Gilderoy Lockhart examined himself in the mirror, as he did every night before bed. His complexion was flawless. His teeth gleamed, ready to win a sixth straight Most Charming Smile Award. His hair was, in a word, phenomenal.

His first day teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts may have been a little rocky-how unlucky that today of all days he would slip up while corraling pixies-but at least he still looked as good at the end of it as he had at the beginning. Satisfied, Gilderoy disrobed in preparation for putting on his nightshirt, then frowned as a flash of motion caught his eye.

Looking again at the mirror, he saw a magical tattoo flashing in bright colors, just below his collarbone. Glancing down, he confirmed that his skin was unmarked. He looked back up at the mirror in time to see the tattoo distort, forming a line that traced up his shoulder and down his arm. Holding his hand up to the mirror, Gilderoy was able to read a message traced in glowing ink on his palm.

Don't believe your lies.

"What the devil-" Gilderoy cut himself off as the words shifted, forming a diagram of a wand motion and incantation that he had never seen before.

Feeling a strange sense of inevitability, Lockhart lifted his wand with his other hand. Tracing the wand motions felt natural, and the incantation tripped off his lips as if he had cast it a thousand times before. Instinctively, he finished the spell by tapping the wand against his head.

He closed his eyes against the flood of memories that this action unleashed. His memory of subduing the Wagga Wagga Werewolf played itself out in his mind, before fading into a memory of an interview with the ugly old warlock who actually did the deed. The fight with the Bandon Banshee, the exorcism of the Gorleston Ghoul, his epic showdown with the vampire coven of Harlow-all of them were replaced with memories of himself interviewing the actual heroes.

"No, it can't be..." Gilderoy said, before the last memory slotted into place. "But of course it is."

Of course no one wizard could accomplish all of the feats he had written about. He should know-he'd had to obliviate no fewer than sixteen different witches and wizards in order to collect material for his books. It was amazing that he never figured it out before seeing his enchanted reminder, but perhaps not too surprising considering what a prat he had to turn himself into.

Gilderoy remembered how he had come to his present arrangement: after the runaway success of his second book, Voyages with Vampires, he had been asked to testify at the trial of the vampire coven's human collaborators. He had been unable to refuse, of course, but he had a bad scare when he discovered that factual testimony at criminal trials was routinely taken under veritaserum.

A trained occlumens could say whatever they wanted uner Veritaserum, of course, but he was hardly a trained occlumens. However, he was quite good with memory charms, and they did say that necessity was the mother of invention. By obliviating himself of any knowledge inconsistent with his public persona-leaving a few reminders back home so he could snap himself out of it, of course-his testimony went off without a hitch.

But that was just the start of things. Gilderoy had wanted money and fame, but he hadn't quite realised when he started out just how much privacy he would have to give up. Public appearances at charity benefits, showing up at events for his fan club, all the little activities suggested by his publicist... the whole time fearing that a single moment of casual Legilimency would undo years of hard work. It got to the point that he was spending more time than he was really comfortable with almost completely obliviated.

Hogwarts was his chance to escape. He could spend a few years out of the limelight in perfectly respectable fashion teaching at a prestigious school like Hogwarts. Once his fame had diminished somewhat, he could declare that he's decided he's just not cut out for teaching, and is retiring to pursue other interests. No big mystery, no tabloids trying to find out what really made him walk away from his fame-just an old adventurer who tried his hand at teaching and then just faded away.

Of course, that came with its own problems. Most notably, Albus Dumbledore. Gilderoy didn't dare leave his room with his memories intact, he knew that the cunning old man would see through him in an instant. The problem was that as he spent more time believing his own lies, his behavior was becoming increasingly erratic.

He had written down in his lesson plan that those thrice-damned Cornish Pixies were to stay in the cage. He'd even underlined it! Then, like a half-brained idiot, he decided on the spur of the moment to show the kids some real wandwork. Now he'd managed to put a serious dent in any respect they ever had for him.

Well, no more practical demonstrations in class for him. He was going to have to tweak the compulsion charms that he layered on himself tomorrow morning. And maybe think about retiring a little sooner than he had originally planned.

Still, even if teaching was more work than he had anticipated, he had to congratulate himself for having the foresight to hole up in Hogwarts, the safest place in Britain. Living somewhere that may have actually called upon him to live up to his reputation would have been incredibly foolish.