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Long and Lustrous Winter

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It's a normal, average, everyday sort of day at Riverdale High.

Betty gets up bright and early as usual, does her simple makeup, fixes her ponytail, goes to school. English, math, lunch, geography, and gym. During English class Veronica passes her a note – date with Archie tonight, new blue dress or green one? Betty writes back – green looks so nice on you. At lunch, Jughead steals her sandwich while she chats with Midge. She gets an A on her geography pop quiz. Reggie tries to sabotage Archie and Veronica's date plans with some harebrained scheme while the girls are running laps for gym.

After school, Archie cancels their band practice – he has to go fix his jalopy before his date. Betty lends him a hand and gets a grease stain on her favorite brown blouse that she doesn't think will ever come out. She goes home, eats dinner with her parents, helps her mom with the dishes, does her homework, reads a book, and goes to bed.

She doesn't think too hard about the parts of the day that upset her – Veronica's indifference to how she'd feel about her going on a date with Archie, Archie canceling practice, Archie using her as free labor – it's just part of what every day is like at Riverdale High when you're Betty Cooper. And, she thinks, as she snuggles under her covers, tomorrow's another day, and it'll probably be different, and it'll probably be better. It sort of has to be, right?

Betty Cooper's morning routine is so entrenched that she's halfway to school before she realizes she's picked the same blouse to wear to school two days in a row. It's her favorite, and was right there in the front of her closet, so naturally, she put it on.

She's on the school steps when she remembers the grease stain.

She's being passed a note from Veronica when she realizes something is seriously, seriously wrong.

"Dilton," she says, cautiously, as they sit down at their desks for math class, "do you notice anything strange about today?"

"There's something strange about every day," Dilton replies. "Every day we're one day closer to the sun going supernova. Every day the polar icecaps are melting just a little bit more. Every day –"

"Gloomy, much?" Veronica says, butting in. "Hey, Betty, do you think I should wear my black or white pearls tonight?"

"Black," Betty says, and turns her attention to the teacher. She really gets the lesson today – the algebra had been a bit complicated last time. This time. Oh dear.

She tries to probe Midge at lunch, but Midge hasn't noticed a thing. Jughead steals her sandwich again. She thinks that's pretty unfair.

She gets an A+ on the pop quiz this time.

Everyone else in the class is groaning over the test, but she's pretty excited.

Reggie's scheme fails and he ends up in detention. Archie cancels practice. Betty helps him fix his jalopy. She gets grease on her shirt again.

She goes home, eats dinner with her parents, helps her mom with the dishes, does her homework, reads a book, and goes to bed.

A little bit better, she guesses, than last time. Just a little. She's probably just dreaming, anyway. After all, a lot of wacky stuff goes on around Riverdale High, but this one is just a bit too bizarre to be believed. She goes to sleep expecting to wake up.

The blouse is in her closet again the next morning, with no grease stain in sight.

Betty thinks it over as she walks to school. She runs into Dilton in the front hall and asks him his opinion on the possibility of time repeating itself.

As she hurries to make it to class after his long, detailed explanation, she realizes she's come to accept that she's in a time loop, as he put it. Unfortunately, even Dilton's giant brain doesn't know how to break it.

She wonders if she just has to make things different. When Veronica asks her which dress to wear, she tells her to choose the blue one. Later, she suggests the white pearls.

Jughead still manages to steal her sandwich at lunch, while she's ignoring Midge to talk to Moose. She'd been looking forward to eating it, too.

She's too busy in the afternoon to make any changes. But when Archie asks her to help fix his jalopy, she swallows hard.

"I can't," she says, thinking quickly. "This is my best blouse, and I don't want to get it dirty."

"No problem," Archie says. "I have an old sweatshirt here you can put on over it. Doesn't matter if it gets dirty."

Betty stares at him, annoyed. "Why didn't you offer that before?"

"Before?" Archie's face takes on a rather befuddled air. It's not that dissimilar from his regular look, Betty thinks, then feels bad for thinking it.

