LONDON (AP) — Harry Potter's saga is ending, but his magic spell remains.
Thousands of fans from around the world massed in London Thursday for the premiere of the final film in the magical adventure series.
They thronged Trafalgar Square, where a soggy red carpet awaited the stars, and nearby Leicester Square, where the movie will be shown in a plush movie theater, braving the inevitable London rain with umbrellas, waterproofs and good cheer.
They came from around the world. Many had camped out overnight, some for days. Most were young adults who grew up with the boy wizard and his adventures, and could not pass up the chance to say goodbye.
"It's our childhood — we made friends because of Harry Potter," said Luis Guilherme, a 22-year-old graduate student from Sao Paolo, Brazil. "I don't know how my life would be without it. I would be less imaginative, for sure, and less adventurous. I would never be here in London.
"We'd never forgive ourselves if we didn't come, one last time."
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" depicts Harry's final confrontation with the forces of evil Lord Voldemort — an epic showdown rendered, for the first time in the series, in 3D.
The eighth and last film in the made-in-Britain franchise was getting a lavish premiere, with huge screens and banners in Trafalgar Square and a nearby street transformed into the magical shopping thoroughfare Diagon Alley.
No one, however, could magic away the London rain.
"Every single time it's like this," said Zoey Lewis, 18. "Some people say the Death Eaters (Voldemort's followers) make it rain."
Lewis, a student from Brentwood, east of London, sheltered under an umbrella behind a handmade "We Love Helena" banner — her tribute to Helena Bonham Carter, who plays bad witch Bellatrix Lestrange in the movies.
"I love Harry Potter," she said. "It's been such a big part of my life. I don't know what I'll do without it."
The feeling is shared by he film's stars, who like many of their fans grew up with the series.
The central trio — Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, cast as children and now in their early 20s — are due to walk the red carpet before the movie's premiere, along with a score of their co-stars.
Grint, who plays Harry's best friend Ron Weasley, said Wednesday he felt "a little bit lost" without the movies in his life. Watson said she'd miss playing plucky Hermione Granger, who was "like a sister."
Hours before the premiere, groups of girls screamed with excitement as they painted each others' faces in the red-and-yellow colors of Gryffindor, one of the four houses of the wizarding Hogwarts school in the Harry Potter books. Harry's house, of course.
A group of Mexican fans held aloft their national flag and a banner praising J.K. Rowling — the author who brought the bespectacled Harry and his world of wizards to life in seven books.
The premiere marks the end of an era that began when an unknown writer named J.K. Rowling published "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" in 1997. The book blossomed from well-reviewed children's tale to global phenomenon, launching a seven-book series that has sold 450 million copies around the world.
It's also the end of a movie institution that has employed dozens of British actors and hundreds of crew members and technicians since the first film came out in 2001.
"It's created such an infrastructure and such an industry, and it will be sorely missed," ''Deathly Hallows" director David Yates said Wednesday. "It's been a mini-industry employing hundreds and thousands of people."
He said he didn't expect to see its like again.
"I think lightning doesn't strike twice," Yates said.
Martin Benedyk and Cassandra Vinograd contributed to this report.