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Flowers for my Love

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He had started to feel the effects of the sore throat sometime after they had returned from their grueling overseas tour in July. He couldn’t remember exactly when it started but it had definitely been after Tessa had rejected him. And then he had just felt horrible in general, so the pain of a sore throat meant nothing compared to the pain of a broken heart. At that time anyway.

August, 2018

“Tess.” Scott gazed at his beautiful partner across the patio table that was festooned with lightly scented candles. She was practically glowing, simply radiating happiness. “These past few months have been incredible.”

She smiled back and reached for his hand. “We’ve had quite a year, haven’t we?”

“Unbelievable.” he agreed.

“And so much ahead of us.”

Scott’s free hand gently patted the ring box safely tucked into the pocket of his shorts. “I hope so.”

Tessa’s eyes brightened. “But of course. We have the tour and the book release and the speaking engagements and then I have the…”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Scott chuckled, softly. “I was actually hoping we could maybe take a break somewhere in there.”

“A break?” Tessa pulled her hand away and reached for her phone. “There’s so much already planned.” She flipped through her calendar and pouted slightly. “No real time until the new year, sweetie.”

“That’s okay.” Scott stood up and knelt in front of her. “Actually, that’s perfect.” He pulled the ring box from his pocket and slowly opened it.

Tessa gasped loudly, her hands flying to her mouth as tears sprang to her eyes.

“Tessa Jane, will you make the happiest man alive and marry me?”

“Oh Scott!.” Tessa’s hand shook as Scott gently held it and hovered over her left hand with the diamond ring. “Oh Scott! Yes! Yes!”

Her excited cries brought Kate and Alma running from the kitchen where they had been breathlessly watching the scene unfold. Scott had told their moms that he was going to ask Tessa to marry him, but he didn’t want too many people there in case she said no. Things had been so good between them since the Olympics that he was fairly confident she would react favourably to his proposal, but there was always that element of doubt.

“She said yes!” Scott called out jubilantly. He scooped Tessa out of her lawn chair and spun her around before pulling her close and kissing her softly. “She said yes.” he whispered in her ear. “The sweetest words I’ll ever hear.”

Their moms joined them as they exchanged hugs and congratulations all around. Scott brought out a bottle of champagne he had brought with him in hopes of a successful proposal and poured drinks for the little group. “To my fiancee!” He held his glass aloft and looped his arm around Tessa’s waist as they clinked their glasses together.

“To the...the future!” Tessa called out, but no one caught the slight stutter in her voice.

***

As the sun started to set Tessa leaned against the balcony rail outside of their bedroom and looked down at the square cut diamond now decorating her finger. It looked strangely proper sitting on her finger and sparkling from the glow of the bedroom light and the strings of patio lights that were just starting to flick on around and below them. She smiled as she continued to stare at the ring. It was surreal. She was engaged. To Scott.

“Hey kiddo.”

Tessa looked up with a start at the snapping sounds of the phone camera.

“You look beautiful.”

“Beautiful for you.” she murmured, as Scott moved closer and wrapped his arms around her.

“I’m so lucky.” He ducked his head into the hollow of her neck and kissed her. “You’re going to be the best wife and mother.”

“What?” Tessa pulled slightly away, internally cringing at his words.

“Not right away, obviously, but soon.” Scott reassured her. “I can’t wait to start a family with you.”

“We should maybe just enjoy our time together first.” Tessa could hear the quiver in her voice and she hoped Scott was too over the moon to notice it.

“Every moment.” Scott swept his lips over hers, bending to pick her up and carry her back into the bedroom.

***

“I can’t believe you have to go away so soon.” Scott pouted, as he watched Tessa fastidiously check over her packed suitcase. “We literally just got engaged.”

“I won’t be gone that long.” Tessa deftly zipped the oversized luggage closed, stepping aside as Scott lifted it off the bed for her. “I wish you could come with us.”

“No way!” Scott teased. “Fly to Mexico and be the third wheel on a bachelorette weekend? Nope, I’ve got my beer league hockey starting in a couple days and Maniacs slo pitch is winding down. I’m good.”

“Try not to get another black eye, sweetie.” Tessa urged, patting his cheek. “We have photo shoots for the tour when I get back.”

Scott shifted to stand behind her and pulled her close, his hands gently cupping her breasts. “I thought you said the black eye was sexy?”

“Scott.” Tessa whined. “I have to catch the plane. I don’t have time for this.”

