training of the toad

Imagine Pevensies at Hogwarts

So imagine that when tiny Hermione Granger walks into that train compartment looking for Neville’s toad, another girl follows her in because as soon as she heard the problem she got up to help. “I’m Susan Pevensie,” she says. When the subject of school houses comes up, she says “My brother Peter is in Gryffindor, but I’m not sure I’d like it.”

Susan is sorted into Ravenclaw, but she and Hermione, the bossy mothering ones, stay friends.

Two years later, Edmund is sorted into Slytherin. Any Gryffindor making nasty comments about Slytherins from that point on finds out that Peter can throw a heck of a punch if it’s called for. Susan worries about him down in that damp dungeon and knits him green sweaters trimmed with silver.

When Harry is in his fourth year, Lucy Pevensie is sorted into Hufflepuff, to her family’s absolute lack of surprise. Harry meets her once or twice, a tiny firstie with flying golden hair and a smile that lights up her whole face, Susan’s sister. (Pretty, gentle Susan with her dark hair and soft smile and patient kindness, the Ravenclaw who’s as ready to help Neville with his homework as Hermione with hers, and he hardly notices Cho Chang at all. Hermione helps him ask Susan to the Yule Ball, and she says yes.) Cedric is a friend of Peter’s, but Harry is a friend of Susan’s and the Pevensies cheer for both Hogwarts champions.

Imagine that after the terrible ending to that year, Harry receives several letters from Peter and from Susan, but that they suddenly stop during the summer. Angry, hurt, frustrated Harry is brought to Grimmauld Place, comforted by Sirius and kept in the dark by the Order, and not long before school starts, all four Pevensie siblings are brought to the house to see him.

And they are all… changed. Harry is so restless that he can hardly endure his own skin, but he is shaken into stillness by the change in them. Peter’s good cheer has vanished into quiet watchfulness, and Lucy’s smiles are all edged with sadness now. Edmund the Slytherin is quiet and haunted, but at peace in a way he has never been before. And Susan hugs him when they meet, but she looks at him as if she hasn’t seen him in so long that she hardly remembers him.

And in a quiet room in a forgotten house, they explain why. They tell the Boy who Lived about another country, inside a wardrobe, where the name everyone feared to utter was that of a Queen, of endless winter and the reality of war, of the years afterwards as Kings and Queens of Narnia, of decades passing and their own world almost forgotten… and then a stag, and an open door, and coming back to a world that didn’t know they were gone.

Imagine Harry believing them implicitly, because he can see the kings and queens looking out from behind young eyes, the way Susan lifts her head as if it still wears a crown, the way Peter’s hand sometimes reaches for a sword hilt that is no longer there, the marks of sorrow and of wisdom on Edmund’s once-petulant face, the way Lucy turns her head to listen for something no-one else can hear.

And imagine how everything changes. Imagine The Boy Who Lived with King Peter the Magnificent teaching him about warfare and leadership, with Queen Susan the Gentle teaching him diplomacy and patience, both truly understanding how it feels to be a child entrusted with the fate of a whole world. Imagine small, valiant Lucy telling him about Aslan, about Mr Tumnus, about sacrifice and love and small kindnesses that change the world.

Imagine Edmund the Just going into the Slytherin common-room when they go back to school, a thin, deep-eyed boy of thirteen with his calm voice that speaks of justice, of peace, with the bearing of a king and deeply personal knowledge of evil and betrayal. Imagine him telling them ‘you are better than this, you are better than He Who Must Not Be Named can ever be’ and believing it.

Imagine a hunt for Horcruxes organized by Narnia’s finest hunters, imagine Susan’s arrows and Peter’s sword against wizards who can dodge a hex but have never had a weapon turned on them before. Imagine Neville Longbottom’s rebellion at Hogwarts aided by Edmund and his Slytherins who have learned that they are worth more than this, imagine Lucy flinging knives and curses against the teachers who would hurt them. Imagine the Slytherins rising up and making the other houses eat their condescending dismissal, once and for all.

Imagine Harry Potter telling Lucy, when it’s all over, “I remembered what you said. That a sacrifice willingly made is different, that it changes everything.” Lucy asking 'did it help?’ and Harry telling her that it did. Because he didn’t want to die, but he could sacrifice himself to save others, to undermine Voldemort’s power in a way he couldn’t understand, and that helped.

Imagine Peter and Susan and Edmund and Lucy coming back not to a mundane world, but to one in desperate need of them, of the knowledge they have, of adult wisdom in friends young enough for Harry Potter to trust. Imagine them rebuilding Wizarding England the way they rebuilt Narnia and understanding 'this is why. We needed to do it there so we could do it here’.

And imagine that they don’t die. Imagine that they live, and prosper, in a world that has enough magic to hold them there, and Susan grows up and wears her lipstick and her short skirts and so, in time, does Lucy. Imagine that Peter is the finest Minister for Magic in centuries and that Edmund is the Head of Slytherin that the House always needed, that Susan can achieve more with a smile in International Magical Cooperation than lesser diplomats can with a week of words and Lucy plays Quidditch and studies magical healing because she never quite got over the loss of her cordial but this, this is close. This is enough.

And imagine that the weight of the world is gently lifted off Harry’s shoulders and he can be just Harry Potter, with his world-saving done, knowing it’s in good hands.

Mail Call...?


Mario regretted not stopping Parakarry when he rode off on that train. Who knew that it would derail and cost his life? When a Toad arrived at the Mario Bros.’s home and handed him a letter informing the plumber of his demise, it was enough for Mario to just leave and try to block everything out. 

First Sushie, then Kooper, Koops, Parakarry… Cruel fate just decided to take Mario’s friends away one by one. 

On the path to Koopa Village, a voice caught Mario`s attention.

No. Mario hasn’t suspected anything yet. He’s just sulking at home like a little sissy.

Was that the mailman from before? If Mario chose to hide and observe, he could see the black and red-capped Toad shed their disguise and emerge as a Koopa Troopa with a red headband, talking to what appeared to be a Parakoopa in Koopatrol armor.

“The orders are to keep an eye on him. That Bomb-brat should be passing this area to get to Toad Town any minute now and we have to stay alert, do you understand?” The shady-looking Koopa nodded and wandered past the bridge towards what Mario recognized to be a fortress.