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Life isn't a Photograph

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The one person whose sole purpose to love and cherish you is your mother’s.

Yet, she sits in the bathroom looking at the purple marks that litter her skin, some faded some fresh. Her eyes glance upon one, it’s sort of heart shaped- ha, how ironic.

It had started with arguing, heated arguing, between her mother and her father. But when the marriage went down the drain legally and her mother packed up her father’s bags and demanded he left, something inside her was left numb.

Watching all of the chaos unravel slowly and then all be pulled out from under you at once could only get better from there, right? Wrong. Very, very wrong.

Betty became the new punching bag for her mother, which she hid her best with layers and layers of makeup and long sleeved jumpers, no matter the weather. At first she fought back, but now she just took the hits with as straight of a face she could muster or at worst, a slight wince, she had quickly learnt that crying was the worst thing she could do, her mother didn’t “do” pity, not anymore.

However, in all honesty, it wasn’t even the physical abuse that affected her anymore, she was used to that burning strike of pain which rushed through her body in waves when she had done something particularly “bad”, and in need of a punishment; which was becoming more apparent recently, actually. No, it wasn’t that at all, it was the mental triggers that were shot at her all day, every day. The constant nagging which took over her mind even when her mother wasn’t even with her physically. All of the “are you sure that is wise, Betty. You won’t have that fast metabolism forever you know” and the “Elizabeth, those skinny jeans do nothing for your thighs, dear”. When Betty looked in the mirror these days, she no longer recognised herself, she just saw an empty shell of someone she used to know.

And that’s where she sat now, peering into the mirror of the white, pristine bathroom, her eyes blurry with tears. Her head physically throbbing at the recurring mantra of negativity her mother had drilled into her mind and soul. She looked weak, weak and pathetic. In fact, she looked exactly how she felt, weak and pathetic.

The Coopers were meant to be strong and brave, that’s what had been engrained into her from a very young age. The Coopers didn’t make a scene, they didn’t make a show; they smiled politely and bit their tongue, then made a passive aggressive comment with a sickeningly sweet fake smile accompanied by a fake laugh. Life to them was about keeping up the “american dream” facade and being envied by everyone else in the neighbourhood.

Quite frankly, Betty didn’t think life was about that at all, life should be real and raw, not an overdramatic movie where everybody sings in tune and just so happen to know the same dance moves and join in at just the right time.

Life couldn’t be portrayed in a photo, 2D and motionless, only showing what you want to be shown, her mother thought that was the beauty of photos though. The control and power to only show the positives, that was why all of the photos scattered around her house looked so perfect, all smiling faces and perfect postures, most of the ones featuring her father had been removed and retaken, without him in them, most of them taken around the time her mother had started abusing her. Yet there they were, standing arms around each other, hollywood smiles in place.

Despite these opinions, Betty would never voice them, she wasn’t strong, and she certainly wasn’t brave, she practically cowered every time she heard her mother’s voice; what was brave about that?

 

She counted the bruises, there were 20, running up and down her arms. They were a multitude of hues, colours that shouldn’t be on someone’s skin, the fresh ones looked painful as they were deep blues and purples, but even the more faint ones looked bad too. However, it wasn’t just that, there were deep, red lines around her wrists from where her mother had gripped her too tight, it looked like someone had clawed at her, tearing out the skin, the gashes told the whole story. It was harrowing.

Suddenly, a quiet knock woke her from her thoughts, followed by an unsure “Betts?”, it was her sister, little Polly. Betty checked her phone, it was almost 7:30, Polly would want her story soon, so she quickly wiped the flaking mascara from under her eyes, pulled on a baggy jumper, re-tied her blonde hair into a tight ponytail and fixed her most convincing smile onto her face where a real one should be.

“Out in a minute, Pol” she called, in the fullest voice she could manage, and yet it still sounded hollow and empty.

Every night she would make up a story to tell her younger sister, she told herself she only told the stories to appease her sister, but really it was to take her mind off all of the stress of everyday life. Sometimes she really got lost herself in the completely improvised stories about witches and wizards, fairies and princesses and it wasn’t until Polly had fell asleep that she felt empty again as reality shook her by the shoulders. Of course Polly didn’t know about her sisters and mothers relationship, or rather lack-of, but she certainly wasn’t stupid. She was intelligent for her young age of 7 and noticed that there was no glisten in Betty’s eyes or spring in her step anymore. She obviously still loved her sister, but the sister she had 6 months ago was not the same sister she had now.

“Betty!” Polly hollered from her room, Betty nervously checked the time on her phone, wondering how long she’d been caught up in her thoughts, but, it was 7:33. Oh Polly, patient as ever. Betty hesitantly opened the door to the bathroom and made a bee-line for her and Polly’s shared room, not wanting to see her mother.  

“You took so long, B, I’ve been waiting forever.”  

“It’s only been 3 minutes, Pol. Now, do you want a story about Mermaids or Princesses?”  

“Mermaids! Obviously, they are so much cooler B, you know that”. Betty lifted up a corner of the pink floral duvet and Polly shimmied inside it and pulled the duvet up around her so you could only see her head. With that, Betty began to tell an elaborate story about two mermaids who held very similar descriptions to those of Betty and Polly. Betty hardly made it halfway through the story before she heard the soft, gentle snoring of Polly. So with the little girl soundly sleeping, she tucked Polly into her duvet with her favourite stuffed toy rabbit, pecked her forehead and turned off the main lamp, leaving the mellow glow of Polly’s nightlight prominent in the room.

She made her way to her side of the room, pulled out the witch-hazel and a few cotton pads from her bed-side table. Cracking open the stiff bottle, she welcomed the all too familiar smell and started dabbing her bruises with the medicated liquid, wincing ever so slightly when she accidentally pressed a little too hard, wishing the marks away. She changed into some old pyjamas, the worn cotton calming her slightly as it rubbed gently against her battered skin. Gullibly, she sprayed her pillow with lavender spray in the hope that one day it would help her get some sleep and reached for her battered version of her favourite book, Pride and Prejudice. She opened it, letting the words engulf her for what felt like the millionth time. She read the words that she could probably recite off by heart perfectly until her eyes began to feel heavy and started to close slightly. She lay down carefully, and tried to lose herself in the sweet smell of the lavender, but very quickly she found the smell to be less comforting and more sickening. And instead of sleeping she began to replay the last painful year in her head again, much to her dismay. It looked like sleep was off the table tonight, again.

 

She regularly tried to pinpoint the time everything went wrong. But she couldn’t even distinguish what month it all went down the drain, never mind a specific occasion, day or moment. Betty was seriously starting to consider that it was all, in fact, her fault. If she hadn’t been so selfish, maybe her parents would still be together. She always wanted those new shoes, that new coat, the newest phone- the newest anything to stay popular and everyone knows that even that went down the drain too. In fact, this was why Betty was hated so much, she was the “mean girl” along with Toni and a load of other girls that followed them round, half of which she didn’t even know the name of. Toni and her were friends with each other when they had nobody else, they were each others rocks, or so she thought, once high school came around, Betty spent her days desperately trying to keep Toni by her side, making sure she was “cool” enough to be worthy of her presence. Even after all that time Betty spent trying to impress someone who wasn’t even her real friend, she failed to see the true problems staring her right in the face. To be honest, her biggest problems shouldn’t have been whether she could buy those new shoes; it should have been trying to fight for her breaking family. But she was selfish, and that’s why everyone hated her. Including herself.

She checked her phone, it read 4:26 am, she couldn’t get up now, she would wake up her mother and Polly and there would be no gain to that interaction, apart from maybe a few more bruises. So instead she buried herself under her duvet and checked all of the apps on her phone, starting with Instagram. Betty rarely checked her social media, or her phone at all to be honest. It was always the same, mean comments on her sporadic posts. Even though she had zero friends, she had close to 500 instagram followers, most of which were ‘friends’ of Toni, who spent their days desperately trying to be liked by her or be like her, just like she had done. And to be liked by Toni, meant publically showing their strong dislike for Betty, apparently.

Toni was by far the most popular girl in school, despite her somewhat quirky appearance. Her unique self was probably why she was so popular, she wasn’t your stereotypical “mean girl”, she didn’t have long blonde hair and she didn’t look like Regina George or a Barbie Doll. She had long brown hair with pink streaks, the same colour as candyfloss, warm and inviting which may justify why so many people looked at her with such awe, even if “inviting and warm” was the very opposite to Toni’s personality. Those that didn’t like her wanted to be her. And they definitely didn’t make their opinions towards her vocal, because if Toni caught a glimpse of something she didn’t approve of happening, she could ruin you. Oh, was Betty aware of that. That was the one thing about Toni that made her untouchable; she had eyes everywhere and was highly intelligent. This also made it difficult for Betty to shake her off as they shared almost every class together, the only class they didn’t share was journalism and that was hardly an escape at all, Toni’s boyfriend was in that class.

