Meanwhile, the teenagers were brought to the hospital wing and checked over by Madam Pomfrey, while Professor McGonagall took great pleasure in introducing Minister Fudge and Professor Snape to Peter Pettigrew. He was unconscious, probably due to blood loss, because his hand was missing, cleanly cut off and now bandaged. While he was being tied to the bed and charmed so he couldn't transform into his rat animagus, Madam Pomfrey was satisfied enough with the health of her patients to let Dumbledore take them to her office to talk to them in private.
Harry left it to Cedric to tell him what happened. He nodded when looked at, but otherwise was deeply in thought. He was free. He saw the black spirit vanish when he touched the mutant baby. His way to the afterlife or whatever it was that came next wasn't blocked any longer by his worst nightmare. He had to decide what to do. Maybe Hermione could help; she always knew what to do and she wouldn't judge him. She would understand - if not, then his decision was already clear. He only heard with half his mind how Cedric explained how they decided to both take Tri-Wizard-Cup, and that it had taken them to a graveyard.
"We had just arrived when we heard a noise and someone saying 'kill the spare'. That would have been me, but when something that looked poison green, like how the killing curse is described, came rushing in my direction, Harry pushed me away and was hit instead. As you noticed, he is still alive. He survived again. He told me to pretend to be dead, to not move one bit, and I did. Therefore I only saw pieces of what happened when that guy we brought with us took Harry captive. Is he really Peter Pettigrew and responsible for the death of Harry's parents?" Dumbledore nodded and looked at Harry, who was staying strangely still.
"He is, and the story will likely be in the Daily Prophet tomorrow. For now, please continue."
"He bound Harry to a tombstone; in front was a cauldron with some potion already in it," Cedric continued, only to be interrupted by Harry.
"It was the grave of his father. Tom Riddle. That thing we brought with us, that's Voldemort. He tried to get a new body, to be resurrected. They took a bone from the grave and Pettigrew cut of his own hand, because the ritual needed 'bone from the father, flesh from the servant, and blood from the enemy'. But Pettigrew couldn't get my blood when he tried to cut my arm." He fell silent again. He knew why Pettigrew wasn't able to harm him; there was no blood in him that could be taken, but he couldn't tell them, right? Nobody knew and he wanted to keep it that way. When Pettigrew noticed that something was wrong, all the time losing blood from his wrist, Harry smiled sadly at him. "It wasn't such a good idea to cut off your hand before you could be sure that it would work. You couldn't be sure that there would be someone to heal you in a short time." Pettigrew once again tried to cut open Harry's arm, but again the knife just went through his arm without coming in contact with anything. 'What are you?' Peter wanted to know, and Harry answered 'That what Voldemort made me to be'.
Dumbledore learned from Cedric only that Pettigrew couldn't harm Harry, and thought of theories that were similar to those of Harry's encounter with Quirrel in his first year. "And then Pettigrew started to flicker. I don't know whether he tried to apparate or to change to his animagus form, but it seems that he couldn't concentrate enough, due to his blood loss or panic or both. And then he just collapsed and Harry was free again when the spell that bound him fell with Pettigrew. He went over to You-Know-Who and put his hands on him and - I don't know what happened. When he called me to help him get Pettigrew to the cup to portkey back, he was carrying that thing and it was clearly dead. And then we came back. He saved my life, Professor." It seemed that now, after having told someone of everything that happened, Cedric started to understand that he could very well be dead by now.
"I'd, I'd like to go see my Dad know," he excused himself, and fled without waiting for a response. For a few minutes Dumbledore only looked at Harry, who had fallen still again.
"Do you have anything to add, Harry, my boy?" he wanted to know, starting to think what would be the best way to go now. Was it too early to tell the people that the Dark Lord…
"He really is dead now. I am certain." It was as if Harry had read his mind, but that of course was nonsense. It was probably the most important question right now, and Harry seemed absolutely confident.
"He won't come back. I could see his 'spirit' or whatever you want to call it. It didn't leave, not like what it did with Quirrel before it charged at me. It just disappeared." And with that their meeting came to an end, because whatever questions Dumbledore asked Harry didn't respond to until Madam Pomfrey took him back to his bed and told Dumbledore not to bother her distraught patient.
Harry was only released from the hospital wing at noon on the day of the leaving feast and didn't even get to eat lunch with his friends because he was called to Dumbledore's office immediately. It wasn't a nice conversation that followed, and even thinking about it made Harry angry again.
"Harry, my boy, come in and take a seat," Dumbledore had begun when Harry entered his office. "Lemon drop?" 'Did he really always have to offer everyone a lemon drop, or was it only him?', Harry wondered while he shook his head.
