Are you tired of Homestuck posts yet? If you are, too bad. I’ve had this fanfic prepped and ready for a while and considering what month it is, I don’t think there’s a better time for me to reveal it.
No matter what fandom you’re in, there’s bound to be roughly infinity AUs (alternate universes): high school AUs, England AUs, rock star AUs. The list is only limited by the fandom’s imagination. However, out of all the fandoms I’ve been in, Homestuck has had about the most, and the most diverse, set of AUs I’ve ever seen.
Despite that, this story doesn’t take place in a universe where everyone is a space pirate or where they’re down on their luck circus folk just trying to get by. It’s interesting in its seeming normalcy. It’s interesting because it forces the reader to reconsider how they view humanity and how social media interacts with society on a broader scope than Tumblr petitions and Harlem Shake videos. It’s interesting because it’s about the most realistic fantastical AU I’ve read (I know that’s a bit of an oxymoron, but stick with me here) and trust me when I say this: it hurts.
If you’ve been around the Homestuck circuit on Tumblr, you’ve probably run across the author, SaccharineSylph, before and her adorable Feferi RP blog. And if you’ve been around me long enough, you’ll know that I ship John and Vriska in almost any way possible, so combining the ship with SaccharineSylph’s lovely writing style just knocks the fic out of the park for me on general principle.
Loophole takes place in a rather normal universe: no Sburb, no fantastical powers, but trolls exist among the regular humans. In this take, however, the grey-skinned creatures are considered no more than pets or menaces to society relegated to different forms of slavery. So imagine the surprise of one, John Egbert, when one of these creatures gets dropped off on his doorstep one morning. He’s not entirely unsuited for the task—after the demise of his dad, he split his life between managing the family magic shop and fostering animals involved in abuse crimes—but he finds himself at a loss when the small troll proves to be a little firecracker with a strong will and a mind as sharp as a tack.
Little Vriska Serket, in love with the number eight and the letter ‘v’ (‘cause that’s what her name starts with!), is the lone survivor from an illegal fighting kennel run by the sickeningly smarmy Doctor Scratch, and is also accused of murder on more than one account. Due to her past, she’s missing an eye, has more scars than she cares to remember how she acquired them, and an intense desire to live. With the help of John, (human, in this story) prosecutor Terezi Pyrope, and her kismesis Eridan, Vriska faces down her impending court hearing with a bravery that will have you rooting for her, but will also have your heart breaking because she’s more than come to terms with what will happen to her should she lose the case. it’s something no child should have to deal with, but then again, she’s barely considered a child because she isn’t seen as human despite the fact that she’s the equivalent of eight human years old.
Besides having an insane amount of cute, fluffy family moments (a shipping story this is not, at least not between the protagonists), Loophole deals with the tragedies caused by abuse and the difficulties overcoming prejudices on a personal level and a societal level. SaccharineSylph also delicately and beautifully tackles grief in many of its forms. It’s safe to say that at the beginning of the story that John has not gotten over the death of his father, but through Vriska’s help he reaches a catharsis of sorts. Every feeling that John, Vriska, Terezi, and everyone else goes through—every feeling is just so real and raw that as a reader you can’t help but get invested in their struggles and triumphs.
Though not a terribly long story—clocking in at seventeen chapters and almost fifty-four thousand words—Loophole is a big story in the issues it tries to tackle. I won’t do you the disservice of giving away any of the ending, but it’s powerful. Before you start reading, make sure you have a box of tissues nearby, because there’s no way you’ll escape their tale without shedding a few tears.