The Sweet Hereafter // Part One

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It seemed as if everyone's lives would go back to normal after Clifford Blossom was found guilty

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It seemed as if everyone's lives would go back to normal after Clifford Blossom was found guilty. They didn't, however. Granted, the only thing on my family's mind was the fact that my father was coming home soon. Mom was telling Smithers not to expect him until the end of the month but everything had to be perfect by then.

"Yes," Ronnie teased, "We would not want to make Daddy angry." She set her tea down and smiled at me. I could see Mom roll her eyes at my sister before telling Smithers that was all. As soon as Smithers was out the door, Mom was down Ronnie's throat.

"He's your father, Veronica, not the Godfather." Mom walked out of the room. Ronnie looked up from her book before shrugging. She definitely was not excited that Dad was coming home. Honestly, I was nervous. I was terrified that him being here would be worse.

Jesus, Savanna. He puts the roof over your head. The least you could do is act like you enjoy being around him.

--

I had to admit, I was over the moon that Jughead was back at lunch with us. Last time he was here, it didn't go well and I was sure he was going to listen to Mr. Andrews when he suggested finishing the semester at home. But, he didn't. And now, I got to annoy him even more hours of the day.

"Jug, how's your dad? Did you get in to see him?" Archie asked before shoving a chip in his mouth.

Jughead swallowed, "Here's the latest. Mayor McCoy wants my dad to name names in exchange for a lesser sentence."

"What?" I turned towards him. "Whose names?"

"The Serpents. Sheriff Keller thinks they're the ones dealing the drugs that Clifford Blossom brought into the town." Kevin interrupted with some lame comment about drugs that we already knew. "My dad says they're not the ones dealing."

Betty sighed, "And meanwhile, Mayor McCoy hasn't even said the words Clifford or Blossom in public. It's all about how the Serpents are the problem, the villains. This is outrageous." She didn't seem to stop there. "I'm writing an article about this and not just for The Blue and Gold but for The Register. This is a town story."

"Okay," Jughead agreed, "As long as the article doesn't include my dad."

Betty shook her head, "No, it is going to be about your dad, Jug. It doesn't matter how many Jubilees Mayor McCoy throws. This town's changed. That needs to be acknowledged." She stabbed a piece of her fruit, "Why are people so afraid of the truth?"

Ronnie took that line as a chance to jump in. "Speaking of the truth," My sister stood up awkwardly. "Archie and I wanted to tell you..."

"That we kissed a couple of times," Archie finished.

Betty looked at them, kind of weirded out. "It's okay, V. I appreciate you being honest with me, but it's okay. I'm over it. If you guys want to be together, I'm happy for you."

Both Archie and Ronnie thanked her for whatever reason. I looked at my sister, confused but shrugged it off. She could tell me later.

--

"Savanna." Ronnie's voice echoed through the apartment as I groaned.

"What, V?" I sat up in my bed as she burst through my door.

She stopped and looked at me. "Are you okay? You look awful."

I sighed and laid back down. "Thanks for that. But no, I think I'm getting sick."

Ronnie came over and sat down next to me. "You'll never believe what just happened."

"Fill me in." I closed my eyes to attempt to stop my migraine.

"I was late to cheer practice, so I figured I was going to get screamed at. Well, Cheryl ends up telling me she resigned and hands over her HBIC shirt." Ronnie held it up. "Weird, right?"

I looked at it, my brain slowly catching on. "Yeah, weird."

--

The next day at lunch, I surprisingly beat the rest of the gang there, except Jughead.

"Face first in a burger already, huh?" I teased as I sat next to him. My voice was practically gone and I got no sleep last night. I felt like death to say the least.

"You know it." He set the item down and wiped his mouth. "Feel any better?"

I shook my head before placing it on the cool table. "Not one bit."

"Betty's babysitting Polly, mind if I join you guys?" I heard Ronnie's voice above me but did nothing to acknowledge her.

"Are you sure you want to sit at the Social Pariah table?"

Ronnie laughed at Jughead's joke and sat down across from me. "I've been sitting at it for months, why should today be any different? Savanna, how are you feeling?" I didn't even respond, only lifted my head up so she could see the dark circles under my eyes. She turned back towards Jughead. "Standard question. Anyway, Jughead, you and I have a lot in common."

"Oh," Jug scoffed, "Because my dad's going to prison and your dad is getting out?"

"Not exactly. We both happen to care deeply for one amazing child." I could tell she was talking about me. "But yes, the prison thing, too."

"Jughead." I heard Cheryl barely whisper. My tilted my head up slightly to see her. "I'm sorry. I had no right to pummel you the way I did that day. As recompense, I'd like to give you this." She tossed something towards Jughead who caught it. "My iconic spider brooch. It'll catch a pretty penny at the local pawn shop. Enough to keep you in burgers and 'S' t-shirts for years, if not decades."

Ronnie looked at the redhead, a bit concerned. "Cheryl, what is going on?"

Cheryl opened her mouth to respond but Kevin cut her off, "Guys, it's Betty's locker. Come on, it's bad. Come on, come on."

I stood up as Jughead and Ronnie raced after Kevin. Cheryl grabbed my arm as I walked past her. "Savanna, I owe you a huge apology for what I did at Jughead's birthday party. That was wrong of me on so many levels and I just want you to know how sorry I am."

I smiled at her sadly. "Cheryl, it's okay, I'm over it. But, are you okay?"

She nodded and looked away from me, "I'm fine, I promise."

"No, you're not. I know what you're doing, giving your stuff away. I wish I would've picked up on those signs when I was younger. Truly, are you okay?" I grabbed her arm.

She took a deep breath, "Meet me at Sweetwater River. Tomorrow, if you can."

I nodded as she walked away from me. I watched her leave the cafeteria before turning and running towards Betty's locker. I got there in time to see Jughead grab Betty and pull her away from the mess of her locker. Someone had torn her article apart and written 'Go to hell Serpent slut' on it with pig's blood.

My heart stopped at the image before I quickly followed my friends into the student lounge. Jughead was still holding Betty close as she cried into his shoulder. Archie and Ronnie were on both sides of the duo and Kevin in front. Call it my sickness plus depression but they all looked perfect. Like they all belonged together so well. Without me.

I'll be there, Cheryl. I promise.

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