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Chapter Text

Veronica remembers asking her mother about it one day.

“Mom, do you remember the first time you and Dad met?”

Her mom just laughed. “Of course I do! It was only a few years before you were born-“

“Not like that!” the tiny girl interjects. “What was he like the first time you met him?”

Her mother just smiles at her, tells her that nobody actually remembers their past lives, and sends her outside to play.

Veronica knows that’s not true, though. She knows what happened the first time she fell in love.

The very first time.

She was sixteen, and she fell hopelessly in love with a girl in her old village.

She remembers her soft hair. Her dark, endless eyes. Her bright smile.

She remembers every detail.

She’s seen it before, after all.

She’s seen that exact smile on Heather Duke’s face.


JD always really liked bright colors.

He wonders sometimes, what that might mean about his past lives.

He wakes up sometimes in the middle of the night. When it happens, it’s hard for him to go back to sleep.

The nightmares, the fire and smoke and gunpowder smell, keep him awake at night.

The first time his dad took him hunting, he nearly had a panic attack as soon as he was handed a gun.

Sometimes he wakes up crying.

Crying for his mother.

He doesn’t like thinking about what probably happened to her last time.

He prefers to spend his days thinking of pretty girls wearing blues, reds, yellows, and greens.

Yellow is nice. Cheerful. She feels warm like a summer afternoon spent watching the clouds. He feels warm when he thinks of the pretty girl in yellow.

The girl in red riles him up. He thinks they might have been friendly rivals. He admires her ferocity. He wonders if she’s as stubborn as he is.

Green makes him think of cozy corners and old, dusty books. He thinks he’d like to stay up all night talking to her. He wants to meet her soon.

And Blue. Blue feels… soothing. Thinking of blue feels like being wrapped in a blanket with a hand running through his hair as he dozes off. Even the nightmares are no match for blue.

JD isn’t quite sure what it says about his past lives, but he loves bright colors.


Heather Chandler had never heard of someone remembering how they’d died in their past life.

She learned not to say anything. Adults looked uncomfortable when she talked about how it felt to die.

She’s not sure how she figured out that Heather and Heather were from her past lives. Nobody really knew how people could keep finding each other. She just met them one day and knew.

But it’s weird not being able to tell them about how she recognizes the noxious smell of chemicals.

How she can feel a burn in her throat every now and then.

How trying to drink something just brings back the taste of poison.

How all she can see sometimes is flashes of blue.

Blue.

Blue and brown and black.


Heather McNamara didn’t like feeling scared. She hated feeling weak.

Sometimes, she would imagine a past version of herself as a warrior. A knight, perhaps.

She imagined protecting people who felt scared.

She imagined being able to save everyone.

She imagined being strong enough to save Heather.

She wasn’t sure if Chandler remembered, but she wanted to make sure, no matter what, that she never felt that scared again.

She wanted to make sure she never lost her like that again.

She started taking self-defense classes. She learned the best ways to keep the people she loved safe.

She wasn’t going to let her fear take over again.

She was done being afraid.


Heather Duke was used to coming last.

She wasn’t quite sure why, but she got the feeling that the last few versions of herself had been left out of a lot of things.

She felt… lonely.

Sure, she loved Heather and Heather, but they already had each other. She couldn’t help feeling like a third wheel a lot of the time.

She hated it. The claustrophobic feeling of never being good enough. The acidic taste of bile rising in her throat.

It sucked.

But still, every now and then, she would be swept up in a fantasy where there was nothing but deep, soothing darkness.

If she let herself slip deep enough into the all-encompassing blackness, she could sometimes feel cool, soft fabric between her fingers. She could feel someone behind her, brushing her hair. She could feel their breath tickling the back of her neck as they whispered praise and sweet nothings to her. She could hear the other person singing to her in a deep, soothing voice.

She could slip away to her two dream lovers and let herself be carried away by the idea that she finally wasn’t so lonely. The idea that someday, someone might put her first.

As she floats away in a sea of blue and deep, dark browns.

Chapter Text

Veronica’s parents often commented on how cautious she was.

Veronica always shrugged it off. It wasn’t as if she had much of a choice.

It’s not so much that she’s a cautious person as it is that she’s learned from her past mistakes.

She’s grown since last time.

She remembers every misstep. Every decision she’s ever made that ended poorly is a learning experience.

That’s why, one sunny day in kindergarten, while watching Heather Duke read to Martha, she steels herself, and decides to say hello.


There hasn’t been a lifetime yet that Heather Duke hasn’t been her first love.

She remembers clearly how much Heather hates to feel like less than the others. It’s one of the things that has always been, no matter how many times they find each other.

Veronica started seeking her out after a few lifetimes. She would put off meeting the others until after she’d met her. There was never any question about it. Heather needed to feel special, so Veronica would make it so in her own, small way.

