La Grande Illusion // Part Three

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Headache

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Headache. That was the first thing I felt when I woke up. The next being someone rubbing their hand across my back gently. I definitely wasn't in the school bathroom anymore. I blinked my eyes open slowly to see the familiar gray walls of my bedroom. Jughead was next to me, his beanie off his head for the first time.

"Jug?" My voice was hoarse. He looked down at me and smiled. "What happened?"

He helped me sit up and lean against him as he rubbed my arm instead, "You had another panic attack. Betty had her hands full with Ronnie so she called me to come help you. Do you feel okay?"

I shrugged, "I guess. Thank you."

He pressed a kiss to my forehead, "I'm glad you're alright. You blacked out on us so we brought you here. Veronica left with Betty to go to the hospital to see Ethel."

My eyes widened, "Oh, my God. Jug, Ethel's dad. He-"

"I know, babe. You don't have to tell me. Betty filled me in. It's okay. It's not your fault." Jughead squeezed me tighter.

"Then why do I feel so horrible?" I choked out as I started crying again.

Jughead sighed and leaned his head against mine, "Because you care, Sav. You feel bad because you care. But you have to believe me when I say there was nothing you could've done to prevent it. You gave Ethel all you could. That was more than enough on your part."

A sudden knock on my door made me jump. It creaked open to reveal a tear-streaked Ronnie. She smiled sadly at us before closing the door behind her. She came and sat next to us on the bed.

"Are you okay?" She wiped a tear from my cheek.

I shook my head, "Ronnie, I feel so awful."

My sister nodded, "Yeah, me too."

"What really happened?" Jug looked down at me.

I sighed, "Our dad must've had a partnership with Ethel's father so when he went to jail...."

"Ethel's father lost everything." Jughead pieced together. Ronnie and I nodded. "Wow."

"Did you take your medicine this morning?" Ronnie gently brushed hair from my cheek.

I nodded, "Yeah. Probably the only reason it wasn't worse than it was."

Jughead kept rubbing my arm gently. Today took a flip for the worst.

"I went and saw Ethel at the hospital. I wish I hadn't but I'm glad I did. Her mom knew who I was and she knew what happened." Ronnie teared up, "Vanna, I don't even know what to think. Our family's taken a total 180."

I shook my head and curled into Jughead further. She was right. Dad getting arrested messed everything up. But then again, I would've never met Jughead. I wouldn't have met Archie, Betty, or Kevin. I wouldn't have the best friends that I do now.

"I think Dad screwed us over, Ron. I really truly do and I don't....I don't know if I can defend him when the lawyers come." I looked over at her.

She shook her head, "Me either, Van. I don't think I can lie for him anymore."

Eventually, Ronnie left the room and Jughead and I were alone. No words were spoken between us but it was comfortable. It was peaceful. After today, I didn't want to leave my room. Every twist and turn was another tragic event. I didn't think I could face Ethel if I saw her. I knew school would be hell tomorrow but for now, I wanted every second of Jughead to myself.

"Will you stay? Please?" I looked over at him as I pulled my hair from its bun.

He sighed, "Vanna."

I shook my head, "Jug, please? I really want you here. You're the only way I'm going to sleep tonight."

"Fine, but you need to ask your mom." He pointed towards my door.

"No." I crossed my arms.

"Sav, don't be a baby. Just go ask her. Use the guilty card, whatever. I don't want to get on the bad side of your parents after what I've seen."

I sighed, knowing he was right. I stepped out of my room and closed the door behind me before heading towards the kitchen. I found Mom leaning against the counter with a glass of wine.

"Savanna." She rushed over to me. "Are you okay?"

I pushed her hand away, "Fine. Jughead's staying the night."

"Vanna, I don't think-"

"Mom," My tone was sharp with her, "He's staying, okay? For me."

Mom sighed and nodded, "I'm sorry, baby."

I looked at the floor away from her, "Yeah. I know."

With that, I turned on my heels and made my way back to my room. Jughead had already changed into a pair of gym shorts and a white t-shirt. I rolled my eyes at him and shut the door behind me.

"You already knew she was going to say yes, didn't you?" I jumped on the bed, landing inches from his side.

"The guilty card," He pulled me in for a kiss, "Always works."

--

Sleeping didn't come easy that night. Every hour or two I would wake up from an awful nightmare. Jughead would be right by my side to comfort me and lull me back to sleep but I knew both of us were dragging as we went to school. I didn't bother saying good morning to Mom and promised Ronnie I would see her at school.

Jughead broke off to head to his locker as I walked towards mine. Ronnie was standing in the doorway of a classroom. I came up behind her and latched my eyes on what she was staring at. Ethel sat in the middle of the classroom by herself, a book spread across the desk. I pushed Ronnie forward gently and the two of us walked in. Ethel looked up as we approached but moved her gaze right back down when she realized who it was.

"Ethel, I meant what I said." Ronnie stood in front of her desk.

"We're so sorry, Ethel, for everything our family did to yours," I mumbled. There was a moment of silence and we moved to leave before Ethel stopped us.

"It's not your fault what your dad did. And you both were there for me when no one else was. More than once," She nodded her head towards the seat next to her, "Seat's not taken, if you want it."

Ronnie smiled and took the seat as I made my way out of the room. I turned back to wave at the two but I could already see them diving into a conversation. I stepped out into the hall with a bit more energy in my walk.

Jughead and I agreed to meet at the Blue and Gold with Archie and Betty. When I walked in, the three were already there. Archie was sitting on a chair with Jug and Betty standing over him.

I tossed my backpack on the desk, "I feel like I just walked into an interrogation. What's up?"

"At the banquet, I heard Mr. and Mrs. Blossom talking. It sounded like Clifford Blossom was responsible for sending...." He turned to look at me, "For sending your dad to jail, Vanna."

Betty sat up straighter, "Oh, my God. If Clifford sent Hiram Lodge to jail, tore apart his family-"

"Then my dad could do the same thing to him." I looked at them.

"Yeah," Jughead looked up from whatever he was writing, "By going after what the Blossoms value most, their family, their legacy. That's a motive."

He walked towards the board before stopping for a second. He turned towards me slightly. I caught on to what he was suggesting and grabbed the yellow note card from his hand. A sense of deja vu ran through me as I stuck the pushpin in the board.

Hiram Lodge was just another name on the murder board to me. Another name that was trying to take everything I loved from me. And I'll be damned if I let it happen.

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