Betty continued to carelessly scroll through her Instagram feed, looking at each generic selfie of each generic person. Until she came across a post from Jughead, Toni’s boyfriend. Jughead’s posts were once in a blue moon, but they were often egotistical; either all of the football team out on the field, or a really cringey photo of him and Toni, which will probably have to have been approved by her. All of the photos, however, were showered with likes and comments about how they were “couple goals” and “perfect”.

‘How fake’ Betty thought to herself, even when Betty and Toni were best friends (if you could even call them that), Betty never liked Jughead. He was exasperating and always flirted shamelessly with her which got her in trouble with Toni, and then when everything crumbled around her, he joined in with all of the abuse just as badly, if not even worse.  

 

Betty didn’t know how long she had been staring at nothing for, but it must have been quite a while as Betty heard Polly start to stir, she’d be wide awake soon. That’s what Betty never understood about children, they woke up at ridiculous times of the morning, with all the energy- no grogginess, nor any signs of any tiredness. She checked her phone again, 6:37. She should probably get up soon if she wanted to have a proper shower before school. Mondays, were her least favourite; journalism, science, English and double maths- she couldn’t wait. Reluctantly, she swivelled out from under her duvet and placed her bare feet firmly onto the cold wood. Still drowsy from a lack of sleep, Betty picked up her makeup bag from her dressing table; pre-planned white shirt, royal blue jumper and blue jeans combo from her wardrobe and hair brush and hairdryer from the pink stacker box in the corner of her bedroom labelled “hair” and made it for the bathroom.

She looked at herself in the mirror; she had eye bags that were a dark purple and visually showed her ridiculous tiredness. She filled the sink with cold water, submerged her hands into the water and splashed it onto her face in attempt to wake her up, but she could barely even feel the water in her deadbeat state. Her face looked physically and mentally drained; she was paler than ever and so, aimed to cover her skin with foundation that was slightly too dark for her to force some colour into her face. Then she went on tackle her wrists and arms, she always wore long sleeved jumpers and shirts but just wanted to make sure there would be no red marks peeping out from her sleeves just incase she got shoved in the corridors or raised her hand a little too high in class. With a swipe of baby pink lip balm on her lips and her hair pulled back into her signature too tight ponytail, she headed out of the bathroom to see if Polly was out of bed yet.  

 

Polly wasn’t in her bed and she could hear the slight buzz of TV coming from downstairs, if she went down there now she would definitely have to speak to her mother, play happy families in front of Polly (even though Betty was pretty sure Polly knew more about her and her mother’s relationship than they all thought) but if she stayed up here she’d have to face her mother coming to find her and ridiculing her for her fashion sense, recent grades or how tidy her room was, and she doesn’t know if she could be bothered to face that this morning. So, she headed downstairs and made her way to the kitchen where she could hear Polly talking about how she got the highest mark in the class for her most recent science project, Betty knew her mother would be proud of that, it’s another thing to brag about at “pick-up” time. As Betty walked into the kitchen she wasn’t acknowledged by her mother or Polly, there was only a forced cough from her mother as Betty reached for a breakfast muffin so she quickly grabbed and apple from the fruit bowl instead, mumbled something about going to school early to finish some ‘extra credit’ homework that didn’t exist, receive a satisfied witter from her mother and proceed to grab her coat and leave the white-picket fenced house. That was quite a successful breakfast Betty thought to herself.

Betty had left her house very early this morning, she regularly left earlier than needed but today she left so early that she could walk to school and still get there with almost half an hour before her classes started, without needing to get the bus. This also meant she would get to school without having to see any of Toni and Jughead’s ‘friends’ before school, primarily giving her week the best start it could have. She wouldn’t even have to see Archie, and they shared a fence. However, in Archie's defence, he was the nicest of them all and always showed the most discomfort when Toni, Jughead and all of their minions were picking on her, yet he never didn’t anything to stop them either. Actually, Archie wasn’t all bad at all, he would speak to her when he knew nobody could see them or would find out that he was communicating with the ‘enemy’,but Betty still didn’t trust him, mainly because he was terrible to all of the girls she used to call friends. He would use them, lead them on until he got bored of them of course, after that he’d leave them hanging high and dry. Just a classic jock to be honest.

 

Betty started walking, putting in her headphones and letting Imagine Dragons consume her whole body, the vibrations from the too loud music run through her rapidly and viciously. Demons comes on shuffle- “is this supposed to be a sign?” Betty thinks to herself as she listens to the lyrics: “it's where my demons hide, it’s where my demons hide” it was like a subconscious mantra flooding her mind, she didn’t want to acknowledge her demons to anyone yet. She didn’t want to admit them to herself so she definitely wasn’t going to voice them to anyone else. Who would she vent to anyway? Polly was her only friend, really, and she was far too young to understand the constant waves of self loathing sadness that would drown her mind every now and then (more now than then to be honest). Not like Betty would want to vent to Polly, she was a role model for her little sister and didn’t want to taint that by telling all of her deepest and darkest problems, also she might blab to their mother and that would start a whole new saga of problems that Betty didn’t have the willpower to overcome that. Especially not alone.


Chapter Text

School started at 8:30 but Betty reached the gates at 8:03, giving her 27 minutes to,basically, hide from everyone. Betty expected this task to be easy; nobody ever spoke to her, unless they were messing with her. Besides, there was literally nobody else here.

What she wasn’t expecting was to see that the library light was already on and the door was wide open as if it was a normal time of morning. Betty felt slightly uneasy but that didn’t stop her from entering the brightly lit room anyway. Surprisingly, the room was empty but the overpowering smell of “boy” told her that someone had been there very recently and would probably be returning soon, she wasn’t completely sure. Betty couldn’t be overly bothered to acknowledge anybody today, but it definitely wasn’t going to be anyone like Toni or any of the footballers that returned to the library, she was almost certain they wouldn't know what a library was for. Betty came to the conclusion that it would probably be someone who had had the same idea as her- to use the library early before school and get some extra work done, so she sat at one of the desks near a computer and took out some notes from her journalism class that day to read over and chose a new playlist to listen to on her phone, she was so engrossed in the reading she was doing and her music was so loud in her head that she didn’t hear footsteps approaching the library, the table she was sitting at and then her. It wasn’t until a pile of books were smashing towards the floor making a loud clatter that she even correlated that she had company. And when so, apprehensively took out her headphones and lifted her head to see two stormy blue eyes filled with anger glaring back at her. Jughead.

“What are you doing here, Cooper? You know you’re not allowed here.” Jughead spat at her.

“I don’t answer to you, Jones” Betty tried to say in the most confident voice she could gather, but her face gave her away, it was all in her eyes; her anxiety filled, vulnerable eyes. Jughead walked up to her lazily, with a huge smirk plastered on his face, he didn’t stop until he was inches away from her, his eyes lit up when he saw her tense up under his glare.  

“Oh Betty, I think we both know that you’re terrified of me” he said as he said as he gripped onto her left wrist, not hard enough to leave a mark but at least hard enough that it should’ve made her wince slightly, and yet she barely flinched, “let's not even kid ourselves. Now, I think you should leave, we wouldn’t want Toni finding out about your little boost of confidence would we?” He knew he was getting under her skin, but it wasn’t until he let go of her arm and she ran off to the girls toilets that he realised that she already had marks on both of her wrists.

 

Betty could barely see straight as she ran for the bathroom, her eyes glazing with tears. She was sure that the toilets would be empty at this time of morning, but then again she thought that about the library too. Betty just hoped that Jughead would at least have the decency to leave her alone for the rest of the day, and she seriously wished that Jughead wouldn’t tell Toni what happened. She was assuming that he wouldn’t though, because then he would have to explain what he was doing at school so early, and even Betty didn’t know that. Suddenly not caring, Betty let the gathering tears fall from her eyes; fat, salty tears rolled down her face as she suffered in silence. It wasn’t until she heard sniffles from a close by cubicle that she realised she wasn’t alone. At first, Betty just thought it was her and that she wasn’t as silent as she thought, but a gentle knock on her cubicle door snapped her from her thoughts. She was going to just ignore whoever it was behind the door, but she figured she would have to leave at some point and the consistent knocking from the other side of the door told Betty that whoever this was, they weren’t going anywhere, any time soon.

Reluctantly, Betty walked over to the door of the cubicle and unlocked the door, opening it slowly. Facing was a raven haired, olive skinned, beautiful girl who she’d never seen before. She had been crying too, but if it wasn’t for her bloodshot eyes, Betty would never have even noticed. This girl looked like a model, her makeup was still perfect;there wasn’t even any streaks in her foundation and her mascara hadn’t smudged at all, and she was stunning.

Betty realised she had just been staring at this girl she didn’t recognise and hadn’t said anything, so she quickly looked down to the floor, suddenly finding her shoes very interesting. The new girl spoke first, putting out her hand confidently.

“Hi,” she said “I’m Veronica, I’m new here and I’m not normally like this, I never usually cry, my mum and dad raised a strong girl I promise”. This new girl screamed popular, and would 100% be taken in by Toni, making friends with her or even being caught smiling at her would be social suicide. She didn’t want to ruin this girls chances of having a care-free school life without her knowing everything and choosing the right option. So, Betty cleared her throat and tried to calm her nerves.

