Disclaimer: I do not own Glee or any of its characters; Ryan Murphy and Co. hold that honor. I do not own Frozen or any of its characters. I'm simply writing this for fun, not profit.
"Cooper. Wake up."
Cooper rolled onto his stomach, pulling a pillow over his head and pointedly ignoring the hand tugging at the blankets on top of him. It was bad enough that he had to get up at sunrise every day for a fortnight to greet the lords and ladies from the neighboring lands; waking up before sunrise on his day off was unthinkable.
Consoling himself with the thought that the nobility would retire to their own towns for the remainder of the summer in another week, Cooper dragged his blankets more firmly around his shoulders as Blaine tugged them back, striving to unearth him from his cocoon. "Go away," he groaned, rolling over and savoring the surprised yelp as his younger brother toppled to the floor.
"It's sunrise, Cooper!"
"Which means annoying little brothers should still be in bed or else the snow yeti will devour them."
He could almost see Blaine's pout as he climbed on top of his back and insisted, "Snow yetis aren't real. Mama told me. She says you're a liar."
Cooper let out an exasperated sigh as Blaine settled on top of his shoulders, lying down on top of Cooper's pillow and waiting eagerly to be attended. "The sun's up, Coop. I wanna go play. Oh! Oh! Can we build a snowman?"
He was practically bouncing with excitement, which Cooper tolerated for about eight seconds before rolling over with an impressive - if muted; the last thing he wanted was for his parents to barge in and remind him how undignified it was for the prince of Arendelle to roll around like a savage beast - before tackling a shrieking Blaine to the carpet.
"No, Coop, no!" Blaine wailed, delighted, as Cooper lifted him into the air and slung him over one shoulder, pounding his fists against Cooper's back. "Put me down, put me down!"
Cooper carried him out onto his balcony, pushing open the expansive windows overlooking the north side of the mountain and hiking Blaine up over one shoulder as he continued to flail. "Lemme go, put me down!"
Transferring Blaine to both hands and dangling him over the ledge playfully - legs kicking all the while - he drawled, "I warned you, Blainey."
Letting his grip loosen playfully, he swung Blaine back around at the last second, earning another round of elated giggles as Blaine tugged on his hand insistently. "Come on, come on, we have to do it before Mama and Papa get up."
Cooper let himself be dragged back into his room, closing the balcony doors behind him and almost tripping over his own feet in the process. "All right, all right, easy," he chided, picking Blaine up under the shoulders again and putting him on his shoulders instead. "Excitable little tyke, aren't you?"
"Are we gonna build a snowman?" Blaine asked as they descended the stairs.
"Only if you're quiet," Cooper warned, leading them into the empty ballroom two floors below and putting Blaine down before shutting the doors behind them.
Clad in his dark blue pajamas with its monogrammed silver collar and cuff links and a pair of bright white socks, white hair still slightly disheveled from sleep, Cooper knew that he must have been a sight to see, the future prince of Arendelle corralling his younger brother, a silver-and-blue blur across the floor.
Conjuring a snowball in one hand, Cooper lobbed it at the back of his head, grinning in triumph as it spattered magnificently against his dark curls. "Not fair!" Blaine said, yelping as Cooper tossed a snowball at his face instead. "Cooper!"
"All right, all right," he conceded. With a dismissive flick of his wrist, he shot a snowball toward the ceiling, leaning back to watch it shatter just underneath the massive chandelier into a hundred thousand snowflakes as Blaine clapped in approval, reaching up to capture them as they fell.
Grinning to himself as he folded his arms and watched his own handiwork in action, Cooper took a step forward, ice spreading out from each step as Blaine looked over at him and beamed. "This is amazing!" he said, all wide-eyes and snow-flake freckled curls.
"This is nothing," Cooper said, pleased in spite of himself as he rubbed his palms together. He knew that he wasn't supposed to perform magic unless he could help it, but it was worth the awestruck expression on Blaine's face to create a little fun for both of them. Cooper spent most of his days learning everything he needed to know in order to successfully assume the throne one day, and Blaine was often tied up trying to make friends while Cooper was away, so the moments that they had together were fleeting but precious. Blaine looked at Cooper as if he'd descended straight from one of the fairy tales that he loved to read, a white knight, a gallant king.
It was validating to be seen as so important.
And while Blaine might get on his nerves frequently, Cooper knew that he didn't do it out of spite.
