As June arrives, most of the students want nothing more than to enjoy the sunshine. However, with exams approaching, nobody has that luxury. Harry and Ron notice Hermione's exam schedule and can't help but ask how she expects to sit two exams at once, but Hermione won't say. She looks up as Hedwig flies through the window with a note from Hagrid. It says that Buckbeak's appeal will be on the last day of exams, at Hogwarts, and an executioner will attend. Ron shouts that they can't decide to kill Buckbeak without a fair appeal, but Harry suspects that Lucius Malfoy had a hand in this, especially given that Malfoy has started making comments about Buckbeak's impending death.
Hermione's refusal to tell the boys that she's traveling through time shows how seriously she takes the rules told to her about time travel. This helps to create the sense that Hermione still relies heavily on rules and doesn't believe in questioning them, let alone breaking them. In her case, this is a mark of immaturity and represents a lack of critical thinking skills, as at this point, she still believes books hold absolute truth and rules are all for good.
As exam week begins, the third-years take their Transfiguration and Charms exams, then Care of Magical Creatures, Potions, and Astronomy. Hagrid's exam involves keeping flobberworms alive for an hour, which is easy and gives Harry, Ron, and Hermione a chance to talk to Hagrid. Potions is a disaster. Harry's potion refuses to cooperate and he thinks he sees Snape mark a zero on his notes. For History of Magic, Harry writes everything he remembers about witch hunts.
Though Harry does admit that he doesn't perform well for his Potions exam, it's unclear if he actually did poorly enough to warrant a zero. This offers the possibility that Snape is failing Harry on purpose because he doesn't like him, which again shows that Snape is a poor teacher. Further, it's also possible that Snape's exam was beyond his students' abilities, given that he doesn’t teach them well anyway.
Lupin's exam is their second to last, and it entails an outdoor obstacle course that asks students to tackle the creatures they learned about. Harry receives full marks, Ron slips up with the hinkypunk, and Hermione does well until she gets to the boggart. She bursts out of the trunk screaming—her boggart was McGonagall, telling her that she'd failed everything.
Unlike Snape's exam, Lupin's is designed in such a way as to allow students to be successful. With this, he gives his students confidence in their abilities to perform what they've learned this year, as the creatures they can now tackle will show up throughout their lives.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione run into Fudge at the front doors. Fudge greets Harry warmly and explains he's here to witness a hippogriff's execution and to check on the Sirius Black situation. Ron interrupts and asks if the appeal has already happened. It hasn't, but Fudge looks confused. Two men step out of the castle to join him. One is old and the other carries an axe. Hermione stops Ron from saying more until they're in the Great Hall, when she tells Ron that Mr. Weasley's job could be in danger if Ron is rude to Fudge.
Even if Harry, Ron, and Hermione don't want to respect the Ministry of Magic at this point given what's happening with Buckbeak, Hermione recognizes that they at least have to look like they do. This shows that she understands that the Ministry does have real power even though, in this case, they're using it in the wrong place.
After lunch, Harry and Ron head for Trelawney's tower while Hermione leaves for Muggle Studies. The boys find the class sitting on the landing; Trelawney is seeing everyone individually. Nobody will say how the exam went when they emerge. Harry goes last. Trelawney asks him to look into the crystal ball and he decides to make something up. He says he sees a hippogriff flying away. As Harry gets up to leave, Trelawney goes rigid and speaks in a strange voice. She says that tonight, Voldemort's servant will rejoin him. Her head drops and then suddenly, she seems back to normal. She seems shocked when Harry tells her what she just said.
It's worth noting that Trelawney's prediction has multiple interpretations. For someone who believes that Black is Voldemort's servant the prediction makes sense, while it also holds true if Pettigrew is the servant. To make all of this even more ironic, Harry's made-up prediction does come true. This continues to discredit Divination as Trelawney is teaching it, while also suggesting that Harry can rely on positive thinking as much as anything else.
As Harry heads for Gryffindor Tower, he wonders if Trelawney made an actual prediction. In the common room, he finds Ron and Hermione to tell them but stops when they give him Hagrid's note—Buckbeak lost, and he tells them not to visit. Harry laments that they could go if they had the Invisibility Cloak, but they’re not allowed out in the halls. Hermione perks up at this, asks how to open the passage in the stone witch, and runs off. She returns with the cloak fifteen minutes later.
Hermione's willingness to break rules and fetch the Invisibility Cloak shows that she's becoming more willing to behave out of character as her experiences of time travel continue to take a toll on her. This suggests that time travel, when used in this way, can fundamentally affect a person's personality.
After dinner, Harry, Ron, and Hermione don the Invisibility Cloak and walk down to Hagrid's. He lets them in and tells them they shouldn't have come. As Hagrid makes tea, he drops a milk jug and it shatters. Hermione takes over for Hagrid and Hagrid explains that Dumbledore can't do anything, but he'll sit with Hagrid during the execution. Hermione offers to stay, but Hagrid insists they go back to the castle. As Hermione begins to pour milk into a new jug, she shrieks. Scabbers is in the jug.
What Hagrid says about Dumbledore suggests that though he is Hagrid's boss, he still believes that Hagrid is deserving of friendship and care like anyone else. This shows that Dumbledore believes it's his responsibility to care for and respect his staff, not just his students.
Ron, shocked, grabs Scabbers. The rat looks awful and struggles desperately. Suddenly, Hagrid sees the execution party coming to his hut and he ushers Harry, Ron, and Hermione out his back door. Harry sees Buckbeak in the garden and Hagrid tells the trio to leave before the execution happens. They try to hurry up the lawn, but Scabbers makes it difficult by biting Ron and flailing. They hear men's voices and begin to walk again, Scabbers still squeaking. Hermione sways in disbelief as they hear the axe fall.
The fact that Scabbers is struggling so much should raise suspicion, especially given that he wasn't living a life of luxury in Hagrid's milk jug. This suggests that he was hiding from someone or something, which, if Ron chooses to look and accept it, helps to discredit Scabbers's identity as a normal garden rat.