Snowe stumbled, grabbing onto Doc's shoulder as the room started to spin around her. She blinked a few times, trying to focus on Charlie as they got closer.
"Snowe?" Doc put an arm around her waist, pulling her upright. "Snowe are you alright?"
By now, Grumps had noticed them approaching. His eyes filled with fear when he saw the state on the girl. He, along with Charlie, Bash and Dopey, rushed forward, trying to help the girl stand. They half carried her to the side of the club, lowering her onto a chair.
"Guys..." She croaked. "My mouth...it's really dry..."
"How much has she had to drink?" Grumps asked, gently pushing Charlie out of the way. The younger lad gazed at Snowe, as suddenly the rest of the Dwarfs appeared around them.
"Two bottles," Doc stared at his friend, scared about what was happening. "Two bottles Grumps and that's it."
"Jesus," Bash whispered, reaching out and holding Dopey's shoulder. The silent boy was fidgeting, all of them knew something was wrong, but none could put their fingers on it.
Charlie knelt in front of the girl as her head lolled to one side. "Oh Christ," He felt her forehead. "She's burning up. Go get the bouncers."
The boys stayed frozen in place, as Snowe's eyes closed, then flickered open for a few seconds. They fell on Charlie. "Charlie..." She reached out, putting a hand on his cheek. "Charlie, it's good to see you again."
Her eyes closed and her head rested against the wall. "Bouncers," Charlie cried, rounding on Doc. "NOW!"
"Happy, Sneezy, go get the bouncers. Tell them what's happened." He ordered, trying and failing to keep his voice steady.
The two boys bounded off, disappearing into the crowd as they tried to find the big, burly men who they thought must know how to deal with something like this.
"Water," Charlie muttered, glancing once more at Doc. He gave him a curt nod before sending Bash off to get some. He knelt down beside Charlie.
"You don't think it's..." He took a deep breath. "You know, some guy..."
"Date rape?" Charlie whispered under his breath, glancing at Doc as the older boy nodded slowly. "No, it's not."
"And how do you know that?" Grumps hissed, crossing his arms as he stared at Charlie.
"My mother's a nurse," The boy explained, ignoring the hostility from Grumps. "Something like that wouldn't have acted this fast. I think..." He paused, as if afraid to say the words. "Guys, I think she's been poisoned."
Bash returned, a glass of ice cold water in his hands. He swiftly passed it to Charlie. "There's a woman over at the bar," He told the boys. "Staring over here and...well, she's smiling."
Charlie looked over to the bar, eyes scanning the people crowded around it, fighting for alcohol. "Her," He growled. "Malicious bitch."
"Looks like her," Charlie shook his head. "I always thought she was a cow, but poisoning Snowe?"
"I'm on it," Doc stood up, brushing down his trousers. "Grumps, with me."
Grumps nodded, following after Doc. The others soon returned, Happy and Sneezy trailing behind two bouncers. The men slowly approached Snowe, concern etched over their faces.
"She taken anything?" One asked, watching as Charlie shook his head.
"No sir, someone spiked her drink..."
"Alright lad," He placed a hand on the boy's shoulder, "we'll take it from here."
The position of authority now taken from the boy, he allowed himself to grab onto Snowe's hand, staring into her face. "I've only just found you again Snowe," he whispered, tears filling in the bottom of his eyes. "Don't leave me now, alright?"
* * *
In the corridor of a hospital, the seven boys patiently waited for news of their friend. She was in a room in front of them, where nurses and doctors had been working through the night to stabilize her. Charlie appeared at the end of the corridor, slowly walking towards the boys with a tray, balancing plastic cups with water. He placed it on an empty chair, watching as the Dwarfs snatched them up.
"Any news?" He directed the question to Doc, who stood against the wall with his arms folded. The older boy shook his head.
"No. Not yet."
Charlie let out a sigh, running a hand through his mop of hair. His eyes shifted towards the door as he sank onto the floor. Grumps stood up, stretching his arms before glancing around.
"I'm going to go outside, get some fresh air," He muttered, voice solemn. Grumps walked away slowly, deep in thought.
All of them felt on edge. None of them were particularly religious, yet they had spent the night sending up silent prayers for their friend's recovery.
Charlie wrapped his arms around his knees, drawing them in tight. Every so often, he looked at the Dwarfs, this band of brothers who had watched over Snowe like guardian angels, all of which considered her a sister.
They were her family; the only family she had left.
A nurse stepped into the corridor, shutting the door gently behind her. Her eyes passed over the group, a flicker of pity in them as Doc stepped forward, gazing at her expectantly. "She's stable," She told them, though her eyes avoided looking at them as she brushed a strand of light brown hair behind her ear. "We had to pump her stomach. Some nasty stuff, whatever she took."
"She didn't take anything!" Charlie stood up quickly, glaring at the nurse. "Her drink was spiked!"
"I didn't say she took it by choice," The nurse snapped back, straightening up as she gazed at the boy, clearly used to dealing with unruly people worse than the young boy. "You won't be able to see her for a few hours; you might want to go home and get some sleep."
"Guys!" The yell drew them all to look down the corridor, as Grumps raced up, a glint in his eyes. "They caught her! Snowe's step-mother! It was on the news. She's been arrested."
Almost collectively, the boys let out a sigh, shaking their heads.
"There, you've got some good news," The nurse stepped away from them. "Now rest; all of you!" The order being given, she disappeared down the hall.
"She did it to get Snowe's inheritance," Grumps explained, glancing towards the door. "Nasty, evil bitch."
"Well, she's locked up now," Doc ran a hand through his hair. "She's not going to hurt Snowe now. The nurse was right; we should head home. Do you want to stay with us?" He asked Charlie, watching as the boy shook his head.
"No, I'm staying here."
"OK, here," He handed over his mobile phone. "The numbers of us all are on that, give us a ring if there's a change."
"Will do," Charlie shook his hand. "Thank you, all of you."
A while later, and there was little change in Snowe's condition. Charlie fell asleep in the corridor, and woke up to hear two nurses talking. Pretending to still be asleep, he listened in. What he heard was not good. The doctors were now scared that the young girl, the beautiful girl Charlie had been in love with since they were children together, might never wake up.
The nurses talked about what a pity it was, before they fell silent. He yawned, opening his eyes and acting as though he had heard nothing.
"Can I see her?" He asked, staring at the same nurse who had told them to go home. The two glanced at each other, pity clear on their faces.
"Yes," The one nodded. "I don't see why not."
She left him alone when he stepped in, and as he saw her lying there, tubes connected, leading from her body to machines, he felt like finding her step-mother and killed her himself.
Instead, he simply approached the bed and leant forward, kissing her softly on the forehead.
"Please wake up Snowe," He whispered. "If you die...I don't know what I'd do. I've felt lost since I moved away, and it was only...only tonight...when I saw you again..."
He began to choke up, keeping back his sobs as he clutched her hand.
"God Snowe, I love you."
"I love you too, Charlie."
His head snapped upwards, staring in shock as Snowe's eyes slowly flickered open, a smile settling on her lips when she saw him sitting there.
He threw his arms around her, hugging her as she giggled gently. "God I've missed you."
"I missed you too."
He pulled away, but only for a second. When the nurses stepped in, it was to see the pair kissing gently, tears on both their faces. Though in shock, they couldn't hold back smiles at the happy scene before them.
"Guess the doctors were wrong," The older one muttered, ushering the other out.
And, well, they lived happily ever after.