When the mysterious brunette swept into Pop’s, Betty couldn’t help but stare open-mouthed. In less than a second, the new girl had bewitched Archie. For all their history, Betty was now invisible to him and it wasn’t hard to see why. Bright, dark eyes framed by long lashes, plump, flushed cheeks, a full mouth stained dark purple. Unlike the rest of the town, this new girl - Veronica, she told them - exuded style in a simple black cape and high heels. In a wash of jealousy, Betty realized that Archie and Veronica were focused only on one another. Now a third wheel to her own not-a-date with Archie, Betty couldn’t help but simmer long after Veronica swept out of Pop’s.
On their way home, Veronica still an invisible third party, Archie’s attention was clearly elsewhere. Not knowing what to do to draw him back to her, Betty did the only thing she could. On the sidewalk outside her house, she set her hand on Archie’s chest and lifted up on her tiptoes. Closing her eyes, Betty pressed her lips against his in a gentle, questioning kiss. When Archie didn’t respond, she pulled back, heart in her throat.
“Betty, I can’t -“ He shook his head. “I’m sorry.”
She bit her lip and fought the tears that were coming. She’d known this was a bad idea, but with Kevin’s encouragement and her own longing.. .
“But we were supposed to . ”
He stepped back from her, a sadness in his eyes. “I’m sorry, I’ve just never felt -“ The rest of his words were lost as Betty ran to the safety of her room.
Despite being born a morning person, Betty dreaded this morning. The first day of school and she’d already ruined whatever chance she had for a perfect year. Before she could help herself, Betty glanced towards the Andrews’ house, but Archie’s shades were still drawn. With a swelling tide of nausea, she rose to get ready for the day.
At her vanity, she applied what little makeup she was allowed. A quick inspection showed her what she already knew about herself - clear skin, pale lips, pale eyes, normal lashes. Next to someone like Veronica - easy beauty and lithe grace - Betty was nothing more than the hometown girl-next-door. It had never bothered her before; she was who she was. But now, with someone like that in town .
Betty capped her lipgloss and stood. Even if she was expected to give Veronica a tour in an hour, she was determined to make the best of things, even if it meant losing Archie.
“And that’s Riverdale High School,” Betty said when they came around the corner to the main office.
She scrubbed her hands down the front of her pants. Despite having given this tour to a number of college recruiters, and the rare new student, she’d been jittery ever since Veronica had shown up with two cups of frothed caramel coffee. Whatever Betty had been expecting about her - a cold, ruthless brat perhaps - Veronica proved to be nothing of the sort. Wry quips and cultural asides had filled their conversations and despite a few of what Betty would politely call class differences, Veronica had been nothing but friendly. It was almost as if they’d been friends for years.
Stopping suddenly, Veronica set her hand on Betty’s arm. The chill of it sent goosebumps along Betty’s skin and she shivered.
“There’s that Irish Adonis you were with last night. Are you two -“
Betty shook her head, her heart already sinking as she remembered last night. As much as she might be in love with him, Archie had made it clear where he stood.
“No, we’re just friends.”
“Good to know. I’d hate to move in on someone else’s territory,” Veronica hummed.
They watched Archie greet everyone as he passed, a calculating look in Veronica’s eyes. Betty could only imagine how he looked to her, someone so friendly and trusting. So small town. And yet it seemed Veronica had marked him for her own.
Betty’s smile slipped and she shoved every bad thought away. “Well, if you don’t have any more questions -“
Before Veronica could object, Betty slipped into the stream of students to hide her tears.
“Betty and I come as a matching set,” Veronica said. She slipped her hand into Betty’s. “You want one, you take us both.”
A moment too late, Betty rubbed at her lips; no doubt Veronica’s lipstick had transferred. Veronica squeezed her hand, a reminder about the pep talk they’d had earlier, and Betty picked up her chin and pulled her shoulders back.
