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Chapter 18

At the end of the aisle the girls went off to the left and the boys to the right and came up on either side of the headmistress, who smiled at them. She picked up the first scroll.
"Harry Potter," she announced, "it is with the greatest joy that I give you your certificate o completion from Hogwarts, and grant you the title Wizard Extraoadinaire. It has been a joy to have you here, Harry, despite all the troubles that came upon us."
Harry smiled and took his certificate. He could not believe his rank, but he supposed, with the job he was going to it was necessary.
The headmistress turned to Hermione. "Hermione Granger," she began, "it is also with the greatest joy that I award you your certificate of completion and declare you Witch At Large. But I'm quite sure that in a very short time that rank will be increased!"
Hermione smiled, took her certificate and bowed. Her and Harry took their seats, then when the others were done Harry picked up a bundle from beneath it and rose, with Hermione following. They went up to where Hagrid and Gretel were sitting.
"Hagrid," Harry remarked, "would you be so kind as to stand up and take off your coat?"
Hagrid looked bewildered but did so. Hermione levitated the package that Harry was carrying. It opened to reveal an excellent robe, which obligingly put itself on Hagrid.
"Rubeus Hagrid," the headmistress cried, "come forward!"
Bewildered Hagrid came up to the podium. "I have been made aware," the headmistress continued, "by a petition from the students, which was also signed by the teachers, that you were cheated out of your rights to a graduation from Hogwarts by false accusation. To remedy that situation I now present you with a certificate of completion and the title Wizard Excalibur, and declare you a defender of The Realm!"
A tear welled up in Hagrid's eyes as he took the certificate. "A man," he remarked "can be very happy with his life and have no regrets about misfortunes that fell upon him. But sometimes the blessings bestowed upon him by his dear friends make him extremely happy for a life he has lived. I will remember this moment to the last second of my life! Thank you all!"
Everyone rose applauding. The banquet seemed more glorious than ever. But the next morning they were all at the train loading their things. Hermione looked distraught. "What's the matter?" Harry asked.
"I went to get Crookshanks. He was dead, just lying there! I don't know what I'm going to do! I've never been without a cat! They told me they'd put him in a crypt with the other animals that have died here."
There was a commotion and everyone looked towards the end of the train platform. Mrs. Norris, the caretaker's cat, was coming along the dock carrying a struggling, squealing kitten in her mouth! She made her way to Hermione's feet, put the kitten down and looked up at her with big eyes.
"Well!" Harry laughed. "I guess somebody's come with a replacement!"
Hermione bent down and picked up the kitten. "He's precious!" she remarked. "Yours?" she asked looking at the cat at her feet. The cat simply looked at her one more time, gave a sharp meow, turned, and walked away. The kitten struggled a little in Hermione's arms. "Now, now!" Hermine cooed, "Nothing to worry about! You're going to be well taken care of!"
The train's baggage man came up with a cat carrier. Hermione put the kitten in. "I think I'll keep him with me," Hermione remarked, "It might be a little hard for him being alone all of a sudden!"
The baggage man nodded. The train blew its whistle and everybody hurried on board. They sat down in the usual compartment for a while. Harry stared out the window. "What are you thinking about?" Hermione asked.

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