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[Harry] was looking up at the starry sky, and Albus Dumbledore was crouched over him. The dark shadows of a crowd of people pressed in around them, pushing nearer; Harry felt the ground beneath his head reverberating with their footsteps. He had come back to the edge of the maze. He could see the stands rising above him, the shapes of people moving in them, the stars above.

Goblet of Fire - page 583 - Bloomsbury - chapter 35, Veritaserum

Harry and Cedric Diggory grabbed the Triwizard cup together and were transported from deep inside the maze to the cemetery in Little Hangleton where Voldemort was waiting. After Harry's confrontation with Voldemort, he takes the cup Portkey back to Hogwarts, but instead of taking him and Cedric back inside the maze, where the Portkey originated, it takes them outside the maze to the spectator stands.

My understanding of Portkeys is that they could take a person from point A to point B, and then bring them back from point B to point A. Is there any canon evidence suggesting that going from point A to point B, and then point B to point C is how a Portkey can normally operate? Why did the Triwizard Portkey return Harry to the outer edge of the maze instead of inside the maze?

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    The question isn't a duplicate per se, but the accepted answer to this question gives the most reasonable answer (IMO). – NominSim Sep 4 '12 at 15:40
  • @NominSim Agreed, that question is the first thing that came to mind when I saw the title of this one. – Anthony Grist Sep 4 '12 at 15:45
  • @NominSim -- Those are interesting theories re: Portkeys. :) – Slytherincess Sep 4 '12 at 22:33
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As Dylan Yaga said in his answer to Why was the Goblet of Fire Portkey two-way? the most reasonable answer seems to be that the Portkey maintained the originally desired location akin to an onion.

The Portkey was presumably originally charmed to bring the winner to the beginning of the maze (so that they could celebrate their victory with the crowd). Before he put it at the center of the maze, Barty Crouch Jr. then charmed the Portkey to bring the winner to the graveyard.

This is supported by what we know from canon of Portkey's, (we only ever see them traveling in one direction, and not back to the same location). So it seems like the Portkey, which was originally designed to travel to the beginning of the maze, was itself turned into a Portkey designed to travel to the graveyard. After the first teleportation happened, the original Portkey remained.

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    This answer makes perfect sense. +1 – Möoz May 26 '14 at 21:56
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To my knowledge, there is no canonical answer to that question.

And that's my answer.


Bonus:

NominSim's hypothesis is great, but there is another possibility:

Portkeys are enchanted for a travel, not a destination: for instance, the Goblet of Fire portkey may have not been enchanted for the graveyard, but for 133,789 miles East, 87,7890 miles South. Since Harry moved in the cemetery, when he came back his destination was also different.

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    Eh - I highly doubt Harry moved a distance equal to that of how far it was from the start of the maze to where the cup was originally located. Especially since the cup was dropped relatively close to where they arrived when he entered the graveyard. – Dason Sep 4 '12 at 18:22
  • The maze was inside a quidditch statium which is 154 m long. So the distance between the center and the entrance was 77 m at most. – user8252 Sep 4 '12 at 18:26
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    So what you're suggesting is that Portkeys are programmed to transport someone a certain distance, not to a certain location? And there could be a "window" in that area where someone might land, like in the middle of the maze or outside it? That would be interesting. Devil's advocate -- how then was Dumbledore able to Portkey Harry from the Ministry of Magic exactly into his office at the end of OOTP? :) – Slytherincess Sep 4 '12 at 22:25
  • I'm not saying there is a window. Just that porkeys could be programmed for a distance, meaning that the point of arrival is not fixed. – user8252 Sep 5 '12 at 17:22
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As I argued in this answer, I believe that the idea proposed here in the accepted answer is incorrect. As for why then the portkey brought Harry to the outside of the maze, we could posit a simple solution.

Magical forms of instantaneous travel are not necessarily perfectly precise. That is to say that a portkey or an Apparition does not necessarily bring the traveler to a precise square foot of area. They often simply bring the traveler to the general place. Consider all the times when Harry and friends Apparate. They go to Totenham Court Road, the Forest of Dean, Shell Cottage, Hogsmeade, etc. and we don't find that they focused on a specific piece of pavement, a specific tree, a specific part of the house, or a specific location within the village. It seems that they just focus on the general place, and the Apparition brings them somewhere within the parameters of that general location.

Similarly, with portkeys it is possible that the portkey simply brings them to Stoatshead Hill, or the woods by the Quidditch stadium, or Hogwarts, without necessarily specifying a more precise location within those general areas. Thus it is possible that the portkey in this case was simply a Hogwarts-graveyard portkey which deposited Harry somewhere within the bounds of the graveyard and somewhere within the bounds of Hogwarts.

In fact, it makes sense that portkeys and Apparition "choose" themselves where precisely to end up, because otherwise there should be many instances of people materializing into solid objects. How is it that ~30 Death Eaters all materialized in the graveyard at the exact same moment with no prior planning, without any issue? If they merely Apparated to "the graveyard" and the magic itself guided each person to a specific safe area within the general location then this would make sense.

Of course, it is possible to specify a more specific location, as Dumbledore portkeys Harry directly to his office and people at times Apparate to specific areas in a room. It could be that when people see or know that a specific area is safe they would travel directly to the specific area, but when they are traveling to somewhere unclear they just input the general location and let the magic itself choose the specific area.

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