Title: Waking To Light

Author: Jedi Buttercup

Rating: PG-13

Summary: Sorcerer's Apprentice. To have the reality of her slumbering in his arms after centuries of aching absence was almost too much to take in. 1500 words.

Disclaimer: The words are mine; the world is Disney's.

Spoilers: The Sorcerer's Apprentice (2010)

Notes: Tucking in a few more of the movie's loose threads, because I still can't get Balthazar out of my mind.

"Veronica," Balthazar murmured, waking to the sight of his beloved's expressive face, stilled in repose.

They hadn't had a chance to talk much the night before; between the showdown with Morgana, his temporary death, and the need to get off the streets before someone traced the disruption in the city's electrical grid back to Bowling Green Park, she'd been too worn and drained to do much more than smile and make him swear never to leave her again.

He'd had no problem with that order. None at all. He'd kept awake a little longer himself, activating the archival spells on the Incantus to record the night's events while they were fresh. Someone had needed to wait up for his apprentice and make sure he didn't let his miraculous success go to his head, and Balthazar hadn't minded taking on the job himself, giving the ache in his chest some time to fade before he tried to sleep. Dave was terribly inexperienced, and woefully at risk from future Morganian assault as long as his practical power outstripped his technical knowledge of magic; Balthazar had cut a lot of corners to give him the tools to survive over the last few days, and letting him loose on the world now without at least teaching him what not to try would be a worse risk than if he'd never met the kid and given him Merlin's ring in the first place.

Balthazar didn't know what had happened to Horvath's little tag along before the showdown in the park, but no matter what evil the sarcastic young entertainer might have accomplished in his short life, Drake hadn't deserved whatever fate had left his conductive ring fused to Horvath's cane. Balthazar would not see the same, or worse, happen to Dave.

"Veronica," he murmured again, then shook his head, lifting a callused thumb to sweep soot-dark strands of hair back from pale, porcelain features. No; that was the newer English variant of her name, the one that had made it into the histories as the language had evolved, just as Hrvat had added a couple of extra letters to ease pronunciation outside his native lands and Balthazar had taken the surname Blake to better fit in as cultures shifted. The Veronica he had known and loved had used another, older forename: one drawn from the Ancient Greek for 'bringer of victory.'

"My Berenike," he said wonderingly, and moved fractionally closer to press reverent lips to her sleeping brow. "You're really here." He'd lived a long, long time in anticipation of this moment; to have the reality of her slumbering in his arms after centuries of aching absence was almost too much to take in.

She stirred under his touch, summoned to consciousness at last. Dark eyes blinked open; for a moment, she seemed frozen, braced for inevitable conflict, before awareness blossomed and she melted into his embrace. "Balthazar," she cried, clutching him close. Tears welled up, seeping between thick lashes.

"Shhh, we're safe," he told her, closing his eyes again as he savored her warmth against him. Through all the layers of lavender dress, vest, trousers, woolen sleeves, and undergarments- for neither one had had the energy to fully undress the night before- his skin sang with the contact; he looked forward to the moment when they had the energy to reacquaint themselves further. "Morgana's gone, and Horvath's out of the picture for now. You're free, and we're both alive."

She drew a deep breath, then pulled back slightly, reaching out to lay one hand along the stubbled arc of his jaw. "And you found Merlin's heir. She said that would never happen; that she had bid her servants extinguish all the possible lines of inheritance. But I never doubted that you would succeed." Joy and pride lurked in the dawning curve of her smile.

Balthazar could have lost himself in appreciation of her tiniest shifts of expression all day long. He stirred himself to answer, though, his curious mind long-trained to pick out any trace of information that might lead to his next opponent, potential apprentice, or magical discovery. "You could talk to her, then, in the Grimhold?" he asked. He and Horvath had been able to chat in the funerary urn, too- not that his former friend had wanted to talk about anything other than how he'd kill Dave when he next found him. That, and read choice passages from the kid's awkwardly-written fourth grade history report. "Just talk, or...?"

The sweetness of her smile altered to something a little more self-satisfied at that, like a familiar that had got into the cream, though her gaze took on a haunted quality, too. Whatever she'd experienced in there had left its mark- not that he'd expected otherwise, after his own soul-searing attempt to cage the evil sorceress' spirit. "It was more than talk; there were no barriers between us with the soul enjoining spell. I learned a great deal. Outside the Grimhold, her power was greater than mine, but penned in together- eternal vigilance is impossible. She learned much of me as well, of course; but she is no longer a threat. If any sorcerer should try her tricks in future, I will know how to stop them."

Incredulous relief- for of course, of course with Veronica at his side and a new, gifted apprentice he wouldn't have to keep fighting the constant rise of dark sorcerers alone- warred with stifled worry in Balthazar's heart. He'd had the whole world to lose himself in while they'd been apart; she hadn't had that luxury. "That'll come in handy," he told her. "And- could you hear the others in there, too?"

Veronica nodded. "As the layers face out, not in, I could not make myself heard, only listen; but that was enough to follow your trace through the years. Horvath was not pleased when you finally caught him- and neither was Morgana. She'd been counting on him to kill you and release her."

"I'd been wondering how you'd learned modern English," he replied, smiling crookedly. "I'm so sorry I wasn't able to get you out of there sooner, love."

"Don't apologize," she said, solemnly. "I knew what I was doing when I cast the spell. And you have saved me; I am here now. Wherever that might be." She broke her gaze away from him long enough to glance up at the arching ceiling of the old subway interface high overhead, then around at the remaining pieces of Dave's physics experiment, pressed up against the walls of the converted lab. Balthazar knew she wouldn't be able to see the curving lines of the circle etched into the brickwork from there, as he'd taken care to position the transfigured bed over them for added protection while his defenses were down; and that meant almost everything within her line of sight would be strange and unfamiliar to her.

"My apprentice leases this space for his experiments," he told her. "It's safe enough; I don't have a home right now, since I lost the last one when Horvath was released from the Grimhold ten years ago. I'll start looking for a better place tomorrow; Dave'll be back for more lessons, and I'll have him and his girlfriend help us track down some appropriate real estate in the city."

"You plan to settle here, then?" she asked, tracing exploratory fingertips over his chapped lips.

He swallowed. "Um, for awhile, anyway. At least until I can trust Dave not to destroy the world with cleaning supplies when I've got my back turned. Not that he'd mean to, but. You know."

She chuckled, a low, rich, sound that touched his spirit like a healing balm. "Yes, I know. I remember. You were a little- precocious- yourself, when Merlin first took you in."

He groaned. "Are you ever going to let that thing with the broom and the fruit trees go? Just because you were always sweetness and light-"

She chuckled again, then lifted her fingers away from his sensitized mouth and leaned over to replace them with her own lips. Coherent thought collapsed: and they sank together, knitting up the raveled places in each other's souls. A few hours could not undo a dozen lifetimes of separation, but they made a valiant attempt.

When they rose from the bed at last, the light in the high windows was ruddy with imminent sunset. Balthazar worked the complex transfiguration to unweave the bed again, while Veronica cast the necessary spells of cleaning and tidying; she'd always had a lighter touch with that sort of thing than he did. Then they ventured outside. He was starving, and he knew she had to be, too; any great working of magic stripped the body of resources, and she hadn't eaten since the eighth century.

There was so much he wanted to show her, so many modern conveniences he wanted to re-experience through her eyes.

Sandwiches, first, though. And then they'd see what wonders they could find.