The Dark Arts
Other Canon Male Muggle Tom Riddle
Character Sketch Horror
Half-Blood Prince
Published: 05/11/2007
Updated: 05/11/2007
Words: 1,651
Chapters: 1
Hits: 275

The Silver Thimble

Senna Wales

Story Summary:
"Billy Stubbs's rabbit... well, Tom said he didn't do it and I don't see how he could have done, but even so, it didn't hang itself from the rafters, did it?" A look into the disagreement between Billy Stubbs and Tom Riddle. Mrs. Cole never knew the whole story.

Chapter 01


It was an unusually nice day in mid-March at the orphanage. Ordinarily overcast, the weather that day was bright and sunny, with only the smallest wisp of a white cloud drifting along above. The children at the orphanage therefore took advantage of the good weather, running outside to play. Their drab, grey uniforms did not match the bright light surrounding them, but no matter: children quickly acquired grass and mud stains upon their clothing, tumbling in the dirt as they laughed carelessly.

One little boy named Billy Stubbs stood off to the side from the playing children. He was standing in a small patch of grass in the shade of the orphanage building, far away from the rest of the children. He was looking down at the grass intently, as though waiting for something to spring from the ground.

Finally, Billy sat down. There was a small white rabbit with dark brown eyes and pale pink ears crouching in the grass, sitting silently. It had a gray collar around its neck, and on its collar was a silver thimble. Billy nudged the rabbit gently, and the rabbit hopped slightly forward, turning his head back a bit as if to scold the boy for bumping him.

"Come on, Boo," said Billy to the rabbit. "Go on. It's a nice day out, you should enjoy it while you can."

Boo the rabbit was Billy's only pet. At an orphanage, where one can expect to own nothing and receive nothing, Boo was quite precious to the boy indeed. He had found it one day outside of the orphanage, and had sat watching it for quite a long time while the forlorn rabbit sat utterly still in the grass, twitching an ear only occasionally. When no one came to claim it, Mrs. Cole, the orphanage's director, had allowed Billy to keep it, warning him to take good care of the animal or else she'd turn it into the nearest animal shelter. Billy had felt that his new rabbit, whom he named Boo because the rabbit was white like a ghost and had appeared so suddenly like one, deserved a collar as any proper pet would and promptly bought one from a pet shop when he and the orphanage went out to the city. On a whim, he had also fastened his mother's silver thimble to the rabbit, as a way of letting the rabbit know that it was precious indeed, as precious as one of Billy's only mementos of his dead parents.

However, Boo was not looking very well these days. Last week, its nose had become runny, and when Billy held Boo up close to his head, he could hear Boo make a funny rattling sound in his lungs when he breathed. It frightened Billy that Boo might be sick, and he had hoped that perhaps a good roam in the nice weather would bring Boo back to normal. He had not informed Mrs. Cole yet, of course, afraid that she would reprimand him for not taking better care of his pet and make him pay for medicine. She might even take Boo away if she thought Billy wasn't a good enough owner, and Billy felt scared every time he thought of that.

So Billy stood away from the other children, peering down at Boo anxiously as Boo sat quietly in the grass, quivering slightly. Billy wondered if perhaps Boo was more afraid outside than in and was considering taking him back inside when he heard a footstep behind him.

Billy turned to face the newcomer. It was a boy, with dark hair and a rather pale complexion. Squinting up in the sun, Billy recognized him as Tom, a boy older than him by a year. Billy didn't know too much about Tom, only that Tom didn't seem to have any friends. Billy knew that some of the children were afraid of Tom; funny things sometimes happened when Tom was around, and Billy unconsciously reached for Boo as though to protect him.

"Why aren't you playing with everyone else?" said Tom abruptly.

Billy was caught by surprise by Tom's brusque question and hesitated. He didn't want to tell Tom that Boo was sick, but Tom might figure out that Boo was sick anyway and get mad at him for lying. "I'm watching my rabbit," said Billy. "I thought the nice weather might do him some good." That was true, anyway.

Tom kneeled down in the grass, peering at Boo intently. "Why?" he asked. "What's wrong with him?"

"Nothing's wrong," said Billy quickly, just as Boo give a slight cough, which Tom heard.

"It just coughed," said Tom scornfully, his eyes narrowing. "It's sick, isn't it? Tell the truth!"

Billy merely stared at Boo. He had never heard Boo cough before, and now he was really worried, more than he was about Tom.

