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Unions For Peace

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Once upon a time, there was a kingdom split in two by a broken friendship. No one knows why or how, only that it did. And that kingdom’s name is Riverdale. 

At first, the separation between the Northside and the Southside kept the peace, but that was not meant to be, for history was fated to repeat itself. You see, about twenty years ago, the Northside monarchs, the Coopers, resentful over a petty disagreement with the Southside’s royals, became greedy and attempted to invade the Southside so that they could control the entire kingdom of Riverdale and its riches. But the Southsiders defended themselves, and the Joneses, the royal family of the Southside, continued to do so for years onward.

It was well known that the Coopers had two daughters and had always wanted a male heir so as to not lose their dynasty. However, it was not to happen, for they had lost their eldest child, their only son, to a disease when he was still a child. From then on, the king and queen decided that their daughters would have to be ready to rule and to marry into power, trying to invade the Southside even more desperately. They had managed to marry their eldest daughter to a neighboring prince, securing an alliance, and hoped their youngest would be able to rule the Northside.

The Joneses, on the other hand, had a male heir to the throne. He had grown up knowing he would rule the Southside and continue to defend it. It was his purpose. The loss of the queen only strengthened his resolve that he was to never let the Southside be invaded by anyone, to protect the rest of his family, to protect his sister. His father, as strong as he was, had almost given up the fight after his wife’s death and only wanted it to end so he could live his life in peace.

Two decades into the war, the Joneses had finally found a solution to tie both kingdoms back together. With their son and the Cooper’s youngest daughter coming of age, a holy alliance could be forged. One the Coopers would have to accept if they wanted to keep their kingdom safe from the threat of their looming neighbors. The conflict had brewed unrest throughout the Northside, and the neighboring kingdoms were taking notice of the Northside’s repetitive failure. They were starting to get interested in maybe invading them themselves, thinking the Northside was weak.

The king of the Southside, Forsythe Pendleton Jones II, was planning on giving his throne to his son as soon as the alliance was formed, for he believed the alliance was the beginning of a new era and deserved new monarchs to lead the kingdoms to peace. The Coopers, however, were more ambivalent. While they believed their daughter capable, they did not fully approve of the methods of the Southside and wanted to keep their rule going for as long as possible. 

The planned abdication of FP II put a wrench in the Cooper’s plans as their daughter would, therefore, be the queen to the Southside heir and the change would obligate them to abdicate as well, giving the children all their power. The union would be total: the North and the South would finally be one, and Riverdale would be whole once again. They could only hope their daughter would follow their footsteps and would manage to sway the prince in their direction.

Said children were happy the conflict would end, finally free of this burden, but they were apprehensive as well. They had never met despite being neighbors — a consequence of the war — and now they were expected to live their whole lives together. 

While the Northside princess was resigned to the fact, having been taught from a young age that she would have to be a wife and to marry not for love but for power, the Southside prince was determined but scared. Determined because this marriage would finally unite the land and prevent his territory from being overrun. Scared because he was uniting with the very family who had sought to destroy his for decades. Scared because he was taking over for his father and had never ruled before. Scared because he was going to be a husband to someone he did not love and did not know if he would ever love.

Forsythe Pendleton Jones III, heir to the Southside throne, affectionately called Jughead by his friends and family, was now en route with his family to the Cooper castle to meet his future wife and attend his engagement ball. He could not stop thinking about his future wedding to Elizabeth Cooper. He had heard some about her: she was beautiful, gentle and benevolent, and always had a kind thing to say to even the most common of commoners. She was loved by her people and they were happy to see her on the throne. She also had a backbone of steel and wit that would both enrage and impress her tutors.

Knowing this both reassured and scared him. While it seemed she was of very good character and therefore a person he would like being around, she could very well be quite hostile towards him thanks to her parents. He did not doubt the Cooper children were taught never to talk to a Southsider, that they were criminals, anarchists, or whatever else they could have invented to make sure they were resented and feared. 

Arriving at the Cooper castle, Jughead looked outside the window of his carriage. The castle was massive, with tall towers and well-maintained walls. The Cooper banner hung proudly over the roofs and over the drawbridge. It screamed of power and riches, exactly what the Northside royal family wanted the world to think of them. 