Across the gym, Cheryl’s lips were pressed together, a white line despite her cherry red lipstick. Something more than anger flashed across her eyes, but Betty didn’t understand why it was Cheryl would look so jealous. Behind Cheryl, the Vixens tittered with vapid rumors no doubt flitting through their heads. A long, silent minute later, and Cheryl relented with a huff.
“Fine. But if either of you embarrass me or bring shame on my Vixens, you will feel my wrath like no one before you. Next!” As Cheryl’s next victim stepped up behind them, Veronica steered Betty towards the bleachers. Even after they’d sat down, Veronica refused to let her hand go. And try as she might, Betty couldn’t focus on anything except the warm softness of Veronica next to her.
Long after classes had ended, Betty sat on her roof with Kevin. As the meteors raced across the sky above them, Betty let the words spill out from her, everything from Archie’s rejection to the strange easiness of Veronica. It was cathartic to talk things out with someone else, especially now that Polly wasn’t around.
“Ah, compulsory heterosexuality,” Kevin said with a sigh. “If only more people were as open to exploring as you were, we wouldn’t have so many problems.”
Betty threw a handful of popcorn at him and he laughed. “It’s not funny, Kev. All my life I’ve been in love with Archie, but now . ” Kevin pulled her into a tight hug. “And now you’re having to reevaluate everything you’ve ever known about yourself and how the world works.”
She sighed and leaned into his embrace. He’d always been her best friend and she knew that if anyone was going to understand and offer solace it would be Kevin.
“I love you, you know that?” He snorted and shifted them to a more comfortable position. “You’d better. Otherwise who would throw me this year’s surprise birthday party.”
Betty giggled and wrapped her arms around him, feeling better than she had in a long time.
One day before their debut as newly minted Vixens, Betty forced herself to be still while Veronica zipped her uniform up. “Perfect. Very Betty Draper, Season 1,” Veronica said. She flattened the zipper and Betty couldn’t help but shiver at Veronica’s touch. As if teasing her, Veronica let her thumb brush against the back of Betty’s neck. Memories of their kiss flooded through Betty’s mind and she spun to break the spell.
“Why did you defend me at tryouts? Why are you being so . nice?” “I . ” Veronica faltered, her natural confidence failing her. Betty took Veronica’s hand, a silent promise not to judge. “When my father got arrested, our family went under the media microscope. So many people wrote horrible things about us - my father was a thief; my mother a clueless socialite. And I was a spoiled, rich ice princess. It hurt, because it was all true,” Veronica said softly. “So I made a promise that I would become a better version of myself.”
“New town, new you.” Veronica nodded. “Something like that.” She squeezed Betty’s hand, a sly grin on her face. “Now, let’s go remind Cheryl why we’re on the squad.” Betty followed Veronica out onto the field, her heart in her throat and the feeling of new beginnings on the horizon.
Soon after practice ended, and far too soon for Betty’s liking, that new beginning was brought about. As they were walking home, Veronica spied Archie on the road ahead.
“There he is,” she said. “Time for you to slay your dragons, Betty Cooper.” Before Betty could protest, Veronica called out for Archie. Sensing her hesitation Veronica tugged Betty behind her. “Oh Archikins. Betty dearest has something to say,” Veronica said in a sly, sing-song voice. Archie glanced between them with a bemused grin. It was astounding, really, how much things could change in a week. Now, instead of turning into a puddle of emotions at the sight of Archie, Betty felt only a small tug of attraction. The consuming fire he’d once ignited in her was nothing more than a dying ember, as if it had been doused by ice water.
“I’m sorry,” Betty said suddenly. Veronica and Archie both stared at her, dumbfounded. “I shouldn’t have kissed you like that without warning.” Betty tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, purposefully ignoring Veronica’s pursed lips.
Before Archie had the chance to recover, Veronica cut in. “What about the dance? Didn’t you have something to ask?” Betty bit her lip, her heart pounding. Kevin’s encouragement echoed in her mind- we only have one life to live - and she turned towards Veronica. “Veronica, would you like to go to the dance with me?”