“Betty!” Veronica yells. She’s arms-deep in holiday decorations. Usually she’d just have the butler and the maids do the decorating, but she feels like a personal touch is needed.
Veronica tries but even after a decade of knowing her friends, she doesn’t quite manage ‘cheap and easy’. It’s cool, she’s competitive — it has to be the best — and her idea of affordable is different - all of them get that. Her kindness is different from Betty’s plain, solid one, but it’s equally heartfelt. Still, Betty’s help will keep it from getting too overwhelming.
“Yeah, what?” Betty pokes her head over the couch. She’s untangling the lights which have somehow gotten tangled up despite being carefully wrapped around bits of cardboard. Veronica hadn’t even known they had cardboard in the house.
Veronica holds up the box of lovely white and crystal decorations. “What about these? They’ll look really pretty! A bit retro, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing?”
Betty shakes her head firmly. “No, we want warm and cozy. That’s all… cold. But elegant!” she hurries to add, seeing Veronica’s deflated expression. “Really pretty and everything. It’s just not exactly the… the mood we’re aiming for, you know?”
“I suppose…” Veronica puts the box down again. She places her hands on her hips and surveys the remaining boxes of old Christmas decorations. Apparently old decorations were better than new ones, so she wasn’t allowed to buy anything new (she had, anyway, but only a few nice ornaments that Betty would surely never see).
Hmm. Maybe one of the seven different shades of red boxes? Red was very holiday-ish and traditional, right? She bends over the nearest box and starts digging through it, undefeated.
It’s snowing again. Jughead doesn’t actually mind the snow so much, but he’s not fond of shoveling it off the drive. He’d whine to his friends about it, but Archie has been banned from snow-shoveling since last year’s baffling leaf blower incident, Veronica has people for this kind of thing and Betty actually likes it. Jughead likes Betty a lot but it can’t be denied that she’s a little weird.
He’s sure he’s going to regret folding without argument and agreeing to whatever Veronica is up to now, but it’s postponing his shoveling duties, so it might be worth it just because of that.
Veronica is wearing a very nice forest green coat, perfectly tailored, of course. Veronica does not wear unaltered off-the-rack clothes, thank you very much. Jughead has got a long multicoloured scarf wrapped around his neck, a long tail of it flowing behind him as he walks. They make for a very mismatched pair, Veronica’s style and Jughead’s deliberate lack thereof, but they don’t care.
They’re holding hands — or gloves — like kindergarteners, carefully waddling their way down the slippery, icy street.
“How did you talk me into this?” Jughead asks, not really expecting an answer. Veronica can talk anybody into anything if she wants it badly enough.
“Shh, less talking, more not falling,” Veronica says, brow furrowed in concentration.
“Someone should really salt the street,” Jughead notes. He firms his grip, spreading his legs slightly to keep upright when Veronica slips a little. She quickly gains her balance again and throws him a grateful smile. She’s pretty, even flushed from the cold and the surprise of nearly falling. Not that that says much — Jughead always thinks Veronica looks pretty. He wouldn’t dream of volunteering this fact though.
“I’ll have dad call… whoever… afterwards,” Veronica says, airily.
“After what exactly? You never did tell me.”
“Oh didn’t I? We’re going tree shopping!”
Jughead squints at her. “Like, Christmas tree shopping?”
“Yes, isn’t it great? Just like the common people do!” Veronica beams. “And you know that with my sense of style, I’m obviously the one who’ll pick the best looking tree on the lot.”
Jughead’s squint turns into a thoughtful look. “Betty threw you out of the kitchen, didn’t she?”
Veronica pouts. “You make one teeny tiny mistake and it’s all over. It’s not my fault the salt and the sugar looked the same in those jars!”
“That is a terrible idea,” Jughead says, more to have said it than because he believes it’ll change Archie’s mind in any way whatsoever. He shifts his grip on the tree they’re lugging to Veronica’s house. He really doesn’t understand why Veronica didn’t just get the tree delivered.
“Shut up,” Archie says. He’s panting. “You don’t know anything about what girls like.”
“I know Betty though, and she’s not going to like this.”
“She’s going to love it!”
Jughead sighs. “What in the world makes you think weird abstract jewelry is Betty’s thing? I’m not saying it’s not pretty, I’m just saying that Betty will never wear it.”
Archie pauses. Jughead suppresses a whine in protest as he’s stopped dead as well. He’s going to be picking needles out of his hair and clothing for ages after this.
“Do you really think so?”
“Yes! I wouldn’t still be harping on it if I didn’t think I was right!”
Archie is silent for a long while.
Jughead is patient despite the tree getting heavier by the second.
“…Want to come with me and exchange it for something else after we’ve dropped this off?”
He doesn’t really, but. “Yeah, sure. What are best friends for?”
It’s late now, they’ve all changed into pajamas — hers are the most stylish, of course, in a deep maroon silk, but Betty’s are cute in a Betty kind of way, and Jughead’s burger pjs have… a certain Jughead-ish charm, and Archie’s mishmash of top and bottom is very Archie. It’s like they’re children again. They’re not, of course, but sometimes it’s nice to be innocent the way they used to be.
“My idea was a great idea,” she says, congratulating herself, since it’s not like anybody else will do it.
“Oh yes! It was a wonderful idea!” Archie chimes in earnestly. All right, Archie at least can be relied upon to know his cues.
Veronica beams, face flushed with pleasure.
Betty rolls her eyes, but she’s smiling too.
They fall asleep in a pile in front of the fireplace. Jughead is using Archie’s thigh as a pillow, Betty’s knees are at his waist, her face at Archie’s shoulder. Veronica has curled up on Archie’s other side, using Archie’s arm as a pillow, pulling at it until she’s comfortable. Jughead tilts his head back a little, catches her gaze, smiles a slow fond smile, and reaches up to catch her hand in his, lacing their fingers together.
In the morning, they’ll exchange presents, and eat the rest of Betty’s cookies, and argue and laugh and take photographs and they’ll have fun. It’s going to be perfect; a memory for life before they go off to college. Exactly what Veronica wanted.