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If her parents ever find out, Veronica can already imagine precisely how they are going to react – that’s why, if she has any say in it whatsoever, they definitely won’t be finding out. Her mother will arch a perfectly-shaped brow, and her father will scoff in derision before saying, “Veronica, when we asked you to ease the transition of the Southside students, we didn’t think you would take it to such…. extremes.” And all of that will be without her sharing the name of the boy she is currently making out with, a repetitive bass line thrumming through both the house of some Bulldog and her body.

Sweet Pea.

Veronica is not an idiot, she knows it is a moniker, but still. It is incredibly hard not to look at such a towering figure and not laugh when he calls himself by said moniker. And really, judging by the way he kisses, there has proven to be nothing much at all that is sweet about him. His hands are splayed on the small of her back, holding her tight against him, and her lipstick is certain to have transferred onto his skin. He tastes how she imagines the reddish punch connotation would taste, Veronica more than happy to stick to her own flask of vodka than dip her cup into the proverbial fountain located in the kitchen. Knowing the Bulldogs, there’s certain to be something extra slipped into that punch that probably isn’t alcohol. Or maybe not. One can never be sure when it comes to teenage boys and their incredibly fragile egos and compulsive need to one-up each other. Maybe the punch is completely non-alcoholic, to see who pretends to be drunk and makes a fool of themselves in the process.

She pulls back from Sweet Pea, lungs in desperate need of oxygen. A finger wipes the dark lipstick away from where it sits under his bottom lip, and she really shouldn’t be surprised when Sweet Pea nips at the digit. A soft laugh escapes her mouth before she can think too much about it, and she shakes her head at him, comfortable enough perched on his lap. There is a mass of people crowded into the house, Northside and Southside alike, but thankfully, the couch they are currently sitting on remains empty – perhaps because unlike during school hours, the Serpent tattoo located on Sweet Pea’s neck is on full display, his leather jacket carefully folded and placed next to him. She thinks she spotted Archie before, and she knows he definitely spotted how close she was sitting next to Sweet Pea, her nails trailing lightly up and down his left forearm, if his rapid succession of gulps from his cup were any indication.

She didn’t break things off with Archie purely because he kissed Betty. That might be what everything is saying, including her parents, but it isn’t entirely the truth. And she won’t be making any effort to correct everyone, because really, it doesn’t matter why she left Archie. Her departure from the arms of Archie Andrews might have been prompted by him kindly informing her he had kissed Betty in the brief period they were broken up and then returned to her as if nothing were amiss, but it had been solidified by the realisation that Archie thought her parents to be capable of murder. Less than legal activity, certainly, but murder?  Surely Archie wasn’t foolish enough to believe that Hermione Lodge would do anything that placed her carefully manicured nails at risk. And honestly, Nick had deserved everything that had happened to him – not just for what he had done to her, but what he had almost succeeded in doing to Cheryl. Her parents’ actions might not have been legal per say, but they had been the necessary retribution nonetheless. If her years on the Upper East Side taught her anything it is that people like Nick don’t listen to reason, and they have more than enough cash to throw around to smooth over their mistakes – or erase them entirely, if they so wish.

“I’m going to get another drink,” Sweet Pea says, shifting her off his lap gently, his hands easily ensnaring her waist. Veronica nods, carefully shifting her skirt so she isn’t flashing the entire party. Her lingerie might be from Paris, but Reggie Mantle certainly doesn’t deserve to see it. Sweet Pea doesn’t offer to grab her a drink, nor does she ask. Her flask is still somewhat full, and besides, she’s capable of navigating the kitchen herself if she so desires. The dog tags hanging from his neck jingle as he stands up from the couch, and Veronica runs a finger over her pearls in response.

Slipping his arms into his jacket, he leaves the living without a backward glance, Veronica drumming her nails against her thigh. He’s so tall, she doesn’t think he’d actually fit in her bed, Sweet Pea having to stoop somewhat as he enters the kitchen. Betty shoots her a look from across the room, but Veronica merely offers her a slight shrug of her shoulders, and Betty’s attention is quickly captured by Jughead once more. They aren’t officially back together, but Veronica presumes it is only a matter of time before they are holding hands in the corridors of Riverdale High once more.

Sweet Pea is taking longer than expected to retrieve what is sure to be mediocre, perhaps even diluted alcohol so in one swift moment Veronica stands up from the couch. A Lodge doesn’t sit idle and wait for someone, after all. If Sweet Pea thinks he can abandon her company in favour of someone else, if he thinks she’ll happily wait for him, then he’s sorely mistaken. Sweet Pea might be interesting, and notably clever, but in the end he is just a boy. Veronica makes her way through the party in her favourite pair of black heels, offering waves here and there and pausing for a moment to chat with Josie, before finally escaping into the backyard.

Standing on the thankfully empty balcony, she inhales deeply, tucking her hair behind her ears as she navigates down the stairs and heads towards the cluster of people gathered on the lawn. A small path ensures her heels aren’t forced to be tarnished by the surely damp grass, and she’s beyond grateful for whoever first invented concrete.The group is a surprising mixture of people – Toni, Kevin, Chuck and Valerie. And Sweet Pea, two cups clutched in his hands. He hands her one of the cups without a word as she joins the group, and although she furrows her brow slightly at his actions she does not refuse the offering, sipping lightly at the liquid.

Without minutes, they are all in the throes of laughter, Kevin desperately trying to describe just how Mr. Byron’s wardrobe had malfunctioned through his own fit of laughter. Sweet Pea stands silently beside her, and when she shivers in the cool night air, her outfit more aesthetically pleasing than actually functional for this time of year, he wordlessly places his cup down on the grass and strips himself of his Serpent jacket, draping the leather over her shoulders. Kevin raises an eyebrow but thankfully says nothing, although Veronica knows she’s certain to be the topic of a text thread between him and Betty. If they treat her to pancakes at Pop’s tomorrow morning, she’ll happily dish on just exactly how it feels to kiss someone with a tongue piercing.

Twenty or so minutes later, the chill proves to be too much for her. Carefully, as if it were made out of the finest lace, Veronica hands Sweet Pea back his jacket, offering him a soft smile. He does not offer to accompany her back inside, nor does she ask. When it comes to Sweet Pea, she has no expectations whatsoever.

“Lodge!” he shouts, when she has made her way to the top of the stairs, the terrible music currently playing obviously meaning Jughead has made an official complaint. Veronica swivels around on her heels, brow quirked in question as she meets Sweet Pea’s gaze. She cannot figure out whether she likes the nickname or not, and she supposes she'll have to dedicate time to mull it over late. There is a grin on Sweet Pea’s lips, a wide grin that seems entirely out of place on such a physically imposing figure. “See you in Algebra?”

Veronica laughs, nodding. She can feel Sweet Pea’s eyes following her as she enters the house, and if Veronica deliberately swivels her hips more than usual for those last few steps, what of it?