Fandom: White Collar
Characters/Pairings: Peter, Mozzie, Elizabeth (Pre-Peter/Elizabeth)
Word Count: 2,541
Beta Credit: elrhiarhodan
Summary: Sometimes the prophesies are wrong.
Author’s Notes – Written for my friend, pipilj for the 12th day of my 12 Days of Christmas Meme. She requested “The Stranger at the Crossroads – Peter/Elizabeth”. The Muse came up with this.
They said he would never find her. The seers, the Elders – they all foretold that no matter how long he searched, no matter what offerings he made to Odin, Petr, son of Burke the Glorious, would die alone, unwanted. It had been the reason that he had not succeeded his father upon his death. The clan knew he would never have an heir to follow him and they pledged their fealty to a distant cousin.
Most of the time it didn’t bother him. He’d learned to swallow his disappointment at an early age, working on his swordplay while his friends were out courting the local girls. All the hours of practice paid off, raising him to be honored as the best warrior in the village.
Not that he was without the benefits of human comfort. Far from it – as he grew older, his tall stature, broad shoulders and easy smile had many women and more than a few men offering to warm his bed. But it was understood it was just for a night or two, no more.
So Petr spent his days training, teaching the young men the art of war and raiding, and his nights drinking and celebrating his victories. And pretending that he really wasn’t lonely.
It was the night before their raid on Duiblinn when the seer requested an audience. Petr allowed him entry, offering him some mead and food as was customary. The man accepted, sitting down next to him. Once settled, Petr continued to pack his weapons for tomorrow’s voyage.
They spent several moments in silence, Petr working and the seer sitting. Petr regarded him with a raised eyebrow, thinking that he looked nervous. Normally the seers didn’t bother with him anymore; convinced that Odin had determined his destiny and nothing more could be seen. The fact that one would specifically seek him out was curious, to say the least. He watched as the seer – a short man – fidgeted before drinking deep from the tankard.
“What brings you to see me?” Petr broke the silence.
“I – I have news.” The man fidgeted again. “They told me not to try, but I did and...well…I have news.”
“News?” Petr was skeptical. Over the years, men and women had come to him, claiming they saw something new and if he would be willing to pay, they would share their visions. The first few times he did, but Petr learned that the disappointment was not worth the cost. “I will not pay you, if that’s what you are looking for.”
“No, I’m not here for money.” The little man shifted. “I just…it’s just…” he trailed off. Taking a breath, he looked at Petr. “I’ve seen you in the village. You always have a kind word and are a fair man. The seers have been lying to you.”
What? “I don’t understand.”
“Odin’s plan for you.” The seer was sweating despite the chill in the summer air. “They have been lying to you since you were a child.”
“Why?” Petr was confused.
“Because they are afraid. Your bride comes from the new religion and if you meet her their power will die away.”
Petr shook his head. “Your words make no sense. Start from the beginning. With your name and where you are from.”
“Teodor. I’m a wanderer. I came to your village three days ago.”
“And how did you see a new outcome for me?” Petr thought that the Elders and the seers of his village had given up on him.
Teodor took another drink of the mead and wiped his mouth. “Your seers were looking for omens about the upcoming battle. They asked me to assist. Your name kept coming up but no-one would cast a prophecy for you. I was…curious. When I asked, I was told to mind my own business.” He smiled at Petr. “I’ve been known to disregard that bit of advice on many occasions.”
“So what did you see?” Petr held his breath. Part of him wanted to hear what this man had to say, but he was afraid.
Teodor straightened and met Petr’s gaze. He began to talk, his words almost shimmering in the air as they left his lips. “During the month of Sólmánuður in his twenty-fifth year, Petr, son of Burke the Glorious will join hands with Eilís, daughter of Allen Ó Maoilmhichil at the crossroads of Faiche Stiofáin before the half-moon rises. Their union will be blessed through generations and the old ways will crumble before their joy.” Teodor paused. “The prophecy has not changed since you were a child.”
“I don’t believe you. Show me.” Petr needed the proof of their deceit.
