I, Elizabeth, take thee, Jughead
It’s Betty’s wedding day but she’s not in love with her fiance. And a certain someone from her past showing up doesn’t help the situation.
Word Count: 3k+
A/N: Based on the infamous “I, Ross, take thee, Rachel” scene from Friends. Also, possibly the most angsty and simultaneously idealistic fic I’ve ever written. Thanks for reading!
A knock resounded through the much too big hotel room, making Betty jump. She slowly made her way toward the door, wondering and dreading who it could be.
It could be Cheryl, coming to tell her that some aspect of the wedding was already falling apart.
It could be her mother, coming to tell her that she was “doing her right thing” (a mantra she had been hearing for the last year).
It could be Veronica, coming to claw her eyes out.
Suffice to say, Betty wasn’t looking forward to opening the door.
However, the person she was least expecting was the one she found on the other side of the door.
“Archie…” she said, staring at her red-haired childhood best friend. He didn’t look too happy about saying whatever he was going to say.
“Jughead’s not coming,” he simply said, not bothering to exchange pleasantries. Betty felt pain at the familiar yet foreign name shoot through her. After all, she hadn’t heard his name in the last four months of her life. The name brought back a flood of memories of a screaming match that had ensued two months after deciding to “figure it out”. A screaming match that had ended in them tangled together under sheets and Betty waking up the next morning to no one.
“Okay,” she said, allowing the information to sink in. “Okay, well, we need to - come in - we need to figure out the seating chart because there’s this empty space now. Are you sure we can’t somehow get your great aunt into joining us? I mean, it is your wedding after all - you’d think she’d want to be there. The alternative is asking Cheryl to hang out at the bar. I’m sure she would be more than happy to oblige about that. Honestly, why would someone RSVP and then cancel last minute. That’s just bad etiquette–”
“Betty!” Archie exclaimed, interrupting her rant. She looked up at him, daring him to say whatever he was planning to. “I just told you Jughead wasn’t coming and all you can talk about is seating arrangements?”
“Well, what do you want me to say, Archie? I already knew I was expecting too much by asking you to send him an invite. I never imagined he’d say yes. I mean, I haven’t seen him in four months. How else am I supposed to react to a practical stranger not showing up for my wedding?”
“I’m just saying, Betty. I mean, I know you guys were close and–”
“Close? I loved him Archie. He was as much family to me as my mom and dad - more so considering the predicament I had been placed in,” she said, the admission of how deep her feelings ran making her feel lighter and heavier simultaneously.
“Betty I realise that this is hard but please we–”
“We don’t need to do anything. You need to let me figure out the seating arrangement,” Betty said, allowing her hair to fall around her face like a curtain to hide the tears pooling in her eyes.
I loved you.
She waited until she heard the lock click into place and then got up, going to the window and trying to look at her phone through blurred vision. Unable to make out anything, she scrolled blindly through her contacts and picked someone at random to talk to. She wasn’t even sure what she wanted to say - she just needed to be alone with someone other than Archie.
The phone rang thrice before someone picked up.
Instantly Betty’s tears ceased and her eyes cleared as she listened to the familiar yet unfamiliar voice in shock.
“Betty? Is that you?” The voice asked again, pulling Betty back from the memories that had engulfed her again.
“Hi… Jughead,” she managed to respond and heard a sigh on the other end. But it wasn’t the annoyed sigh she had been expecting. It was more resigned like he had known this would happen. She suddenly realised she wished he had been annoyed with her. She wished he would yell at her and she could yell back at him and they could just get into a screaming match about this shitty situation they were in.
“What do you want?” He asked and she could feel the animosity in his tone.
“I just… I needed to talk,” she said, still not sure what she would talk about. She waited for him to hang up. But instead, after a moment of silence –
“What’s up?” He asked, surprising her.
“Nothing much. You?” She asked in her shock and wanted to kick herself for the idiocy of her response. To her further surprise and relief, she heard chuckling on the other end. Hearing Jughead chuckle sent waves of pain through her but at the same time she suddenly felt lighter.
“Well, I was under the impression that you wanted to talk about you, Betty. I mean you called me,” he said and she could see him smiling on the other end. She smiled too, sitting down in the window seat.
“I’m sorry, Jughead,” she finally said.
“I’m sorry, too.”
“Why are you sorry?”
“There was all this unnecessary pressure on you and my constantly asking you to drop everything and come away with me clearly wasn’t helping. I’m sorry, it’s just that I get kinda insecure. Especially when it comes to Archie,” he said and then they fell into silence again.
“You know, I don’t think I was ever in love with Archie,” Betty suddenly said after mulling over Jughead’s apology.
“I’d beg to differ but go on.”
“No, seriously. I mean, I think I was always in love with the idea of us being together. Like some kind of idealistic childhood sweetheart fantasy that I was trying to force Archie into or something. But then I realised at some point that I was never in love with Archie. Well, I loved him platonically but never anything more. Besides, there was always the fact that he wasn’t single long enough for me to work up the courage to ask him out, ever.”
“Not for lack of trying on your part, though,” Jughead said and Betty rolled her eyes but was unable to conceal a laugh of her own.
“I really did believe that Archie and I were meant to be, you know? And somewhere along the line - somewhere around the time he started his on-and-off relationship with Veronica - I just stopped believing and…” she trailed off not knowing how to continue this.
“And then you met me?” He asked and she smiled, tears filling her eyes again for some reason.
“And then I met you.”
It was so easy. So natural to speak to Jughead so candidly about their day. It was as if the last four months hadn’t happened.
And that feeling lasted until Betty realised how late it was. How she had to be up in a few hours to get ready for - oh god - her wedding. She didn’t want to bring it up, though. It was the elephant in the room that they had been tiptoeing around for the last two hours of conversation.
“It’s getting late. I should go sleep. And you need to sleep too,” Jughead said at long last, bringing Betty back to reality.
“It’s a big day tomorrow,” he added, with a strained laugh. Betty mirrored this laugh.
“Yeah. It is,” she said but neither hung up.
“Goodnight.” “I don’t want to get married,” Jughead and Betty said simultaneously. Jughead was silent for a few moments. Then Betty heard the beep, signaling the end of the call. Betty sighed: it had been only a matter of time before he hung up. Maybe she shouldn’t have told him she didn’t want the wedding. It just made things more complicated by saying that. And, considering this was the first time they were speaking in three months, they didn’t need complicated right now.