1 - Smash

They had ripped away her voice, but that didn't mean the Avox was always silent. The petite blonde leading the line with her large tray let out a small gasp as she entered the conference room. She fought her instinct to pull back into the hall as the others were right behind. But she did shift her tray slightly to block her face from his view.

She'd know that face anywhere, even if she'd never seen him in a suit and tie before. Maybe she'd changed enough so that he wouldn't recognize her. Maybe not.

She moved swiftly around the table, years of practice covering for her distracted mind. As she served each of the guests on the far side of the large table their requested beverages she maneuvered her tray to block her face from his view. For once she was glad for the size of the large round tray.

But she had to be careful. She couldn't do anything conspicuous, nothing to draw attention. That was not an Avox's place. And this was no ordinary dinner. She hadn't known that he would be here, but the president was here and, more importantly to the Avoxes, Thrax was here. The one who held them under his thumb. Thrax always saw mistakes, especially her mistakes. He always seemed to know where she was, what she was doing. And every second of her life was filled with loathing him.

A glass of white wine for this one, water only for the next, a large milk with ice next – she was almost done. She slipped another glass of wine to the right of the last place setting then headed for the door. But he was facing the door. She'd have to walk right past him. She'd keep her back to him. Surely, he'd never recognize her just from her back, her walk, her hair. But he'd always been annoyingly observant. Well, once it hadn't annoyed her. Now it did.

All evening, course after course, she moved around the room careful not to draw his attention. She was relieved to be assigned to the fish, seeing from the seating chart in the kitchen that he'd chosen the steak.

But dessert, they were all to be served the same blanc mange. She was near enough to touch him as she reached in front of him to center the plate. Her hand shook, then it was done. Just a few more to serve and she could, again, flee the room.

She held the now empty tray high, still blocking his view. She was almost out, almost in the clear.

Then she chanced a look back. Why? To make sure he hadn't seen her? To take one more look at him?

That was all it took. She kept her eyes on the side of his face for a moment too long. He didn't see her. But her head was turned as she went through the door and she didn't see the tall Avox coming into the room with a tray full of refill drinks.

SMASH!

Avoxes are supposed to be invisible. To serve but not be seen. But she was seen. And heard.

The cold drinks drenched her. As she lay shivering on the floor she realized that the only sound she could hear was her own panicked gasping. The clinking and chatter from the dinner meeting were completely hushed. She was still in the doorway and she tried not to make any noise as she crawled out into the hall to hide from the eyes of the shocked dinner guests. It helped a little, but not enough.

For a moment she pressed her forehead into the cold floor and wished, not for the first time, that she were dead. If only the liquid that had doused her had been an acid, strong enough to melt her on contact. Or maybe she could have fallen harder, hit her head, bashed in her own skull.

But no such luck. Strong arms were already pulling her to her feet. She'd go downstairs and wait. Wait for the punishment, wait for the rage. Her stomach clenched in fear and she forced herself to think only of stepping one foot in front of the other. She would not think of what was coming later.

It was not going to be good.

AN – I started this fic a while ago, then got distracted by a Dramione I'm writing. (Harry Potter fic). Then I saw that it was Gadge Day! Some of my favorite writers in fanfic promoting one of my favorite ships and I just thought I had to contribute. If you like Gadge (and how could you resist?) check out . I'm posting two chapters of "Seldom Spent in Vain" because this one doesn't even give any names. I'll get back to the rest later.