“With pleasure.” Teodor dug around in his robes, pulling out a cloth bag. He spilled it out onto the table, the small bones and trinkets making a slight clattering sound. Waving his hand over them, he muttered a few words, grabbing them up before tossing them on the table again. “See – here it is.” He pointed out the omens to Petr, explaining what he saw.
Petr knew just enough of the talismans to know that Teodor was telling the truth. His head was whirling. The prophecy was wrong. He had another half.
And the seers had lied. “How do you know it’s been the same?” he challenged.
Teodor smirked. “It’s amazing what several bottles of ale can do for a person’s tongue. They have been casting every year and every year the prophecy has been the same.”
Petr was angry. His entire life was based on what the Elders had told him. And they had lied to him – repeatedly. He stalked over to the table and poured himself a cup of the mead he’d offered Teodor. Downing it, he cursed and threw the tankard across the room.
He squared his shoulders and made his decision. He owed them nothing – not anymore. Not after years of pitiful looks from the people in his village, standing alone as he watched his friends and family fall in love and be wed. Looking at Teodor, he said, “Before the half-moon – that’s in four days.”
“Correct. You leave tomorrow for the raid?” Teodor broke off a portion of bread and slathered it with butter. At Petr’s nod he continued. “The voyage should bring you there just in time. But be careful. My guess is that your Elders will have you watched. It’s what I would do if I were in their shoes.” He popped the bread in his mouth and chewed it with a smile. “But I’m a bit paranoid.”
“How will I know who she is?” Petr paused at that thought. He had no idea how to find her.
“Ah, my friend, that is where I come in.” Teodor smirked. “It seems as though our destinies are entwined.” He tossed the bones again. “My path is to help you when the time comes and I’ve convinced your chief to let me travel with you.”
“How did you manage that? He’s very particular.”
Teodor grinned and winked. “I might have bested him in a game of chance.” He dug into his pocket and pulled out a set of dice. He made a motion with his left hand and the dice disappeared, only to appear nestled in his right palm.
Petr laughed. “He deserves it.” Looking at the seer, he asked. “So, do you have a plan?”
“Absolutely. And if you’ll pour me some more mead…” Teodor raised his tankard with a smile.
Petr chuckled and filled both their tankards. Soon they were deep in plans to fulfill Petr’s destiny.
The wind was brisk, making the waves crashing over the bow of the ship toss a sharp mist over the warriors. Petr hunched down, trying to stay as dry as he possibly could. He shivered – it may be summer but the water was still cold.
Glancing over, he saw Teodor hunched into himself, looking a bit green. By mutual agreement they ignored each other, not wanting to bring any attention to the fact that they had talked.
He liked the little man, admiring his intelligence and wit. When he asked Teodor why he was helping him, the other man said simply, “Because I hate liars and cheats, especially when they hurt a good man.”
The call of ‘Land Ahead!’ shook him from his musings and he readied himself to disembark.
Hours later, their camp was set. Petr had specifically pitched his tent on the outskirts in order to slip away unnoticed. He paced the interior, waiting for Teodor. Their plan was to wait until the camp bedded down for the night and make their way to the crossroads. Teodor had snuck into the village and questioned what locals were left for directions while Petr stabled two horses near his tent.
He heard a whisper – Teodor – and quickly untied the fastenings to the tent entrance. The little man scurried in, a look or concern on his face.
“We need to go - now!” Teodor quickly made a circuit of the room, picking up items and putting them back down. “Your Elders are planning on keeping you under guard in the chieftain’s tent and they are heading this way to get you!”
Petr grabbed his sword and axe and stepped out of the tent to find two of his fellow warriors approaching. “Teodor, get the horses ready,” he murmured over his shoulder. Facing them, he smiled. “Finn, Willem, good evening to you.”
“Petr.” Willem stepped forward. “Come with us. Chieftain’s orders.”
“Oh I don’t think so.” Petr’s grin turned feral. “I have somewhere else to be.”
“Please, Petr. Don’t make us force you.” Finn’s voice was pleading. Petr just laughed.
“You really think you could, Finn? You still haven’t beaten me in practice – what makes you think you can do it now?”
“Petr…” Willem warned, raising his sword.
“I’m not going with you.” Petr stood calm. “My destiny lies somewhere else this evening.”