Besides, it was always so easy to fall in love with Heather Duke.


She stares, awestruck, into those piercing green eyes, and holds out a hand.

Heather seems confused by her introduction, her eyes searching Veronica’s as though searching for an ulterior motive behind two mismatched irises.

She doesn’t reach for Veronica’s hand.

Heather’s suspicion grows when Veronica asks to sit with her and Martha.

It’s Veronica’s clumsy explanation that leaves her speechless.

“You have a pretty voice.”

Despite their shared embarrassment, Heather allows Veronica to join them on the bench.

It’s then that Veronica realizes she’s falling all over again.

She smiles, and lets herself get lost in the words as Heather opens the book and continues reading.

Chapter Text

Heather doesn’t wear red anymore.

It brings back too many bad feelings.

She’s not sure why she still likes blue, though. After last time, she figured she’d feel about the same about blue as she feels about red.

Still, she wipes her sweaty palms on her bright blue sweater, frowns at her chipped purple nail polish, and sits down at the desk next to Veronica.

Veronica, who’s wearing a scrunchie in an unnerving shade of red.

Her scrunchie.

Rather than being uneasy, Heather finds herself hoping they can make things better this time. That maybe this time, she can be better, and then maybe Veronica won’t hate her so much.

She’s still not sure if Veronica remembers anything about what happened last time.

She’s not sure she wants to know the answer.


Veronica hasn’t worn blue since last time.

She removed it from her life after high school.

The scrunchie stayed, though. She could never bring herself to throw it away.

She has a new one now. Her parents got it for her.

These days, it holds up her hair in a messy ponytail, like it did all those years ago.

She’s glad to have something to help her remember. Something to remind her how important this time is.

They’re kids again, and she’s managed to find Heather Duke again. She has a chance to start over. She can make everything work out this time.

She’s broken out of her reverie by the now blue-clad Heather Chandler slipping into the seat next to her.

She sighs, and hopes she can make things right this time. Hopes Heather can forgive her.

Chapter Text

“You were a knight once, you know.”

Veronica had said it out of the blue one day. They had been left alone together when Betty had to go downstairs for something. As soon as she’d said it, Veronica had slapped a hand over her mouth, as if that could somehow stop Heather from hearing it.

Still, she’d laughed. “What, like you remember all of my past lives?”

True, she and Veronica had been soulmates, but it couldn’t be possible for her to remember what they’d been like before, could it?

She hadn’t expected Veronica to say what she said next.

“You remember it too, don’t you? You dream of it sometimes.”

“How… how do you know about that?” she asked.

Veronica looked up at her then, and Mac was floored by what she saw. Veronica looked much older in that instant, like she’d lived a thousand lives before this one.

Well, she sort of had. They all had. But it was like she was reliving all of them at once.

“Your dreams aren’t usually as abstract as everyone else’s are. The others tend to dream of feelings, or colors, but yours are usually memories.”

Heather blinked. “You… what do you mean, ‘everyone else?’”

“Heather, Heather, and JD. Their dreams are usually pretty vague, and none of them really remember much from their past lives unless it’s traumatic.” Veronica chuckled bitterly then, running a hand through her hair. “I wish I could say the same thing.”

Heather’s eyes widened. “You mean… you remember all of our past lives?”

“More or less,” she shrugged. “It all kind of blurs together. I’d need to find my journals if I wanted to put everything in order.”

“Your journals?”

“I started writing everything down when I realized I could remember what my previous lives were like. I wanted to make sure I remembered everything correctly, so nothing got distorted.” Veronica looked like she was about to say something else, but Heather never found out what it was, because Betty walked back in a moment later.

She peered at Veronica curiously, wondering why she’d looked so haunted, and how she managed to seem so much more cheerful as soon as Betty arrived.

Chapter Text

Heather Duke has always liked watching Veronica cook.

It’s fascinating seeing the taller girl, usually so unsure, move around the kitchen with an ease that seems almost unnatural, as though she’s been cooking longer than she’s been alive.

Today is like any other day spent at Veronica’s house. Veronica invited her over earlier in the day, and as soon as she arrived, she’d spotted Veronica in the kitchen, apron tied around her waist, hair tied up in a loose ponytail with her signature red scrunchie, and her glasses smudged with flour on one of the lenses.

Heather grinned. “What am I taste testing today?”

“I’m making zucchini bread,” Veronica said, looking up briefly to smile at her.

Heather wrinkled her nose, but wandered over to Veronica’s side anyway.

She had an odd talent for guessing what Heather would like before she’d ever even heard of it.


 

Sure enough, once it was cool enough to eat, Heather decided then and there that nothing would ever taste as delicious.

She said that every time Veronica had her try something new, though.

