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He proposes twice. She says yes twice.

 

*

 

A cold Canadian winter and a broken boiler have them bundled in bed under a heap of blankets from all over the house, their bodies tangled in a blissful post-coital embrace. 

He’s lying naked on top of her, his chin rested where his hands lie flat on her bare stomach, with the covers up to his shoulders and just his head poking out. Tessa is gazing down at him, silent and serene and sated. She’s looking at him as he looks up at her, the way that only he looks at her, the way that sees more than she’d ever intended to show anyone. It makes her wonder if there’s any other person in the world that has ever felt more seen, more known.

His eyes take their time, occupying the silence with a different kind of communication. Those eyes are a looking glass, a picture reflecting only what he sees: a shared future rooted in the deepest kind of love.

Tessa’s toying absently with locks of his hair. It’s disheveled and fluffy, and yet, she thinks, she likes it most like this. She moves loose waves back from his face and the brush of her fingertips teases his skin, all senses heightened by the intimacy of what they’ve just done together, by the feeling of his chest pressed against hers and the glistening sweat that fuses their bodies together.

“You’re so beautiful,” Scott says, a lilting warmth to his words, spoken just above a whisper. His eyes soften even more, if it’s possible, as his face creases into a sunny smile.

He kisses her just below her breasts. It’s a quick and tender punctuation mark, and when he looks up again, her eyes are bright with tears. Because he means it. Because it’s overwhelming. Because this is everything she ever dreamed of and more.

The sparkle in her eyes prompts him to brush his thumb softly across them, collecting tears that need never fall. Not when he’s there to catch them.

Tessa moves her hand to his face and he closes his eyes at her touch. The backs of her knuckles brush lightly across his cheek until he bows his head. He presses his forehead to her stomach, his breath tickling her before she feels his lips touch her skin, and she responds by combing her fingers through his hair. The way he’s pressed himself against her compels Tessa to wrap her legs around him, closing whatever distance there is. Like they’re trying to merge their two physical forms into one whole. Nothing between them anymore.

As he shifts to catch his breath, she leans down to kiss him. Properly, this time. 

It’s eager and languid, and they’re sloppy and heated as they move against each other to deepen it. When they come apart again, there’s something daring and a little bit vulnerable in his expression that catches her eye, a question on the tip of his tongue, and she already knows what it is, already knows the answer, already has the band and the flowers and the dress picked out. Because it’s not the first time she’s thought about it. Or the first time he’s thought about it.

She knows what that question looks like even before she hears him say, his voice breaking just a little: “Marry me.”

Maybe it’s not a question after all.

Tessa shifts down in their bed to be at his level, her hand curling around the back of his head to bring him closer, as close as two people can be. Their foreheads meet before their lips, gentle fingers moving to tuck her hair behind her ear as she makes firm, impassioned strokes through his mop of dark brown.

“T, you are…” he starts, breathless and heady, “the love of my life. I can’t imagine my life without you in it.”

A teardrop falls from her eyelashes and lands heavy on his cheek. The motion of irrepressible giggles makes it impossible to stop those tears from falling, a mix of laughter and crying her only outlet for the overwhelming feeling of being loved so fully and unconditionally by Scott Moir.

He presses a kiss to her cheek and then whispers, “I know you’re gonna go so many places. You’re gonna take over the world, Tess. Will you let me come along for the ride?”

Tessa draws her face back to look at him fully.

There he is.

Wearing that look he wears.

The one that exists only for her.

She goes to kiss him in response but he pulls away, stretching out across her to his nightstand. The top drawer creaks open and her eyes flick up to follow his hand. He’s blindly fumbling for something in there, something that is apparently more important than what Tessa has planned. Her brain is catching up at just the moment it appears: a petite burgundy velvet box.

He clicks it open and there lies her future.

“I love you,” is all she can say, her voice so quiet and unsteady that it’s barely audible. But they don’t need words when the yes is there in her eyes, in her smile, in her heart.

 

*

 

Tessa decides not to wear the ring. Not until they tell everyone. And there’s something special about this magic little secret that’s theirs. It won’t last, it can’t and she wouldn’t want it to be forever but, just for a little while, she loves their bubble.

