Louise was 14 years old when she first saw her after the tragedy. Her aunt, Gottlieben, was a kind woman. She had piercing green eyes and wispy grey hair that was always done back into a perfect bun. She wrote in her journal every night, and read many books. Gottlieben was always optimistic, and she treasured her home and even her most distant family.
Louise walked down the hill from the Vietsburg Castle where she lived every day to her aunt's quaint cottage to take care of her. Louise learned how to cook delicious meals, helped her in her grand garden, and assisted her in keeping the house clean. She had done this every single day from the day she turned 10 to nearly her 14th birthday.
One day, Gottlieben and Louise went on a walk around the castle grounds. It was snowing and everything was beautiful and white. The moon lit up the blankets of snow and they sparkled in the night light. They eventually went back to the cottage because the winter winds quickly became too cold.
A few days later, Gottlieben developed pneumonia. Every day, her condition worsened, no matter how much Louise tried to help her get better. She passed away after a few weeks of having the illness, and five days before Christmas.
Louise was utterly heartbroken, and stayed in her room, which was up in the castle turret, most days. She didn't care to open the curtains and look out on the beautiful castle grounds and the town. Instead, she sat at her desk and thought about everything she could've done differently. Was it the cold winter wind that took her aunt? The crack in the wall that made the house a bit colder? She stopped writing in her journal and cooking; for each reminded her greatly of her aunt.
Aunt Gottlieben's will was read to the family, and in it Gottlieben left Louise some of her most beautiful jewelry, such as her beautiful garnet necklace. Louise wore the precious necklace every day so she could have a piece of her aunt close to her heart every hour of the day.
As spring approached, so did Louise's birthday. On her birthday, her mother came into her room and tried to reason with her to go outside and get fresh air. Louise wouldn't go, so her mother dragged her out of her room by her arm. As they descended the old spiraling steps, Louise grasped the garnet necklace with her free hand. They eventually made it outside and Louise's mother told her to get some fresh air, to take in the renewed landscape.
She looked on the grand Vietsburg Castle with new eyes. It seemed as if she had never layed her eyes upon the large turrets and great walls, enveloped in ivy and old trees, slowly climbing with their ancient tendrils across the castle walls. Every window was a unique stained glass masterpiece, each telling it's own family story or ancient fable. Moss and succulents grew in between the cracks of the old granite stones that made up the castle.
Louise decided to ascend the steps to the top of the old, now unused, watchtower. Her heart beat in her ears as she made her way to the top. Finally, she was on the highest level. She could see all of Ravensburg. The tops of the trees were populated with birds, and many people bustled over the cobblestone roads in the town. It was a warm day, and an untamed wind was picking up the blossoms off of the trees and swirling them through the air.
Louise turned to look at the rest of the countryside, but instead saw her aunt, standing on the opposite side of the watchtower. She was somewhat transparent, but appeared friendly and was smiling at Louise.
"I've been waiting for you to come outside Louise." her aunt said calmly.
"You're...you've been gone." Louise muttered, confused.
"I am. But I need your help. My will was not completely right. There is one other item I wish to give you Louise." aunt Gottlieben explained.
"What do you mean? You gave me your garnet necklace, what else?" Louise questioned.
"Come with me to my old cottage and I will show you." Gottlieben said, with one hand gesturing towards to stairs to guide Louise towards the cottage.
They descended the stairs together, and Gottlieben began talking to Louise. Soon, they were at Gottlieben's cottage. Louise took the key to the door out of her coat pocket where she hadn't removed it since December. She put the crooked key in the lock and turned the knob. The door creaked slightly as it was opened because it had been unused for so many months. Louise stepped into the remote cottage, and a flood of memories with her aunt came back to her.
"Where is it, Gottlieben?" Louise asked.
"Come with me and I'll point you in the right direction." Gottlieben answered.
She led Louise to the broom closet in the opposite side of the house. She gestured for Louise to open it. Louise swung open the door and quickly jumped back as two brooms clattered to the floor.
"The box on the top shelf, it's yours Louise." Gottlieben said, seemingly relieved and smiling.
Louise retrieved the box and set it on the floor. The top was a sliding lid, and Louise carefully removed it. Behind the lid were journals, all with dates on them and in perfect order. A single tear ran off of Louise's cheek and splashed to the floor.
Gottlieben spoke, "Now you have my whole life, from when I was younger than you. Every problem, sorrow, or joyful memory is in those books. You don't have to feel like I was cheated out of life. Once you read these, I think you will realize that my life was full and I am at peace."
"Thank you." Louise said quietly, clutching the necklace in her hands and staring at the journals.
"And one more thing Louise." aunt Gottlieben added, "Do not blame the winter winds."
Louise said goodbye and soon Gottlieben was gone. Louise took the box of journals and went back to the castle, ready to live again.