Betty had noticed the difference immediately. It wasn't like it was subtle, after all. One day, Valerie ate lunch with the Pussycats, just as she had for all of freshman year. The next day, she sat with Archie, and while everyone kept acting as if nothing in the world had changed, there was no mistaking the way that Valerie looked at their redheaded friend. She definitely had a crush.
But what surprised Betty more was that Archie kept looking at Val the same way.
It made sense, she supposed. They had a lot in common these days: making music, singing, songwriting. It was all stuff that Betty herself couldn't appreciate quite the same way that they did, and it built up an invisible boundary between them; there was an unspoken divide at their table, and while Archie and Val were on one side, Betty and the rest were on another.
She was less jealous than she expected, honestly. If this had happened a few weeks ago, after all, she would've been crushed. (She could still remember how devastated she felt after the seven minutes in heaven incident, and that wasn't even Archie or Veronica's fault.) But now... now it didn't seem so dire to think that perhaps there was nothing romantic between herself and Archie after all. There didn't need to be; they were great friends either way, and if Archie genuinely thought that he'd be better off with Veronica or Valerie or whoever else, then so be it. Life in Riverdale had been changing lately, and Betty Cooper had been changing with it.
Across the table from her, Archie and Valerie shared another all-too-meaningful, relationship-heralding look, and Betty cast her own glance over at the person sitting to her right.
Slouched over the lunch table like he didn't have a care in the world, Jughead caught her eye and smiled.