"I thought you would be interested in hearing that the Department of Magical Law Enforcement has taken Peter Pettigrew to a holding cell until he awakes from the magical coma Madam Pomfrey had to put him in. He was nearly dead when you arrived, did neither of you think to heal him so he wouldn't die?" Dumbledore's eyes were still twinkling, but he had a serious tone to his voice that showed disappointment.
"No, sir, we didn't. We only thought about, you know, getting back to safety, before something else would happen to us. I didn't really care what happened to someone who is responsible for my parent's death and nearly killed Cedric and myself, I only brought him along so that Sirius would get the trial he deserves. I hope we will get along well when we spend more time together and have a lot of fun this summer."
It would make things so much easier for him if he could stay with Sirius, and maybe he would even tell him everything after he got to know him better. But he wasn't really surprised, more exasperated, when Dumbledore's gaze turned dark.
"I'm really sorry my boy, but until we know for sure that Voldemort is dead - and it will take at least a few weeks before the Dark Mark has faded as much as it did when he was only temporarily gone - you have to stay with your relatives. And even when we are sure, the Death Eaters will be looking for you once again to avenge their lord and it would be foolish not to take advantage of the blood wards on your current home."
Harry didn't really remember what else Dumbledore told him; of the bureaucracy and why it would still take a long while for Sirius to get his trial, of keeping everything that happened in the graveyard quiet so there wouldn't be an unnecessary panic after it was over and so on and so on. Things he had to do and things he mustn't do, all for the greater good and not for himself. Leaving Hogwarts for good sounded like a really great idea after he left Dumbledore.
After everything he heard today, he wasn't surprised that nothing was mentioned of Cedric's and his kidnapping; instead the focus was put on the fact that the two Hogwarts Champions had won the Triwizard Cup together. They split the prize money in half and Harry simply dumped the sack of Galleons in the lap of Fred or George Weasley when he was allowed to get back to his seat.
"For your joke shop," he simply said, but seeing Ron's fast reddening face added "And maybe, if you feel generous, you can take Ron shopping for robes. Otherwise I am afraid that he could burst with jealousy any moment now." He looked sharply at Ron, who had the decency to look ashamed at opposing Harry once again. "Think of it this way Ron. They will leave Hogwarts two years before we will, and if they manage to make their shop a success, you could always ask to help out during summer and earn a bit of money. And you could get better presents for your birthday and Christmas, right?" And much more quietly, so only Ron could hear it, he added "You wouldn't want me to just give the money to you. If I had offered, you'd have told me that you don't want charity from anybody, even less so from your best friend, right?" Thinking about it for a bit, Ron nodded, looking peevish. "But they really want that shop so much that they will just see me as some kind of business partner so that they can take the money without feeling bad about it. And as I don't think that they will forget about the rest of the family, you'll all profit from it in the long run." Ron still didn't seem to be really happy, but he was at least content enough to continue eating, so that Harry could finally do the same. When he noticed Hermione looking at him, he just shrugged his shoulders and mouthed 'later'.
Harry didn't get a chance to speak to Hermione alone until they parted ways at the King's Cross Station, and they all said their good-byes for the summer. When Dumbledore had told him that he would have to go back to the Dursleys' even if he possibly told the truth about the death of Voldemort - and how could Harry be so sure; Voldemort was thought to be dead the last time and he wasn't - so he really, really had to go back to the relatives that hated him. Harry hadn't put up too much of a fight because it wasn't really worth it. He knew that Voldemort was dead, and whatever he decided to do after his much-needed talk with Hermione, he would never go back to the Dursleys' and Dumbledore couldn't make him, at least not if he didn't want to make someone follow him wherever he went.
Even the thought of being free - not in the way Dumbledore wanted to prevent, but in the way of being able to decide to go on to the "next big adventure" or staying in this world made Harry so happy that he decided to have some fun. After he promised Ron and Hermione to write, and before he went through the barrier into the Muggle part of King's Cross, Harry made a slight detour so that his way led him to the Malfoy family, who looked as if they had dirt under their noses instead of school children. Grinning cheekily, because he knew that they couldn't even try to harm him here where everyone would see it, he greeted them.
"Mr. Malfoy, I just wanted to make a suggestion. You should really keep an eye on your left arm for the next few weeks. You might see something interesting happen, though I'm not sure if it would make you happy or not." Without waiting to see their reaction, he turned around to now take the shortest route to his relatives, who were probably counting the seconds he had cost them by not coming directly to them. If only Uncle Vernon knew that each bruise Harry got from being manhandled was only a fake to keep them all in the dark. If he knew that it didn't really matter to Harry whether he got something to eat or not - well, the last one would probably just lead to no more food because there was no reason in wasting money on someone who didn't need it, right? But all in all, they would surely be even more freaked out by him than they already were if they knew that their nephew, who lived with them for thirteen years now, had been dead ever since a few hours before he was laid on their doorstep.