He just wanted to be less lonely in their too-big, too-empty home.
Looking over at him, covered in snow as he sprawled on the floor and made snow angels, Cooper drew up his shoulders and, with a dramatic turn of his wrist, watched as a beam of white light struck the nearest snowbank and melded the pieces into a stout snowman. "Hey," Blaine whined, sitting up and observing the snowman with a pout. "I wanted to help."
"You can name him," Cooper said, dusting off his lapels and watching Blaine's brow furrow in concentration as he approached the snowman cautiously. It was taller than he was - not that Blaine was very tall to begin with.
Cooper suspected that, while he may have inherited their father's towering stature, Blaine was more likely to take after their mother. Petite, friendly, all warm smiles and warmer hugs, she was easy to get along with, unlike their father, whose sole mission in life appeared to be making Cooper's miserable.
"Kings do not play with magic," was his favorite phrase, closely followed by, "No son of mine will disgrace this kingdom."
He had good intentions, Cooper supposed, if one looked at the rest of the kingdom's nobility. The ladies could be reasoned with, but the lords tended to be irascible and, behind curtains, cutthroat. Arendelle's wealth was a powerful incentive, keeping her at the heart of trade, but it also meant alliances and betrayals were constantly afoot. Even though their neighbors were nothing but cordial on the surface, there were still those that sought to shift the powers permanently to a new residence, and Cooper knew that being equally ruthless and clever among them was the only way to maintain Arendelle's status.
It was all for the greater good, of course, that no one else knew about Cooper's powers outside of the family. Magic was unusual, rare historically and even rarer at the present, and by exposing it, Cooper risked jeopardizing their relationships with the other towns. If he could keep it hidden, then no one would suspect that the winter storms blowing through from time to time were, in fact, Cooper's creation, a political scheme to thwart traders often battling the elements in order to survive economically. It was too risky to assume that they would believe the truth: Cooper had never done anything of the sort, confining his powers to the ballroom where he and Blaine could, for a little time, at least, be free to have their fun.
"Sam," Blaine chirped, reaching out to shake the snowman's stick-hand formally, smiling as he turned back to Cooper and elaborated, "his name's Sam."
"Sam," Cooper echoed, nose scrunching in spite of himself. "A peasant name?"
"He's not a peasant!" Blaine quipped, affronted, as he wrapped his arms protectively around the snowman. "He's my friend."
Cooper made a doubtful noise at that, frowning at him. "You need real friends, Blaine."
If anything, Blaine clung harder to the snowman's shoulders, expression unreadable from Cooper's angle. Letting out a sigh and accepting defeat, Cooper advanced toward him and gave him a nudge away from 'Sam.' Sitting behind the snowman, he held out its stick arms and asked in an exaggeratedly deep voice, "Would you be my friend, Prince Blaine?"
Blaine's response was immediate and enthusiastic: he threw himself at the snowman, hugging it tightly and insisting, "Yes! Yes!"
Laughing, Cooper peeled him carefully off the snowman as it sagged helplessly, flicking his fingers to restore it to its original form. "Come on," he said, hitching him over one shoulder again. He would miss the days when he could do it; he couldn't imagine how he was supposed to contain Blaine's energy once he was older. Maybe he'd mellow out once he realized how boring politics were. Or maybe he'd just have to start dragging Cooper around once Cooper lost the will to do so.
"Can we slide first?" Blaine pleaded, clinging to his shoulder as if he could hold Cooper in the moment a little longer. As soon as they stepped into the main hallway again, they'd be forced to act their parts, Cooper as dutiful heir-to-the-throne and Blaine as unobtrusive (yet, undoubtedly, underfoot) little brother. Hesitating at the door, Cooper could sense the anticipation building underneath Blaine's little shoulders before he said, "Once."
Once inevitably meant as many times as Blaine's little legs could carry him to the top of the snowdrift that Cooper constructed for him, letting out a shriek of pure, unadulterated joy every time he slid down the slope and onto the floor. "Again," he'd insist, breathless and already scrambling to summit the pile once more, even as Cooper's arms began to ache, a slow smile forming on his lips in spite of himself.
He might not be young enough to indulge in snow-slides anymore, but it was still fun to watch Blaine let go and enjoy himself.
"Come on, squirt," he insisted, hoping to tire him out enough that he might be able to catch a quick nap of his own before their parents awoke and demanded that he make an appearance for, well, appearance's sake. The heir to the throne had to be present at all public functions, after all, even those he didn't wish to be present at, and especially on his supposed days off.