“You really shouldn’t be talking to me if you want to be liked here” she said, so quietly even she struggled to hear herself.

“Sorry?” Veronica questioned.  

“Seriously,” Betty started, a little louder this time “if you want to be liked here you don’t want to be talking to me, in fact you shouldn’t even be seen with me” Betty tried to leave the bathrooms but felt a hand pull her back into the cubicle and heard the door locking, they were both now locked in the toilet cubicle, together.  

“What are you doing? Did you not hear anything I just said?” Betty questioned, she was trying to help this new girl, why wasn’t she leaving her alone? Betty heard the girl sigh heavily and then proceed to talk,  

“I don’t care what people think of me, I choose my own friends, and it looks like you need one.” Veronica paused for a moment and Betty went to object before Veronica spoke again, “besides I’m trying to get away from that whole ‘popular’ thing, you know: new town, new me”. Betty looked down again, willing herself not to cry, why was this girl being so nice to her? She decided to trust her, what did she have to lose-right? Veronica’s next comment woke Betty from her thoughts,  

“Do you want to tell me what’s up, I mean it's only 8:15 and you seem really upset, I have some makeup in my bag, and I can re-do your makeup if you like? It’ll make you feel better, I promise.” Veronica smiled sincerely, it was warm and inviting, trustworthy, but she didn’t want to say anything to her in the public bathrooms that any girl could walk into and eavesdrop on their conversation. Betty put on her best smile, swallowed any anxieties and answered Veronica,  

“I’m fine, honestly. But I’d love it if you could do my makeup, if you don’t mind.”

“Eeek.” Veronica squealed, anybody looking at her wouldn’t believe that she was just crying in a girls high school toilet, and it didn’t go unnoticed by Betty, her smile may be big and bright but her eyes were still small and Betty thought it was for a more serious reason than what Veronica was letting on, but then again who was she to judge? She too had just been caught crying in a girl’s high school toilet less than 5 minutes ago.  

“I love a makeover” Veronica continued, “I can tell we are going to be best friends...” Betty realised she hadn’t yet introduced herself,

“Betty” she informed Veronica, whose eyes were increasingly brightening.  

“Well, I can tell we are going to be best friends, Betts”. Betty gave a small smile, only her sister called her that anymore. It used to be what everyone called her, but then her Dad left and never called anymore, and her mother glazed over, lost all human qualities, it was as if they left with her father. It was always Betty now, when she was in a good mood, or more currently Elizabeth, formal and proper.

“Me too,” Betty returned, “Thank you V” Veronica smiled at the new nickname, it just all seemed to sound so natural, “for not caring what people will think of you, and I tell you now, lots of people will have a lot of opinions, and lots of people will try to befriend you so I have no friends, and if you want to be friends with them, that’s fine, honestly, don’t think I’m going to stop-“  

“Betty, stop rambling, you don’t have to worry, you’re stuck with me now! I’m not into that whole popularity thing, what makes you think that I am?”  

“Well,” Betty started, “you’re so pretty, kind, all the boys are going to drool when they see you in school today, but you seem like the type of girl you don't want to get on the wrong side of, strong-“  

Veronica laughed at that, “I’m not strong Betts, to be honest, I used to be a mean girl at my old school, and mean girls look strong, but truthfully, the reason mean girls are so mean is because they’re weak and insecure, trust me, I’ve been there.” Veronica said confidently waving her powder brush around, tapping Betty’s nose with it when she said “trust me” with a slightly sad smile. Betty didn’t know what to say, Veronica didn’t seem the type to hurt someone intentionally, or hurt anyone, ever- but then again, she didn’t really know her, did she? They fell into more comfortable chat as Veronica continued with Betty’s makeup, living happily in their own little bubble until the bell for first period rang- journalism, and with Jughead, fantastic. Betty checked Veronica’s timetable, they practically had all the same classes, apart from journalism. Veronica had taken textiles instead so Betty would just have to face her first lesson of the day alone.

“I’ll meet you outside textiles?” Betty asked Veronica, “then we can walk to science together?”

“Sure!” Veronica answered the bright smile back on her face, this time however, it reached her eyes and the pools of chocolate were rich with happiness.  

 

When Betty got to her journalism class she was one of the last, but there was one raven haired boy missing. Sitting in her assigned seat and taking her blue folder labelled “journalism” in big block letters out of her bag and her clear pencil case which was filled with pens, highlighters and sticky notes she looked around for the intimidating boy once more, still no sign.

Normally, that would be a good thing, but because of their interaction this morning, she couldn’t help but let her mind wander to where he was and who he was talking to. She really didn’t want him to give Toni another reason to torment her for. I mean, she didn’t like Betty talking to Jughead when they were friends and she and Jughead weren’t even together then. Now, Betty was hated by Toni and Jughead and they were together- even if it was in the pettiest relationship Betty had ever seen, and she’d lived through her parent’s divorce. Toni and Jughead were definitely the “it” couple in school; however, they were... well- indecisive let’s say. They could be described in the same way you’d describe a light switch; one second it’s on, the next it’s off and then on again. No matter how cliche that sounded, it was the truth.

 

They were tiring to keep up with; they were both equally manipulative- to each other and other people. Betty thought they should just stay together; they were the perfect match after all, both as bad as each other. Betty must have drifted off in her thoughts as it wasn’t until a loud knock on the door woke her from her daydreams, making her realise that she hadn’t been listening for the last half hour of the lesson, missing the first half of the lecture about some sort of journalism assignment her teacher had been addressing the class with in his monotone, boring voice.

Her journalism teacher, Mr Rodgers, rolled his eyes at the interruption and went to answer the knock at the door, Betty’s gut told her that it was Jughead and so she busied herself with pretending to write, until the interaction at the door caused her to look up in horror.

“Jones, thank you for gracing us with your presence, 30 minutes late might I add.” Mr Rodgers threw at Jughead, whilst still writing on the whiteboard  

“I missed you too, Sir,” Jughead returned with an equal amount of sarcasm.

“Oh no, you’re not welcome to sit at the back, you can sit next to Betty and in fact, you will be working with her for this project”

“What? Sir, please, you don’t understa-”

“Are you kidding me?” Betty interrupted Jughead which caused everyone in her class to turn around and stare at her. She could feel her face blushing, she hadn’t meant for her outburst to be that loud, “I am not working with him, what have I done wrong?”

“Please don’t try to fool me, Miss Cooper, I know a daydreamer when I see one. Now, Jones, I won’t take any more of your nonsense or distractions go and sit in the spare seat next to Miss Cooper and do your work.”  

Betty was speechless; she couldn’t believe she was being punished for a whole term because of something so small; this was all Jughead’s fault. Jughead strolled over to the spare seat at an agonisingly slow pace, he almost felt bad for Betty, he knew Toni would go ballistic with her when she found this out and it wasn’t even her fault, and to be honest she had no right to, they were more off than on these days and Jughead found himself not caring what she thought of him anymore. That being said, he still put on his best scowl as he neared Betty sitting anxiously in her seat, hands balled into fists, he had a reputation to uphold after all.

Jughead sat down and leant back, faking disinterest in his favourite lesson. Betty didn’t know what to do the slightest wrong move or look in Jughead’s direction would be reported back to Toni and Betty couldn’t be bothered with that whole new can of worms to be opened and thrown onto her. So she kept her head down and said nothing to Jughead, even when he was blatantly trying to copy off her, and she was feeling increasingly more anxious as she noticed him staring at her wrists as if he’d noticed something, maybe her makeup was rubbing off there and he’d noticed some of the red grip marks around her forearms. She subconsciously pulled her sweater sleeves further down, but that only caused Jughead to look at her more, his eyebrow arched with confusion. Betty felt like she should say something, they both knew something was wrong under the surface of Betty’s sweater and the tension was choking, but Betty still chose to remain silent, staring at the front of the classroom.  

Journalism class dragged on for what felt like hours, the new assignment was to write a newspaper for a school audience, with Betty and Jughead having to work together, it wouldn’t be an enjoyable experience, they couldn’t even look in the same direction without rumours travelling around the whole school community, and that would be enough to tip Betty over that edge that she was teetering over so cautiously.

The project would probably end up with Betty writing the whole thing up and sticking Jughead’s name on the front and, in all honesty, she was quite alright with that. It meant there was no chance for either Toni or Jughead to be annoyed at her, and she could carry on as she was, staying well away from them.



Chapter Text

Betty was snapped out of her daydream when she saw Veronica standing, waiting for her outside of the classroom. She stood with such poise that she just “fit in” already; she had such an intimidating, yet sweet, aura about her that oozed with confidence, and yet in spite of that, she was completely oblivious to everyone else in the corridor staring at her in awe and fascination.

Betty cleared up her stuff quickly and started to leave when she heard the voice of Jughead shouting behind her, “Betty! Betty!” she chose to ignore this and left the classroom, meeting a confused Veronica, standing with one hand on her hip and a twinkle in her eye.

“Who is that, B?”