“Admit it.” he poked his tongue out to lick the rim of her ear, making her shiver.

“Damn it.” she turned in his arms, pulling his shirt up impatiently as she did. “You looked hot as hell, alright? This has got to be quick or I’ll miss my flight.” Tossing his shirt aside, she pushed Scott backwards on to the bed, laughing at the look of surprise in his eyes as she crawled up his body.

***

Tessa settled into the taxi, staring out the window as she twirled the engagement ring on her finger. The ring box lay heavy in her coat pocket. She hadn’t wanted Scott to see her pull the ring off and leave it at home. He would have freaked out about her not wanting people to know that they were finally engaged. But she just couldn’t. Not just yet. There had been so much speculation about their personal relationship over the years and the media attention since the Olympics had been overwhelming. They both knew they had slipped up several times over the past year or so and that people didn’t believe them when they said they weren’t together because of those slip ups. Scott didn’t understand her when she said she didn’t want to be known for their romantic relationship. He insisted that getting married would just lift them above and that they would never be forgotten - legends who won it all and each other in the end. But she thought getting married might detract from their skating career. The last thing she wanted was to walk down the street and have someone say “Look, there’s Scott Moir’s wife!” instead of “Look, there’s Tessa Virtue!” Tessa realized she was probably being irrational, but the thought kept niggling at her. Scott wanted to retire, do a couple tours, settle down and become a father - 2.5 kids, a dog and a picket fence in the country. Tessa, she wasn’t entirely sure exactly what she wanted, but she was thoroughly enjoying the exposure and the non-stop excitement of being requested for interviews, commercials, sponsorships, photo shoots. Mattel had even contacted her and told her they wanted to make a Tessa Virtue doll. A Tessa Barbie doll! She could barely believe it. She needed to figure out where Scott, 2.5 kids, a dog and a picket fence fit in with all that. They pulled up to the airport and the driver hopped out to retrieve her suitcase from the trunk. With a sigh, Tessa pulled the ring from her finger and placed it in the ring box, dropping it back into her pocket as she thanked the driver.

***

“Where’s your ring?”

Scott had met her at the airport, jumping up and down excitedly when she emerged from baggage claim. He swept her up in his arms and kissed her passionately. Tessa balled up her fists and pounded his shoulders. “Put me down! People are staring!” she hissed. Scott set her down gently, his face crestfallen. “We’ll talk at home.” She assured him. “This is not the place.” The drive home was quiet, Scott tried to make small talk but she turned and stared out the window. He gave up when she gently pushed his hand off her knee. When she finally snuck a glance at him, Scott was staring resolutely ahead at the road, his jaw flexing furiously. Tessa knew this wasn’t going to go well.

“I asked you where your engagement ring is.” Scott sat at the dining table, folding and refolding a piece of paper, every now and then ripping it slightly before folding it again.

“I took it off.” Tessa said simply, taking a large sip from her water bottle.

“Couldn’t even let your friends know we got engaged, huh?”

Tessa sighed, she could feel the headache starting to build behind her eyes. “Scott, this was a very high profile shoot. There were photographers and cameramen, not to mention all the guests at the resort. I couldn’t take a chance of someone seeing it and starting to ask questions.”

“So when do we let people know? After we get married? After we have a kid? When do you think it will be okay to tell people that we love each other?” Scott stood up and started pacing.

“Why do we have to tell people?” Tessa asked plaintively. “Why can’t it just be for us?”

“You want to carry on this platonic business partners bullshit?” Scott slapped his palms on the table, making her jump. “You are my fiancee, I want to be able to kiss you in public. I want to show you off. I want to tell people how much I love you, how much I’ve always loved you.”

“I...I…” Tessa faltered, tears running down her face. “I’m not ready, Scott. I’m not. I’m sorry. I never should have said yes.”

Scott stop pacing, his jaw dropping as he watched Tessa place the ring box on the table and slowly push it towards him.

“I’m so sorry.” she repeated, her voice thick with tears. “I thought a lot while I was away and I just can’t.”

“So that’s it?” Scott knelt down in front of her and held her head in his hands. “That’s it? I love you Tessa. From the moment I first met you.”

“I love you too, but…” Tessa burst into a fresh round of tears.

Scott stood and stepped back. “You don’t need to say anymore.”

“Scott!” Tessa stood and reached out to him.

“I’ll send mom to grab my things, if you don’t mind getting them together.” He walked quickly to the front door, Tessa running up behind him and pushing the door shut with her palm, trapping him inside the house.