"Never mind," Betty says. She puts on the sweatshirt. Somehow, a bit of grease gets on the cuff of her blouse anyway.

She goes home, eats dinner with her parents, helps her mom with the dishes, does her homework, reads a book, and goes to bed.

A little different, she thinks, as she reflects on the day. A little better; she said no to Archie, which doesn't come easily. It was kind of a fun experiment, she thinks, but enough's enough. She goes to sleep, hoping to wake up to a new day.

The blouse is sitting there again in the morning.

Perhaps slightly more drastic measures, then.

She tells Veronica to wear slacks instead. Veronica looks a little insulted. Betty just smiles back at her.

She dozes off during math class and gets told off by the teacher. A first, she thinks.

She skips lunch, but as she's putting her books in her locker, Jughead comes by and snatches her sandwich from her bag.

Damnit, she thinks, I'm hungry.

She purposefully gets a B on the geography pop quiz. It hurts, a bit, to do badly at something she knows she's good at, but she tells herself it's all for the best.

She pays a little more attention to Reggie's scheme this time. It is ridiculous, involving several cats, several lies, and one small act of sabotage to Archie's jalopy. If she ever gets out of this, she thinks, she's getting Reggie to pay for a new blouse.

She helps Archie with his car. She can't change everything.

"You're the best," Archie says, as he drives off, leaving her with an old sweatshirt and a grease stain on the cuff of her blouse. "Veronica would have never forgiven me if I didn't show up on time for our date."

"Sure thing, Archie," she says, but she has to grit her teeth as she does so.

She can, however, show up at Pop Tate's when she knows Archie and Veronica will be there for a root beer float after the movie.

"Hi!" she exclaims brightly, walking over with her soda. "Funny meeting you here. I thought I'd just stop by. Don't mind me, I'll just be sitting over here." She sits down at the table directly across from them and pulls out a book.

Archie smiles at her, and Veronica sniffs. "There's grease on your cuff," she says, and stands up. "Come on, Archie, take me home."

Archie shrugs his shoulders at Betty and follows Veronica out.

Betty notices that Veronica is wearing slacks. She goes home, goes to bed, considers it a day well done, and hopes for the best.

The blouse is just as brown, unstained, and there as always.

During math class, she passes Archie a note. Veronica told me she has to cancel your date. Want to go to Pop Tate's with me instead?

Archie looks confused, but writes back: sure, Betty, that'd be swell.

At lunch, Veronica screams at her when she realizes what Betty has done. Archie sits to the side, looking from girl to girl, clearly not knowing which one to support.

While the drama is unfolding, Jughead swipes Betty's sandwich.

She fails the geography quiz. She's too upset to even write down any answers. Sure, she's fought with Veronica before, but not like that.

"Psst," Midge whispers, from the next desk over. "Ronnie told me to tell you that she's never ever speaking to you again, and that you're a no-good boyfriend stealer."

"But we always take turns dating Archie," Betty whispers back. "I just was tired of seeing him date Ronnie so many times in a row."

Midge looks confused. "Didn't you go out with him two nights ago?"

"That was a really, really long time ago," Betty whispers back. "Trust me."

Reggie actually comes around and gives her a hug during gym. Reggie. A hug. She mentions cats off-hand, and he goes a slightly alarming shade of red. She's pretty sure he won't try his scheme today.

"Good on you to try to change things around here," he says. "This place is so stupid. Always the same old stuff. Archie dates Ronnie, then when she dumps him for someone else he dates you, he never keeps up with band practice, his car's always broken, blah blah blah."

"And Jughead's always eating," Betty says. "Boy, Reggie, you really have a problem with Archie."

Reggie goes a slightly less bright, but no less alarming shade of red.

So, Betty thinks.

She's learning. She's learning a lot.

Archie comes around after school, rambles a bit, and then cancels their plans to go to Pop Tate's.

"I just don't feel right about it," he says, "after all that with Ronnie."

"Did she swear she'd never date you again if you went out with me tonight?" Betty asks. She feels this is a pretty shrewd observation.

