Disclaimer: GrimGrimoire is the property of Vanillaware and Nippon Ichi software. Rating is for suggestive themes.

Little Love

Amoretta could sometimes remember being an angel. She often recalled it in her moments of greatest confinement, resting in her flask. With her knees to her chest, the alchemical solution bubbling around her, suspended between sleep and awareness, she remembered the sky. Not the blue smog and white drifts her classmates admired on a "nice day". Amoretta dreamed of interlocking rings of stars, the light of the suns, the red heart of the universe.

Then Amoretta opened her eyes, and though the castle's corridors were lit with many torches, they seemed dark. Though her mind was at its sharpest, she remembered nothing.

Creator called her a Homunculus, a man made by man. A perfect Homunculus with an angel's soul at its core. He told her of angels, nameless, spiritual beings of great power, just as he instructed her how to eat and dress herself. Amoretta studied her pale hands, fingers fanned like rays, the map of blue veins beneath her inner wrist. She could no longer alter the course of a planet with only a thought. Now she must strain new muscles just to stand. Seeing herself in a mirror for the first time, she saw that the light of her soul was dimmed behind the smoky panes Creator called "eyes". Humans themselves were imperfect. Nothing they could imagine could be perfect.

Once, she'd needed no name. Now Creator called her Amoretta. He told her the syllables had a meaning, "little love". An endearment for someone's darling.

Amoretta knew what love meant, strength and courage and persevering. But she'd never heard of endearment.

The first time Creator let her step outside of the laboratory and walk through the castle, Amoretta noticed how everyone stared at her. It wasn't until she'd lived among humans for several days that she saw she was the only one being stared at; the students and teachers spoke together, laughing or attending lectures. Amoretta had spoken only to Creator.

A devil seethed within the castle, coming so close to the laboratory that he disturbed Amoretta's sleep. She writhed, her soul longing to destroy her natural enemy while her new body shrank from assault. The devil knew she was his adversary, but her body made her a creature to overcome, not destroy. But it was the devil, not Creator, that made her wonder if she had really been an angel, made her long to understand her former power as completely as her human weakness. She taught herself not to cringe.

Amoretta came to understand the devil's lust, but not always the furtive glances the male students cast at her. They did not teach her, as Creator did. They did not laugh with her, as they did with each other. They hardly spoke to her. They looked.

Amoretta couldn't understand why Creator would be different, why he wouldn't want the same thing. And, she reasoned, why else would he have snared her inside Eve's body? But when she offered herself, Creator grew flustered, and she could tell it was as much from pity as chagrin.

She doubted she'd been pitied as an angel. And she didn't want it as a Homunculus. If Creator didn't want her for her body, what did he want her for?

"I made you so you can enjoy life now on earth," Creator tried to explain, though Amoretta guessed scientific curiosity had been just as important. "You can laugh, and help people, and love."

Love. Humans were fond of the word; they used it for so many things that Amoretta wasn't sure it held any meaning.

Little love.

How then did Creator love her? Did anyone?

In the library one morning, she came across Bartido bent over a grimoire and scribbling across a parchment. When he saw her, he capsized the book in surprise, shoving it under his vest in the same motion. "Whoa! Startled me! Heh. J-just writing a letter to my family."

Amoretta frowned. She was never sure which questions were best to ask. Maybe she should wait to ask Creator? "'Family'?"

"Yeah." Bartido nodded several times, staring at her chest. "Oh yeah, you wouldn't know." He pulled his eyes up to her face; being Creator's protégé, he understood Homunculi better than the other students. "You know, my mom and dad. My mother and father." He jerked the letter out of her sight; all Amoretta saw was that it had a heavy-looking seal. "My mom gave birth to me, and my dad - well-" He laughed shakily. "Better not give you that talk. At least, not just yet." He grinned, and Amoretta felt that she'd missed something else a human would have understood. "Anyway, my dad, he's like an authority figure. Kind of like the professors here."

Amoretta frowned thoughtfully and left the library without a good-bye. That evening, she asked Creator if he were her father. Creator rumbled in his throat and stroked his mane and said, maybe, in a way, he was. But she need not feel obligated to him because of it.

Amoretta stared at her unfamiliar hands. "If I am not obligated to you, then what am I here for?"

Creator watched her study her new body. "Perhaps it is not you who should feel obligated."

On the first cold day of the year, Amoretta wandered the castle's hallways over and over. She had never been even slightly cold before, and the chill was making it harder than usual to concentrate on her studies. A hallway off the laboratory seemed warmer; she could sense heat radiating from the woodwork, so she turned down it. The hallway was deep in the castle, away from all windows, but there were lighted braziers. Amoretta put her hands up to warm them, but she realized the greater heat came from further down the hall. The steady light from the torches combined with the deep doorways and many picture frames to make the hallway a path of right-angled light and shadow. Amoretta could faintly see her reflection in the veneered doors.

She took a few steps forward, but even that short distance made heat press against her skin; the air seemed thick and smoky, though it looked clear. She backed up until she could breathe easily again. She turned to leave, warmth or no warmth, but then she heard a thin snarl of anger.

She looked down the hall; several meters away, it turned a corner. Amoretta had decided she'd leave when she heard the cry again. She couldn't tell if it were human. She wasn't sure she was obligated to help a human. But then she felt a sudden blast of heat from the hallway, heat that smelled like fire. The heat of a demon. She shivered, her human skin so different from her angelic soul. But she found herself walking forward, the air growing hotter and hotter.

Around the corner, the hallway terminated in a closed doorway. The light of a servant-demon picked out the grains of wood, his large curved wings casting wild shadows across the hall. Amoretta put one hand to her heart; this wasn't the devil she feared, but it was still the first demon she had seen since being remade.

There was a sharp hiss, then that same snarl. A shadow along the floor solidified into the shape of a grimalkin, on all fours, back arched with its hair standing in a ridge. It growled, but its golden eyes were round with fear.

Amoretta turned back to the servant-demon, trying to remember her past life, keeping her voice steady. "Pathetic. Grimalkins aren't your concern. Or don't you want to fight your real enemy?"

The demon snapped around to face her, wings rising, teeth bared. Then his eyes met hers. For a moment, he frowned contemptuously. Then he shuddered, his wings shrank against himself, and he vanished.

Amoretta realized she'd been pressing her fist against her breastbone, the knuckles sharply white. Slowly, she relaxed.

The grimalkin's black fur was sleek now, but he remained in his crouch, bowing his head and murmuring, "Muchas gracias, ángel."

"Where did the demon come from?" Amoretta asked. "You can't have summoned it yourself."

The grimalkin put his ears back. "No, ángel. One of the students did. I came upon him cheating during Professor Rain's examination. He left me here. He thought it best to do away with me in secret."

Amoretta had heard the humans say many things: "I love chocolate cake." "I love it when Gammel Dore lets us study outside." "I love that dress!" They loved all these insignificant things, but had no love for anything that threatened what they loved above all else: themselves.

Amoretta knelt in front of the grimalkin. He drew back in surprise, lifting one velvet paw. She put out her hand.

Tentatively, the grimalkin came forward and licked it.