Emma Watson preps the press for “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”

When Warner Brothers bumped Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince‘s release date to this summer, the Potter fandom cried out like it had been hit with a Cruciatus Curse.

It’s not like the studio didn’t have time to do the thing properly: Potter 6 was ready in October, and I’m pretty sure Summit Entertainment has released four Twilight movies to the tune of a hundred gazillion dollars since then. WB’s decision was mostly about the Writers’ Strike, and the gaping hole it left in this summer’s movie schedule, but we’re talking the Cruciatus here: it’s painful and Unforgivable.

At least that’s what we thought, until images and trailers for the sixth movie started raining down like actual magic. Now with the Potter media storm fully underway and Half-Blood Prince so close (21 days!), it’s as if we’ve all been healed by a stout dose of Madam Pomfrey’s Skele-Gro.

This month’s Teen Vogue features Emma Watson, all coutured-up and taking some teensy English ponies for a walk in the countryside.

In her interview with the fashion mag, Emma runs down the plot of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: “At the beginning, it looks like [Ron and Hermione] are on their way to finally being together, but of course Ron screws it up. So she’s jealous, and doesn’t quite realize it, and they have all these arguments.”

Succinct for a 652-page book, no? Oh, also there’s some expository time travel and a lot of hijinks with potions and some snogging and then (Spoiler Alert) the saddest thing in the history of literature happens, and then there is a funeral.

Depending on how deep you wade into the Harry Potter fandom — I, personally, have been to the Chamber of Secrets — you get a variety of opinions about Emma Watson. The most common complaint is that she’s too pretty to play the bushy-haired, book-adoring Hermione Granger. It’s absurd logic on a variety of levels. First, what kind of dummy bemoans beauty? Second, when Warner Brothers cast her, how could they possibly have known she was going to grow up to be such a bombshell?

Watson has become a bit of a fashion icon in the last few years. She describes her style as “quite British and very much about individuality,” although lately she’s been rolling out of bed and heading to set wearing a “hoodie and Ugg boots.” (Sounds like she’s developing college campus style, to me.) Earlier this year while Potter co-star Dan Radcliffe was running around pantless, Watson was covering herself in Burberry’s fall line. And apparently she’s become good pals with Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel’s design deity.

Don’t think she’s all priss, though. Every time a Potter press tour rolls around, we get to hear Radcliffe and Rupert Grint lament Watson’s athletic prowess. She’s a skilled field-hockey and tennis player, as well as fly fisherwoman. Also, she destroys them at table tennis.

Says Radliffe:

Yes, it’s really irritating that Emma is so good! Rupert and I had been playing for about eight months and working on each other’s game. Then Emma saunters in and is absolutely brilliant. Neither of us could beat her. I have got better but I’m never going to take Emma on again.

And Grint:

She’s at a different level to us so there’s no point in playing with her. She just embarrasses us.

One of the most surprising things Watson has disclosed during the Half-Blood Prince media blitz is that she doesn’t know if she’ll continue acting after Potter.

“There’s not, like, a burning passion in me,” she said. “Until something comes along that I feel as strongly about as I did Hermione — like, I felt that it was life or death — I don’t want to act again.”

Of course, in addition to the beauty and the athletic skills, Watson has genuine Hermione Granger-level smarts. I guess that’s why every reporter she speaks with presses her about what she’s going to do with the rest of her life.

It’s not like she has to decide now. She’s an actress in the most successful film franchise of all time; she’s confessed to earning enough money playing Hermione that she’ll never have to work again. She aced her A-Levels last year, and she’s has been courted by every Ivy League university in America. Whenever she decides she wants to embrace her destiny, it seems like she should simply hold her wand up to the sky and shout, “Accio Awesome!”

Tell us, how excited are you that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is (finally!) almost here?