“Don’t leave.” Tessa begged. “Not like this.”

“What do you mean, like this?” Scott looked down at her. “You gave me back the ring, you told me you’re not ready and that you love me, but…” His hands formed into fists and he shoved them in his jacket pockets. “That pretty much says it all, Virtch.”

“This isn’t how I wanted this to happen.” she insisted, through her tears.

Scott opened the door and stepped through. “Me either, kiddo. I thought our story had a different ending.” He pulled the door shut with a loud slam and then started down the stairs to his car.. As he walked he felt the first pangs of a soon to be all consuming pain gather in his throat.

The flowers showed up about a month later.

***

September, 2018

Tessa had gone on with her life - travelling, filming commercials, photo shoots, speaking engagements - while he had stayed home and drowned his sorrows. He drank just enough to kill the pain. It was during one of those sessions that he first noticed the petals. He was absent mindedly watching a horrible movie as he stretched out on the sofa, beer in hand. As he moved to sit up, he belched loudly and watched curiously as a brilliant red tulip petal flew out of his mouth. He held his hand up to catch it and grimaced when he felt the slimy surface. Dropping it to the floor with a look of disgust, Scott shrugged, figuring he had inhaled the petal by mistake while doing yard work.

After a few weeks, Scott started hitting the gym again. They had rehearsals for the tour coming up soon and he needed to be in shape. Everything went well until bright pink and white peony petals started popping out of his mouth as he exhaled during his training. Embarrassed, he quit the gym and worked out on the home equipment he had purchased to travel with them on one of the buses. He was perplexed by this state of affairs, but it didn't worry him. He felt just fine. He was more ashamed to be seen in public with flower petals flying out of his mouth than anything else.

He and Tessa had been communicating, mainly through texts. Their brief phone calls had been terse and inevitably one of them ended up hanging up on the other. His parents, concerned about him seeing her again and having to interact, attempted to convince him to call off the tour but he assured them he would be fine. In reality, he wasn’t sure how he would deal with seeing her, holding her, having to act like nothing was wrong between them. To keep busy he played hockey, making sure to clean his helmet of petals before they became noticeable, did some local interviews - over the phone - and made an appearance at the county fair. He met a local girl there and took her out a few times, she was nice but nothing like Tessa. Alyssa was an effervescent blonde who was loud and unfiltered. She didn’t care what people thought of her words or her actions. She was carefree in a way that Tessa never had been. At times, Scott wasn’t sure Tessa could be carefree. Alyssa’s devil may care attitude made him feel alive. He tried to convince himself that Alyssa was what he needed - someone so unlike Tessa. The first time they slept together he got frustrated because she couldn’t get him off. Tessa instinctively knew where to touch him and in just the right way to make him explode. When he finally did achieve an orgasm with her, he was thinking of Tessa - her gorgeous green eyes staring up at him as she pleasured him. But things got better and they kept seeing each other. Scott was determined to be happy, in spite of everything.

***

The petals got worse. The timing of their occurrences even more so.

They were flying out of his mouth with every burp and cough. They appeared when he skated, during exercise or any heavy exertion. During sex, tulip petals would rain down on the bed as he orgasmed. Alyssa thought it was sweet, that Scott had them secreted away and was tossing them in the air as they coupled together. With every appearance of a petal, Scott was getting more and more paranoid that something was seriously wrong with him.

Scott was pleasantly surprised to find that the petals subsided while he skated with Tessa. Which was good, because they were awkward enough around each other without unexplained flower petals twirling around them. Scott could just imagine the look of horror on Tessa’s face as he struggled for breath after practice and slimy peonies puffed out at her. He tried to deduce why they disappeared when he skated with Tessa, but nothing made sense. Anymore, exertion equalled flowers and he was just grateful for an escape, even if it was only for a couple hours a day.


***

October, 2018

The first stop of the tour was in Calgary. Scott was looking forward to seeing his brother and his family, whom he hadn't seen since the summer. He decided to fly out a few days early to visit before the tour got under way. He wanted Alyssa to come with him, but she had work obligations that she needed to fulfill before taking any time off . They had made arrangements for her to attend all the local shows though. Scott wanted to show her off, to show Tessa he was just fine without her. Show her that he was still capable of being loved.

***

“Daddy! Uncle Scott can make flowers!”