“How is it?” Veronica asked, grabbing a bag of ginger snaps from one of the cabinets.

“It’s amazing!”

Veronica chuckled. “You can have the rest, then.”

Heather frowned. “But you made it. You should at least try some before you just give me the whole thing.”

“I don’t need to. You’ve never been anything but honest with me before.”

Heather thought, not for the first time, that perhaps there was something more to it than that. But then she shrugged, taking another bite and putting the thought out of her mind. Maybe Veronica was allergic or something.

Yeah. That made sense. She’d just made it for Heather, is all.

The rest of the day passed without incident. They’d sat on the couch and watched cartoons until Veronica’s mother sent them outside, and Heather managed to ignore the way Veronica had looked disinterestedly at the screen, as if she’d seen every episode a thousand times before.

Chapter Text

Veronica tried to keep her distance. She wanted Heather to be safe this time. She wasn’t sure she’d be able to handle it if she was the reason for Heather’s death again.

So she kept her at arm’s length.

Heather, however, was determined to knock down all of Veronica’s defenses. They knew what they were to each other, but it seemed to Heather that she was the only one trying to build their relationship into something substantial.

The two danced around each other for years, Veronica taking two steps back for every one Heather took to get closer.

Something had to give.

In the end, it had been Veronica who broke first.

“I never apologized.”

Heather blinked. “What do you mean?”

“I mean,” Veronica breathed deeply, fidgeting nervously with her hands. “I owe you an apology for how things… ended.”

Heather’s eyes narrowed in suspicion. “What are you getting at?”

Veronica looked at Heather then, and Heather was taken aback by what she saw in Veronica’s eyes. It looked… familiar, for lack of a better term, but the sorrowful, haunted look in her eyes wasn’t anything Heather could recall seeing before.

“It wasn’t supposed to be drain cleaner. I never meant to kill you.”

Heather flinched back as though she’d been struck, eyes wide. “You remember that?”

Veronica chuckled humorlessly. “I wish I didn’t. I wish I could forget all the times I watched you die. All of you.”

Heather frowned. “If you didn’t mean to poison me, then who did?”

“JD. He was… he was different from any of the other times I met him. He was angry. At everything. And he latched onto me faster than he usually does. He… I thought he was joking.” Veronica’s voice trembled, and Heather knew somehow that she wouldn’t be able to keep the tears at bay much longer.

That was how they ended up cuddled up close on Heather Chandler’s couch, Veronica’s head against Heather’s chest, listening intently to her heartbeat, and Heather’s arms wrapped tightly around Veronica’s shoulders.

Once again, Veronica was the one to break the silence. “Do you want to invite Mac and Duke over and we can make them watch Fiddler on the Roof with us?”

“What makes you think I want to watch Fiddler on the Roof?” At Veronica’s confused look, Heather laughed. “I’m kidding, obviously. We have snacks in the kitchen if you want anything.”

“Do you have root beer and ginger snaps?”

Heather wrinkled her nose. “How can you eat that stuff?”

“Not everyone has the same refined palate as you, Your Majesty,” Veronica huffed dramatically, though the effect was ruined by her wide grin.

Heather laughed, squeezing the brunette closer. “Everyone knows homemade peanut butter chocolate chip cookies and cream soda are way better!”

Veronica scoffed. “Says you.”

Heather rolled her eyes, tugging a blanket down from the back of the couch to drape over the two of them. “We can invite them over later. It’s warm here and I don’t feel like getting up.”

Veronica hummed in agreement. “Later then.”

They didn’t end up inviting Duke or Mac over.

Chapter Text

Veronica groaned, wiping the sweat from her brow with the back of her hand. “I just had to bury them here, didn’t I?”

It was a secluded spot, at least. It was tucked away in the woods behind the high school, under a shady oak tree that reminded her of skinned knees and cheerful laughter.

She smiled wistfully, before turning back to the task at hand. It had taken her several nights to find the spot where she’d buried her journals. Thousands of years worth of memories, recorded and rewritten as the language evolved and the pages yellowed. Texts written on cracked scrolls translated from the original greek, aged leather bound books filled with old words translated and simplified into the more modern dialects.

Almost all of her lifetimes, and she’d just buried them in a hole in the woods and hoped they’d still be there when she went to dig them up.

The worst part of all of this was that she could hardly tell when certain events had taken place without her journals to give her a timeline, so remembering the exact location she’d buried everything, or even remembering the general area where her things were buried, was an adventure in itself. She’d had to sneak out on her bike at least a dozen times before she’d even gotten close. As small as the town of Sherwood was, it was much larger than a 14-year-old on a bicycle. Lost in her own thoughts as she was, Veronica hadn’t noticed that she’d finally reached the box until her shovel struck it.