“It’s, nobody”

“Really? Why did you ignore him? He seemed pretty adamant to talk to you, is there something you want to tell me I mean he is gorgeous and that hair…”

Betty stopped listening to Veronica gush about Jughead, and his hair as she walked down the corridor, staring at the floor, until she saw, or rather, she heard Toni walking at the opposite side of the corridor, walking towards her. Well, walking towards her and Veronica, Veronica a new, pretty girl talking about Toni’s boyfriend (and now his perfectly structured jawline) very animatedly, and very loud.

“Hey V, I’d shut up if I were you”

“You could cut yourself on that jawline, it’s so sharp and so-‘

“Veronica!”

Veronica finally stopped talking and just stared at Betty with a devilish glint in her eye.

“Hit a nerve, have I B?” Veronica asked teasingly.

“No, actually, but you may hit the nerve of Jughead’s girlfriend who is walking directly towards us.”

Veronica seemed to focus on the incorrect information she was given, “Jughead? Is that a real name? What kid is called Jughead I mean really Be-”

“Betty Cooper! Do you want to introduce me to your new, way too pretty to be walking with you, friend?”

Great. Toni.

“Erm, sorry Toni, we’re in your way, we were just, leaving”

“That isn’t answering my question Cooper, I don’t need to remind you how to listen do I, baby Co-”

“Veronica Lodge, and you are?”� Toni was cut off with Veronica’s perfectly manicured hand in her face, Betty just stood back, unsure of what to do and unsure of what to think.

“I’m Toni, Topaz.”

“Well that’s great, Toni Topaz, but me and Betty were just leaving so it was great talking to you but we’re going to have to go-“

“Going round with baby Cooper are we? Why would you do that when you could come with us, you look like you have what it takes to be a river vixen, I assume you were a cheerleader at your old school? You have that sort of vibe, if you get what I mean?”

“I was head cheerleader at my last school actually, but I’m not sure,” Veronica paused looking over to Betty, “are you a cheerleader, B?”

“Oh no, I was last ye-“

“Betty had to be cut, she seemed to let herself go, in more than one way, isn’t that right, Betts?” a cluster of giggles followed from Toni’s entourage.

 

There it was, Toni knew that nickname got to her, she could even vaguely remember when Toni called her that sincerely, and not to mock her. She looked around to see Veronica, wide eyed looking back at her, sympathetically, her eyes seemed to say ‘I’m sorry’, even though this was far from her fault; she saw Toni sneering at her, goading her, willing for her to say something back and then walking up behind Toni she saw Jughead, confusion etched across his face at the scene that had started to unfold between the “new girl” and the “It girl” and how, somehow, Betty had been the one to get hurt.

 

Betty realised that she hadn’t said anything yet and had just been standing there, subconsciously snaking her arm around her waist in attempt to stop all of the inevitable eyes looking at her body,  she went to say something, anything, but Veronica beat her to it.

“Well, thanks Toni, but me and Betty are going to go now, if you’d leave us both alone from now on, that would be most appreciated”

“Veronica I strongly suggest you think about this before you go off with, her

“My decision has been made,” Veronica started, “and quite frankly I don’t want to be friends with someone who fat shames somebody in front of an audience to get a laugh or thinks that it will make someone want to be friends with them. Let’s face it, you’re clearly very self conscious Toni, and I pity you. Imagine what it must be like to be so insecure about yourself that you have to make people fear you, rather than make people like you. So, if you’d leave us both alone now, that would be most appreciated.”

Everyone, including Toni, stood astounded, nobody knowing what to say. Betty didn’t know where to look, she caught eyes with Jughead who was just smirking at the situation, which was odd, normally he would’ve stood up for Toni in someway, but clearly not today, not against Veronica. The silence seemed to be never ending, painfully so.

 

Surprisingly, it was Veronica who broke the silence again, “You coming, B?”

Betty said nothing as she walked up to Veronica, who then looped her arm through Betty’s with a dashing smile on her face, Betty didn’t look back but could hear Toni talking, she could just picture her now, teeth clenched to stop her from letting loose and screaming after Veronica, like Betty knew she wanted to do, instead she’d be playing the victim, letting Jughead wrap his arms around her and rest his head on top of hers like Betty had seen so many times prior. It was crazy to Betty, everyone had just heard Toni be outright rude to her and yet, she was able to turn it into a reason for people to like her more, it truly did blow her mind.

 

Walking to class, Betty could sense Veronica wanted to ask her something, she looked like she was about to burst because of something, and Betty didn’t blame her inquisitiveness, she had just stuck up for Betty without really knowing why or what for, she decided to help her out.

“Toni and Jughead are together, Toni and I used to be best friends until she thought Jughead liked me and accused me of being a ‘man-grabbing, back-stabbing slut’ last year when I arrived late to cheer practice and she assumed it was because I was with him, I wasn’t. I was-” Betty stopped and gulped, maybe that was a bit too much information for someone she had met that day, she acknowledged that Veronica had already sussed out her bad school situation, she didn’t need to know that it all started because she was late to a cheerleading practice after desperately covering her arms in makeup after changing into her very short, very revealing uniform and the action took her longer than anticipated, making her late. “Sorry I got carried away, I just- I, thank you, Veronica, for what you did back there. That’s the first time anybody has ever stuck up for me before”. Veronica just smiled back, she looked taken aback, partly by what Betty had told her, and what she had just said to Toni less than 5 minutes ago, she went to squeeze Betty’s arm supportively before heading into their science class but stopped slightly when she saw Betty’s smile falter, with pain? She saw Betty try to recover quickly, and if Veronica hadn’t been studying her with concern and curiosity she would’ve believed the cover up, it was very well done. Almost too well done, rehearsed even, she’d ask her about it later she decided as she sat down next to Betty at the high desks of the Science class.

 

The rest of the school day was pretty uneventful, some people did seem to be afraid of Veronica and actually left them alone, a lot of people, however, gave them dirty looks and sneered when they walked past, but there wasn't much change there, Betty had grown immune to it, quite honestly.

 

Betty liked Veronica, she had been slightly apprehensive at first, I mean why would anybody want to be her friend willingly? But she had been so warm and bubbly all day, even after her run in with Toni, which had put a bit of a damper on things to be honest. Veronica seemed strong, way stronger than Betty could ever wish to be, but that’s what didn’t add up to Betty. Betty and Veronica would never have met if Veronica hadn’t found her after she had been crying in the toilets, and she seemed way stronger than Betty, so it can’t have been something small, she wondered if it had something to do with why she had moved here in the first place, she didn’t even know where she had moved from. Betty mentally reminded herself to ask her about it later. Maybe at pops? She could always text her mother about her staying back to do some work at the Blue and Gold, as long as she got back home at a reasonable time, she should be fine. And it wouldn't be a total lie either, she did have some work to do for the Blue and Gold, she just wouldn't be, doing it like she had said.


“Hey, V?” Betty said as they walked out of school, “have you been to Pops?”

“Whats Pops?” Veronica countered, and then giggled when she saw Betty’s eyes widen in mock horror.

“Only the best place in the world! Come on we’re going now, right now.”

“Okay, okay this better be good.” Veronica laughed whilst Betty linked their arms again with enthusiasm and excitement, Veronica looked at their linked arms and smiled genuinely as she realised just how thankful she was for Betty even after only knowing her a day. She was so strong, stronger than Veronica could ever wish to be, having to go through this cruel teasing every day if today was anything to show for it, it made Veronica feel so annoyed at her past self and so guilty for any girl she had treat badly at her old school. Granted, she wasn't as bad as Toni seemed to be, but she was mean nonetheless, and the thought of her making anybody cry or feel as bad as Betty had looked when she found her this morning made her stomach churn with iniquity. Veronica looked down at their linked arms once again, at a second glance she could see that Betty’s jumper sleeve had ridden up her arm, revealing purple and green marks just peeking out from under the cuff. She couldn't see much but what she could see looked painful, no wonder she winced before, Veronica didn't know where these bruises had come from but she sure as hell would find out, if it was Toni, which she was suspecting it was, she wouldn't stop until she made sure she had made up for what she had done, she didn't realise Betty’s school situation was that bad.

 

The familiar (to Betty) chime rang above Betty and Veronica as they entered the retro diner. Veronica looked around at the old school decor in awe, she could see why Betty liked it so much, it had a weird sense of home that Veronica could feel even after only being there for a couple of minutes. They slid into a red booth near the back of the diner which Betty had told Veronica was her “favourite spot”, and as much Veronica wanted to believe that it was Bettys favourite because it was the warmest booth as it was furthest from the door and the closest to her favourite retro poster, something else told her it was her favourite because it was in the corner, out of the way of everybody else where nobody could bother her.

 

Veronica was pulled out of her thoughts when a overly happy, warm man in a white apron came up to their booth, he had the biggest smile on his face, but it didn’t look fake, it was wholeheartedly sincere.

“Hey, Pop!” Betty said mirroring his smile, she looked the most relaxed she had all day Veronica noticed, and in the presence of a man that looked this kind and welcoming, she wasn't surprised.