"Yeah," he says, kicking the ground. "I feel really bad about being stuck in the middle of this."

"Archie," Betty says, "you're the one who can't decide which girl to date seriously!"

Archie doesn't have a suitable reply. Betty feels bad, and tells him not to worry, that Ronnie will get over it. He drives off, still looking discontent. Betty's awfully glad that she gets a break from helping him with his car.

She goes home, does all her regular routine, goes to bed. She very deliberately crumples up her blouse and throws it in the laundry basket. She feels about as rough as it looks. She's not sure she wants things to end this way, but she sure doesn't want to do this again.

Same old stupid blouse.

This time, Betty thinks, as she fixes her ponytail with a slightly manic sense of determination, she's going to try being a lesbian.

During English class Veronica passes her a note – date with Archie tonight, new blue dress or green one? Betty writes back – green looks so nice on you. But I heard there's a big sale at the mall. You can go out with Archie any night. Why don't we go shopping instead?

Ronnie's eyes light up like they always do at the words 'mall' and 'sale'.

Archie passes her a note during math class. Don't we have band practice this afternoon?

Betty just shakes her head at him. He seems a little shocked, then turns away. Betty's heart feels sad.

She and Ronnie discuss all the shopping they're going to do at lunch with Midge. Betty deliberately turns her back on her sandwich. Maybe an easy target will be less desirable.

Not a chance.

She finds Reggie before gym class. He has three cats and a guilty expression on his face.

"Go for it," she says, smiling widely. "Archie will never know what hit him."

She peeks into the detention room after class, where Archie and Reggie were both sent after the cats ended up eating Principal Weatherbee's new toupee.

"Are they dying of boredom in there yet?" Ronnie asks, coming up behind Betty. "I think Weatherbee is going to keep them in there forever." She looks a little pleased at the prospect.

"They're just fine," Betty says, taking Ronnie's arm and leading her away before she can peek in through the window in the door as well. She's not sure Ronnie would take seeing the boys at that particular moment all that well.

Betty does, however, make a mental note that if she goes through this day again, she might want to try dating Reggie next. He looks like an awfully good kisser.

The sales at the mall turn out to be mediocre – one might even say practically non-existent. Veronica buys three dresses, two pairs of boots, two purses and a necklace anyway.

"You haven't bought anything, Betty!" she says, as they leave the jewelry store. Despite Betty's protestations that she's having a great time just looking, Ronnie drags her into another shop.

"I guess I am a bit tired of this blouse," Betty says, as Ronnie piles items into her arms for her to try. "Come, help me decide what looks good."

The dressing room is awfully tiny. Betty swallows hard as she takes off her shirt.

"This is way more fun than a date with Archie would have been," Ronnie says, holding up a pink blazer and scrutinizing it.

"I always like spending time with you, Ronnie," Betty replies. It's not entirely true, of course, but she is awfully curious if her jealousy over how much Ronnie dates Archie has been, all this time, a tiny bit misplaced.

So when Ronnie leans over to hold the blazer up against Betty to see if it fits, she takes the opportunity and kisses her.

"What will everyone at school say!" Betty exclaims later. Ronnie is dropping her off at her house, and they're both decidedly disheveled.

Veronica laughs. "You really think I'd let them say or do anything? I'm Veronica Lodge. What I say goes. Watch, within a day Midge will be dating...Ethel, or something like that. It'll catch on. I'm always a trendsetter."

Betty starts to laugh. "We'll face it when it comes, I guess. Thanks, Ronnie, it was a wonderful evening."

She goes upstairs with her packages. She takes the tags off her new blazer and carefully puts it right up front in her closet. She hadn't had the heart to tell Ronnie how horrible she thought it was, not after Ronnie had been so nice about the whole kissing thing.

Not a bad day, she thinks, as she climbs into bed. The world was a bit topsy-turvy, now, but maybe that's what Betty Cooper needs, a little bit of a topsy-turvy change to her life.

She smiles, and looks forward to school the next day.