“Fucking finally, ” She huffed, dropping the shovel and kneeling down to dig the box out the rest of the way with her hands.

Language, Veronica!”

Veronica chuckled. “Since when do you have a problem with my word choice?”

Heather Chandler frowned. “Since this lifetime, genius.”

“Right. Sorry,” Veronica muttered, pulling the box out of the hole and fussing with the lock.

“When did you even find time to bury this? I thought you said you left this place last time.”

“I did,” Veronica muttered, “But I came back. I noticed a few lifetimes ago that we tend to come back in places that meant a lot to us in our previous lives, and since this town traumatized me last time, I figured this would be where I ended up coming back.” She smiled triumphantly when the old padlock came off.

“Why didn’t you ever say anything?” Chandler asked, sitting carefully on an old tree stump and watching as Veronica carefully lifted the lid of the box. “Why are we all only just now finding out about this?”

“You aren’t. I’ve told you before.” Veronica sifted through the old container, “You’ve read some of these in a couple of lifetimes. Usually after something bad happens to one of us.”

“Am I going to get to read about it this time, then?”

Veronica nodded. “I doubt I’ll have the strength to read it to you this time, though. I’ve never had a hand in any of your deaths until last time.”

“How many times has something bad happened?”

Veronica stopped looking through the box and just stared at the journals for a moment, a far off look on her face that only appeared when she was caught in an unpleasant memory.

“Too many.”

Heather frowned, but didn’t pry. If what Veronica says is true, then there are probably at least a few lifetimes where one of them died suddenly and she couldn’t stop it. Being able to remember all of them must weigh heavily on her mind.

Veronica went back to rooting through the box, lips quirking up at the edges as she pulled something out.

“Is that-”

Veronica nodded, holding up the old, worn out red scrunchie. “Mom and Dad got me a new one, but I’ve been meaning to come back for this one.”

“Why do you still have it? I figured it would bring back bad memories.”

“It does,” Veronica shrugged, “But that’s a good thing. It’s to remind me not to make the same mistakes this time.”

She pocketed the scrunchie and stood up, picking up her shovel and filling the hole back in.

Heather rolled her eyes. “You’re being way too hard on yourself. It was an accident.”

“An accident I could have avoided if I had been paying more attention.” Veronica grumbled.

With that, she picked up the box, and the two started the walk back to Veronica’s house in silence.

Heather hated the way Veronica seemed hell bent on blaming herself for every bad thing that had ever happened to any of them. Every unlucky circumstance was something she felt could have been avoided if only she had been more careful. The blame had never been placed on any of them, or even just on bad luck. Veronica took every misfortune as a personal failure, and Heather could hardly stand it.

Lost as she was in her thoughts about Veronica’s unhealthy tendency to blame herself for everything, Heather failed to notice that they’d arrived at the Sawyer residence.

“Do you want to come in? There’s cream soda in the fridge for you.”

Heather wanted to tell her that she wasn’t at fault for their bad luck, that she couldn’t be expected to take care of everything herself. She wanted to tell Veronica how amazing she was until she actually started to believe it.

Instead, she smiled. “Yeah, I’d like that. Then I can finally see what you wrote about me in your diary last time.”

Veronica huffed out a laugh and held the door open for her, and Heather promised herself she’d talk to Veronica about her issues eventually. For now, she’d try to keep the mood light, and keep Veronica from drifting back into those bad memories, stained with blood and soot and regret.

Chapter Text

When Jason’s mother had announced they would be moving to Ohio, in the northernmost part of the country, he’d immediately rushed to learn everything he could about the state, as well as the exact town they’d be living in. He researched climate and weather information, looked up maps, and even searched for the population of the town they were moving to.

Moving from Paris, Texas, a city with over 25,000 people, to Sherwood, Ohio, a tiny town with less than a thousand residents, was already going to be a big adjustment. The fact that the time zone was different and the temperature was just generally cooler year round would make it even more difficult to get used to.

He’d have to get actual winter clothes.

He might see snow.

He was going to live in a state where the temperature didn’t routinely enter the nineties and hundreds in summer.

His research had yielded all kinds of results about the flora and fauna of Ohio, and he was excited to see all of it. He marked their moving day on his calendar, and throughout the months before they moved, he pestered his parents endlessly about all the things he’d learned about their new home.

They arrived in Sherwood in September, and as soon as he got out of the car he was glad he’d worn jeans and a flannel shirt. It was in the low sixties, but it was still cold enough to send a shiver down his spine, far more used to the Texas heat as he was.

The neighborhood was nice, if a little bland. Manicured lawns, neatly placed fences, and houses that all looked the same.

“Welcome to the sticks, champ,” His dad said, punching his shoulder lightly.

Jason grinned. “It’s cold.”