“Hey Betty, who’s your friend?”

Betty giggled, “Sorry! This is Veronica, she’s new to Riverdale. Veronica, Pop. Pop,Veronica”

Veronica held out her hand, “Nice to meet you, I hear this is the ‘best place in the world’ according to Betty”

Pop laughed, a full hearty laugh, “that's Betty, always doing wonders,”

“I only speak the truth Pop, we’ll have two milkshakes please”

“Okay, two milkshakes, Vanilla I assume?” Betty nodded, “and?”

“Chocolate, please”

“Okay, great, coming right up”

 

After that, they waited in silence until their milkshakes came, they said their ‘thank yous’ and then they went silent again, it was as if they both knew they had questions for each other, but neither wanted to ask the other. Betty broke the silence.

“That’s why I didn't want to talk to Jughead after journalism this morning, the last thing I want is to make more rumours that would get back to Toni, and then give her another reason to hate me and get everybody else to torment me, do you know what I mean? So it’s just a lot easier for me to actively ignore them, beca-”

“Betty, you have a thing for rambling, did you know that? Because you ramble a lot. It’s fine, you don't have to thank me, I don't know how many real friends you have had before…

Zero, literally zero.

“...but sticking up for them is just something that you do for eachother, it comes with the job title!”

They both laughed but it was hollow and empty, no matter how much they both tried to hide their problems with light humour but it was hard to make humour out of something that they were both new to, real friendships.

 

“Betty,” Veronica broke the silence, “I haven't been totally honest with you.”Veronica looked like she was going to cry, and Betty wasn’t sure how she would handle that.

“What, what is it, V?”

“I wasn't totally honest with why I moved here, and I think you should know.”

“Why, what happened?”

“It wasn't my fault perse, but before Christmas, my mom-” she paused,

“You can tell me, V, I wont judge”

“Okay then, well, here goes. My mom, she died, and well I suppose things haven't been the same at home ever since then, my dad threw himself into work as soon as it happened, it was as if he had forgotten about mom and he was forgetting about me, so I started acting out at school. I think it was so he would notice me again, even if it was for a bad thing. So, I started being really mean, like grade-A bitch mean and everybody just had enough of me I guess, I was mean to teachers, my boyfriend or I should say ex-boyfriend and so my dad said I had to leave the big city, that it was ‘corrupting me’ and so, here I am. In the town he grew up in, the very small town actually, where daddy is always in his office and leaves me to look after myself, basically”

Betty didn’t know what to say, she was flabbergasted to say the least, but at least this could mean that she could tell Veronica about her at home, maybe? Or no, Veronica was already dealing with so much she didn't need her problems on top of this too, that was until Veronica spoke again.

“I know its a lot to take in, but I think now it's time for you to be honest with me, B”

“Why, wha- wait, what?”

“I saw you wincing when I squeezed your arm before science, you were in pain B,” she was quiet for a few moments whilst Betty pulled her sleeves down so far that they covered her hands and she could hold the ends of them in her palms,looking down and avoiding eye contact with Veronica. “I swear to God, B, if Toni has done anything to hurt you physically, as well as mentally I will, well I don’t know what I will do, but it will big enough that she will regret even looking in her direction, do you understand me?”

“It wasn't her”

“Oh my God! Jughead did this to you! And he’s been doing it a while too hasn't he! That's why you were crying in the toilets, he had just hurt you then hadn't he! That is unacceptable! I’m so sorry, B, do you want me to say anything, we need to tell someone about this,”

“It wasn't him either”

“I mean doing the dirty work for your girlfriend is low, how long has this been happening, B?”

“It wasn't him Veronica” she tried again, a bit louder this time.

“You can tell me, honestly you've suffered this long enough on your own and you don't have to anymore, I'm here for you, all the way-”

“Veronica!”

That got her attention. She stopped mouth agape, eyebrow raised as if to say “well, who then?” but eyes full of sorrow.

“It’s my mom” Betty said so quietly even she struggled to hear herself.

“What?”

“My mom. She's having a hard time lately.”

Betty looked up to see Veronicas eyes full of tears, threatening to spill over and run down her cheeks as she imagined how terrible it must be for Betty, never being able to catch a break. Betty continued to tell Veronica how everything had crashed and burned within the last year, starting with Toni and ending with her mother and father, and filling in everything that happened in between. It was oddly therapeutic, in a way, letting someone know all of her problems, as cliche as it sounded it did feel like a huge weight had been lifted from her shoulders, she felt free almost. Well, more than she had done for a while. She felt Veronica’s hand squeeze hers from across the table, then she simply said

“I'm always here for you Betty”

“Thankyou, Veronica”.

 

It was so strange to think that Betty had only just met Veronica that day and yet, she felt more comfortable with her than she had anybody else, her whole life. Betty and Veronica just clicked, their new found friendship was so easy and even after those hard topics, the two of them chatted like they were just normal girls, getting know eachother better. Veronica wanted to do fashion at college, hence why she took textiles and Betty wanted to journalism, but not at the Riverdale Register, New York is where she wanted to be. In a dream world she would get there. To an outsider, it would've looked like they had knew each other for years and years, laughing and talking, it wasn't until they realised it was getting late (and by late, they meant late for Betty, to anyone else it would've been fine to stay out longer) that they left Pops and went their separate ways.

 

When Betty got home, her mom was in a rare ‘okay’ mood, too busy writing something in the kitchen to be bothered with whatever Betty had ‘done’ at the Blue and Gold, so she said goodnight, tucked Polly in her bed and told her a story, tonight about knights and dragons and kissed her goodnight. Then, pulling out and checking her phone she noticed a few things. 1, Veronica had added her on every social media platform she had, and had texted her wishing her a good night and had reminded her that she was ‘always around if she wanted to talk about anything’. Betty responded saying thankyou and that she was ‘always there too’, wishing her a goodnight. 2, she also had a text from Archie, which wasn't rare, but it wasn't a common occurrence either, his texts normally consisted of asking for something, and tonight was no exception. However, instead of homework answers, it was Veronica’s number he was asking for. She decided to ignore the message, Betty wasn't sure how happy Veronica would be if she handed her number out to arguably the biggest player in the school, she thought if he wanted to talk to her so desperately, he would find other ways.

 

The last thing betty noticed on her phone, she wasn't expecting at all, it was a text from Jughead.

 

Meet me in the library tomorrow before school, don't tell anyone. J

 

Betty didn't know what to think, but she couldn't help being curious, she was also terrified so after a while she responded.

 

Okay, care to tell me why? B

 

It was seconds until he replied.

 

We need to work on our journalism project sometime, don't sweat it Coop. J

 

Betty didn't reply to that one, she would go tomorrow though, and tell him that doing any work wouldn't be necessary, she would do it all herself and then put his name on the front, it worked with every other pairings she had had in the past, so why change the system now? Betty decided she wasn't going to think anymore about it until the morning, so she set her alarms, put her phone on charge and then rolled over and waited for sleep to overtake her.

 

For the first time in a while, it did.


Chapter Text

The sun was blazing through the edges of Betty's bedroom blind, waking her up naturally without having to rely on her alarm. Betty stretched in her bed, relishing in the pleasant feeling of everything clicking back into place after a long night’s sleep, not something she could do often. However, turning back on her side to face Polly’s bed, she saw the little girl was not there, which was odd as Polly never woke up before Betty, Betty never slept long enough to even warrant the term “waking up”, and it wasn’t until Betty checked her phone that she saw the time. Crap. 7:42. She was late, really late.

 

That was when Betty remembered she was meant to be meeting Jughead before school, which would normally mean the time she saw him yesterday, which was 8 in the morning, so if Betty wanted to get there on time she better get moving, fast.

 

She threw on some clothes, not even checking they were clean never mind matching and tied her hair up into a not-so-neat ponytail, this morning Betty really didn’t care she just wanted to get out as soon as possible, especially as she was going to have to run to school now. In a stressed rush to get out the house and off to school, Betty forgot to do several things: have breakfast, pack her journalism folder or put makeup around her wrists and lower arms as a just incase. And she only remembered as such when she reached the school gates and looked down to see her sleeves had ridden right up her arms showing off the full spectacle of greens and purples placed around her arms. Betty stretched her jumper sleeves right down over her arms and walked into the school building, praying nobody would notice her less than put-together appearance today.

 

Walking through the empty halls, Betty was becoming more and more worried about the situation she was putting herself into and the fact she was alone, what if it was a trick and she was just so done to even care? What if Jughead wasn’t actually there? She realised she probably should have brought Veronica with her, or at least she should have told her where she was going this morning, and who she was meeting.

 

Reaching the desired destination, Betty could hear and feel her heart beating dangerously in her ears, the vibrations of each beat running rapidly through her body, and the most ridiculous part about it, was that this was brought upon herself, she was putting herself into this position, well aware of how obviously dangerous it was. And yet, she wasn’t turning and running away from the library either, supposedly thinking ‘what have I got to lose?’.

