Chapter 7: Monday afternoon revisited

Mr. Weatherby was sitting at his desk in his office doing paperwork when there was a knock at his door. "Come in," he said without looking up.

"Mr. Weatherby, I heard you were still looking for a student to direct the spring play."

There was no mistake in who the owner of the voice was; Veronica Lodge. With a sigh he set down his pen and gave her his full attention. "Did you have someone in mind, Miss Lodge?"

She grinned and the original glimmer of a bad feeling from her entrance blossomed as she took the chair in front of his desk. "Yes," she said with her eyes full of excitement. "I would like to be the one to direct the play."

Mr. Weatherby sighed. 'I knew I should have gone home as soon as the bell rang.' "You do realize you won't be able to actually be in the play, you only get to direct it."

Veronica laughed prettily. "Oh, I know Mr. Weatherby. I have no intention of being in it. I already have a basic cast list in mind..."

"Oh really?" Now he was intrigued. Very rarely did Veronica put this much thought into one of her whims.

"I would like to create a play version of 'The Princess Bride' and I would like Betty and Jughead to play the leading roles, after the proper auditions of course."

Mr. Weatherby was amazed. "Um... Veronica. I love how much thought you've put into this, but I don't think the school budget would be able to afford the rights for that big of a production."

Veronica raised a perfect eyebrow. "Mr. Weatherby, you should know by now that when I want to do something the school cannot afford, I'll pick up the bill."

Mr. Weatherby sighed. He knew it was useless to try to refuse her. He hoped he wouldn't end up regretting this. "Alright, Veronica. If you and your father can procure the rights, you can direct the play you want. Just... try not to go overboard, alright?"

"Oh, thank you Mr. Weatherby. You won't regret this, I promise." She left his office with a smile on her face and a bounce in her step. She hopped into her car and headed toward Betty's house.

When she pulled up to the house she smiled. She had just seen Betty and Jughead part ways. Her grin widened as she thought about her plan in motion to bring them closer together. 'Now I can repay Betty to make up for all the horrible stunts I pulled.' She giggled to herself as she got out.

Betty was just about to make herself a small snack when she heard the doorbell ring. When she answered the door she was surprised to find Veronica standing there. 'Well, who else would it be?' she thought to herself. (You know darn well who you thought/hoped it would be.)

Before her mental argument could continue, Veronica's bubbly voice interrupted. "Oh, Betty! I have great news." She walked past Betty into the house

"Shoot," said Betty, getting her plate and taking a bite out of her sandwich.

"Ok, you know how Mr. Weatherby was looking for a student to direct the play this spring?"

Betty's eyes widened. "No way! You got Weatherby to give you the position?"

Veronica nodded. "Yep, and I get to pick the play, cast the parts and everything."

"That's great! Do you know which play you're going to do yet?"

Veronica nodded. "I'm planning on creating a script based off the movie "The Princess Bride."

"No way!" Betty exclaimed, "That's my all time favorite book, and the movie wasn't bad either. That would definitely be an awesome show."

Veronica grinned. "I'm glad you like the idea because I want you to play the main role. I want you to be Buttercup."

"What? Don't you have to hold auditions or something?"

Veronica shrugged. "I'm the director. I can choose whoever I want for whatever part I want."

Betty sighed. 'I should have known she would say something like that.' She shrugged. "As long as I get to be Buttercup I'll be happy." Then an uneasy feeling came over her. "Who are you going to cast as Wesley?"

Ronnie grinned mischievously. "I think you're going to have to wait until after auditions."

"Oh, you're evil Ronnie. I bet you already know who you want to cast."

Veronica shrugged. "I have a pretty good idea... but I can tell you right now that it won't be Archie." It was almost heartbreaking for Veronica to watch Betty look so relieved and somewhat happy at news that would have devastated her a couple of weeks ago. She would have been begging for her to cast Archie. She forced a smile to remain on her face. Then she got to her feet. "I just wanted to stop by and give you a heads up..." When she looked Betty in the face again she couldn't hide her concern. "Are you doing alright, Betty?"

She just smiled. "I'm doing great. It feels good not to be tied to him anymore... to be back in control." Her eyes got a glazed look as her thoughts kept running. 'I may have more control when it comes to Archie, but what about Jughead... No that's not true. I AM in control there too.' She jumped as Veronica rubbed her upper arm and the smile slid back into place.

"Do you want to hang out or go to the mall or something?"

"Nah," Betty laughed, "I have to go babysit in a little while. Besides, I want to give my paper another look-over."

Veronica's eyes widened at that last part. "Paper? The essay for Grundy! When is it due?"

"Wednesday."

"Oh! Um... See you later, Betty."

"Didn't start it yet, did you?"