She feels married already. 

Their rhythms, their secret language, it all seems to make sense now.

She wakes up every morning to a warm coffee on her nightstand – a flat white, or an almond milk cappuccino, or whatever he knows she wants before she even has to think about it. She starts her day with a grateful sip before putting on her glasses, sliding into a ridiculous pair of fox slippers that he bought her one Christmas and venturing to join him downstairs. 

The lure of pressing against his back and wrapping her arms around him as he cooks her eggs has taught her to love mornings like she never thought she could. And there’s the gruff sound of his voice as he covers her hands with his and says her name, breathes it out like cigarette smoke after a fuck.

This morning when she shuffles into their kitchen, her fluffy slippers softly tapping along the cool tiles, he’s not there. She stops still to listen for him but there’s not a peep. Not even the white noise of the upstairs shower or the low hum of the sports channel from the other room. Pouting, Tessa turns to get a look out of the window and sees the spot on their drive where his car belongs is empty.

When she turns back towards the kitchen counter, she spots a note.

His scratchy, barely legible handwriting hasn’t changed much since she first read the words, “To the best partner ever…” and she’s beaming before she even picks up the piece of paper.

“Morning T, didn’t want to wake you but I had to head to the rink. Will explain all later but please meet me there at 12. Get your skates on! I love you." 

There’s a coy smile on her lips, even as her eyebrow quirks upwards. She holds the note a between her fingers, waving it with a flutter as she ponders its mystery and its meaning. Scott doesn’t usually do secrets. Or rather, he keeps one – reluctantly, and barely. And they’d been planning to spend the day discussing the big reveal: who to tell first and how to make the announcement.

She glances at her watch and decides she has time enough for a lie-in. Getting up isn’t much fun when she’s on her own, and the crumpled sheets on his side still smell of him.

When she falls back asleep, her unconscious conjures a supercut of every starting position they’ve ever struck. It stirs that feeling in the pit of her stomach that she used to have every time he held her eye contact there on center ice. There’s passion or flirtation or love between their characters, and it runs through their bodies from the tips of their fingers to their toes. And whatever she used to tell herself about committing fully to the performance, it doesn’t hold up now that there are no secrets between them.

She dreams her way through every look, each one imbued with fresh meaning because now she knows he was feeling it too: awe, pride, fear, nerves, excitement, lust, yearning, love, love, so much love, always love.

Tessa wakes up thinking about PyeongChang. The free dance of their lives.

They had locked eyes as they brought their arms down delicately to settle at their sides, the dramatic flourish of the movement completely in unison, one foot crossed over the other. Perfect symmetry, as always.

She remembers the electricity running through her body, and the way she’d felt his energy even from across the ice. Their music had started and still they had stayed locked in each other’s eyes a little longer. This one look was a culmination of every other.

Waking up to the memory of that moment, she’s yearning all the more to see him again. She feels more ready than she ever has for what comes next, for the way he’ll look at her on their next big day, as they start a different kind of dance. Just the thought of it makes her crave his gaze and those irrepressible butterflies he can give her at a glance.

Without checking the time, she hops out of bed, ties her hair into a messy high bun, throws on some clothes, puts her skates in the trunk and gets in her car. When she starts the engine, the CD player comes on automatically and, as the song comes on for her, she feels her heart burst at the surprise.

We were born before the wind, also younger than the sun, ere the bonnie boat was won, as we sailed into the mystic…”

Tessa sings along as she drives, wishing he was there to sing with her.

There was always something in the air when this song played. It would spark the fire between them and turn the lights down on everyone and everything else. It made them feel like one, even as they had felt themselves breaking in two. They were one for three minutes and 25 seconds. That was before they had the rest of their lives, back when it felt like they lived always on the cusp of an ending or a beginning, never knowing which.

She breathes out a breath she hadn’t realised she’d been holding.

The next song that plays is ‘Purple Rain’, so she knows Scott’s definitely been up to something. It builds and it builds and she’s pulling into the parking lot before it’s over, but she leaves the car running long enough to hear it to the end. Now parked, she finds herself moving reflexively to the music, her body so tuned to it that she has to resist the urge to twist in her seat. 