Charlotte ran and grabbed her father's hand, pulling him to the front of the house just in time to see Scott bend at the waist and make one of the most retching noises he had ever heard. He froze as he watched a riot of colorful petals fall from his younger brothers mouth.

“Scott? Are you okay?”

Scott straightened and swiped his hand across his mouth.

“I wouldn't say that exactly.” He answered dryly. “I feel fine mostly.”

“Have you seen a doctor?” Danny questioned. “You realize it’s not normal to hack up flower petals?”

“No but, don't you think it's ridiculous?” Scott questioned. “They aren't going to believe me. Who coughs up flower petals?”

“How long has this been happening?”

“About two months, give or take.” Scott figured. “August sometime.”

Danny dragged him to the hospital that afternoon, against Scott’s protests. Danny couldn’t believe Scott had managed to keep his...whatever this was...secret from everyone for so long. They sat impatiently in the emergency waiting room until it was almost empty. Scott was finally called in by an older nurse, who directed him to xray. From there he was led to another waiting room and then to a bed with the curtain pulled around it. When the doctor finally entered, he was looking down at the xrays and tapping them with the side of a long, slim finger.

“This is very rare.” he began. “Yours is an especially rare case.”

“Rare?” Scott gulped.

“The victims are usually female. I, personally, have never seen a male suffer from this disease.” the doctor explained.

Scott’s eyes opened wide at the word disease. How in hell did he contract a rare disease?

“I’m Doctor Flanagan.” the doctor held out his hand and the two men shook. “You are suffering from Hanahaki Disease, as I said, it’s very rare. The victims start with a sore throat, then petals appear when they cough, as the disease worsens the victim will vomit up full blooms from the flower. Allowed to continue, the roots of the plant will consume the heart and lungs, ultimately causing death.”

“I’m going to die?” Scott went pale and his fingers dug into the thin mattress. “How did I catch a rare disease?”

“Ah.” Doctor Flanagan smiled thinly. “This disease is not caught. It is brought on by unrequited love. Surely you’ve noticed that the petals belong to the favored flowers of a loved one?”

Scott nodded slowly. Tessa’s favourite flowers were peonies and tulips. “You said if the disease was allowed to continue. Does that mean there is a cure?”

“There are two ways to eliminate the disease.” Doctor Flanagan sat across from Scott and steepled his fingers together. “Neither is easy. One - make your unrequited love fall in love with you. True romantic love.”

“But I have a girlfriend. I love her.”

“She’s not your true love. Not the love that lives in your heart.” the doctor explained patiently.

Tessa. He knew deep down that he would never be free of her.

“Shouldn’t the fact that I am dating and in love with someone hold some of this back?”

“You don’t love her.” the doctor insisted. “There is option number two.”

“What is it? I’ll do anything.”

“We can remove the plants through surgery, but there is a side effect. You will be perfectly fine after the surgery, but you will lose all memory of your true love.”

Scott blanched. Forget Tessa? He could never forget her, it just wasn’t possible, they had too much history together. “Would I remember skating?”

“Not with her.”

Twenty one years of his life gone with the slash of a blade. He would be healthy, yes, but he didn’t know if he could live in a world where Tessa Virtue didn’t exist to him. She had been the most important person in his life.

“And I die without the surgery?”

“The roots will take over your organs and they will cease to function, correct.”

“How much time do I have without surgery?”

“Your roots are very deep. You’ve loved her for a very long time. I would say maybe a month longer. Maybe less.”

“A month?” Scott choked back a cry.

“You have an important decision to make.”

Scott walked back to the waiting room in a daze. Danny asked him what was wrong with him but Scott couldn’t form the words. Tears ran down his cheeks and he stared straight ahead as Danny guided him out to the car. Once seated, he finally turned to gaze at his brother. “I’m going to die, Danny. I have less than a month to live.”

The very next day, Scott called the production team and the skaters together and told them he needed to back out of the tour for medical reasons. He couldn't bring himself to tell them he was dying. Or possibly dying. He still needed to make that decision. Everyone understood and wished him well.

Except Tessa.

“How can you throw all our hard work away?” She fumed after the others had left.

“I'm sick T. I can't skate.”

“You seem perfectly fine to me.” Tessa huffed.

“I've learned how to hide it pretty well.” Scott admitted. “But I am sick.”

“You know, it’s okay to tell me you just want to spend more time with Alyssa, that would make more sense than trying to convince everyone that you’re deathly ill and can’t skate.”

“Alyssa is working.” Scott sighed. “You just don’t understand.”

