The first thing you did was take Gilbird to your room. It took some effort because you only had one hand to balance yourself on the bars while the other hand caressed the tiny bird close to your chest.
"Gilbird, this is my room," you whispered holding the bird up for him to get a better view. There were plenty of bars around the walls to help support you, and the furniture never had a speck of dust on their surfaces thanks to Ludwig's tedious cleaning habits. The temperature was always at constant warmth, not too hot, not too cold. The only decorations in your room consisted of a few sheets of drapery made of silky lace and some dolls and stuffed animals Gilbert had brought from his travels. You had always enjoyed playing with the dolls because before Gilbird came along, you had always had the opportunity to give them names and personalities. Since no one else visited you besides Ludwig's brother, they had been your only friends.
"What should we play first?" you asked letting him look around while leaning on a wall to support your body.
Gilbird, being a bird, merely replied with a soft peep—at least, you thought that's what birds did, but this one's peep sounded more like a harsh grunt.
You cocked your head to a side. "Do you want to play with my dolls?" you asked. "I can introduce them to you."
Gilbird grunted again. You took it as a yes and began to bring him to your shelf where your dolls were displayed.
"These dolls are made of porcelain," you explained while setting Gilbird down on your nightstand to bring one of your favorite dolls down. "Gilbert told me they can break if I'm not careful with them." You gave Gilbird a quick stroke on his head with a finger. "You have to be careful, too, okay?"
Gilbird sleepily closed his eyes as you continued to stroke him. Meanwhile, you sat yourself onto the ground and brought him from the nightstand and next to your doll.
"You know something, Gilbird?" you asked running your fingers through your doll's hair. Gilbert had told you that the doll had hair made of human hair and a face painted straight by hand. It was adorned with the finest silks that would have made the richest queens of old green with envy.
"Because this doll is so valuable, you can't even play with it," you laughed. "I can only change her dress or brush her hair…Just like what Ludwig does with me…"
To this, Gilbird tiled his small head and began to take a lock of the doll's hair in his beak.
You giggled and slipped the hair out of his bright orange beak. "Gilbird, this isn't food."
Upset that you took the contents away from him, Gilbird suddenly unfolded his small, yet powerful wings and took flight out of your room.
"Gilbird!" you gasped and pushed your doll away. You were able to remember to stand up slowly even if that meant your new pet was getting away. You couldn't afford to lose Gilbird when you had just gotten him as a gift—and even though you hadn't owned him for long, knowing he was a living, breathing animal was something that made him far more precious than all of the dolls and toys Gilbert had brought you.
"Gilbird, where are you?" you asked once you had gotten up and walked out of your room. Just then, you noticed a speck of yellow feathers poking out from the edge of the doorway leading into Ludwig's office. You had gone inside on certain occasions, but unless you were granted permission, that room was off-limits. Still, you had to retrieve Gilbird before you lost him. Since Ludwig and Gilbert usually spent an hour or more inside the study room, you figured you had plenty of time to slip inside Ludwig's office unnoticed and find Gilbird before anyone suspected you of being disobedient. The worst that could have happened was having your new pet taken away from you for the day before Ludwig would give into your pleas and childlike voice.
When you stepped inside the office, you immediately spotted Gilbird on top of a shelf of books at the far end of the room.
"Gilbird, get down from there," you demanded using the same tense voice as Ludwig when you didn't want to get dressed or finish your food.
Being a bird, Gilbird refused to listen to you and remained put atop a thick green spine. Frowning, you started to creep slowly over to the disobedient bird like a cat creeping up to a…well, bird.
Then, much to your luck, Gilbird began preening himself completely ignoring your existence as he buried his beak into his feathers and cleaned himself. Seizing the opportunity, you sprang forward with what limited strength you had and threw your hands forward to clamp onto the unsuspecting bird—
Books and feathers went flying as Gilbird spotted you at the last second and flew out of the way causing you to stumble upon the bookshelf. A few books went tumbling on top of your head as you desperately tried to gain leverage. Since you were normally forbidden to enter Ludwig's office, he never had any support bars installed in the room—quite inconvenient for someone such as yourself.
The first thing you did when you regained your composure was think of whether or not the sound you had just made would be enough to notify Ludwig and Gilbert in the study room. After waiting for what felt like a good five minutes, you decided that they hadn't heard the noise and began to carefully straighten out the books and place them back on the bookshelf.
When you were about to put back the large green book Gilbird had been perching on, something caught your eye; there was a crooked page that had gotten bent outwards when it fell off the bookshelf so you opened the book up to smooth out the page hoping Ludwig wouldn't notice it. However, when you flipped open the book, you found out it was actually an album full of pictures of Ludwig and Gilbert. Judging by the fair lack of wrinkles on their faces in addition to how lively the two looked in the pictures (despite Ludwig still wearing a serious expression), the pictures must've been taken a good amount of time ago.
As you flipped through the pages, you felt something light tap your head and quickly looked up thinking it was Ludwig.
"Gilbird!" you sighed in relief seeing a pair of beady black eyes staring at you. "Don't scare me like that, and don't ever do that again!"
"Ludwig never told me about what he was like in the past…" you told Gilbird as you continued to flip through the album. "Every time I ask, he just changes the subject—"
You stopped. Your eyes fell onto a single picture of Ludwig and Gilbert. Just like you, there was a little yellow bird sitting on top of Gilbert's head.
"Gilbird…" you repeated. "Gilbird, Gilbird, Gilbird…Why does it sound so familiar?"
"Probably because he named it after himself?" Ludwig had said.
"Who names a bird after himself?"
There had been a bird that time, too. There had been a small mound of raised dirt…
"How long are birds supposed to live?"
"His name is Gilbird! Isn't it an awesome name, ___________?"
"_____________?" you echoed.
"_____________," a new voice said.
This time, someone was speaking from the present. When you turned your head around this time, Gilbird stumbled forward. You caught him surprised at your own reflexes.
"L-Ludwig…" you stammered.