As the guitar solo blends with the backing vocal oohs that had soundtracked their twizzle set, the spectacular crescendo playing over and over, she’s flashing back to the day of their own crescendo, the day Virtue and Moir really tipped over into Tessa and Scott, the high energy and heat of that Prince number finally getting the better of them both.

When the song fades out, Tessa checks the clock for the first time. 11:49.

There’s none of the usual hustle and bustle when she gets inside the rink. She puts on her skates in an empty changing room and wanders out to find people – anyone at all, preferably Scott.

As she reaches the ice, she steps foot on it cautiously and just lets her natural momentum move her forward. It’s eerily quiet, not a body in sight, and she looks around again for her partner. He's usually humoring the gushing young upstarts, or chatting to old friends at the boards, or skating easy circles to while away the time, or studying the newest recruits from the stands. He’s always around somewhere, pulling her focus no matter how far from each other they get.

There's no sign of him, still no sign of anyone at all. 

Tessa glances down at her watch. 12:04. Where the hell is he?

As her head turns in the direction she came from, all the lights in the building switch off, causing her to jump out of her skin. She nearly falls, stumbling to find purchase on the ice to steady herself.

Suddenly, there’s a spotlight.

The opening notes of the Nutcracker start to play, the instantly recognizable sound of the celesta capturing Tessa’s full attention as a small figure appears at center ice. The silhouette is marked out with a high bun and a tutu, and as the girl in front of her begins to move to the music, she sees that it's little Billie Lauzon.

The choreography is familiar, a sequence of balletic moves that harken back to an old routine that she still knows like the back of her hand. 

Tessa leans back against the boards, instinctively giving the ice over to the young skater. Her eyes follow the dance, hypnotised by the sweet tribute in every movement and warmed by the memory. And when it comes time for the interruption, the interruption she knows to expect, it’s like Tchaikovsky’s suite was only ever meant for this peculiar, perfect mash-up.

‘Everybody Dance Now’ comes bursting from the speakers, abruptly halting Billie’s ballet. She throws her hands up in feigned irritation before Tessa sees a whole band of Moirs appear. They're all in hockey gear, a uniform of toques and jerseys on display from Danny, Charlie, their wives and their kids, as they dance together. Danny shows off some precarious breakdance skills as the little ones focus hard on trying to keep upright.

Tessa's shaking her head with a smile, oblivious to the tears forming in her eyes. She can’t help but point at Danny as he shakes his head.

The music transitions again into ‘Tears on my Pillow’. Familiar faces from their days at Kitchener begin to emerge onto the ice, led by Suzanne, whose warm, smiling face prompts a shaky gasp. Tessa places a hand over her heart, keeping it there as she sways a little, watching the group skate around in pairs.

It seems over too soon before the swell of ‘The Umbrellas of Cherbourg’ introduces her own family. She scrunches her nose, blinking desperately, as her mother, her brothers and her sister put on their performance, gliding to the music as best they can. She’s biting her lip to ward off tears, memories of 2008 Worlds washing over her. His parents and his aunt and uncle come out next, steadier on their skates than her family had been.

When Carol Moir catches her eye, Tessa mouths another grateful “thank you”.

The group has expanded now and she’s scanning them, her face serious as she waits for Scott to appear. It already feels alien to be there, feeling the chill of ice without the warmth of having him at her side.

After ‘Umbrellas’, Eric and Meagan emerge onto the ice to interpret Pink Floyd's ‘Great Gig in the Sky’, prompting the rest of the ensemble to move over to the boards for a safe viewpoint. The lifts are higher and more acrobatic than they ever had been, breaking several rules of ice dance, of course, and Tessa watches in awe as the spectacle unfolds.

Kaetlyn and Joannie follow them with solos to Carmen. There’s a knowing smile on Kaetlyn’s face when her eyes meet Tessa’s.