“Petr, we need to go!” Teodor had untied the horses and was already mounted. “The half-moon will be rising soon.”
“Send a guard after me if you like, Willem, but you know my horses are the fastest ones from the village. I doubt you’ll catch us.”
“Why are you doing this, Petr? Going against the Chieftain’s orders?” Finn looked confused.
“Because the seers? They lied.” Petr’s grin was brilliant in the campfires as he settled himself in the saddle. “And I’m going to get my brúðr.” With that, he spurred his horse, Teodor following him, leaving Willem and Finn behind, mouths open in shock.
It felt glorious.
Their horses ate up the miles as they galloped closer to their destination. Petr laughed in anticipation. He’d never felt freer.
Several hours later they crested the hill above the crossroads. The half-moon had almost touched the ceiling of the sky and Petr didn’t have much time. He heard the sound of a skirmish ringing through the night, the thud of horses, the clang of swords, the cries of injured men.
“There!” Teodor pointed to a slender figure, sword in hand, holding its own against two larger foes. “That’s her.”
Her? Petr didn’t argue – Teodor had been right on all counts so far. He let out a Viking battle cry and charged down into the fray.
Moments later he was in the middle of the attack, sword flashing as he cut down one of the attackers. He made short work of the other before slipping out of the saddle. Turning back to the figure, his breath caught.
Standing before him was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Thick sable hair, braided, huge blue eyes with an intelligent smirk. A warrior, if her armor and weapons were any indication. He’d heard about the women fighters in this land. All he could do was grin at how lucky he was, and he hadn’t even introduced himself.
She lunged towards him – no past him, her weapon making contact with the man behind him. Pulling her sword out of the body, she gestured for Petr to stand next to her.
He did, weapons ready, taking her direction as to who the enemy was as if they’d fought shoulder to shoulder for years.
With his help, the skirmish was over quickly. Wiping their swords on the grass, she looked at him and began to speak rapidly. Petr smiled at her and shook his head, not understanding. She tried another language and again he shook his head. He could see her frustration in her frown.
“She’s asking you who you are and why you helped them.” Teodor’s voice was amused.
“You understand her?” Petr turned to him, surprised.
“Of course I do. What do you want me to tell her?” Teodor grimaced as a body was dragged past them.
“The truth.” Wasn’t it obvious?
Teodor began speaking, his words and gestures tumbling over themselves. Petr stood and watched as he explained who Petr was and why he was here. A myriad of expressions ran across her face – shock, incredulity, doubt.
She whirled towards Petr, her words flowing as she poked him – once, twice - in the chest with her finger. Startled, he fell back a step or two, as Teodor translated.
“She says that you have the arrogance of a goatherd to think that you can just appear and expect that she will fall at your feet in supplication. That she is Eilís, daughter of Allen Ó Maoilmhichil, a warrior princess and will not blindly follow the prophecy of a heathen land.”
She shoved Petr, causing him to trip on a root and land on his ass. Looking up at her, fire in her eyes, sword at her side, Petr knew he could love her without any qualms. Rising to his knees, he gestured for Teodor to come closer.
“Find me a language she can understand that I will not butcher.”
Teodor considered for a moment. “Latin will probably be best.”
“Tell me how to say these words to her.” Petr turned to Eilís and began repeating the words Teodor told him to say.
“Eilís, I have spent my life thinking that I would be alone. My people, the ones whom I’ve trusted, lied to me in hopes that I would never fulfill the promise that Odin made. This man –.” He gestured at Teodor. “He gave me the truth - that I was destined to come here, to find you.”
Petr paused, looking to see how she reacted to his words. She was listening, so he must be saying the words correctly.
“I came here not to force you into anything, but in the hope that you would at least give me the opportunity to win you. I cannot promise to be perfect. But I can promise that I will love you with all my heart and soul for as long as you will let me.” He held out his hand to her – praying that he’d used the right words.
Seconds, minutes crept by. Petr held his breath, waiting for her response.
His heart breaking, Petr got to his feet and turned to leave.
“Petr!” Her voice rang out, stopping him in his tracks. Turning he saw her walking towards him. Slowly she smiled, and by the light of the half-moon, slipped her hand into his.