 

Jughead saw Betty before she saw him, he could see her through the window on the library door, she looked flustered and he almost felt bad as he was certain it was him that was making her feel so hesitant, he knew he made her feel bad and constantly cautious when around him, and whilst it made him feel guilt in his gut, he couldn't help it, he had no other choice. Well, he did have a choice, but it was difficult and messy. No, Toni was difficult and messy, she had this hold on him that he couldn't shake, even if he wanted to, and he wasn't even one hundred percent sure he wanted to shake her yet. Sure, she was manipulative and mean to everyone, even him, and she had a lot of insecurities that she channeled through anger rather than talking through them, she was also the first person to love him, or atleast make him feel worthy of love. Jughead wasn't sure he wanted to give up that amazing feeling yet, he craved to be loved, he wasn't loved by his mother or father, in fact, he had not seen either of them in so long. His mother left his father first chance she could, taking his little sister with her, leaving him to look after his dad who then got thrown in jail because of the Serpents, leaving Jughead to not only lead himself and his life but also a biker gang full of rowdy men much older than himself.

 

Betty was standing outside the library now, God knows how long for, plucking up the courage to just open the door.

“For God's sake Betty just open the goddamn door, you're pathetic!” she said to herself, unknowingly being watched by Jughead from the opposite side of the door, the softest of smiles on his face as he watched her talk to herself unable to hear her. Then seeing the door handle turn and Betty peek her head through seeing if anybody was in the room until her eyes laid on him and his lazy figure sitting in a chair, his legs resting on the table.

 

“Cooper! You came?”

“I did” she replied quietly, she seemed anxious and her sleeves were pulled right down over her arms, her knuckles white with holding onto the cuffs if her jumper so tightly, fearful for them to ride up her arms. This made Jughead both curious and filled with a deep sadness for Betty, whatever she was hiding, she certainly didn't want him knowing and he couldn't blame her, he had done nothing but be an absolute dick to her since their very first meeting, but he wanted to change that, he didn't want her to fear him.

“Ah come on Cooper, sit down and lets talk about this amazing project we have to do together,” he said with mock enthusiasm.

“Look, Jughead, the only reason im here is to tell you that you won't be needing to do anything, I'm going to do our project, you write your name on the front and that is it, you don't need to do anything, I don't have to get grief of anyone, it’s a win-win situation,” she nodded at him and then made a move to leave but Jughead grabbed her arm to turn her around to face him again, maybe a bit too harshly as her sharp intake of breath made him drop her arm immediately. But looking down, he saw. He saw everything she never wanted him to see, the many bruises that littered her arms, they looked way worse than he imagined, and the red marks around her wrists were way more vibrant and sore-looking than yesterday. He could've been staring at her for hours before he said something, but finally he spoke.

“Who did this to you Betty?” his mouth was dry as he struggled to get those six words out, his windpipe closing tighter and tighter with this new revelation. She said nothing.

Big gulp.

“Betty? Who, who- did this?”

“Err, em, uhh”

“Betty?” he whispered, totally choked, looking up to her eyes his heart shattered, they were glazed over with tears threatening to spill, clouded with fear? Anxiety? Pain. They were foggy with pain, a pain that he had caused, that Toni had caused, that everyone at school had  caused, and whoever had been doing this to her.

 

Before he could stop her, she blurted out “Please don’t tell anyone. Please” before sprinting out of the library, to she didn't know where.

“Betty! Betty, wait! Wait!” he ran after her, but then let her go, retreating back into the library.




Veronica woke up to an empty house, once again, her dad had left her a note on the kitchen counter that she saw whilst looking to see if he was home:

 

Big meeting today, had to go in early, will be back late

Left money for you to get dinner, or eat anything from the fridge

See you soon, Dad x

 

Veronica sighed, her dad had been having a lot more frequent “big meetings” recently and she never saw him anymore, it was tiring, just watching him throw himself into work and subsequently forget about her mother, she just ignored the changes now, well the best she could anyways.

 

Veronica left for school earlier than she needed to so she could walk, hoping to catch Betty as she was leaving so they could walk together, she didn't want to text this early in the morning incase that was another Betty could get into trouble from her mother for, she wasn't definitely sure what the situation was at Betty’s home day to day, but she knew it wasn't in anyway good.

 

Walking down Betty’s street, she couldn't see Betty, and she didn't want to weirdly wait outside of her house either so she just kept walking to school, past Betty's house until she saw a handsome redhead exit the house next door.

“Hey! Excuse me!” she called out to him, which caused him to look up and then run up to her, a huge smile etched on his chiseled face.

“Hi, Veronica right?” he pretended not to know.

“Yes, I’m new here, how do you know my name?”

“You really thought word wouldn't go around about the new girl and only girl to ever stand up to Toni Topaz? I have heard all about you Veronica Lodge, what brings you round here?”

‘There goes my anonymity’ Veronica thought to herself, before answering his question.

“I’m looking for Betty, you seen her leave this morning?”

“Yea I saw her leave about ten minutes ago or so, I was getting my bike out the garage, I was going to cycle to school but I can walk with you if you want?”

“Yea, sure, tell me about yourself-”

“Archie”

“Tell me about yourself, Archie”

“Not much to tell, I live with my dad, play football, want to become a musician when I’m older though, I'm not sure anything else is worth telling unless you want to hear about when I scarred my arm from falling out of a tree when I was 9, but you know that's not that interesting” he laughed but the sound was warped in Veronica’s ears after what she had just heard.

“Veronica? What's wrong? What'd I say?”

Shaking, Veronica spoke, “does the scar look like this?” she asked holding up her left arm revealing a scar that had just appeared on her when she was 9, just after her parents had told her about soulmarkings and soul mates.

“Archie when did your parents tell you about…”

“About soul mates? When I was 9, just before I fell out that tree if I remember rightly, why”

“Let me see your scar”

He held up his arm. Identical.

“Veronica?”

“Oh my God”

Archies face smashed his face to Veronica’s with passion and urgency, they let eachother explore each others mouths until Veronica pulled away.

“We don't know anything about each other” she said stepping back.

“We can learn” he responded stepping forward.

“I need to think, this is so much too, way too fast”

She left before he could say anything, running and running as fast as she could, and that wasn't very in heels, but she ran anyway, straight to school. Veronica slowed down slightly when she saw the gates of Riverdale high school but she didn't fully stop until she was stopped by a body running into her. She looked down to who it was that had accidentally pummeled into her and saw a blonde withering mess, Betty.

 

A chorus of “sorrys” followed between sniffs and sobs until Veronica stopped her.

“Betty, Betty! What’s wrong”

“He saw V, he saw them and I didn’t know what to say I just ran but I didn’t know where to run to and then I ran into you and now I can’t see him I cant Veron-”

“Betty who saw what? What did they see?”

“Jughead. He-he saw the bruises on my arms and I didn’t know what to say, and I can’t trust him I’m worried V”

“Don’t worry Betty, it’s okay, it’s going to be okay, you don’t have to tell him anything, anything at all”

Betty sighed, “okay, thank you V, why are you upset? You look flustered”

“Actually, Betty I need to ask you something, what is Archie like?”

“Andrews? I don’t have that much of an opinion on him, we used to be really close when we were kids, but then we just kind of lost touch. He seems to be quite the ladies man though, he’s always with a new girl, although I haven’t seen him with anyone recently though, why’d you ask?”

“Well, I’m not sure how to say this, but I am most- well actually I'm certain that he's my soulmate”

Betty looked so confused, nobody tended to talk about soulmates, so many people ignored them nowadays, it wasn't as big of a deal anymore, but Betty looked like she didnt even think Veronica was being serious.

“Betty?”

“Sorry, Veronica, are you being serious? That sounds like something from a story book, no way is that true”

“Betty are you saying your parents never told you?”

“Told me what?”

“About soul mates! As soon as you're told you almost “share a skin” with someone, you get the same marks as your soulmate, it can be tattoos, scars, bruises, anything that marks skin. I can't believe you thought I was joking!”

“You are joking, aren't you!”

“No I’m not, if you don't believe me, you said you were friends with Archie when he was younger, how old would you say”

“Well from about four ‘til last year, Veronica where are you going with this?”

“Just hear me out, what did you used to do with him when you were 9 let’s say, anything you remember?”

“We used to climb trees a lot, Archie had a really cool treehouse, actually there was this time Archie fell from a tree, I was so worried about him, he didn't seem to care though he thought it was cool, he got a-”

“Scar?” Veronica finished for her holding up her arm.

“A scar, yea, just like. That one. Oh my GOD! Why did nobody ever tell me, somebody should've told me! Is that why I've never been marked?”

“Yes B, I’m sorry, ignorance is the only thing that stops the marking happening”

“How old were you when you got that scar?”

“9”

“Oh my god.”

 

 

 

“Jug! Hey what are you doing in the library bro, I didn't know you could read”

“Very funny Archibald, I'm doing that journalism project, harder when my partner will refuse to work with me to be honest, Cooper is so stubborn it's untrue”

“Come on dude, she's not that bad we used to all be mates, remember?”

