"Harry! Hey, Harry, wait up!" Ron Weasley panted, his tattered robes trailing the ground as he ran. "Something big's about to happen!"
Harry Potter turned to face his friend. "It's OK, Ron. I already know that Professor McGonagall is going to make us turn tea cozies into tiny elephants--"
"No, not that," Ron interrupted. "There's going to be a huge party. I read about it in the Riverfront Times."
"What's that?" asked Harry, popping a Fizzing Whizbee in his mouth.
"I don't know, some Muggle paper. But listen: On Friday, July 15, Left Bank Books is celebrating the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince -- it comes out at midnight."
"People sure are interested in my business," Harry said, frowning slightly.
"Yeah, but this party's going to be loads of fun. They're blocking off North Euclid Avenue from McPherson to Pershing avenues. That means no crazy Muggle cars!"
Harry brightened. "That does sound good. Who's in charge of this? Dumbledore?"
"I bet he'll be there," Ron said, "but he's not in charge. The City Museum -- which is so cool I think it must be run by wizards -- has a booth where you can make wands. And the Saint Louis Science Center is teaching about the science of potions and magic."
"Ahem." Hermione Granger joined them on the path. "I think you've forgotten about the plants."
"As a matter of fact," Ron retorted, "I do know that the Missouri Botanical Garden is giving presentations on the magic of plants. And the Center of Creative Arts (COCA) is bringing people who look like us--"
"How much like us?" Hermione fretted, patting her frizzy hair.
"--to judge a costume contest for all ages," Ron finished. "The winner gets a special edition of the new book about Harry."
"Brilliant!" Hermione said. "I plan to be there the whole time, from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m."
"It'll be tough to get out of the dormitory that late!" Harry said.
"That's what invisibility cloaks are for," Ron replied. "I'm not missing any of this -- I want to see the puppet show by Bob Kramer's Marionnettes, and I have to try two totally awesome Muggle foods: ice cream from Ben & Jerry's and root beer from Fitz's."
Hermione nodded. "Of course, I'm going to enter the trivia contest, and I think I might buy a raffle ticket, too."
"How many galleons are those?" asked Ron.
Hermione gave him a pitying look. "Not galleons, Ron. You use Muggle money, and each ticket is a dollar. You can win a Sorting Hat, or a handmade 'Phantom Phlyer' broom -- even handcrafted wands! And we won't need the invisibility cloak to sneak in -- attending this event is free."
The boys grinned. Hermione thought she knew everything, but she didn't know that Ron and Harry had ordered the Half-Blood Prince in advance for her (you can, too, up until the day of the party; for more information on this and the entire event, call Left Bank at 314-367-6731 or visit www.left-bank.com). Hermione deserves a gift for putting up with us, Harry thought -- plus, everyone who orders in advance gets a Harry Potter treat bag, coupons and a 25 percent discount on the book.
"I haven't been this excited since we beat Slytherin at quidditch," Harry admitted.
"I knew you'd love it!" Ron exclaimed. "Now let's go visit Hagrid -- I hear he's very interested in adopting some tiny elephants."