Voltron and all its characters belong to WEP, anyone else that you don't recognize probably belong to me.

Whispered Memories

by Yoshi

If I had my life to do over again, I would try to make more mistakes next time. I would relax. I would limber up. I would be sillier than I have been. I would take more chances. I would take more trips. I would climb more mountains, swim more rivers, watch more sunsets." -- Nadine Stair

* * * *

    Sven opened his eyes grudgingly and cursed softly under his breath. The heavy drapes that hung in his bedchambers were closed, but a stray shaft of sunlight broke through the comforting cloak of darkness and fell on his eyes.

    His body was sluggish, heavy with the remembered happiness of unfinished dreams. Pulling the blankets up over his head again, Sven closed his eyes and tried to escape into sleepy peacefulness.

    But the aches that were his constant companions -- and been ever since his almost fatal confrontation with Haggar -- kept him from slipping into oblivion. Breathing heavily, he winced as a particularly strong spasm tied the muscles of his calf into tight knots.

    Pain flickered across his face, making him look older than he really was. He was thirty-six years old but he felt almost double his age. It wasn't really surprising. After all, he had already seen and experienced more than most people had in their entire lifetimes.

    Already a decorated space explorer, he turned down his chance for his own command to serve as first-officer of the Voltron Force. After being injured by Haggar, he was captured by Zarkon and impressed into slavery. Then, together with Romelle, he led the slaves in a rebellion that critically paralyzed Zarkon's empire...

    The sound of his door hissing open jolted him out of his melancholy reverie and he reached for the blaster he kept under his pillow, a old habit that he chosen not to break. Although Zarkon's empire had collapsed long ago, the old tyrant still roamed around the galaxy, watching and waiting for the chance for revenge.

    Sven's finely honed survival skills schooled his breathing into a semblance of sleep, even as pain traced trails of fire up and down his injured leg. Sleepiness was pushed aside as his mind raced, assessing the situation, forming contingency plans.

    A small body landed on him with a thud.

    All tension evaporated from his body and he drew himself up on his elbows to glare at the intruder,  trying not to gasp out loud as his muscles contracted in protest. "Svetlana! How many times have I told you not to do that?"

    An unrepentant smile that lacked several teeth answered him even before he heard the charmingly lisped musical voice verbalize an apology. "Sorry, Daddy. Uncle Bandor said it was time for you to get up."

    "He's back? And I suppose he gave you a present again, didn't he?" Sven's question was more of a statement as he arched a single dark eyebrow in a wry gesture, gazing down at the young girl straddled across his waist "What did he get you this time?"

    "Kisses," Svetlana glowed as a tiny dimple appeared her cheek. "Uncle Keith asked Uncle Bandor to give them to me." Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out a tiny, foil-wrapped package. "I ate most of them, but I saved one for you."

    Sven smiled tenderly, appreciating his daughter's sacrifice. 'Ana loved chocolate almost as much as her mother did and the clouds in her eyes told him that sharing her chocolate with him was one of the hardest things she ever done in her young life.

    "Thank you, little swan."

    Svetlana tilted her head back and looked down at him, the wisdom and sympathy in her big blue eyes tugging at his heart. "You look sad. You're thinking of Mama again, aren't you?"

    He nodded mutely.

    The sparkle in Svetlana's eyes faded as she lay down beside him. "I miss her too, Daddy." She admitted in a voice that was heavy with unshed tears. "How long has it been since God called her?"

    "Slightly more than a year," Sven said softly, taking a moment to swallow down the thick knot of emotion lodged in his throat. His heart squeezed in his chest, and for a moment it was hard to breathe, much less speak. "Not very long ago, even though it seems that way, doesn't it?"

    Wrapping his long arms around his daughter's warmth, he felt Svetlana's nod more than he heard her whispered response.  He sighed heavily as he breathed in the familiar smell of childhood -- of promise, hope and distant dreams.

    Svetlana reached up and touched Sven's cheek with a small hand, interrupting his train of thoughts. "Daddy? Uncle Bandor said that he was surprised when he saw me, because he hadn't been gone very long and I had grown an inch since he had gone."

    "Really?" Sven asked. Pasting a teasing look on his face, he drew back and eyed his daughter skeptically . "I didn't notice, little swan. But if you'd like, later this afternoon, let's ride out for a picnic so that I can measure you against your growing tree."

    "'Okay." Ana agreed before lapsing into silence.

    Sven watched his daughter quietly for several long moments. She was sucking her thumb, a baby-like habit that she scoffed at, but still reverted to when something weighed heavily on her young mind. "What's wrong?" He prompted gently.

    "Daddy, If Uncle Bandor can forget things, that means that I can forget things. But what do I do if there's something I want to remember but forget? Uncle Bandor only went away for a short time and he forgot something already, and Mama's been gone for so long and..."

    "... and you're worried that you'll forget her." Sven completed the sentence. "Don't worry, 'Ana," he replied reassuringly, his voice filled with conviction. "You might forget small things, but you don't forget really important things."

    "Like what?"

    Sven smiled softly, amused at the way scepticism flitted across his daughter's voice -- his legacy to her. "Like the way that she used to go to your room to hug you and sing to you until you went to sleep, and..."

    "I used to play with hair when she put me to sleep, right Daddy?" Ana remembered. "Mama's hair looked like mine, but it was longer. I liked holding it. It was slipperly, like the sheets that used to be on your bed..."

    Sven nodded solemnly, his spirits lightening as his memories of Romelle -- never far from his mind -- came alive as he relived them through the eyes of their daughter. "You probably also remember the way that she used to ... tickle... you!"

    Pouncing, he rolled with his daughter on the bed, gently poking her where he knew she was most ticklish and wrestled with her while she squealed and giggled. As always, he let her win, pretending exhaustion and defeat when she bounced on his back.

    "I won!" Svetlana crowed exultantly. "I'm big and strong because I eat my vegtables. Uncle Pidge says that he used to eat them all the time when he was little," she explained, with a five-year old's unique wisdom.

    Sven grinned into the pillow, remembering all the times he and the others used to tease the youngest space explorer about being the littlest. Now, he and the others had to look up to stare Pidge in the eye.

    "Vegetables are all right, but you should cut down on the chocolate. If you eat too much, you'll either lose all your teeth or grow up to be as big as your Uncle Hunk," he warned, with a small groan that was only partly feigned. She really was getting bigger. "Then you'll really be able to beat up your poor old daddy."

    Svetlana's answering laugh was pure and clear, a sound that lightened his heart like nothing else. Romelle's laugh, he recognized. He sat up, looked down into the sweet face that gazed on him with such love and offered a quick prayer of thanks.

    The little girl before him was a part of Romelle. His wife may have died, but she would never be totally lost to him, she would always live on in her daughter. The thought comforted him and brought peace to his soul.

    "You'd better go down to breakfast now, Little Swan. I'll follow just as soon as I shower and change my clothes." Kissing Svetlana gently on the forehead, Sven got up and opened the heavy drapes, allowing the sun come in to chase away the darkness and bring with it the promise of a new day.

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