As the carriage settled down, he took a deep breath to settle his nerves before getting out of the carriage, followed by his father and sister. Looking over his arrival were Hal and Alice Cooper, the Northside king and queen, standing tall at the top of the stairs. Surrounding them were knights, ready to defend their monarchs but also ready to meet their princess’ future husband. And right there in the middle, two steps below her parents, was Elizabeth Cooper. 

Jughead was struck, his breath escaping him as he gawked at her, finding her absolutely gorgeous. Her hair was a halo of blonde curls, her body beautifully framed by her hooded floor-length long-sleeved light pink velvet gown with a beautiful long silver belt highlighting her waist, her eyes the greenest eyes he had ever laid eyes on. A throat clearing and a giggle brought him back to reality, making him blush and avert his eyes. Trying to bring his breathing back to normal, he glanced around before following his father, who was walking toward the stairs to present himself.

He watched on as his father walked up the stairs and the Coopers walked down to greet him, the king shaking his hand.

“FP Jones, welcome to our kingdom for this joyous occasion,” Hal Cooper declared.

“Glad to be here in such good circumstances,” he answered, turning to the queen and shaking her offered hand. “Alice, so lovely to see you again.”

She raised an eyebrow and scoffed. “Likewise.”

FP gestured to his son, who stepped forward and bowed from the waist to the ruling monarchs, and introduced him.

“This is my son, Prince Forsythe Pendleton Jones III, affectionately known as Jughead. In fact, he prefers to be called that way.”

“It is an honor to meet you, Your Majesties,” Jughead stated.

“Jug-Head? Is that an appropriate name for a prince? Surely you must be joking,” Alice said, disdain clear in her tone.

“I’m afraid so, Your Majesty. This is how I prefer to be called in my daily life,” he quipped, raising an eyebrow of his own.

As Alice took a breath to retort, the Northside king put up his hand and silenced her.

“Hang on and let the young man be. He has a right to choose to be referred to a certain way, doesn’t he honey? Now, I believe we have not yet been introduced, young lady.”

Jellybean Jones, Jughead’s little sister, stepped forward and bowed.

“Princess Forsythia, Your Majesty, but I prefer to be called Jellybean or JB. It is such a privilege to be in your kingdom.”

The queen scoffed once again at the nickname the princess bore but did not say anything more so as to not insult the Joneses more.

“We humbly welcome all of you into our home,” Hal announced. “May I present to you our daughter, Princess Elizabeth.”

The king and queen promptly stepped aside to let their daughter step down the stairs in between them. She bowed politely to FP with a soft “Your Majesty” and turned to Jellybean, greeting her with a gentle “Your Highness”. Finally, she ended up before Jughead and gave him her hand.

“Prince Jughead,” she spoke softly.

He took her hand, smiling at the use of his nickname, and kissed its back, bowing at the waist before straightening up, not letting go of her hand.

“Your Highness,” he breathed, smitten by the sweetness of her voice.

“Please, call me Betty.”

“Well, then, Princess Betty, how wonderful to finally meet you. I do have to say, I had heard rumors about your beauty but they do not compare to the real thing.” 

She blushed and Jughead was once again hit by how breathtakingly beautiful she was. After a moment of looking in each other’s eyes, a throat cleared pointedly behind Betty, prompting her to drop his hand and respond.

“Thank you, Your Highness. I am very pleased to make your acquaintance as well.”

Alice cleared her throat once again and everyone turned to her.

“Now that the presentations are done with, why don’t we show you to your chambers. Your journey must have been exhausting.”

“Ah yes,” Hal interjected, “please come this way. Betty, you may go back to your activities.”

Jughead looked longingly at Betty, who was already walking away, before he followed the Coopers inside the castle.

He didn’t notice the princess turning back and watching him enter the gates.

Betty couldn’t stop thinking about Jughead’s eyes. As she walked the gardens after her father had dismissed her, she reeled about her meeting with the prince. He was beautiful. Sure, she had heard as much from her friend Kevin, the biggest gossiper in the kingdom, but she had not expected him to be that handsome. His hair was shiny despite its black coloring, his body was shaped with lithe muscles, and his eyes… They were so blue, you would think you were looking into a river. And they seemed so soft, very unlike what her parents had tried to convince her of.

