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Harry Potter brings fans together one last time

It was just like magic.

Emmalee Smith got exactly what she wanted for her birthday: the midnight premiere of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2."

"I cried when I found out the release date," said Smith, who turns 19 today.

Clad in the emerald green robes of Slytherin house, Smith sat outside an auditorium at Regal Phillips Place 10 for two hours Thursday night, hoping to land the perfect seats.

She was joined by her best friend, 18-year-old Mattie Kearse. The pair passed the time chatting with a group of similarly devoted fans dressed as witches, wizards and house elves. Within minutes, the young women felt like they'd known each other forever.

"It's funny how Potter brings people together," Kearse said.

While Smith, Kearse and their newfound friends bonded outside the theater, a slightly older group of fans gathered in the lobby.

Micki Knop and Joey Paquette, masquerading as Professor Luminata Sparkles and an old-school Hogwarts student, waited for the other members of their "multi-genre sci-fi fandom group," the Charlotte Geeks, to join them.

The Geeks, founded by Paquette in 2008, has over 500 members. Paquette expected about thirty costume-clad peers to join her for the climactic film in the Potter franchise.

Paquette, Knop, Kearse, Smith and friends were just a small sampling of the hundreds of guests who filed into the south Charlotte movie theater Thursday night.

The movie sold out over 5,000 shows across the country and has earned over $32 million, breaking the record set by "Twilight: Eclipse" last summer.

The high attendance was no surprise for devoted fans of the boy who lived. Said Paquette: "There's not going to be another Harry Potter. How could you not be here?"

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