Giggling, too giddy to notice, Blaine took off in the opposite direction and insisted, "Up, Cooper!" and Cooper unthinkingly obliged, firing off a snow step for him to land on as he leaped into the air, ever trusting. The game continued for almost a minute as Blaine climbed higher and higher, almost to the ceiling four stories above them as he raced along.
"Slow down!" Cooper warned, and then, more urgently: "Stop!"
Too late. Blaine leaped and Cooper slipped on the ice underneath himself, his mind blanking in horror as he fired off another shot unthinkingly.
Blaine didn't make a sound as it struck him in the head, crumpling in a noiseless heap at the base of the demolished snowbank.
Oh God, Cooper thought, scrambling back to his feet. Oh God, oh God, oh God.
"Blainey?" he said, kneeling beside him and jerking back when he saw the white streak in his hair, nestled neatly among the formerly all-black curls. Swallowing back his pride, urgent with terror, he reached out to shake him and had to swallow back bile instead when he realized how cold his skin was.
Something was wrong. Something was very, very wrong, and it was all Cooper's fault, and he would never forgive himself for it if Blaine was -
"Mother!" he shouted, scooping Blaine into his arms and huddling him to his chest as he burst into the main hallway, racing toward their parents' room. "Father!"
In that moment, he didn't care what punishment his parents might contrive to deal with his recklessness.
He just needed them to fix Blaine.
. o .
"What were you thinking?"
Even though he had been expecting it, Cooper still flinched from the remonstrance, whip-quick and remorseless on his father's lips. "He needs help," he said firmly, cutting his father's tirade off before it could begin, his mother's brow pinched with concern as she looked between the two of them for answers, Blaine still limp and frozen in Cooper's arms, their father tense and unyielding at her side. "Banish me, denounce me, do whatever you please, but he needs help," he insisted.
His father's eyes were dark, foreboding, and for a moment Cooper thought that he would have to force his way past him to track down a nurse that might be able to help Blaine before he grunted and made a sharp gesture with his chin, leading them back toward his chambers. "Come quickly."
Neither Cooper nor his mother protested. His father moved with the sort of easy grace that befell a king of many years; he rooted through the books on his shelves, long angular lines accentuated by the tall, imposing figure of his father before them.
At last pulling a volume from a stack of a dozen similar tomes, he brushed off the cover and set it down on his wooden desk, flipping to the cover and pulling out a well-worn map.
"You will speak of this to no one," he warned Cooper, his gaze flicking to his wife briefly before adding, "nor will you."
"On my honor," Cooper said, deciding formality was best when dealing with his father (even though a king listens to no one was ready on his tongue; he wasn't king yet, he had to remind himself, and the cold weight in his arms was reminder enough to be serious).
His mother nodded in affirmation, which must have been sufficient for the king as he drew in a deep breath and, visibly bracing himself for their response, said, "The trolls will have the answers we need."
"Trolls?" Cooper repeated, unable to help himself, even as Blaine's weight seemed to grow heavier in his arms by the second, his breathing so shallow it was barely perceptible. "Surely you don't mean actual trolls. There's no such thing."
His father fixed him with a hard gaze, a split-second rebuke that bowed Cooper's head even as his mother said quietly, "How far are they?"
"Not far," his father replied, turning to Cooper and fixing him with an unreadable stare. "Tell the servants to ready our horses."
Cooper nodded and, without a word, turned to do so, leaving his parents alone in their chambers.
Holding Blaine closer to his chest, he breathed out slowly, willing him to hang on long enough for his father's plan to work. He can fix it, he told himself, refusing to believe that Blaine was dying. He'll have his - trolls. Fix it.
He had to believe it because the alternative was unthinkable.
And as he huddled deeper in his own cloak, seated on his horse and willing every clopping step to pass more speedily, he couldn't help but ache at the awareness that if Blaine died, it was on his hands.
I should never have put him in danger.
The thought chased him well into the night as they rode and rode and rode, seemingly endlessly on, searching for answers he didn't know existed to a problem he didn't know could be solved.
I'm sorry, he chanted, grateful and painfully aware that his mother had taken charge of Blaine as soon as they were ready, knowing that he had put him in his present state. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry.
Even more so than his doubt, the anguish followed him every step of the way.