They had presented King FP as a ruthless tyrant, uncaring about his people’s wellbeing, and obviously concluding that his son would be the same. They had claimed that Southsiders were tough and mean, violent criminals who would hurt her on the first occasion. But what she had seen of the Joneses today had been the complete opposite. She had had the chance to talk to other people, less biased people who found the people of the Southside to be much of the same as them. The biggest difference between them was their riches, for the Southside was not as wealthy as the Northside.

She was glad now that she had made the effort of talking to other people instead of blindly listening to her parents. Now that she was to marry the Southside Prince, she had needed more information. And though she had not learned much, what she had learned had been enough to put her at ease before their meeting. 

And now that they had met, her heart felt all the more sure that this marriage could very well make her content, if not happy. From the little she had been able to see of him, the prince had seemed very gentle and kind, with a hint of wit. The quip he had made her mother about his preferred name had made her smile, happy to see her mother politely put in her place. He had also been very obviously affected by her, she had not missed his staring as he had gotten out of his carriage. She wanted to get to know him more, looking forward to the engagement ball that night.

She suddenly realized she only had a few more hours to prepare and rushed to her chambers. She had a prince to impress.

The castle was bursting with energy that night. Everyone who was anyone had made an appearance, eager to witness the Southside Prince and the Northside Princess together. Some were expecting a scene, a big public disagreement between the monarchs, especially the parents. They thought the young royals were going to be uncomfortably polite and well-behaved but were waiting for the moment they would crack. Others, on the other hand, were hoping this union would bring prosperity to their kingdoms and wanted to see the betrothed couple thrive. However ambivalent the opinion of every person attending the ball was, all were eager to see the young couple share their first dance.

So there they all were, wandering the ballroom, waiting for the Cooper princess to make her entrance. The trumpets rang, signaling the princess’ arrival. Everyone stepped closer, eager to watch her entrance, and Jughead placed himself at the bottom of the stairs to wait for her. Her parents, FP and Jellybean were standing a few paces behind him.

At last, the doors opened and Betty stepped through. Jughead was rendered speechless once more at the view of the young princess. Her long emerald green velvet dress, with long flowy veil sleeves and golden lined belt, made her eyes stand out. Her hair was a halo of curls flowing down her back, encased by her golden crown on the top of her head. She was beautiful, and he couldn’t take his eyes off of her. 

“Presenting, Her Royal Highness Crowned Princess Elizabeth of House Cooper,” the announcer declared.

Betty gazed around the ballroom, uneasy with the number of people in attendance waiting for her to make even the simplest of mistakes, watching her every move. She looked over to her parents, noticing the proud glint in their eyes, easing her nerves just the slightest bit. She looked over to her sister next, who had come back specifically for her younger sister’s wedding, finding her smiling at her, her eyes proud. Her eyes finally settled on Jughead at the bottom of the staircase, his intense gaze and attractive physique making her blush. Their eyes locked as she started down the stairs and neither of them could look away. Their maintained eye contact was not unnoticed by the attendees, making some of them hopeful for the future and infuriating the ones who wished them failure.

They do say that the eyes are the window to the soul and looking into each other’s, the betrothed couple felt as if they could see the other clearly. It felt as though they had known each other for years, even if they had just barely met. While it did not take long for Betty to come down the stairs, it felt like an eternity to them, lost in their wordless communication. They saw their anticipation, their fear, their surprise, their admiration.

As Betty reached the last step, Jughead offered her his hand, helping her down and bowing accordingly, before they turned to the rest of the ballroom and watched the Cooper King step forward and start his welcoming speech.

“Welcome, everyone, to this joyous event. It is with great pride that we celebrate the engagement of our dear Princess and the Southside Prince, which will finally bring peace and prosperity to the kingdom of Riverdale. Let’s welcome the betrothed couple to the dancefloor for their first dance.”

The band in the corner of the room started playing and Betty and Jughead walked to the center of the room, hand in hand. They started dancing, everyone watching them, unsettling the young couple. They looked into each other’s eyes once again, the action calming their nerves.