“Yea, mates, long time ago. What's up with you, you seem, I don't know. Different?”
“Oh, it doesn't matter”

“Tell me, I'm all ears” jughead said then murmured “a distraction would be welcomed”

“Well, you know that new girl? Veronica?”

“Fiery girl, black hair, pearls?”

“Yup thats her, well. Well- I've marked with her?”

“You’ve what now?”

“You know soulmate marks?”

“I hate to break this to you Arch, but soul mates don't exist?”

“Come on, Jug, you must've marked with Toni right?”

“Wait, you're being serious?”

“Deadly serious, you didn't know?”

“It can't be true”

“And why’s that?”

“Because I've never been marked”

“Ah well, ignorance, that's the only catch. You don't know, you don't get marked”

“Well when did you get told?”

“When I was 8, my dad told me, your dad seriously didn't tell you”

“Why would he? He doesn't care Archie, and if mom was his soulmate, that didn't work anyway so why should I believe in them?”

“Because, well, because love jug! We've all got to cling onto something”

“Oh my god what a sap you are, I don't want to get marked if this is what I'll turn into”

“Ha. funny. Bro, you'll probably mark with Toni, don’t worry about it”

“Arch, I’m not worried about me, I'm worried about you and what Toni is going to say when you start going out with Veronica after what she said to her yesterday,”

“Yea, thats my girl”

“Oh my God” Jughead said with an olympic standard eye roll.

 

 

The whole day dragged for all four teens that day.

 

Betty couldn't believe her parents, that nobody, had told her about the fact that she ‘shared a skin’ with another person out there, that there was somebody literally programmed to love her, always, no matter what, maybe she would meet them soon and that they'd be a sort of reason to hold on? She spent her classes the day thinking about what her soulmate looked like, what they would be like, were they thinking about her? She felt like a little kid again, the constant anticipation of new information that would change her life forever, but she also felt angry. Angry that so many people knew and could have told her, and just didn't, depriving her from a sort of closure for so long.

 

Veronica couldn't believe her soulmate was womanizer Archie Andrews, known for being a player. He seemed nice enough and he was devilishly handsome, and God was he a good kisser but she didn't want to rush into anything. She didn't want the inevitability of a lifetime together make them rush into anything too quickly or for her to do something she’d live to regret.

 

Jughead couldn't believe soulmates were actually a thing, that nobody had ever told him, his parents, Toni, nobody ever said anything. Was Toni his soulmate? He didn't know, but he wanted to. He was scared that she wouldn't be his soulmate but he was absolutely terrified that she would be. He spent his classes that day thinking about what his soulmate looked like, what they would be like, were they thinking about him?

 

Archie couldn't believe his soulmate was Veronica, Veronica freaking Lodge. She was so hot.

 

 

The end of the school day came and Betty and Veronica hugged goodbye, promising to text when they got home, Archie and Jughead watched them from afar, talking about Veronica, and her and Archie’s current dilema.

“Bye V, text me what happens with a certain redhead” Betty teased.

“So what you going to do about Veronica, bro?” Jughead asked.

 

“I will B, I’m going to play it cool though, I'm not going to fall for him at one glance like all other girls, don’t you worry”

“I'm just going to use my Andrews charm on her, she'll fall for me at one glance just like all of the other girls, dont you worry”

 

Jughead bit back a laugh, being this cocky would probably make other people look arrogant, but it just added to Archie’s charm, Jughead knew he was already gone so far for this girl that this “player” attitude was just a facade, but the only person he was fooling was himself.

 

“Alright Arch, you keep me updated on how that goes, I'm off”

“See you later Jug”

 

Jughead walked past Betty and Veronica, Veronica was facing away from him but Betty was in his eyeline, he caught her eyes and smiled shyly at her, she smiled back ever so slightly before looking back to Veronica and he continued walking before he heard a shriek he had learnt to resent.

“Jughead!”

Jughead halted and spun on his heel only to be met by Toni.

“You ready?”

“For?”

“Your tattoo! Then you'll be a proper serpent silly, my serpent King ” she went to kiss him on the lips but he tilted his head to the side so she caught the corner of his mouth.

“Lets go, I want to get it over with” Jughead said before Toni would realise Veronica was walking this way after departing with Betty.

“Okay, let's go” Toni said latching herself onto Jughead’s side, she thought it was cute and intimate but it was just impractical to Jughead, he was basically dragging her along with him because she had attached herself to him so awkwardly.



 

“You ready Juggie?” Toni said tattoo gun in hand at Jughead’s trailer.

“As ready as I will be, I guess” Jughead responded taking off his jacket so she could put the tattoo on his upper arm, stilling suddenly when he saw the new green hues on his arms, fresh bruises, they couldn't be any more than a few hours old, they looked really painful but they weren't when he touched them. It was like they weren't real bruises they were just, marks. Marks. A soul mate mark, Jughead darted his head to Toni’s forearms, they were clear, no marks at all.

 

“Sit here Jug, oh what have you done to your arm Juggie that looks sore” Toni prodded at his arm and Jug faked a hiss of pain,

“Oops! Sorry, what happened?”

“Archie. Erm me and Archie at err football practice, you know just arsing about”

“Ahh okay,” Toni said, seemingly content with the answer, “so where are you wanting it anyway”

“Here,” Jughead pointed to his upper arm.





 

Betty woke with a slight pain to her forearms from where her mother had gripped to hard the day before after she got home later than she was needed apparently, her mother was ‘sick of her messing about lately’ and arriving home late was messing about. What she wasn't expecting was to wake up with her mother hovering over her, looking angry. No, not just angry, absolutely furious.

 

“Morning, mom. What’s- what’s going on?

The question was ignored.

“Elizabeth, what the hell is that tattoo doing on your arm?”

“What tattoo?” Betty said, feeling hot all over.

“Don't act dumb with me Elizabeth, what is that, that SNAKE doing on your arm!”

 

Betty looked down to her arm, and there it was, a tattoo. A snake with a crown was in the middle of her upper arm, she looked to the tattoo then at her mother then back at the tattoo. Since when had that been there? Then she realised.

 

A serpent, her soulmate was a serpent. Correction; the leader of the serpents. Betty had no idea who the leader of the serpents was, but an old drunkard was what came to mind.

 

‘Maybe having a soulmate wasn’t a good thing after all’ Betty thought when she looked back up to her mother, bile rising with fear.



Chapter Text

Anger. Sheer anger.

 

Alice’s eyes were still fixed on Betty’s arm, more specifically, the snake that was now wrapped around it, in the least subtle way possible. The colours were beyond vibrant and the crown was unmissable, Betty looked at the tattoo once more, it was almost smirking at her, as crazy as that sounded.

 

Alice’s shouting brought Betty back out of her day dreaming,

“ELIZABETH! ANSWER ME!”

“Mom, I promise, I don’t know, I didn’t get a tattoo!”

“ELIZABETH DO NOT LIE TO ME, IT IS RIGHT THERE! RIGHT THERE, WRAPPED AROUND YOUR ARM, HOW LONG? HOW LONG?” Alice took a hold of Betty’s arm, wrapping her fingers around the tattoo, causing an excruciating pain in Betty’s upper arm.

“Mom, mommy, please stop it!” Betty tried writhing free.

“Whatd you say to me?” Alice was speaking quieter now, which only worried Betty more so than before, “you don’t lie to me, you don’t demand me of anything, Elizabeth, ever. And you get out, right now!”

Betty checked her phone quickly after her mother had let go, 7:03. 3 minutes past 7 on a morning and this is what had happened so far, it couldn’t get any worse to be honest.

“And you won’t be coming back either, Elizabeth,”okay, so maybe it could.

“But mom, where- where will I go?”

“I think your scumbag biker gang can help you with that, dont you think?”

“But I’m not in the serpents, mom, I already told you!”

“Stop insulting me Elizabeth, get out, and don’t wake Polly”

 

Sobbing in silence, Betty put on her thickest jumper and warmest coat along with her comfiest jeans and trainers, Betty had no idea where she was going to go, but she wanted to be as comfortable as she could be, this is what she was telling herself anyways, nothing about this situation was making her feel comfortable. So Betty did what she had been doing a lot lately, she ran.

 

Betty ran to the one place she felt safest. The place she would ride her bike when she was as young as 6 years old; where she would take Polly sometimes on a Sunday afternoon and write stories and play with her and where she would go to clear her head and listen to the serene sounds of the splashing of water against the rocks, Sweetwater River.

 

Sweetwater River was a place of secrets and mysteries, a place that had become so secluded over the past few years because of those reasons so Betty knew she’d be alone, so she sat herself on “her” rock and she sobbed. She sobbed for a lot of things, for her dragon of her mother, her ‘soulmate’ that she had just learnt about but had no desire to find because of the trouble she just knew they would bring, and for her new friend Veronica who would probably give anything to see her mother again and how Betty wanted nothing more than to run away from hers.