Veronica looked sheepishly at Betty. "No."

Betty laughed. "I'll look it over tomorrow night if you'd like." Veronica looked comforted. Betty continued, "Oh, and tell Archie I'll look over his paper too" then she added with a more bitter tone "If he gets it written."

Veronica bit her lip, wanting to ask what happened but was afraid of causing her friend more pain.

Betty noticed the look on Veronica's face and laughed. "It's nothing, Ronnie. I just ran into Archie on the way home and he tried to get me to write the paper for him."

Veronica sensed that a little more happened, but she figured she'd hear it from Archie when he called her. She hugged her friend. "I love you Betty. If you need me for anything just give me a call okay?"

Betty smiled gratefully. "Thanks, Ronnie."

She grinned. "Take care of yourself, Betty."

As Betty walked Veronica to the door, something on the sofa caught Veronica's eye. "What's that?" She went and picked it up, unfolding it. Veronica raised an eyebrow as Betty began to blush. "Well, well. Betty, what is Jughead's sweater doing here?"

Betty's face was frozen in shock as her face turned beet-red. "W-w-well... y-you see... Jughead was walking me home the other night and I was cold so he let me borrow it. I was supposed to give it back to him today but I totally forgot." Betty knew she was starting to babble but she couldn't help it. "I can't believe it. I set it right where I could see it and I still forgot it." Most of what she was saying was true, but she hadn't brought the sweatshirt down until after she had gotten home. She had lay down on the couch with it. It seemed to keep her from getting anxious and thinking about Archie.

'You are such a bad liar, Betty.' Veronica thought, snickering mentally. All she said out loud was "Yeah, okay Betty."

"No... really... I did."

"Whatever you say Betty." She handed Betty the sweater. "It's not like it's any of my business anyway." Veronica headed toward the door. "You just enjoy your snack, okay?" She gave Betty a playful wink. "Ciao."

"Betty was left standing immobile with her eyes on the door and the sweater in her hands."

As Veronica got into her car she had the urge to call Jughead right then and there. 'He probably isn't even home yet anyway.

As soon as Veronica got home she went to her father's office. "Daddy..."

"Yes, Veronica-dear?" He asked, not looking up from his computer.

"I got chosen to direct the school play this spring."

His typing ceased. "How much is it going to cost me this time?"

"Oh, Daddy. The only thing I need you to do is make sure I'll be able to use the movie "The Princess Bride" as a script. I'm sure there is a bunch of copyright mumbo-jumbo that will have to be taken care of."

"...You aren't going to end up spending a bunch of money on special effects or super-fancy, designer costumes are you?"

"Come on Daddy, don't be silly. Even if I was able to pull out all the stops, this movie doesn't take many special effects. If anything I would only need a little help with costumes of special effects. I've already promised Mr. Weatherby not to go overboard and I'll promise you too. Please Daddy?"

Mr. Lodge sighed. He knew it was impossible for him to refuse her. "Alright Veronica. It may take a couple of phone calls, but you'll be able to do the script for your play."

"Oh thank you Daddy!" She wrapped her arms around his neck and pecked his cheek. "You won't regret this I promise."

As she left his office, Mr. Lodge scratched his head and chuckled. "I don't know what I'm ever going to do with that girl."

As Veronica went up to her room she was tempted to put in the movie and start working on the script like she originally planned, but that plan went to hell as soon as Betty mentioned the paper. She rolled her eyes at the thought of having to write it. 'But first...' She grabbed the telephone and laid on the bed as she punched in a set of numbers. "...Hello? ...Pop? ...Yeah, it's me Veronica... I just wanted to let you know that the plan is in motion." She grinned. "I've already got Betty on board. Now I just need to convince Jughead or it will all be for nothing... Yeah, I gotta go... of course, I'll keep you posted." Veronica hung up the phone feeling very pleased with herself.

It was just about 6 pm and Jughead had just set Jellybean up with her dinner when the phone rang. He suddenly felt slightly nervous as he went to answer the phone. "Hello?"

"Hey Juggie." It was Veronica.

It felt like a weight was lifted off his chest and he let out a breath he didn't realize he had been holding. Yet he felt oddly disappointed. "Hey, Ronnie. What's up?"

"Nothing much... Mr. Weatherby made me director of the school play and I was wondering if I could talk you into coming to the auditions ."

"When are you going to be holding them?"

"I'm not sure yet. Hopefully before the end of next week, but I do have a good idea about which part I want you to play."

He hesitated before responding. "I don't know Ronnie... I have a lot of catching up to do in my classes if I'm going to make it through this semester."

"Aw, come on Juggie. It will be loads of fun... Please Juggie? I need you."