“You look beautiful tonight, Your Highness,” Jughead breathed, smiling bashfully.

Betty blushed. “Why thank you, Your Highness. You look quite handsome as well.”

They both chuckled, embarrassed and, quite frankly, amused with the situation. This whole thing was ridiculous. They were to be married the next day and they were expected to get to know each other with people spying on them at all times. It was a rather awkward situation. 

“Tell me about yourself, Princess. I would love to know more about you,” Jughead said as an attempt to strike conversation and learn more about her.

Betty smiled, pleased at his attempt at getting acquainted with each other. 

“Well, as you may have heard I may be a bit too nosey and knowledgeable, at least according to my mother. She has never liked my desire to solve enigmas and fix broken things,” she could barely understand why she was so eager to open up to him, but continued anyway, feeling like he wouldn’t judge her the same way her mother did. “I always had to hide these things from her. She has groomed me to be the perfect wife, since I was always meant to simply be one and nothing else. However, I was also taught to rule, as even she knows the true value of a strong woman in power. Um, I’m sorry, I get carried away sometimes,” she chuckled.

Jughead smiled listening to her, happy that she was so open with her answer and liking what he heard. He didn’t want a simple “yes, dear” wife, he wanted a queen, someone who would rule by his side. And Betty seemed to be the perfect candidate. It didn’t hurt that he was enjoying her company and he could see them being at the very least good friends if they didn’t get to fall in love. Oh, but he hoped they did. Barely ten minutes in her presence and he was smitten. 

“Don’t be sorry, I want to learn more about you. And I can understand how you feel. I love to write, but as the crowned prince I was never able to fully commit to it. I would hide in the castle library for hours reading and writing.”

Betty was surprised by his admission, but also delighted. He was a writer and loved to read. This was a good sign. They were compatible.

“That sounds lovely. I would love to read some of your writing if you wish to share it with me someday, Prince Jughead.”

“I would be honored if you would read some of my work, Princess Betty.”

Their dance ended and they curtsied to each other, as was custom, before walking away from the dancefloor together to try and avoid having to dance with someone else. They walked around, soon finding an empty balcony for them to hide and talk.

And talk they did. They talked and talked for hours, going back to the dancefloor in between so as to not worry their parents and the nobles in attendance, getting to know each other. And by the end of the night, they felt as though they had known each other their wholes lives, now excited for their upcoming wedding.

The next morning, Betty’s heart was fluttering and her stomach felt queasy. By the end of the day, she would be Jughead’s wife and the new Queen of Riverdale, united at last. 

She was surrounded by servants, preparing her for the ceremony. She had been bathed in flowers, her hair dried and tied up in an elegant hairstyle, her face embellished with makeup, her body adorned with jewels. All that was left to do was for her to don her dress.

It was a beautiful white gown, adorned with gold to match her crown, golden and white flowers embroidered along the skirt, with long sleeves that flared out at the elbows. The bodice of the dress was ornamented with a flower made of jewels. 

Betty was admiring the astonishing details of the gown while her maids tied it up and finished dressing her with her veil and crown. She truly looked like a princess, wealthy and immaculate, and though she hated the words and reputation, she was content with the girl — no, woman — she saw in the mirror. 

When the maids had triple checked every little detail on Betty’s attire, she was finally escorted to the doors of the throne room, where the wedding would take place.

Inside the throne room, the attendees were restlessly awaiting the princess’ arrival. The Coopers were clearly flaunting their riches, as if they were proud of the coming union and not forced into it by circumstance. On the other hand, the Joneses had decided to keep their own side of the ceremonial hall understated. It was a dichotomy, the two kingdoms so easily distinguishable. How would they be able to unite, to blend into each other? It was a worry the royals and the people shared. If the union failed, Riverdale would fall.

Jughead was waiting beside the dais — the King’s and Queen’s thrones placed upon it —  anxious but ready, his father and sister at his side. The room was packed, all of the noble families from both Northside and Southside there to witness the awaited union. The sheer amount of people present nearly sent the prince into a panic, but he reminded himself he was doing this for the well-being of his people. And the person he was doing it with had managed to worm her way into his heart, settling in and soothing his worries. As long as Betty was by his side, he felt as if he could face anything. 