“Scott.” Tessa stopped throwing things in her skate bag to stare at her skating partner. “We used to share everything. Tell each other every detail about our lives. Have we really changed that much?”

Scott stared at the floor. How could he tell her she needed to fall back in love with him to save his life? How could he share that she was the reason he was going to die?

***

Upon his return home, Scott gathered the family together and explained his condition in between coughing fits.

“You're going to have the surgery aren't you?” his mother pleaded.

“I don't know. I've been thinking about it ever since the doctor gave me my diagnosis.” Scott reached to take his parents hands in his. “I know it should be an easy decision, but Tessa has meant so much to my life. I'll lose so much.”

“But son, we'll lose you.” Joe looked at his youngest son sadly. “You can't put us through that, not knowing that you have the chance to live.”

***

After a good night's sleep, Scott assured them he would go through with the surgery, but he wanted to wait as long as he could manage. He spent his days poring through his mother's scrapbooks and photo albums, trying to absorb twenty one years of memories into a couple of weeks. He scoured the internet for videos of competition and exhibitions, watching every piece of video he could find. He saved the Olympics for last, viewing each routine in order, from the compulsory dances in Vancouver to their triumphant free dance in Korea. He wondered what it would be like to view these things after the surgery. Would there be any feelings? Or would it be like watching two strangers?

November 1, 2018

He woke from a deep sleep in a cold sweat and trying to stifle a scream. He had been dreaming that the plant roots were pushing out of his throat, growing around him, wrapping tendrils around his arms and legs securing him to the bed before plunging down his throat once more. He lifted his head from the pillow and noticed the peony flower petals scattered across the bed. He plucked one from Alyssa’s hair and dropped it when he realized it had blood spattered on it. The urge to vomit hit him suddenly and he shoved back the covers to run to the bathroom. He fell to his knees in front of the toilet, retching violently, draining him of all energy. When he opened his eyes, he could only stare in disbelief at the colorful array of peony and tulip blooms that covered the toilet and the floor. The sickly sweet smell of the flowers, vomit and blood made him sway and he could feel the bile rising once again in his throat. He coughed and almost passed out when he saw the full peony blooms fall from his mouth, then float gently down to the bathroom floor to join the rest of the shattered bouquet. Swiping his hand over his mouth, he shakily stood to look in the mirror. His eyes were puffy, dark circles underneath making him look like he’d been awake for days. There were streaks of blood across his cheeks and chin, random petals stuck in the congealing blood.

“What the hell?”

Alyssa stood in the bathroom door staring at the scene in front of her. Scott turned and stared too, the floor covered with blood, petals and blooms, his handprints on the toilet bowl and floor. It looked like a murder scene that someone had tried to cover up with flowers. He shook his head and swayed dangerously. Another wracking cough sent out yet another spray of petals. Alyssa backed away in disgust.

“I need...help...hospital...help...me.” Scott managed to choke out, every word punctuated with a round of coughing and petals. “I'm dying!” Scott slumped back down in front of the toilet. Alyssa's screams drowned out the sound of Scott's gagging, as his throat swelled grotesquely and more full blooms passed over his lips, followed by a flow of blood. She ran from the room, returning almost instantly dressed and carrying some clothes for Scott, helping pull his jeans to his hips as he bonelessly leaned on the bathroom vanity, desperately gasping in lungfuls of air. She supported him down the stairs and out to the truck. Driving dangerously over the speed limit to the nearest hospital, Alyssa parked haphazardly outside the emergency room and ran in screaming for help while Scott continued to fill the truck cab with bloody bouquets.

Lifting him onto a stretcher and rushing towards the operating room, the orderlies gagged as Scott's chest heaved with the movement of the roots, his throat swelling to expel the now constant stream of blood and blooms and his mouth opening obscenely wide as a branch threatened to push through and then receded.

Alyssa stood beside him clutching his hand, her eyes wide and frightened, as they waited for the surgeon. When he entered, he calmly explained the procedure to Scott and Alyssa and asked for permission to go ahead.

“I want the surgery.” Scott panted, breathlessly. “I want to live.” he was able to get out before he was overtaken by the urge to vomit as the operating team entered the bay.

“You understand the consequences? You will have no memories of your true love or any of your life with her.”

Scott closed his eyes, the pain of losing Tessa almost more than he could bear. “I understand.”

“You’ve never really loved me, did you?” Alyssa gave his hand a squeeze, then let it fall onto the operating table.