He sighed. "Alright, Ronnie. Let me know when the auditions are and I'll be there." She wasn't going to let up until he agreed and he knew it. 'Plus I'm sure Betty will be there too.' "What play are we doing anyway?" He could almost see her grinning.

"The Princess Bride."

He recognized it as one of Betty's favorites. "Are you going to let Betty be Buttercup?"

"Yeah, no one better for the part besides me and Mr. Weatherby made me promise not to cast myself. Besides, I still have a lot I need to make up to Betty."

'Darn right you do.' Jug said to himself. Out loud he said, "What part have you picked out for me?"

"You are going to have to wait and find out."

'Typical Ronnie' he thought, rolling his eyes. "Whatever. I'll talk to you later. I have chores and homework to do."

"Alright. Bye, Juggie. And thanks again."

"Uh-huh. Bye." As he hung up the phone he couldn't help but think she was up to something. He had a feeling it had something to do with the play.

Before he could think much more about it the phone started ringing again. "Hello?" He assumed Ronnie must have forgotten to tell him something.

"Juggie?" It was Betty.

His breath caught in his throat and he could swear Betty must be able to hear his heart beat for the pounding it was doing in his chest.

"Are you there?"

He struggled to find his voice and did his best to disguise the anxiety he felt."I'm here. What's going on?"

"Nothing much I guess..."

"What's wrong?"

"Like I said, nothing I could really put my finger on. But Ronnie's acting strange."

'You noticed too?' He thought to himself. Out loud he said, "How do you mean?"

"Well, first she kept pestering me about Archie and dating. Now she's being overly nice but secretive."

"About?"

"She managed to become the director of the school play and offered me the leading role in one of my favorite stories."
"The Princess Bride'. She's trying to rope me into it too. But what's strange about that?"

"I don't know." She sounded exasperated. "I guess I'm just used to being suspicious of her motives, but I don't see what she has to gain." Jughead of course knew what she meant and shared her feelings. Betty continued, "I just don't get it. I suppose she could just be trying to make things up to me, but..."

"But Veronica rarely does anything without her own agenda."

"Yeah... I hate to be so suspicious of my best friend. They say never look a gift horse in the mouth. She even promised not to give the role of Wesley to Archie."

"Then I doubt w-you have anything to worry about." He could have kicked himself for almost slipping. "She may just be trying to give you something fun to focus on."

She sighed. "I guess you're right." She laughed. "I am really excited to get to be Buttercup. Even if it's pretend, the love and devotion Wesley showered on her would be amazing to be a part of."

'Oh Betty... If only you knew...' He didn't say anything, knowing she was probably playing a sappy piece of the story in her head.

"Anyway, that wasn't the only reason I called."

"Yeah?"

"I wanted to make sure you remembered the chemistry test tomorrow."

"Shoot! Actually, I completely forgot. I was too busy looking at my other classes and the late work I never turned in."

"Oh, Juggie." She laughed softly. "Don't worry too much about ti. I think he said it was just a quiz and that if we were paying attention in class that it should be pretty easy."

"Yea, well... I didn't exactly take very good notes this quarter."

"Hmmm... well, if you want we could meet before school starts. We could study together."

"You do take the best notes." He teased. "Yes, please. I could use any help I can get." NOt to mention he would take any excuse to spend time with her.

They discussed the details and agreed to meet at the corner between their houses. "Thanks for inviting me to study with you. It will give me a real advantage on the test."

"Oh, it is no trouble really. I study best with a buddy anyway."

There was a moment of awkward silence as they both searched for something to say. Jughead wanted to make a crack about Archie blowing up the lab with a paper exam, but rightly sensed that the hilarity of the joke wouldn't be worth bringing up Archie. So instead he said, "Well, I guess I'll see you in the morning Betty."

"Yea... Goodnight."

"Sweet Dreams."

"Th-thanks... you too." He could almost see her blush and wished for the thousandth time that day that he could say what was burning such a deep hole in his heart. Instead he just hung up the phone and turned his full attention back to Jellybean as she insisted on feeding herself.

As Betty hung up the phone, a warm feeling of delight swept through her. Her mind flashed through several delightful conversations that could have happened. She shook thoughts of pronounced feelings and date requests out of her head. 'Stop being silly, Betty.' She told herself.

(You're only silly if you give up that hope.) Said the voice that always pointed out thoughts she didn't necessarily want to hear or accept.

'Oh, what do you know?'

(I know he's a lot closer to the type of guy you want in your life than Archie ever could be.)

'Shut up.'

Despite successfully shutting out the annoying voice, Betty found it impossible to concentrate on her homework. Instead of beating a dead horse, she decided to settle down for the night with her new romance novel. Sure enough, in her mind's eye, the main character suspiciously resembled Jughead.