Tom leaned in closer, looking carefully at Boo. He noticed the gray collar Boo was wearing, as well as the silver thimble that had ended up near Boo's back.

"What's that?" asked Tom, pointing to the thimble.

"It's mine!" said Billy fiercely at once.

"No, it's not," said Tom disdainfully, reaching towards the thimble even while Billy moved backwards, pulling Boo with him. "How could it? You can't own something as fancy as that without it having belonged to someone else before. It's real silver." Tom pulled back, and Bill suddenly noticed that the silver thimble was now in Tom's hand.

"Hey!" Billy shouted angrily, standing up, not stopping to wonder how a thimble fastened to a collar could have been removed so easily. "Give that back!" He moved towards Tom, trying to grab the thimble, but Tom had stood up too and stepped quickly out of reach.

"If you'll let me have this, I won't tell Mrs. Cole about your rabbit," said Tom quietly, toying with the thimble idly.

"No!" Billy ran towards Tom and tried to wrestle the thimble out of Tom's hand, but Tom was too quick and had already pocketed the thimble. Billy stepped back, glaring at Tom while trying to swallow back the tears that were beginning to well in his eyes. Tom merely stood and watched Billy coolly, a funny smile on his face.

"What's going on here?" said a sharp voice suddenly. Both boys turned around to see Mrs. Cole standing there, looking suspiciously at the two.

"Tom took my thimble!" shouted Billy at once in the strangled tone one gets when one is trying to hold back his tears.

"A thimble?" said Mrs. Cole in a puzzled voice. "What thimble?"

"It's not his, Mrs. Cole," interjected Tom quickly in a polite voice unrecognizable from the mocking tone he had used before. "He says it's his, but I'm fairly sure he's stolen it."

"It's mine! It goes on Boo's collar, but it was my mum's, she used to sew with it in the evenings and sometimes she let me play with it, but she always-"

"Stop!" said Mrs. Cole loudly, and rubbed her eyes tiredly. "Tom, where is this thimble? You'd better show me quick, there are plenty of extra chores to do today."

Tom looked uncertain, then finally reached into his pocket to reveal the silver thimble.

"That's mine!" shouted Billy immediately, reaching towards it.

Mrs. Cole held back Billy's arm. "That's enough, Billy." She grabbed the thimble, peering at it closely. Billy held his breath, wondering what she would say. Finally, Mrs. Cole shook her head. "I don't remember. I can't recall Billy having this, but as of now, no one is missing any thimbles, silver or otherwise. We can't prove it's not his, Tom." She handed Billy the thimble, which he grasped hastily.

The expression on Tom's face was unreadable, and Mrs. Cole added, "Tom, I know you mean well, but you must not worry yourself with this sort of thing. Go on and play, you two."

Tom walked away without saying another word. Mrs. Cole stared down at Billy as he fastened the thimble to the rabbit's collar resolutely, tying several knots as though to ensure the thimble never got loose. She shrugged, then walked away too.

* * *

The next morning, Billy woke up to the sound of rain pattering away at the window. He listened for a few minutes before he grew bored and decided to get up. As he sat up in bed, he looked automatically to the opposite wall where Boo's cage stood, hoping that Boo had gotten better overnight - and saw the Boo was gone.

Billy immediately leapt out of bed. Sometimes Boo managed to hop out of his cage when Billy carelessly left it open, but as Billy approached the cage, he saw that it was still locked. Feeling confused, he looked first under his bed, then under the wardrobe, then inside the wardrobe, and then even in his bedcovers, but there was no Boo.

Heart pounding, Billy opened his bedroom door. Peering all along down the corridor, he made his way downstairs to the dining hall. He could hear screams coming from the dining hall, but these screams were wrong, they were frightened, they were not the happy shouts of children eating breakfast... Billy opened the door, and felt his heart skip a beat.

There was Boo, unmistakable with his bright white fur, hanging by a bit of cord around his neck high in the rafters above the children. As Billy moved closer, pushing some of the shrieking and pointing children away, he saw that Boo's dark brown eyes were glassy, staring blankly at nothing. Boo's collar was wound tightly around his neck.

Billy tore his eyes away from Boo's abnormally still form. By chance, he saw Tom standing in a corner away from the crowd, expression aloof. Tom looked up at the hanging rabbit, and as Billy followed his gaze, he realized something else was wrong.

The silver thimble was gone.