Chapter 1 : Rumour Number 1
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She was wasting away in that small little flat, doing nothing more than sleeping or reading. For some, that would be ordinary. But Starling Gauntlett was not ordinary. She was known as the greatest singer in history, her voice reducing muggles and wizards to tears. She was married to the greatest Quidditch player of the century. She had been chosen as the Most Influential Witch of the Year for the past three years.
No, Starling Gauntlett was anything but ordinary.
Yet for the past three weeks she had done the most ordinary things. She had woken up without the aid of an alarm clock, had made herself breakfast instead of buying it on the go, and had worn nothing but pajamas for an entire day. And today, she had decided to do some so ordinary she had not done it in years.
Starling Gauntlett was going to buy groceries.
So she had gotten dressed in clothes that she wouldn’t normally wear, adamant that no one should recognize her, and had raided her husband’s wallet in search of his bank card. She was glad for the magical advancements in the technological field as it meant she would not have to bring a handbag.
Starling Gauntlett hated handbags.
So she left the modest flat that she shared with James Potter, careful to keep her face hidden from the eyes of people passing. As she reached the small wizard grocer’s, Starling noticed the newest edition of Witch Weekly, a picture of her own face staring at her through the glass of the shop’s window. Putting her head down and hoping that the shopkeeper and the patrons wouldn’t recognize her, Starling walked in and made her way to the Meats section, deciding that she would make James a nice roast that night.
As she browsed the slabs of meat on the shelves, a strand of her impossibly vibrant red hair fell out of her hood. Starling quickly brushed it back, grabbed a packet of roast and made her way to the register. As she waited in the line, the Witch Weekly version of her stared back into her eyes menacingly, almost as if the magazine would denounce her true identity. She pulled on her hood a little more in an attempt to cover herself more, realizing that it was futile. As the line moved up, two girls stepped in line behind her, their high-pitched voices making Starling cringe. But as she heard her name, she fought the urge to ignore them and began to eavesdrop.
“Rita Skeeter is still writing?” the first one asked incredulously.
The second one laughed nasally. “Only for important things. This month, she’s focused on Starling Gauntlett.”
“Isn’t that the singer that James Potter married last year?” the first one replied.
“Yeah. Apparently James Potter has been seen taking his sister to events instead of Starling. Rita thinks they’ve broken up.”
“Really? Oh just imagine if that’s true and he ends up falling for me. Misses Rebekah Potter,” the first one sighed.
The second one just laughed again and Starling cringed at the nasally pitch. “More like Miss Rebekah Vane. It’ll be Misses Carla Potter.”
“Oh shut it, you tosser,” Rebekah said, scoffing at her friend. “Anyways, why does Rita think they’ve broken up?”
Starling took a step forward in the line, smiling from under her hood at the man at the register. He smiled back and took the roast from her. As he rang up the price, Starling refocused on the two girls behind her.
“Well, Rita says that Starling’s been M.I.A. because she’s preggers,” Carla said devilishly, as if the information provided her with some sort of strange release. Starling rolled her eyes as the girl continued. “And get this. It isn’t James’s.”
Starling tensed as the man at the register asked for her payment. For Rita Skeeter to say that she was pregnant wasn’t unusual. Pregnancy rumours ran rampant around the famous witches of the Wizarding World. But for Rita to say that it wasn’t James’s, and for those girls to believe it? Starling clenched her jaw and handed the bank card to the man.
“I’m sorry,” the man said as he looked over the card, “but I’m going to need to see some I.D.”
Starling sighed. “I.D.?”
“Do you honestly think I’m going to believe you’re James Potter?” he said in a hushed voice, leaning closer so that only Starling could hear him.
She sighed and glanced behind her, receiving disgusted glares from the two girls. Turning back to the man at the counter, she lowered her hood and allowed her brilliant blue eyes to peek out. Although she tried not to let it, her vibrant hair fell out as well, framing her famous face. The man at the counter sucked in a breath.
“I’m sorry Miss Gauntlett. I didn’t realize–”
“It’s okay,” Starling said in a hushed whisper. “Just don’t make a big scene, please.”
The man nodded and ran her back card through the machine, the number of sickles on the register screen dropping down until it finally reached zero. The man grabbed a bag and put the roast in it for her, handing her both the bag and her bank card bag. She thanked him and left, trying not to listen to the idiotic ramblings of the girls as they gossiped about who the baby’s father could be. As Starling raced home, tears began to fall from her eyes. While she was used to the rumours, lately everything had been weighing even more heavily on her. But she wiped away the tears and tried to stay strong. And she did. She made the roast for James and she made a salad too. When he came home he found her setting the table for the both of them.
“Did anything happen today while I was out?” he asked, throwing his coat and duffle bag on the coach to walk over and hug her.
Starling smiled and embraced him, comforted by his strong presence. “Rita Skeeter thinks I’m pregnant and it isn’t yours.”
He laughed and hugged her tighter. “These are getting even more ridiculous by the day.”
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