You might be wondering where I’ve been and why I haven’t written as much recently. Truth is, I’m burned out. I’ve been working more hours at work, which means that my introverted brain is tired of talking and writing on my days off. I have a couple of drafts of posts that I got halfway through…. and then I realized that they didn’t meet my standards for myself, so I decided not to post them. I’ll get back to them eventually, but they’re abandoned for now.
I was going to leave it there, but then I realized that I actually did want to discuss an interesting post from Tumblr.
A few months ago, a strange crossover started appearing on my dash. A Narnia fan named digorykirke started blogging and reblogging posts about a Susan Pevensie / Tom Riddle Jr. pairing. I was confused and a bit disturbed, because I didn’t want to think about this ray of sunshine dating a dark lord. This week, I finally saw the explanation and origin story for the [relation]ship, and I realized how much it made sense.
Apparently, digorykirke realized around Christmas of 2015 that Susan Pevensie was born around the same time as Tom Riddle. Because this is the internet, multiple people had decided (or wrote that they had a headcanon) that if she went to Hogwarts, Susan would be a Slytherin in a family of Gryffindors, and she’d probably become friends with Tom. One fan asked digorykirke to edit some photos together, and then even more people started shipping the couple.
Now that I see some of the reasoning behind the ship, I get it. It makes sense that, in a reality that has both Narnia and Hogwarts, Susan Pevensie could meet or fall in love with Tom Riddle.
Prince Caspian is the last time that Susan travels between England and Narnia. After becoming a grownup Queen in Narnia, she returns home and becomes a child again. By the time the Pevensies return to Narnia in Prince Caspian, and only one Earth-year after The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Narnia has become a faded memory. Susan’s the last to reference her memories of their kingdom at Cair Paravel, and she’s the last to recognize Aslan. At the end of the novel, Aslan tells Peter and Susan that they’re too old now to ever return to Narnia. From Aslan’s similar conversation with Edmund and Lucy in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, we learn that he goes by another name (Jesus) in our world.
Eight years after Susan’s last adventure in Narnia, we discover that she has grown up. The “Friends of Narnia” – the Professor with the magic wardrobe, his friend who watched Narnia’s birth, the other Pevensie siblings, the cousin who was changed by Aslan, and the cousin’s friend who found strength – gather together to swap stories. Susan is conspicuously absent, and the family is bitter.
Whenever you’ve tried to get her to come and talk about Narnia or do anything about Narnia, she says “What wonderful memories you have! Fancy your still thinking about all those funny games we used to play when we were children.”
She’s patronizing. That’s the only way to put it. She talks down to her family members and minimizes their stories to “funny games.” She participated in the battles and feasts and adventures that her siblings remember, yet she denies their reality. Narnia is literally another world, so her memories of growing older than her current body’s physical age may seem hard to believe, but she doesn’t even want to talk about the possibility that it was real. In her mind, Narnia is a game of make-believe that she played with her family during the War. Lucy thought it up, then roped in her siblings, her cousin, and her cousin’s classmate. Now that she’s 21, Susan does not want to be a child, and she does not want to indulge in imagination.
She’s interested in nothing now-a-days except nylons and lipstick and invitations. She always was a jolly sight too keen on being grown-up.
Pantyhose and makeup and parties are not bad in themselves, but they’re the only things that grownup Susan seems to care about. The Last Battle takes place seven years after Eustace and Jill’s quest in The Silver Chair, which indicates that Jill has had time to get to know and understand the Pevensie siblings. She witnessed everyone’s awkward teenage years, so she knows how hard Susan tried to become a “mature adult.” To a kid, pantyhose, lipstick, and invitations are things that grownups get to do, so that’s what Susan does.
I wish she would grow up. She wasted all her school time wanting to be the age she is now, and she’ll waste all the rest of her life trying to stay that age. Her whole idea is to race on to the silliest time of one’s life as quick as she can and then stop there as long as she can.