The music then turns into Mahler, and Patrick's dancing with Yuna (and Tessa can’t help but exclaim “Yuna Kim!”) as Kaitlyn dances with Andrew, and she finally knows what’s happening. The distraction of the surprise passes at last. As their golden fairytale plays out before her eyes, all of them in white, she realizes this is all for them. It’s one Virtue and Moir program after another. It’s over 20 years of their shared vision playing out in minutes. And the memories – good, bad and ugly – are coming back to her in a flood. Impossible triumphs, frustrated rehearsals, flawless executions, momentary stumbles, conciliatory hugs, pangs of jealousy, giddy butterflies and, through it all, a wealth of love and laughter.

Everyone comes back together – teammates and family and friends and all of the above – for a group number to ‘Hip Hip Chin Chin’. The only bit of choreography anybody’s learned is the stationary synched head turns to the title line, and she’s laughing at the chaos of it all as they break off into their own improvised dance moves.

Sam is theatrically singing along as he skates on by, and all of a sudden it's ‘Kiss’.

With her hand to her lips, Tessa scans the crowd. She can see Danny imitating Scott’s Prince efforts as his wife stands bemused, and her family mocking each other's unsteady attempts to stay on the beat, and her old teammates trying to keep the whole thing together.

When ‘Kiss’ fades away, the skaters move en masse to the edge of the ice. Tessa's eyes are searching in nervous suspense before she hears ‘Pilgrims on a Long Journey’, and Marie and Patch are there, alone, at center ice. Her heroes, coaches and friends. They make the routine their own – simpler, but stunning still – and, as it turns into ‘Latch’, she's completely given up trying to hold back her tears. She watches them, mesmerised by it, aching for Scott to be there to share this with. He’s the only thing missing.

The pros move out in time to finish the program as a quartet of pairs: Marie-France and Patrice, Kaitlyn and Andrew, Chiddy and Yuna, Eric and Meagan.

"Now I've got you in my space, I won't let go of you," echoes around the rink. She breathes out a deep, unsteady breath, her hands crossed over on her chest as she watches the dance. "I'm latching onto you."

The four couples are evenly spaced around the ice, perfect symmetry in front of her, as they kneel in the ending position.

Everyone else is observing from the boards, unusually quiet now. There's a moment of stillness, a moment for her to take it all in, and then she hears, "Suddenly the world seems such a perfect place…"

Tessa lets out something like a laugh, though soundless and breathy, as tears spill from her eyes. She knows what else is coming.

All of a sudden, there he is.

Scott skates a path to her, gliding his way between where their friends remain posed. He’s wearing his favourite red plaid shirt and a Canada puffer coat, so it’s unmistakably Scott, but to Tessa, in this moment he looks more like a real life Disney prince. As he passes each of their friends, they rise and float out to the boards, leaving the center ice empty. It’s waiting for them. Representing Canada, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.

As he gets close, Scott holds his hand out and she doesn’t hesitate to take it. Her hand belongs in his and they’ve known that much since seven and nine. She lets him pull her forward into the open space as ‘Come What May’ fades away. When they reach the center, that well-worn starting spot, he positions Tessa to face him as the cogs of her brain start turning.

The steady strum of ‘Long Time Running’ earns a bright smile. She’s gazing at him without any hint of a façade and he mirrors her expression. There’s a twinkle in his eye, his expression holding inside it a movie moment; it’s the part of the movie where the scene would slow, a romantic refrain swelling underneath it, as one person looks at another in that way that tells you they’re meant to end up together. (And, if it’s Scott’s pick, they always do. 

In time, they both look down to touch hands again, and then their bodies feel the cue of the music pulling them apart, then together, then into a lift.

The routine comes back to her like muscle memory.

Scott’s singing every word, his expressive face conveying the meaning openly. Just like every other time they’ve danced these steps. “It’s been a long time running,” she hears. “It’s well worth the wait." 

As they dance this intuitive, familiar routine, she curves her body back in line with his, their unison as flawless as ever. When she steps onto his thighs, it still feels like flying. And when he carries her to the end, she thinks she could stay in his arms forever, knows it for certain, in fact.

“You were worth the wait,” he whispers in her ear, not for the first time, as they hold their ending position on their knees. His hand brushes gently across her cheek before moving down the line of her waist to settle on her leg.

