Magic was in the air last night at L.A.'s largest Barnes and Noble book store, where thousands of fans gathered to celebrate the end of Harry Potter at the midnight release for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," the seventh and final installment in the bestselling series.
It was a goodbye, but not a tearful one - after all, many fans said, Harry's taught us better than that. (Dumbledore's men and women through and through they were!)
Check out video from the midnight madness here.
"I've been with Harry since the beginning. It feels like half of my life is over," a young witch told me. "But I'm so happy I'll finally get to know what happens!"
Everywhere you turned, it seemed, there were smiles, often behind fake beards, glasses, and drawn on scars, as fans waited breathlessly for the chance to line up and buy the book at midnight. There was Luna Lovegood, sporting radish earrings, her wand behind her ear, a giant Gryffindor Lion peering over her hat. There were groups of Weasley's, all different heights, all red-haired and freckled (though none, it should be noted, wearing second hand robes).
There was Potions Master Severus Snape, who, despite a practiced and quite menacing glare, couldn't hide a warm smile as he passed a giant costumed Buckbeak, who was waving his arms madly at Snape to remind him of their last encounter.
And there was Harry, and there was Harry - everywhere you looked last night there was Harry Potter, black bangs obscuring his scar, falling over the faces boys and girls alike, from newborns to grandpas.
To say it was an atmosphere never before seen in a book store would be an understatement, of course - since Barnes and Noble seemed only ostensibly in the business of selling books at all last night. The third floor of the expansive building was turned over to "The Remus Lupins," a wizarding rock band who seemingly write their songs with two audiences in mind: the fanatically devoted Harry Potter fans, and the really fanatically devoted Harry Potter fans. During one song about the memory of Cedric Diggory, fans waved wands over their heads like so many lighters.
Then there were the impromptu conversations being held all over the store. Listen closely, and you could hear two Snapes arguing over whether or not they were good, two Harry's arguing over whether or not they were going to die. There was even a couple Hermiones propositioning several Harrys - they had gotten it wrong, they said, in choosing Ron.
All the revelry ended at 11:30, when Barnes and Noble shuffled everyone outside, closed the doors, and starting announcing who could come back in based on letters of the alphabet.
ZOOM! The first person with an "A" wristband rushed though the doors like a renegade snitch. More followed, and when midnight hit they had it in their hands.
It was better than a vault at Gringotts, better than a Tri-Wizard Cup. Harry Potter had come back at last. We took our books and stepped into the cold night, ready to follow that flighty temptress, adventure.