His mom smiled, ruffling his hair fondly. “We’ll have to get you some sweaters. Maybe a real winter coat, too. Can’t have you getting sick.”

“Mom!” He groaned dramatically as he fixed his hair, failing to suppress a grin.

She just smiled and led him towards the front door of the house. “Come on. I know you’re just dying to get a look at your new room.”

His eyes lit up, and he rushed inside as soon as his father unlocked the door, taking the stairs three at a time in his haste to find out which room was his.

Once he found it, he chucked his backpack on the floor by the door and fell back onto his bed, smiling at the bland white walls and the lack of decorations.

This was his. He’d get to make this space his own.

He’d already started looking at paint swatches.

“Maybe midnight blue for the walls?” He mused, “I could get a can of white paint too and turn the whole room into a mural of the night sky. Maybe with some glow in the dark paint to make it more realistic?”

He was interrupted in his musings by a knock on the doorframe.

“Hey buddy,” his dad said, grabbing his desk chair and sitting down across from him. “How ya like your new room?”

Jason grinned. “I’m already thinking about what color I want to paint it.”

His dad chuckled. “You excited to start school?”

“A little nervous, actually.” He admitted. “I mean, I’m fifteen and we just moved to the other side of the country, you know? I’m probably gonna be the only new kid in the whole school!”

His dad nodded. “Being the new kid can be tough. Your best bet is to try and find someone to show you the ropes your first day and see if they’ll help you out.”

Jason nodded. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

“That’s my boy,” his dad grinned. “And just remember, anyone gives you trouble, you tell me or your mother. I know how much you hate getting into fights, so just try not to engage if you can help it.”

Jason smiled. “I always do.”

His dad gave him a pat on the shoulder as he stood up, putting the desk chair back where he’d found it. “You get some rest now. Your mother wants us to go school shopping in the morning, and we’ve got a lot of unpacking to do afterwards.”

“I’ll try not to stay up too late.”

“You better,” His dad said, laughing as he closed the door behind him.

Jason sighed and relaxed against the sheets. He had a feeling he’d like it here.

Chapter Text

After a weekend of shopping and unpacking, Jason walked into school Monday morning with his shoulders hunched under his jacket, trying to make himself as small as possible so as not to attract any unwanted attention. He looked around the halls nervously, eyes darting to and fro as he took in his surroundings, trying to make sense of where he was and where he was meant to go.

He jumped when he felt a hand on his shoulder. He spun around quickly and locked eyes with a tall brunette with mismatching eyes.

Despite the red scrunchie, his first thought was Blue.

“Hey,” she said, “I haven’t seen you around here before. Do you need a hand?”

Jason nodded gratefully. “I just moved here with my parents a few days ago. I could use someone to show me around.”

The girl nods, smiling gently, and Jason notices the red scrunchie holding back her curly brown hair.

Not blue, Red. But then why does she make him feel so at ease?

“Are you…” He knows her from somewhere. Knows that she’s important. His soulmate. That’s all she could possibly be.

The words freeze in his throat, but still, she nods, that smile still gentle, but sad, somehow. “Yeah. C’mon, I’ll show you around, help you get a feel for things. Then maybe you can meet the others.”

“Others?” Yellow. Green. Red?

The girl nods again. “You didn’t think I was the only one, did you? It’ll be nice for all five of us to be together again.”

He hands her his schedule and follows her through the halls, trailing after her like a lost puppy, listening intently to her directions on where to go, what teachers are nicest, where to find her at lunch.

The warning bell rings as they finish their tour, and the girl hands his schedule back and turns to leave, stopping as he grabs hold of her sleeve.

“I don’t know your name,” he says.

She turns back to him, eyes wide like she’s surprised that she forgot to tell him, before grinning wide.

“Veronica.”

He smiles at the familiarity of it. “Jason.”

“That’s a nice name,” Veronica says, “I’ll see you at lunch?”

“Absolutely.”

He lets go of her sleeve, and in an instant, she melts into the crowd, and the haze his mind is in disappears as he rushes to find a seat.

He gets turned around a time or two, but thankfully he’s not late for any of his classes. He’s glad when the bell rings for lunch. He stands quickly and gathers his things, before following the route she showed him to the cafeteria.

He goes quietly through the lunch line and spots Veronica almost immediately after he gets his food.

“Hey,” he says, sliding into the vacant seat next to her.

“Jason! Hi!” She gestures to the three other girls at the table. “This is Heather, Heather, and Heather! They’re the ones I was telling you about!”

He locks eyes with a pretty girl with hazel eyes and honey blonde hair and freckles everywhere. Yellow, his mind supplies. The short girl with piercing green eyes and a book in front of her sits on Veronica’s left. Green. The third girl is pale, with freckles and bright copper hair and steel gray eyes, and despite the blues and purples she wears all he can think at first is Red and he wonders, briefly, why they switched colors, but puts it out of his mind as she offers her hand.

