I know that most of the people reading this blog wouldn’t normally call themselves “Peter Pan fans”, and probably haven’t ever gone looking for Peter Pan fanfic (or as I like to call it, Pan-fic). If you ever wanted to get into it, I would recommend this list as a good starting primer. I didn’t get into Pan-fic myself until a few years ago, and I haven’t trawled the net as extensively for it as I have for fic from other fandoms. Nevertheless, I have a decent-length list of great fic that I can really recommend to anyone who likes Peter Pan even a little bit. I admit it reflects my tastes rather heavily since all of it is romantic fluff and all of it is Peter-and-Wendy-centric xD But even within that small field there’s a fascinatingly wide range of takes on our two main characters and their tale – some sweet, some sad, most a bit of both. I like fanfics which give me a happy ending to the story, but I also like those which don’t shy away from the reality of Peter and Wendy’s situation. Above all, I value good characterisation, engaging writing and an interesting idea.
So read and enjoy!
1) Edge of Freedom – ShawThang
This short and sweet one-shot is the first Peter Pan fic that I added to my favourites on Fanfiction.net. It continues on from the 2003 live-action film version, though it mostly works as a follow-up to the book as well. It features a teenaged Wendy being (forcibly) introduced into high society by her strict Aunt Millicent, despairing at the shallow life that awaits her and longing to go back to Neverland.
One recurring trope that I’ve noticed in many Pan-fics is the invention of horrible potential suitors, crass and unfeeling boys, whom Wendy suffers unwanted advances from and who serve mainly to make Peter look awesome by comparison. Edge of Freedom has a couple of these and they’re fun to read, but I also appreciate the characterisation of William, an actually decent and likeable guy. He only makes a brief appearance and is a bit of a plot/character development device, but still. I like him and I like his presence in this story. I also enjoy the ending, even if it is a little too happy and convenient.
2) Don’t Suffer So, Peter Pan – catiepie182002
‘Wendy learns of Peter’s nightmares and a secret he can hide from everyone… except the girl who knows him better than he’d like to admit.’
This beautifully fluffy fic takes place firmly within the book-verse, and not only that, the style of the writing is amazingly close to J.M. Barrie’s own. This is probably the best and most faithful characterisation of Peter that I’ve yet read in fanfic. On top of that, the fic is like a bingo game of some of my favourite ever tropes: injured guy who has to be taken care of by his love interest; guy in denial about his romantic feelings and his own vulnerability (I am an absolute sucker for denial. DO NOT JUDGE. Also this happens to fit perfectly with Peter’s character); guy who has nightmares and is comforted by his love interest; light angst, but not so much that it takes over the whole story and drags it down; and of course, excellent writing and excellent characterisation. I have come back to this fic many a time when I’m in the mood for some fluff, and it continues to give me squishy fuzzy feelings inside. I would probably name this as my favourite ever Peter Pan fanfic, perhaps joint with our next story in the list, Winter Dust.
3) Winter Dust – Gray-Rain Skies
‘To dream is what it’s all about.’
Like Edge of Freedom, Winter Dust by Gray-Rain Skies centres around Wendy’s unwillingness to grow up and become a “lady”, clinging stubbornly to her imagination and carefree childhood ways. The big difference, though, is that it’s an AU. It’s set in the exact same time period as Peter Pan and the characters are exactly the same, but without any of the fantasy elements, the flying, the pirates, the mermaids or Neverland. Instead, the author introduces these via the story world that Peter and Wendy create together, which is absolute genius. I particularly love the way that fairies in this story are represented by fireflies, and Peter takes Wendy to go and see them in an exact parallel of the fairy dance scene in the 2003 live-action film – with the exact same outcome, as well. But it leads to an adorably awkward and realistic conversation in which they try to communicate their respective frustrations and resort, once more, to fiction as a safe common ground.
One of my favourite things about alternate universe fanfics is seeing how they translate concepts from the original universe over to the new, finding clever equivalents for the parts that don’t match up. Winter Dust does this particularly well. The idea is clever, the writing is lyrical and enchanting, the characterisation is spot-on, and the ending just makes me sad all over again that these characters can’t be real – all the more so because the AU makes them seem so close, so plausible.
There is also a tiny bit of John/Tiger Lily, which is a pairing I like a lot :)
4) The Wendy Complex – AriadnesThread
‘Gwen Darling always carries an emergency needle.’