She stares at the blouse in her closet as she goes to get dressed. Now that she thinks about it, she's not sure she ever liked that blouse that much anyway. It's a little dated, a little bland. It's brown, after all. Who ever got ahead in life wearing brown? She might as well ask to blend into the scenery.

Betty Cooper shows up at school wearing a bright red dress and heels. She leaves her hair down. Everyone stares.

Ronnie passes her a note during English class – what's gotten into you? You look really great though, I mean, for a cheap dress, it's pretty nice.

Betty writes back – I just felt like a change. I really like your necklace, by the way.

Ronnie glows, and Betty sits back and enjoys the class.

During math class Archie passes her a note – boy, Betty, you look swell. Wouldn't ask you to do dirty work dressed like that!

Betty writes back – I'm always happy to help out, but thank you! She feels good. She feels really, really good.

She watches Jughead like a hawk at lunch. He still steals her sandwich.

She wonders if the universe needs a constant.

Anyway, this time she brought two.

She gets another A+ on the geography quiz. Heck, she knows the subject matter backwards and forwards by now. And she was always really good at geography anyway. Betty Cooper is owning her awesome. And it feels fantastic.

She helps Reggie carry out his scheme. When Principal Weatherbee confronts them with the remains of his toupee, she puts on her most innocent smile, and he ends up letting them all go.

"Thanks, Betty!" Archie gasps, as they walk away. "I thought we were toast!"

"You're a real pal," Reggie agrees. "A real cool chick."

Betty smiles, all angelic innocence. "Let's go meet Veronica and Jughead," she says. "We have band practice, right?"

They all meet up outside the school, by Archie's jalopy.

"Betty," Archie says, scuffing the ground with his toe, "um, I was going to ask you to go out tonight, only I didn't have a chance we have to have practice?"

Veronica looks surprised. "I was going to ask Betty to go to the mall with me!"

Reggie laughs. "I was going to see if Archie wanted to go shoot some hoops. No offense, Betty, that I'm the only one who didn't want to go out with you. Well, I don't know about Jughead."

Jughead looks suddenly bashful. "I did steal your sandwich," he says. "I can buy you a burger to make up for it."

Betty laughs. The sun is shining and she feels beautiful and all her friends are here, together.

"We have a gig next week," she says. "Why don't we skip dating and just have a good ol' time rehearsing? Then we can go to Pop Tate's for a soda. All of us – me, Ronnie, Archie, Reggie, Juggie – like the pals we are. Right?"

The others all start to smile. Betty Cooper's enthusiasm and charm is hard to resist. After all, she's good old Betty – always there for everyone.

They walk when Archie's car won't start, have a great practice, then pile into a booth at Pop Tate's, drinking sodas and playing the jukebox. She dances with Archie and Veronica both, and smiles when Reggie challenges Archie to a dance-off that leaves them both laughing hysterically.

Juggie orders everyone burgers and then ends up eating them all. Betty spontaneously hugs him anyway.

When she gets home, she brushes her hair and thinks about the day. It won't always be like this, she decides. Archie is still going to ask her to help with his car, for no reward but her own satisfaction of being helpful and friendly. Ronnie is still going to be insensitive. Reggie is going to go back to old tricks. Jughead is, apparently, always going to eat her food. She's still going to be the one in between, the one mending fences and making people happy.

She doesn't mind. It makes her happy, after all. And now, she knows what makes everyone tick.

It's raining the next morning. The blouse is still in her closet – but there's no grease stain. The red dress is on the floor instead.

She dances as she fixes her ponytail. She puts on slacks and a nice green blouse. Nothing too crazy. Just her.

"Hey, Dilton," she says, as she heads to English class. "Have you ever heard of time loops?"

"A most fascinating question," Dilton replies. "I can give you a detailed explanation later, if you like."

"That's okay," Betty says, smiling at Ronnie and waving to Archie, "I think I've got it all figured out."

She never wears the blouse again. She does buy a different brown one. Brown works for her, she thinks. Anything can work for her, if she wants it to.