“Heather Chandler,” she says, voice strained just slightly. Odd. He was expecting something more… fiery?

He shakes her hand and smiles politely. “Jason Dean.”

“Heather Duke,” the girl with the book says, waving at him, and a part of Jason wants to talk to her about the book she’s reading, but he stops himself. There will be time enough for that sooner or later.

The blonde girl grins once it’s her turn to greet him. “Heather McNamara!”

Her enthusiasm is contagious, and he finds himself grinning, too.

“What do you remember?” Veronica asks, her voice gentle. Like she might break him.

“What do you mean?”

“Do you remember anything about…” She bites her lip nervously, “Do you remember anything from last time? The last time you met the four of us?”

He’s confused now, and he knows she notices.

“You have dreams,” she says, “So do they. You all remember… something.”

How does she know? Does she remember anything?

“Just colors, mostly,” He says, “I thought you were Red when we first met. Because of the…”

She smiles, but it’s bittersweet. “I haven’t worn blue in a long time.”

“There’s something else,” he says, “I remember… fire? I have these nightmares. I always wake up looking for my mom.”

Veronica nods sadly. “She uh… wasn’t around long last time, from what you told me.”

“And guns,” he says, voice urgent now, “I hate them. The noise and the smell of smoke. It’s awful.”

He sees all of them wince.

“Veronica remembers everything,” Chandler says.

Duke nods. “And she’s got diaries for the stuff she doesn’t remember.”

“You don’t have to read them,” Veronica says, and it sounds like a warning, “You might not like what you find.”

He nods. “I want to read them.”

Veronica smiles ruefully, as if she expected that, and pulls a book out of her bag. “Here’s our story. Maybe save it for later, though. You might need some time to process it all.”

“You knew I’d be here.”

“You were bound to find us eventually.”

He takes it from her. It’s slightly worn and the whole thing is faintly yellowed from age. He slips it in his bag.

“Well,” Mac says, “I think that’s enough of that. Let’s maybe move on to a lighter topic.

The others all nod, and Jason takes the opportunity to talk to Duke about Dracula.

Chapter Text

Dear Diary,

Jason sat on his bed and let his finger trace the letters, Veronica’s elegant cursive new and familiar all at once. Her warning still rang clear in his mind.

“You might not like what you find.”

He breathed in deeply, steeling himself. He was ready for whatever was inside this book.

With that thought in his head, he began to read.


 

Veronica was pulled from sleep by the sound of her phone ringing. She rubbed at her eyes tiredly and pushed herself up onto her elbows to glare at the offending object that had forced her awake. Carefully, so as not to wake the Heathers, she grabbed her phone and slipped out of bed, tiptoeing out into the hallway to answer.

“Hello?”

“You shouldn’t have lent me the book.”

Jason.

“I warned you,” she sighed.

His voice was rough, and she could tell he’d been crying. “I just… how? How can you be so nice to me after all of that?”

Veronica leaned against the wall and allowed herself to slide down until she was sitting.

“You were different that time,” she explained, “You were bitter, and angry at the world for what it did to you, but that was last time. You’re not the same person you were then. You’ve literally been reborn.”

“Still!” It was a whisper, but in the silence it might as well have been a shout. “I killed people, Veronica!”

“I helped you kill them,” she murmured, “I’m to blame as much as you are.”

“Does-” She heard his breathing pick up. He was likely trying not to cry again. “Does she hate me?”

“No.”

“But-”

“She might be a little cautious, but she doesn’t hate you.” Veronica glanced over her shoulder to make sure nobody else was listening. “Out of all of us, your relationship with Heather is the most prone to change. I’ve got more journals. There have been times when you loved each other so deeply that nothing could tear you apart, and there have been times when you would compete constantly for attention from one or all of us. You’ve been so many things to her, but never hated.”

“And you,” he whispered, “You remember it. All of it. After all of that, how can you still-”

“That’s not the only life I remember, Jason,” she said, “We’ve lived a thousand lives, loved each other a thousand times, in a thousand ways. One bad run doesn’t erase all the good that happened because we knew you. Yes, your relationship with me and Heather might be strained for a little while, and you might have to work a little harder to make her trust you, but I believe that you’re a good person. I wouldn’t keep falling in love with you if I didn’t still believe that.”

There was silence on the line for a few seconds.

Jason sniffed. “Can I… can I read the others? The journals, I mean.”

“Whenever you’re ready.” Veronica picked at a loose thread on her pajama pants. “You can spend the night and we can look over them together with the others. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to show all of you what I wrote down.”

“I’d like that.”

Veronica smiled. “Go to sleep, Jason. I’ll talk to you in the morning.”