They both have one knee wet against the ice, with their foreheads pressed together.

She moves her cheek to press against his, its moisture wiping off and staining his skin. Tessa has to clear her throat before she puts her lips to his ear and says, “You’ve made me happier than I ever thought I could be.” And then she folds her arms around his neck and buries her face into that familiar crook. 

Tessa feels him tenderly brush his lips against the curve of her neck before she moves to stand up, expecting him to do the same. Instead, he stays kneeling, ignoring the dampness of his trousers and the ache already setting in from their ever-so-slightly over-ambitious skate. It’s Latch at Nationals all over again, except he doesn’t press his face to her stomach and he doesn’t get up. Her hands are resting on his shoulders as he holds onto her waist. He’s gazing up, a big, goofy grin plastered on his face.

Scott reaches a hand into his pocket, barely drawing his eyes away from hers; he’d hate to miss the wide, open-mouthed laugh she’s giving.

“What are you—” Tessa starts to say, before the ring appears again. That ring she’s already seen, already worn – even if just for a night. 

“Tess, will you marry me?”

Her brow furrows. “Was I not clear the first time?” she laughs.

“Yeah. Thing is, I sorta jumped the gun there,” he replies, whispering so that their audience can’t hear him. It’s only for her ears. “Organised this whole big thing quite a while ago, so if you could just go along with it, eh?” 

“If you had this all planned…”

“I couldn’t wait.” He shrugs, shaking his head. There’s a blush in his cheeks that moves her to rest her palm there. “It just seemed right to do it then. I was looking at you and you were so… beautiful, and it felt like the moment. I can’t explain it. It seemed so silly that we were doing all of this,” he waves a hand absently, “when really… it’s just about me and you.”

He continues, talking faster: “But everyone was so excited and, as you can tell, things escalated a little…” 

“Yuna Kim is here,” Tessa reminds him, as if to make his point.

“Yeah, I can explain…” 

“Scott, it’s perfect,” she reassures him, affectionately playing with his hair as she admires his loving, puppyish face.

“Because of Yuna?”

 She screws up her face before settling on an easy, awed smile. “No, because of you. Because of everyone you brought together.”

 Scott brightens instantly, confidence restored. “Think of this as the engagement party.” He then quickly adds, still in a conspiratorial whisper, “But you also need to pretend to be surprised because they definitely don’t know about the other thing.”

“You’re ridiculous,” she replies, shaking her head like her expression isn’t beaming with joy, as he starts to get up.

“You’re marrying ridiculous.”

“I sure am,” she replies with a kiss, leaning all her weight on him.

It’s the kiss that prompts an eruption of cheers from their patient crowd. Their friends and family close in on the two of them as Tessa slides the engagement ring onto her finger, with no intention of ever taking it off again. She holds her hand out in front of her to admire the five small, sparkling diamonds along the band, before giving him a soft peck on the lips.

‘You Make My Dreams’ by Hall & Oates begins to play from the speakers, causing her to instantly grab Scott’s hand in a fit of excitement. “See, you do love it really!”

He shakes his head insistently at first before abruptly busting out into a playful leap. She’s giggling a girlish, uncontrollable giggle that comes out in fits and bursts, a sound he’s been chasing since he was nine years old, as she watches him prance around her to the music, their loved ones lapping it up. He grabs Chiddy in a twirl and pulls his friend around the ice with him as the rest of the group swamp his fiancée with their congratulations. 

Kate and Jordan are the first to wrap Tessa in a hug and then she works her way through everyone else. It’s a collage of faces that span a lifetime. Gushing gratitude and shocked disbelief pours out of her in every interaction. Danny wraps her up in a big Moir bear hug before they turn out to watch Scott, his arm propped over her shoulder. “Good luck,” he jokes, and Tessa glances up at her brother-in-law before they both burst out laughing.

Once Chiddy decides to show his friend up with a scratch spin, Scott makes a move to steal Tessa back from Danny, giving a mischievous eyebrow raise in warning. He sweeps her up in a hug, lifting her feet off the ground.