“I’m sorry.” Scott choked out. “I tried. I…” Alyssa backed away as another bloody flood spewed out of his throat.

They quickly prepped him for surgery, ushering a shocked Alyssa out of the room to notify the family.

***

Alma called Tessa as they rushed to the hospital. “Tessa, you need to come to the hospital. Scott is going in for emergency surgery.”

“I should just stay out of the way then. I’ll come see him when he’s up to it.”

“You don't understand. He'll be healthy but he's going to lose all 21 years with you.”

“I don’t understand.” Tessa said, quizzically. “How is he going to lose 21 years during a surgery?”

Alma quickly explained Scott’s condition and begged once more for Tessa to meet them at the hospital. “Once the plants are removed he will lose all his memories of you.” Alma sobbed. “Tessa, he won’t even remember your name.”

***

“Scott?”

Tessa gently ran her hand over his brow as his eyelids slowly opened.

“Sweetie. I'm here, please tell me you're okay.” she urged.

“What did you call me?” Scott asked, groggily. He was still feeling the effects of the anesthesia. In his medically induced state, he could have sworn Tessa was sitting beside him, one hand on his forehead, the other holding his hand tightly.

“I must be dead.” Scott's eyes slipped close.

***

When they opened again Tessa was still sitting beside him, holding his hand loosely in her lap, stroking it absentmindedly with her fingertips. His mother and father sat on the other side of his bed, their faces weary with the stress of his surgery.

“Am I dead? His voice was thick, heavy with sleep and medication. “They told me I wouldn't remember you T, so I must be dead.”

“You’re not dead.” Tessa replied, leaning over to kiss his forehead. “You’re very much alive.”

“But...how?” Scott looked to his parents.

“The surgeon is coming in to talk with us.” Joe explained. “Maybe he can explain how you remember her.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Tessa asked him softly. “I was so scared when your mom told me what was happening.”

“I…” Scott began, before he felt his eyes slipping shut again.

“Oh Scott. I just wanted you to wait for me.” she whispered. “I love you. I really do love you. I’m so sorry.”

***

Later that evening, Scott was able to sit up and he managed to keep down some Jello and several glasses of water. Tessa hadn’t left his side, still clinging to his hand, they whispered together as Scott’s parents lightly dozed in the chairs across the room.

“So young man, you really wanted to make sure that you had an extremely rare case!” The surgeon stuck out his hand to Scott. “I’m Doctor Mathison, I performed your surgery.” He shook hands with Tessa and Scott’s parents as well.

“Honestly, I would have preferred to not have had a case at all!” Scott joked.

“It’s remarkable that you can remember Miss Virtue. The surgery always eliminates the memory of the love that brought on the disease.”

“We have a long history together.” Tessa smiled warmly at Scott.

“I should say. We believe she’s grown to be a part of you. We found this in the roots.” The doctor handed Scott a clear baggie with a soiled pink ribbon in it.

“That's a ballet slipper ribbon!” Tessa exclaimed in surprise.

“It's your ballet slipper ribbon.” Scott uttered in amazement, turning the bag and showing her the perfectly embroidered initials T.V. that decorated the ends of the silk.

“But...how could it…?”

“You gave up ballet for me, T. You could have been a prima ballerina and you gave it all up to skate with me. That's when I truly fell in love with you.”

Tessa gasped as tears threatened to roll down her cheeks.

“I do have a question.” Scott pushed himself up slightly as Tessa adjusted the pillows behind his back. “Why didn’t I throw up petals around Tessa? They stopped whenever she was near me.”

“Do you really need an answer to that?” Doctor Mathison chuckled. “The disease abated around your true love. You two have grown to be a part of each other. I daresay, if the situation had been reversed we would have found something belonging to Scott entwined in your roots.”

“Hockey laces!” They uttered simultaneously and then burst into laughter. “A Toronto Maple Leafs banner!” Tessa exclaimed.

“I’m so glad we won’t have to find out.” Scott pulled Tessa as close as he could. “I love you kiddo.”

“And I love you, Scott. I know now that we are meant to be together.”

“Does this mean you’ll marry me?” Scott asked, shyly.

“Of course I will!” Tessa replied happily. “And I’ll show everyone the ring this time.”

They hugged each gently, mindful of Scott’s incision, kissing tenderly as Joe and Alma looked on.

“I have one request for the wedding.” Scott broke apart from a kiss. “T, you can do whatever you want, but I don’t want to see another peony or tulip as long as I live!”