“It is morning.”

“The more reasonable hours of morning,” she slurred, “‘M sleepy.”

“Yeah,” he yawned, “Me too.”

“G’night, Jason.”

“Night, Veronica.”

“Call if you need me again.”

“You too,” he said, “If you ever need someone to talk to about last time.”

Veronica nodded. “Yeah. Yeah, I’ll do that.”

“Good.”

“Wan’ me to tell Heather, Heather, n’ Heather you said hi?”

Jason hummed tiredly. “Sure. Let Red know I’m sorry, too. An’ that I can’t wait to get to know her again.”

“M’kay.”

With that, Jason hung up, and Veronica got to her feet, opening the door as quietly as she could in her exhausted state and crawling back into bed.

“Who was that?” Chandler murmured, snuggling up close as soon as Veronica reclaimed her spot in the cuddle pile.

“Jason. He says he’s sorry for last time, an’ he wan’s to get to know you again soon.”

“‘S nice,” Chandler hummed. “Love you, V’ronica.”

“Love you too, Heather.”

Chapter Text

The five of them lay scattered across the carpet in Veronica’s room, poring over the books laid out across the floor.

“Whoa!” Mac gasped, “I know you said I was a knight once, but I thought you were joking!”

“Nope,” Veronica giggled, peering over Mac’s shoulder. “You were our princess’s brave knight! Her personal guard! Your skill with a sword was unparalleled! Heather was our gorgeous, benevolent princess,” she gestured to Chandler, who smiled shyly, “And Jason was the prince of a neighboring kingdom.”

“What about me?” Duke asked.

“I mean, that one’s kind of obvious,” Veronica said, “You were a Duke’s daughter. I remember, I was working at my father’s shop near the town square. I was learning to be a woodcarver. One day, you came in to get out of the rain, and you saw me working on a sculpture. When I saw you, I got so nervous I knocked over the worktable.”

Duke snorted. “That sounds like you, alright.”

“You helped me pick everything up, and one of the sculptures caught your eye.” Veronica stared up at the ceiling, a wistful grin on her face. “You asked me how much it was, and I told you to keep it.”

“According to this,” Mac said, “What you said was ‘I would give it to you for nothing. You’re more beautiful than anything I could craft in this life.’”

Veronica blushed, and Duke giggled.

“God, you fall in love quick, don’t you?”

“It helps that it’s easy to fall in love with you,” Veronica drawled, grinning as Duke’s cheeks reddened, “Oh, what’s wrong, Duchess? This isn’t even the first time I’ve said that to you. I say it at least once each lifetime. You’re easy to fall in love with. That’s why you’re always the first person I fall for.”

Duke huffed and launched herself into Veronica’s arms, tackling the taller girl to the floor and tucking her face against Veronica’s neck to hide her blush.

“What about…” Jason twiddled his thumbs as he worked up the courage to speak, “What about me and Heather?”

Mac scanned the pages until she found what she was looking for. “‘Our fair princess has taken our prince as her betrothed. They are not shy about their love. They’ve fallen into a deep and passionate romance that no bard or scribe could ever hope to capture. My own hand falters as I try.’”

Chandler rolled her eyes. “Couldn’t you have edited it to make it easier to understand?”

Veronica shrugged as she rubbed Duke’s back. “I wanted to keep it accurate.”

Jason scooted closer to Mac, leaning over to read with her. “‘Our lovely knight finally has competition for our princess’s heart. But then, who is to say that she won’t be willing to share? Perhaps they will all find happiness in each other’s arms.”

“You two did end up having a secret love affair,” Veronica said, “We all knew about it, though. Besides, back then, pretty much everything between the five of us was scandalous.”

“I can imagine,” Duke murmured, “The betrothed pair having secret dalliances with a woodcarver, a knight, and a noblewoman, all at once.”

“Out of all of those, I was probably the biggest scandal, though,” Veronica said, “At least you and Heather were nobility.”

“What about this one?” Chandler asked, “It sounds even older than that one.”

Veronica looked at the cover and nodded. “That one’s from Greece, I think. The original scroll was damaged too much to read a long time ago, but I decided to start updating everything after about… six lifetimes? Once the original records got too worn to keep. I still have some of the original stuff in there somewhere. I salvaged what I could, but preserving paper is a pretty tall order, especially in ancient times.”

Chandler read quietly to herself for a few moments, before Jason swiped the journal from her hands.

“‘She shines like a star, the glimmering jewel. She’s wonderful, and I, with nothing to offer but unending love and devotion. Yet she chose me, and I worship at her altar, for she is a goddess among mortal men. This lovely, shimmering emerald. This treasure. This, my dear love. Every day I fall deeper and deeper. One day I will crumble under the weight of my love, without question, without regret, with only thanks spilling from my lips as I lose myself in her.’”