Well, well, you… you make my dreams come true,” he’s singing in her ear, loud and theatrical, and she might never have loved him more.

Their hug transforms into a dance hold and they start larking around together to the song, making it all up as they go. He spins her, then they give a little shimmy towards each other, and then they’re both prancing. She’s committing just as much as he is, jumping into his arms when the music calls for it.

Before they know it, they have everyone else dancing too.

I’ve been waiting for you, girl. You make my dreams!

 

*

 

They get married three months later. 

One reckless night means they make a baby first, but they don’t know it yet.

They dance together on the shiny wooden dance floor at the reception, barely able to tear themselves apart all night long.

There are dances with parents and friends but even when their bodies aren’t pressed up against each other, their eyes are fixed to one another. She watches him throw his nieces in the air, prompting hearty, uncontrollable giggles from children who are up well past their bedtime. He watches her talking animatedly with his brothers, the warmth in their expressions plain to see. When Scott takes Marie-France’s hand and leads her to the dance floor, Tessa is looking on beside Patrice. And when Tess and Patch join them out there, it’s like they’re right back at practice.

Scott drives them home when it’s all over. His familiar old car – the one he refuses to upgrade because “she hasn’t let me down yet!” – has been decorated for the occasion, with “Just Friends” written in big letters where it should probably say, “Just Married”. It’s undoubtedly Danny or Charlie’s doing; though, the perfectly coordinated ribbons and flowers implicate Jordan too. Later, when Tessa goes through the photographs of their day, it will be this suitably enigmatic picture that she chooses to post. No caption.

They’re staying at the London house: some version of home that’s become more distant in recent years, but still holds that warm and fuzzy feeling of never being too far from family. They choose home because honeymooning at home sounds good when you’ve spent a lifetime travelling to every corner of the globe (though he’ll take her to Provence in a week, then Paris, and she doesn’t know that yet either).

Tessa watches him take all the wrong turnings. She doesn’t say a word as he ignores sign after sign. If Scott has just one more surprise, she’s ready and willing to let it play out.

He keeps glancing over. Her tired smile never wavers.

She’s pulled her hair out of its loose bun, letting soft, dark brunette waves pool at her shoulders. It allows her to nestle into the seat comfortably, barely awake as she curls towards the driver’s side. A sleepy moan escapes her as he places his hand on her knee. Something like well done, or thank you, or I love you lives inside that well-rehearsed gesture. It anchors her. He takes it away only briefly to switch on his indicator and she misses his touch instantly, moving her own hand there to chase the ghost of that feeling.

It’s as Tessa looks out of the window that she realizes, at last, their real destination: Ilderton Skating Club. That same rink where she’d first put her tiny hand in his. Home.

Once he’s parked up, Scott turns to her and waves a key, the dangling skate charm attached to it making a light jangling sound. “Just for us,” he says, leaning over the gearstick to kiss his new bride for the umpteenth time that day.

Their skates are in the back of the car. He’s come prepared.

They walk in the moonlight, one hand holding their skates and one hand holding each other. She’s wearing his suit jacket over her couture white dress, custom Mathieu Caron, as Scott braves the cool evening air in just his dress shirt, the collar now open and his tie forgotten.

Once they get inside the building, they adjust their handhold so that her pinky slips between his index and middle finger. She can feel the cool of his wedding band against her skin now and the feeling sets her heart on fire. When she glances down at their clasped hands just to admire it, he catches her and gives a knowing little squeeze.

Tessa folds herself into his side with her cheek pressed to his shoulder, her free hand curling around his forearm possessively. Scott turns his head so that his lips brush against her hairline before he drops a firm little kiss there.

They walk together in perfect stride.

The sound of their footsteps echo through the empty hallways as they follow a familiar path to the ice, passing walls proudly adorned with countless pictures of the two of them with medals hanging around their necks. They stop only to change into socks and skates before they reach the rink itself.

“Shall we dance, Mrs Moir?” he asks, holding a hand out to her at the edge of the ice.

“I’d love to, Mr Virtue.”

And so they dance and dance and dance.

And the dance never ends.