The princess herself was anxiously waiting, her father next to her, her mother long gone to proceed to her assigned place beside the eldest Cooper sister, when her entrance music started. She looked at the king, taking his offered arm as he gave her a gentle smile.

“You will be fine, honey. Don’t mind the faces around you. Just breathe and look at someone who calms you.”

Betty heaved a heavy breath, willing her heart to slow down, and stepped into the hall through the now-open gate. She saw the numerous faces gawking at her but didn’t pay them any attention as her gaze automatically lifted to Jughead’s. And just like that, the world stopped spinning, her heart settled down, and nothing else mattered. 

Jughead was equally affected, as he gaped at his bride, both of their lips turning up in a soft smile. The princess’ walk down the aisle both felt slow and quick, and Jughead stood there, astonished at the depth of his own feelings towards the young Cooper. They had only spent a few hours together and he was already in love. 

The audience present within the room witnessed their evident love, and knew, even if they had wished the marriage to fail, that the two young royals would be happy and their reign plentiful. There was no doubt that the union of the kingdoms was successful, and the wedding had only just started. 

Betty and her father arrived at the dais, and the king handed her over to Jughead. The prince lifted her long lacy veil, reveling in the princess’ gentle smile and her shining eyes, before taking her hands in his, both looking to the priest, ready for the ceremony to start. 

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to witness the union of two conflicted kingdoms, and the union of two young souls,” the priest declared.

The rest of the ceremony was a blur for the young couple as they looked in each other’s eyes once again and drowned out the priest’s droning voice. They barely registered the priest prompting them for their vows, and continued to lose themselves in each other’s gaze throughout the handfasting. Until finally, the cleric declared them husband and wife, and the couple came together in an earth-shattering first kiss.

The applause from the audience was deafening as the newlyweds turned to the crowd, smiling. As the applause died down, the priest turned to a small table upon which two crowns had been placed. These were the new crowns the young couple would wear, as the previous monarchs thought it best to start the union of the Kingdoms with new jewels as they retired their own.

Betty walked over to the side as Jughead turned back to the dais and kneeled on the steps, his father moved forward and taking his own headgear off, prompting his son to do the same. The priest turned back, holding the new King’s crown and declared:

“Will you solemnly swear to govern the Peoples of Riverdale according to their respective laws and customs, with justice and mercy, as long as you shall live?”

“I do solemnly swear”

“Then by the sacred law vested in me, I crown you Forsythe Pendleton Jones III, King of Riverdale!”

The cleric placed the crown atop Jughead’s head, and the newly crowned King stood up and turned to the audience just as his father called.

“Long live the King!”

And the rest of the room followed.

“Long live the King! Long live the King! Long live the King!”

As the shouts died down, Jughead placed himself before his throne, awaiting his queen. Betty moved forward and kneeled on the steps of the dais for her own crowning. The priest took hold of the Queen’s crown and prepared to repeat the ceremony.

“Will you solemnly swear to govern the Peoples of Riverdale according to their respective laws and customs, with justice and mercy, as long as you shall live?”

“I do solemnly swear”

“Then by the sacred law vested in me, I crown you Elizabeth Cooper, Queen of Riverdale!”

The audience chorused again, as the young woman stood and turned to face them, starting with the Cooper parents and her sister.

“Long live the Queen! Long live the Queen! Long live the Queen!”

The newly-crowned Queen went to join her husband and they smiled at each other, content and happy. No matter what doubts they may have had, they knew then with utter certainty that the future would be bright for them, for they already had the people’s blessing, and no matter what came next, they would deal with it together, as King and Queen, and as husband and wife. And so, they sat on their thrones hand in hand, ready for their new life.

It is said that the union of the Houses Jones and Cooper was the best thing to happen to the kingdom of Riverdale.

Indeed, the long reign of Queen Elizabeth and King Forsythe III — also known as Betty and Jughead — was the most peaceful and affluent reign the kingdom had ever seen. And when they passed their throne along to their children, said children kept the peace and prosperity, until the joined houses of Riverdale became a dynasty so mighty, not even the most ruthless of enemies could shake it off the throne.

Riverdale has only known peace since then.