Polly Plummer, who is like the kids’ aunt, has the older, big picture view of Susan. She’s just as critical as Eustace and Jill, but she realizes that Susan is striving to reach some ideal of “adulthood” without understanding what that actually means. Wearing makeup and pantyhose and going to parties may make someone look “sophisticated” on the outside, but they don’t do anything about a person’s character or emotional maturity. As a child, Polly had her own adventures with witches, and witnessed Aslan singing Narnia into being. Afterwards, she lived through two World Wars and became friends with the children who got to see Narnia centuries after her visit. She’s in her 60s now, and she has the wisdom to realize that adulthood is about more than just material things.
What I, and everyone else who sorts her into Slytherin, see in Susan Pevensie is ambition and an obsession with image. She’s probably still a nice person, but she sacrifices her relationships with her family in order to get the lifestyle that she wants. She’s a beautiful young woman who likes a good party. She wears stylish clothes and has connections with the types of people who will invite her to parties.She gets embarrassed when her family talks about their childhood adventures (because imagination is “immature”), and she pushes them away with her words. Her family builds close relationships by talking about Narnia, and she purposefully excludes herself because she thinks it’s childish.
Now imagine this social climber at Hogwarts. She wants to be accepted, and she’s heartbroken because she’s too old to ever return to her second home. She enjoys mothering her siblings and acting like an adult, but lately they’ve pushed back at her. Her older brother is the popular guy at her rival house (Peter is totally a Gryffindor; there’s no way he’d end up in Slytherin), and she feels cut off from her family. The physical separation feels even worse when her little brother and sister tell her all about their adventures in Narnia with their mutual friend. The last straw comes when her bratty little cousin, Eustace, gets to see treasure and visit with Caspian and Aslan. It’s just not fair.
Then she sees Tom Riddle. He’s Peter’s age, only a year older than her, and he has charisma. He has popularity. He’s brilliant and powerful; he’s like a god in Slytherin. Like any good Slytherin, she just knows when someone’s dangerous. He’s charming, but she knows he’s a bit of a bad boy. This is the type of person that she wants to be.
Susan can see the loneliness in his eyes. She doesn’t know he’s an orphan, and she doesn’t know where his anger comes from. All she knows is that he is surrounded by people, yet has no substantive friendships.
Tom doesn’t know about Narnia; he’s only 12 and doesn’t know legilimency yet. What he does know is that little first year Susan Pevensie carries herself like royalty. Unlike all the other pureblooded kids at Hogwarts, she actually acts like someone important. She’s poised and mature. She doesn’t push for a high status in the common room, because everyone subconsciously knows that she’s worth it. If Tom didn’t know she were 11, he would have said that her eyes had seen things.
Susan and Tom bond in their loneliness and forge a strong friendship amidst the politics of 1930s and 1940s Slytherin. Tom brings his charisma and wide network of associates. Susan brings her understanding of politics and ability to make friends. Each feels like an outcast when they “go home” for holidays.Susan develops a crush on her “sexy bad boy” friend, but that relationship fizzles out when she starts going to pureblood parties and he turns secretly homicidal.
When her family dies in the trainwreck at the end of The Last Battle, Susan goes one of two ways in her grief: either going dark and getting revenge on the people she sees responsible for her problems, or reevaluating her life and learning more about Aslan/Jesus.
It seems that this analysis has basically become a headcanon/fanfic. There aren’t too many crossover ships that I can see happening with The Chronicles of Narnia, but this is one that just makes sense to me. Of course Susan would want to be friends with the powerful guy in Slytherin. She’s a social climber. She wants to be accepted by society.
If acceptance means allying with Tom Riddle, then she’ll throw herself into his portion of society.
Some people on Tumblr are alarmed at the idea of Queen Susan the Gentle being in a relationship with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, but I can obviously see it happening. What are your thoughts on the matter? I’m curious.
*Quotes are from page 135 of the 1977 edition of The Last Battle from Collier Books