The once renowned wizard and five time winner of Witch Weekly’s Most Charming Smile award flashes his brilliantly white teeth at the massive cue before him.
His shining blonde hair, now streaked with a healthy dose of grey, catches the bright lights inside Florean Fortescue’s reopened ice cream parlour as he scoops out bucketfuls of brightly coloured cones for the patrons.
Many of whom seem to be there for the sheer novelty of having the once famous wizard serve them sundaes.
“It’s hilarious,” says twenty-five year old Tooba Gilani as she jiggles an adorable infant on her hip. “He used to be rolling in piles of Galleons and now he’s taking my order!”She laughs, taking a lick of an enormous Strawberry Swirl cone.
While Lockhart still has absolutely no recollection of his former celebrity status – or anything else for that matter – he was still keen on giving out autographs to anyone who dared linger at the register a moment too long.
Gilderoy, who will be celebrating his fifty-fifth birthday this January, is a long term resident at the Permanent Spell Damage ward at St. Mungo’s. His healers say there are moments when he seems to recall bits and pieces of his past life, but that he remains largely unchanged from the devastating effects of the Memory Charm.
“Poor love is as sweet as a kitten, but he gets rather lonely cooped up inside the ward all day,” says Healer Beatrice, one of Lockhart’s primary caregivers. “It’s nice to see him out chatting with other folk since no one ever comes to visit him.”
Patients with non-debilitating physical injuries and approval to travel have been allowed “Field Days” – supervised visits volunteering at local shops in and around Diagon Alley as a way to integrate them into society.
Many store owners are embracing the idea.
“Well, I feel sorry for the chap,” says Adrian Fortescue – nephew of the late, great Florean who was killed by Death Eaters in 1996 – who reopened the beloved ice cream parlour a few years prior. “He’s decent help and I mean, look at the crowd he’s drawn for sundaes in the middle of October.”
But it’s not all rainbow sprinkles; I can see a flush of embarrassment paint the still handsome wizard’s features while an irate patron besmirches him for counting out his change incorrectly for the third time.
Healer Beatrice notices her patient’s helpless fumbling and rushes over, placing a comforting hand on his shoulder as she kindly reminds him the value of Sickles and Knuts.
The author of Magical Me stares at the money in the palm of his hand as though the glittering coins are about to jump up and attack him.
At this point Fortescue approaches and eases Lockhart towards the rows of frozen tubs with a gentle smile and a silver scoop. Gilderoy looks confused for a split second before his bright blue eyes glaze over and he flashes another dazzling smile at the cue, grabbing the spoon and resigning himself to dig out more ice cream.
“Aside from a few minor setbacks, he’s really just like you and me,” persuades Beatrice. “He’s even re-learned basic spells!”
As the crowd dies down and the last few rays of the setting sun bathe the parlour in golden light, Gilderoy mops his fair brow with the back of his hand before I approach him.
He looks at me curiously before I smile tentatively and brandish a blank notebook towards him, wordlessly asking for his autograph.
His face lights up and without hesitation, he whips out a battered looking Peacock Quill as he brands the parchment with his immense, swirly writing.
I thank him and leave, not wanting to sully the moment and can’t help but feel a heavy ball of pity settle deep within my stomach at the thought of the man – and that despite the venue, my encounter with the once famous wizard was anything but sweet.