Every year, Althea and her husband invited Droessen to their Nachtspel parties. As Clara grew older and still daydreamed and played with dolls, Althea worried about her. On Clara's sixteenth birthday, Althea went to check on her daughter's room, only to find Clara asleep on the dining room hearth, cradling the nutcracker. Althea contemplated throwing the nutcracker into the fire but stopped when she thought it moved. Instead of burning the nutcracker, Althea put a blanket over her daughter and returned to her bedroom.
After Clara left to become a writer and Frederik abandoned the family business to go on adventures, the Zelverhaus family became disgraced. Althea and her husband stopped throwing parties and only had lackluster merchant dinners. At midnight one night, she stopped in front of the glass cabinet where they had kept Droessen's clockworks and trinkets. She opened the cabinet and retrieved a wooden doll—Droessen. Althea carried the doll up to her bedroom, whispering the same words Clara had used to bring the nutcracker to life.