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the sight of a smile

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Leela knows her friends. She remembers them, and can match her memory to the sounds and movements they make, to piece together the bright world of sight.

That particular tone of incredulous laughter in Romana’s voice – the one that says she is surprised but impressed, or not sure if she’s being teased – is accompanied by a smile and raised eyebrows. She knows exactly the look in Braxiatel’s eyes when he looks at Romana, his voice smooth and warm, wrapped around the finest flowers of words. K-9’s ears whirr when he thinks; his tail wags when he is pleased; Romana’s robes whisper when she bends to pet him.

Narvin… Narvin is new.

Leela remembers Narvin with irritation on his face, distrust and condescension in his voice, wariness in his movements. But her world has changed, several times over, and now Narvin is a friend. He is more open and easy around her; she can hear respect and even affection in his tone, but she does not know what it looks like when Narvin smiles at her.

The hound thing gives her this. It is good to see again, and to see better. The world is sharp, colours vivid even in the darkness. Romana is tired and grubby, but her vitality is wonderful. The air is displaced by her presence, she is thinner and sharper, there is something different in her eyes as she speaks to Narvin: Leela drinks her in, bright fresh detail.

“He will not leave us, Romana,” she says, “we are a team.”

Narvin shoots her a look that falls rather short of a glare. “Oh, sometimes, Leela, I really do hate you.”

“I know,” she tells him, and laughs. “It is good to actually see you smile, Narvin!”

Leela knows how Narvin looks, smiling, and she feels a little more complete.