Following on from Winter Dust, we have another AU, this one set in the modern-day. It’s short enough that I really don’t want to say much about the plot for fear of spoiling it. The main character’s name is Gwen Darling, and it’s not clear whether she’s meant to be a descendant of Wendy’s or just a version of her, though she does have a brother named Michael in this version too. The boy she interacts with isn’t named, probably to maintain the mystery around whether this is actually Peter and Wendy or just a version of them, but their characterisation and the interaction between them is very similar. Gwen is perhaps less whimsical and more resolutely practical than Wendy, although maybe I’m too influenced by fanfiction in this regard – most fanfic authors like to characterise Wendy as a romantic free spirit, but in the book she was still “mother” to the Lost Boys, acting as the pragmatic foil to their rambunctious carelessness. Translate that to the modern day and you’d probably get Gwen Darling here.
Once again, I like the equivalents that the author finds for fantastical Neverland creatures in a modern-day setting, though it’s a shame that they only get hinted at and never fully shown. My biggest problem with this fic is that it’s so short and yet hints at so many awesome possibilities. I really wish the author could have written a follow-up. (They haven’t. I’ve checked. But you could join me in clamouring for one!)
5) The Life You Save May Be Your Own – dress without sleeves
‘And by pure will alone, you’ve offended all reason. Wendy wasn’t meant to be a housewife.’
Here we have the first of my two favourites from the genius dress without sleeves, who has written an absolute TON of stories for all sorts of fandoms (319 is what I mean by a ton. No really. Check out her profile on Fanfiction.net). It features an alternative ending to Wendy and Peter’s story in which she stays in Neverland (c’mon, it’s not a spoiler, you could tell as much from the summary), but while it’s fluffy and positive, the sacrifices Wendy makes by giving up her family to obtain her happy ending with Peter aren’t completely glossed over. It also features the “unwanted advances from boy” trope I mentioned earlier, and yes it’s a blatant plot device, but it’s fun to read all the same. The Life You Save… contains one of my favourite lines in fanfic, which is in the first half of the summary: “And by pure will alone, you’ve offended all reason.” John says it to Wendy and it’s a nice reference back to the 2003 film in which he says to Peter, “You offend reason, sir.” – giving a philosophical depth to a fairly minor throwaway line. I like the ‘follow your dreams’ message of the story, which is simple yet effectively executed. Characterisation and writing are of course well-done. (I’m really not likely to include a fanfic on this list which doesn’t check those two boxes xD)
6) ‘Till Mourning – dress without sleeves
‘But perhaps, says the tiny little voice that maybe still believes in fairies, it is you that do not understand, you in this tidy house with a tidy husband and a drawer full of dreams. Mrs. Darling reflects.’
This second fic by dress without sleeves works very well as a companion fic to the first. I don’t think they’re intended to be written that way, but both feature largely the same plot, in which Wendy leaves home to live with Peter in Neverland, and you can imagine the scenes from one taking place in between the scenes from the other. As the summary indicates, this fic is from Mrs. Darling’s point of view, which is unusual for a romance fanfic – more often than not, fanfic authors like to conveniently forget about any collateral damage to the main characters’ happy ending, especially parents. Most fanfics which feature Wendy going back to stay in Neverland write Mrs. Darling as being happy for her daughter to follow her dreams, and so does ‘Till Mourning. But it also doesn’t ignore the fact that Mrs. Darling is saying goodbye to her only daughter forever. The thought process she goes through in reconciling herself to Wendy’s inevitable departure is sad, heartwarming and extremely well-written. Even within the fantasy setting of Peter Pan and Neverland, Mrs. Darling’s situation could easily apply to any parent who is forced to accept that the life their child will lead is not the one they would have chosen for them, but is the one that makes them happiest nevertheless.
Both of dress without sleeves’ fics are also very well-titled. Titles don’t usually have any bearing on whether or not I enjoy a fic, but I can still appreciate a thoughtful and clever title. The title of The Life You Save… is taken from a short story by Flannery O’Connor (which I haven’t read) and fits well with Wendy’s situation and her decision to choose the path which, for once, will make her happiest and not just other people. ‘Till Mourning is a neat pun on part of the famous phrase “Second (star) to the right and straight on ‘til morning” (I put the word “star” in brackets because, though that’s the phrase that everyone knows, Disney added the ‘star’ part. In the book it’s just “second to the right”). The “mourning” of course refers to Mrs. Darling’s grief at Wendy’s loss, which she is still willing to accept so long as her daughter can be happy.
Wow, I’ve just realised how long this post is already, and we’re only halfway through the list. I think I’m going to have to split this one in two. Join me next week for Part 2 of my Pan-fic recommendations!