 

Shaking, from the cold or anxiety she wasn’t too sure, she got her phone from her baggy jumper pocket and rang Veronica. It rang and rang, and then stopped- voicemail. Betty’s heart sunk at that, right down to her stomach, but she tried again, and this time after only 2 rings she heard Veronica’s peppy, but tired, voice,

“Betty? It’s,” there was a slight pause, “25 past 7! What are you doing up, what’s happening?”

“Erm, V, I- I don't know what to do, she saw it, and i didnt even know i had it. But she didn't believe me V, i dont kno-” Betty sniffled down the phone.

“Betty! What is it? What did she see? What’s wrong?”

Betty suddenly felt stupid as she had no idea what to say, or even what she had rang Veronica for, to be honest. She took a deep breath in, and then out, trying to calm herself down, or atleast make herself sound calmer than she actually was.

“Actually, V. I don’t know why I called, I’m totally fine, I’ll see you at school-”

“Betty- are you serious? You really thought that would work? You’re clearly not fine”

Betty felt her lips twitch into a small smile, she should’ve known that she couldn’t have fooled Veronica, they had knew each other for the shortest time, but it felt like a lifetime to Betty, she had never felt so at ease with anybody, ever, in her life.

“Betty, Betty, where are you? I’ll come meet you know and you can tell me what’s up, tell me where you are,”

“I’m at Sweetwater River,” Betty said so quietly, the knot in her throat still tight.

“Where?”

“Sweetwater River”

“Okay, B, I’ll be there as soon as I can, stay put and don’t leave”



Betty sat trying to soak in all of the things around her that used to calm her, the sweet singing birds, the calm water splashing against the rocks, the light wind swirling leaves around the ground. But no matter how hard she tried, the birds were mocking, the water was angry and the wind was like a hurricane picking up everything in its path, coming closer and closer toward her, as if it was hunting her out wanting to sweep her up in its path. Betty let the salty, fat tears roll down her face continually, it seemed she would never run out of sadness to shed, and that was the thing that upset her the most. It felt like Betty had been sat on this rock forever, her bottom was numb and she had pins and needles assaulting her left leg, her many layers were no longer keeping her warm and she had a beating headache.

 

With blurry vision, she looked around her surroundings one more, willing for a slight sense of calm to acknowledge her, if only for a few minutes, but nothing came. And in the midst of her helpless searching, she failed to hear the heavy footsteps of the popular boy, kitted out in a flannel and a beanie on his head, coming up to her from behind.

“Cooper?”

Nothing.

“Betty?”

Still nothing.

Jughead stretched his arm out to Betty’s shoulder but then paused, she seemed to be in a trance almost, looking up to the sky with searching eyes, no not searching eyes, desperate eyes. Eyes full to the brim of desperation, searching for something she needed to hold onto, and it filled him with deep seated guilt and pure, pure sadness for her. Gently, he landed his hand on her shoulder, attempting to comfort Betty, even though he had no idea how.

 

Betty felt a hand on her shoulder and immediately felt her body jump, only to turn around and see Jughead Jones standing behind her.

“Now Cooper, what are you doing here at 7:30 on a school morning?” he said it teasingly, but with surprisingly no malice in his voice at all, odd she thought but still said nothing.

“Betty, are you okay? Now I know, I know erm, how do I say this? I know you’re worried about Toni finding out about this, but you don’t need to worry, I won’t let Toni say anything to you, anything at all.” again, he tried to reach out a hand to Betty’s upper arm to provide some sort of comfort to her, but again she shuffled out of his grasp, she didn’t trust him, not one bit. And he didn’t know why it was affecting him so much, but it was, and by the bucket load. Jughead looked around, taking in the surroundings around him that Betty seemed to be so invested in whilst he tried to breathe through the awkward silence that was suffocating him. He looked at the sun shining through the tree branches, hues of warm oranges and reds, but this still didn’t take away from the fact he could sense Betty squirming on the rock in front of him, she needed someone to talk to, he could visibly see the toll whatever she was bottling up was having on her.

 

But he wasn’t stupid either, he knew she wouldn’t tell him, no matter how hard he tried, but could he blame her? Not really. He’d been utterly horrible to her for years now and for no other reason than he thought he loved Toni, and for what reason? He still hadn’t fully worked that one out.

 

Jughead reached out a hand to Betty’s shoulder and laid it there, delicately letting her know he was there, without saying anything that may make her feel more uncomfortable than she already was. As soon as he lay it down however, sparks. It felt as though electricity passed through his hand and into her. He thought he was crazy, going insane, until he saw Betty turn around and look at him, stunned. Only to quickly turn back around and resume staring at the river.

 

Silence. Yet again. Jughead just watched the water lapping against the rocks until he saw Betty shivering, even with her thick hoodie on her teeth had started to chatter and her bum was feeling numb.

“Hey Betty”

Nothing.

“Betty, hey, here”

Betty turned around to see Jughead shrugging off his leather jacket.

“No, no Jughead, I’m fine really, I’m not cold at all, hones-”

She saw it.

The snake.

The snake tattoo wrapped around his upper arm.

In exactly the same place as hers, but no, it couldn’t be.

“Betty what’s wrong? Betty! Can you hear me?”

Jughead was standing in front of her now, shaking her lightly to try and get some sort of response, but Betty wasn't listening, her world was spinning. It wasn't until Jughead squeezed slightly too hard on her fresh bruises that she winced and stumbled backwards.

“Where, whe- when did you get that, that tattoo?”

“What tattoo? Oh this one?” jughead gestured to his arm, he pressed on it slightly, as it was still sore, “I got this, erm last night, why?”

“No, no it can’t be!”

Betty moved back again, her hands curling up into tight balls, allowing her nails to bite into her skin yet again, tears blurring her vision. Jughead saw Betty’s fists clenched, knuckles white, he stepped forward and went to separate them before she hurt herself, but she moved back. Then, she ran.

 

Betty ran and ran, faster than ever before. She didn't know where she was running to but when she saw Veronica’s car pulling in next to sweetwater river she ran even faster, through the trees of Eversgreen forest. She needed to stop, but she couldn't, she had to get away. Her lungs were feeling tighter and tighter, her legs were burning and she could no longer see straight, she was just putting one foot in front of the other, not really knowing where she was going. It was only when she was on the floor, slumped next to a tree that she realised she had stopped running all together.



Jughead could hear a car pulling up next to him at sweetwater, he hadn't moved since Betty had left, he had went to follow her but he didn't want to freak her out anymore, he had no idea what he was to do next, but whatever he had done to upset her that much, he wanted to apologise for it. He heard a familiar click clack coming up behind him, a sound that could only be described as distinctly “Veronica”, he kept on looking forwards knowing what was coming next.

“What have you done, Jones?”

Jughead sighed, drawing his hands through his hair, then responded, “actually, Veronica, i’m worried about Betty, she saw my new tattoo, broke down, said she couldn't believe it then bolted”

Veronica felt sick, is the tattoo what her mother had seen this morning? And if betty didn't know she even had it, how did she? It couldn't just appear, unless. No, that was too crazy. There was no way Betty Cooper and Jughead Jones were soul mates.

 

Veronica didn't want to say anything, no, it would make the situation even worse.

“Did you see where she went?”

“I didn't, she just legged it,”

“Oh God, what a mess”

“I know, i’m going to go find her, I feel so guilty”

“No you stay here, I’ll go”

 

Jughead sat back down on the rock Betty had been sitting on before, what a mess he thought. He went to his head in his hands, but saw a litter of crescent shaped scars in his palms, he immediately thought back to Betty’s white knuckles and distraught face, then he thought to the secrecy and hiding of her arms, and when he did catch a glimpse of the many bruises on them, and then the bruises that had appeared on his arms only the night before, they had just appeared, just like these scars now.

 

But no, it couldn't be. Things don't just appear. Unless, no. It was too crazy.

 

There was no way that Betty Cooper was his soulmate, was there?



Chapter Text

It would be an understatement to say that Jughead was confused. Confused about what had just happened in the past 30 minutes of his life. He felt bewildered, there was no way Betty Cooper could be his soulmate, could there? He wasn’t particularly mad about it, not in the slightest, but it couldn’t be right; she was far too pure, too perfect for him, and his biker gang ways.  

 

Jughead sat. Looking around the scenery of Sweetwater, he could see why Betty had came here as a sort of escape, it was truly beautiful, but what she was escaping from, he wasn’t sure. But he knew he wouldn’t find out by sitting on a rock all day, so he mounted his bike and sped off to Riverdale High. Maybe Betty would be there with Veronica now, and he could see if she was alright.

 

Veronica was running, or rather tottering, after where Betty had ran, that was until she saw a figure huddled up next to the trunk of a tree, body shivering and teeth chattering as she clutched to it in hopes of warmth. Veronica placed a hand on her back and, in between her shoulder blades in attempts to bring comfort to the quivering body.

“Betty, honey, are you alright, I saw you run towards here. Jugh-?”

“Don’t say his name” Betty interrupted, “I don’t want to talk about the person who may have made me homeless”

“What? In what way was it his fault?” she paused and then gasped, as if to have only just processed, “what do you mean homeless?”.