“Stop it!” Veronica whined, “You’re all picking on me and I hate it!”

“You really had it bad for Heather, huh?” Mac teased.

Veronica huffed and held Duke tightly. “At least Heather’s not teasing me.”

They all laughed, before Chandler picked up a newer-looking one.

“Honestly, it’s kind of nice to read all the stuff you’ve written about us,” she mused, “I probably wouldn’t have believed it if it wasn’t all here.”

“I mean, I wanted to make sure I had a record. I didn’t want to lose any of it.”

Mac smiled. “I’m glad you did. There’s a lot of stuff here about what I did as a knight.”

“Yeah,” Veronica hummed, “I liked to interview all of you about things whenever I had the time. I think you might have been prone to hyperbole at the time, though. You kept insisting that you once slayed five bandits on horseback with nothing but a sling and the rocks at your feet.”

“I could’ve. You don’t know what I did before we met that time.”

“Fair enough,” Veronica conceded, “And I put it in the journal, so it was a good enough story to write down, even if it was exaggerated.”

“Heather just wanted to impress you, probably,” Duke said.

Veronica snorted. “That could be true. She always used to try to make me swoon.”

“Did it work?” Mac asked.

Veronica laughed. “Yes. Pretty often, in fact.”

“Was I always royalty?” Chandler asked.

“Nah. In fact, in the journal from Greece, Heather was our queen, and you were one of her personal servants. Heather and Jason were her guards, and I was her most trusted advisor.” Veronica’s chest puffed out in pride.

“I was the royal?” Duke asked.

Veronica nodded. “That happened a couple of times. Each time we found each other we were all slightly different. Different social statuses, different languages, different hopes and dreams. We always managed to find each other, though.”

“We’re soulmates,” Jason said, “It’s what we do. We find each other.”

Veronica smiled. “We find each other and we love each other.”

That’s the way it had always been.

Jason frowned after a moment. “Hey, Veronica?”

“Yeah?”

“I was wondering… why did you stay? With me, I mean. After everything I did last time, you still tried to stick with me.”

Veronica sighed. “With Heather, I honestly think it was an accident. You were joking. It wasn’t a funny joke by any stretch of the imagination, but it was just a joke that went too far.”

“And the others? Kurt and Ram?”

“I…” She grimaced as she looked around at the Heathers. “This is going to make me sound like a horrible person, and maybe I am, but… they weren’t ours. It wasn’t like you hurt Heather or Heather or… or yourself. They were someone else’s soulmates, and I used that fact to justify staying. They weren’t ours, so it wasn’t as bad.”

“But then I tried,” he said.

Veronica nodded. “You did. And I left. And then I stopped you, and you died.”

“An explosion,” Jason murmured, “I blew myself up.”

“Yeah.”

The silence was almost tangible. Its weight settled over the room like a blanket. Chandler was the one to break it.

“You blame yourself,” she said, “Don’t you?”

It wasn’t really a question. Still, Veronica nodded.

“It wasn’t your fault,” Jason insisted.

“It was,” Veronica croaked, wiping at her eyes with her sleeve, “I try so hard to keep you all safe, but every few lifetimes something happens and I lose one of you.”

“You couldn’t have known it would go so far,” Chandler said, “You have no reason to blame yourself for any of our actions last time.”

“What about mine?” Veronica snapped, “Or have you forgotten that I was the one who handed you the mug? You died by my own hand.”

“You didn’t know what was in it,” Chandler said.

“I didn’t tell you that you picked up the wrong one,” Jason tried.

Veronica shook her head. “Doesn’t matter. I did it. I only have myself to blame for it.”

Jason threw the journal to the floor. “No, you don’t! I was the one who filled the mug. I tricked you! If anyone’s to blame for the way Heather died, it’s me!”

Veronica sniffed and looked up at him with watery eyes. “I’m still the one that handed it to her.”

He pulled her onto his lap, wrapping his arms around her waist as she settled her own across his shoulders. “Even if you had a hand in it, that doesn’t change the fact that I’m the one who set everything in motion. We can share the blame if you really want to feel guilty about it, but personally, I think we should just leave it in the past. It’s not helping any of us, and it’s making you keep the rest of us at arm’s length. We shouldn’t forget that it happened, but we need to remember that we were different people then. Literally. None of us are the same people we were that time, okay?”

Veronica nodded against his shoulder. “Okay.”

He locked eyes with Chandler over Veronica’s shoulder and offered her a sad smile. “It’s okay,” he promised, “You don’t have to be everything to all of us. It’s not your responsibility to make sure everything goes right. That’s on all of us.”

He knew she wasn’t okay. Probably wouldn’t be able to move past everything for a long while. But he knew they’d be there for her, like they had a thousand times before.