What would Tonks wear?

I know the answer to that question: she would wear a Weird Sisters t-shirt, a pair of jeans, and comfortable tennis shoes.

If you're a metamorphmagus -- a witch or wizard with a gift for changing one's appearance at will -- I suppose you only really need one outfit. And that one might as well be comfortable.

But if you're only a muggle trying to dress up as a metamorphmagus, costume creation requires a bit of consideration.

I decided to be Tonks for the Harry Potter festivities, partly because she's a very likeable character -- highly gifted, yet rather awkward. Also, the costume is pretty easy -- Tonks' chief identifying feature is her shocking pink hair. Everything else is gravy.

It was considerably harder than I expected it to be to find pink hair dye in the Triangle in July.

Once I did, I could have just dyed my hair pink, worn my Hogwarts t-shirt and jeans, and be done with it. But if you're gonna have pink hair, that seems a little tame. Pink hair got me sort of thinking '80s punk, but I wasn't really paying attention to punk in the '80s, so didn't know if I could pull that off. (Then again, there's always the safety-net explanation that wizards trying to dress as muggles are notorious for their sartorial insensitivity).

It also occurred to me that the kind of woman who wears her hair bubble-gum pink might also be the kind of woman who would wear insane high heals. Then I remembered, to my relief, that Tonks is a total klutz, so I had an excuse to forgo that kind of ridiculous shoe.

I wasn't committed enough to craft my own Weird Sisters t-shirt, but I did keep an eye out for heavy metal fan shirts at thrift stores in the couple of weeks before the event. I also thought that one of those t-shirts with an airbrushed picture of a wolf (given Tonks' extracurricular interests) that they used to sell at county fairs (I dunno, maybe they still do) would be fitting, but those are kind of hard to come by.

I ended up clad in knee-high black boots, denim mini-skirt, and black babydoll T, with a dragon tattoo on my right upper arm and a birthday cake tattoo on my left thigh. I was a bit chagrined to be actually going out in public looking like that, but that fell away when I got to the bookstore and was surrounded by fellow HP freaks.

Sorry no pictures. It didn't occur to me until I was at Barnes & Noble for the release party that I really should have brought my camera. And since I had already had to go back for my wallet, another round trip wasn't in the offing.

The costumes were great. A whole slew of little Harrys running around the place, girls in prep-school style uniforms with house ties, several Delores Umbridges, a couple of Professor Quirrells, a Mad-Eye Moody to rival the movie version, a disturbingly convincing Voldemort, and a bookseller dressed as a Gringott's goblin, to name a few.

I took part in the scavenger hunt/trivia game that involved 58 questions posted around the store, and am pleased to report that I did not have to consult the books for any of the questions, although I did receive help from a fellow scavenger on one. (I still say it would have come to mind eventually...)

At two minutes to midnight, I left Barnes & Noble and walked across the parking lot to Wal-Mart, where there was a line.

D'oh!

Yes, Wal-Mart had Walmartified the book distribution, which is to say, made it unnecessarily complicated. But then, there were way more people there than there had been for book six. (Getting book six at Wal-Mart had been awesome: I was one of three customers in the store. Give people another couple years, and more of them will come up with my brilliant plan, making it less brilliant.) (A friend reports that there were lines for the book at one of our local 24-hour groceries, so I was far from alone in assuming a shorter wait at a non-traditional venue.)

Still, even with Wal-Mart level logistical cluelessness, I think I got my book (and my book-reading snacks) faster than if I had stayed at B&N, and at lower cost. I was checking out about 12:15 a.m., and got home around a half hour later.

The one point at which I actually worried about spoilers was during the few minutes of standing in line between picking up my book and paying for it. The two girls (late teens, by the looks of them) in line in front of me kept flipping through the book and gasping, and the boys in the next line over threatened (jokingly, but still) to reveal the ending. I pulled out my mp3 player, which was loaded with the audio of book three, and popped in my earbuds to drown out anything I didn't want to hear.

It appears that even with my advancing age, I still have the capacity to pull all-nighters when sufficiently motivated. I had anticipated reading until sometime after 3 a.m., since that was about the time I drifted off while reading books five and six. But this time, I sat reading in my front porch rocker until dawn, and even when I came in and crawled into bed, I continued to read another couple of chapters, not falling asleep until almost 8 a.m. And then I awoke before 11 (as I had anticipated when I thought I would be getting to sleep some four hours earlier than I actually did) and resumed reading, right through to the end (with one meal break).

I gasped. I laughed. I clapped. I cheered out loud. I scared my roommate once (not in the middle of the night) with a shriek of disbelief. I teared up a few times, and actually set my book down and sobbed at page 481 (a bit past halfway through). Not without its weaknesses, of course, but all in all a satisfying ending to this saga.

I don't suppose it would be giving too much away to say that it's inspired me to reread A Tale of Two Cities. There are powerful themes in common.

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