorry, father, did you somehow not notice before that Grima was wearing our mother's skin?" For the harsh words she said, however, Lucina was clearly in a lighter mood than she was previously. "Talk about a social faux pas, showing up to a peace conference wearing the same skin."
"I've had larger things on my mind! You know I can't think of two things at once," Chrom joked.
Grima couldn't help but join in the fun, seeing their joy. "Would it help if I just," and Grima took a few embers of dark flame and traced out a big G on her own forehead. "There you go! G for Grima." At that, the whole Ylissean royal family laughed, and Grima smiled as the flames dissipated. "I will see what I can do about making this body my own, though. I don't want to be Grima in Robin's body. I want to be Grima, body and soul."
Chrom smiled. "I can't think of any other requests, then. This isn't enough to make up for what you've done - not by any means. But hopefully this can be the beginning of a new relationship, one built on trust, that we can build upon and create a better future." He extended his hand to Grima. "I accept your apology, Grima."
Grima took it in her own and gave a firm shake. "That's all I ask for."
Even with the newfound peace between them, Grima did not want to spend more time conversing with the Ylissean royalty. They had gone through an emotional time in there, as surely as she, and for both their sakes she decided to spend time on her own. Accepting her apology was one thing, but being friends would - it would take a lot more time, at the very least. So as they retired to their quarters to change into simpler clothes and celebrate their final victory over Grima, Grima decided to retire to somewhere else to think about what had passed.
Namely, the roof of the castle, where Grima laid as she stared at the sky. There were no stairways up to where she rested, no access for anyone to bother her. Just her, the stars, the moon, and her thoughts. And even her thoughts seemed to abandon her here - so many loose ends of her life had been tied up. She was alive. She had apologized for her sins. She realized they were sins. Her list of enemies had gone from all of humanity to - no one. For once in her life, she had nothing to fear. What she wanted wasn't power, in the end - just freedom.
"Um, Lady Grima?" came a voice from her side. Grima turned her head to see Myrrh, slowly gliding down to the castle roof from a nighttime flight. "Are you alright?"
"Hey, kiddo," Grima said, lazily greeting her. "Honestly? For the first time ever, I am."
Myrrh smiled as she softly landed and sat down next to Grima, cross-legged. "I'm very happy to hear that. That's good news."
"You're telling me." Grima turned back to stare up at the moon.
"I see you've been spending a lot of time talking to everyone here, you know," Myrrh said, mumbling as she lost her confidence halfway through the sentence.
"I have. It's been... illuminating, to say the least."
"You know... you said you were going to kill everyone, someday, back when we last talked up here." Grima turned to face Myrrh, who was now shyly staring at the ground and wringing her hands. "You said you weren't going to for a while yet, but... I've been worried that you might change your mind."
Grima blinked in surprise, then laughed. "Gods, I did say that, didn't I? Don't worry," Grima said, waving off Myrrh's worry. "I have changed my mind. I'm no longer going to kill any more good people, ever."
Myrrh's eyes widened in delight. "Really? You mean it?"
Grima nodded. "It turns out there's just too many good people around. Killing them would just be rude."
Myrrh nodded emphatically in agreement. "Definitely. Very rude."
"And people just... deserve to live. I didn't realize that, before."
Myrrh's grin seemed so wide as to hop off her face. "I'm really happy you think that too, Grima. I love people so much."
Grima thought of Olivia. "I do too, kiddo."