Welcome to Transfiguration!
Lesson 6) Smoke to Dagger
Professor Mitchell sat at her desk looking slightly frazzled. There were two different stacks of paper on her desk, one significantly larger than the other. She waved her hand and sent the last piece of paper to the top of the stack, standing. She smiled as the classroom door opened. “Welcome! Come in!” she ushered the First Years in quickly. She waved her wand at the large stack of papers as the students sat down. “You’ll all find your midterms being returned to you. Please discuss any questions you have with me after class,” she said as the assignments found their owners. “Today we will be working with smoke, so it may get a little hard to see in here.” She murmured a spell and smoke started to pour out of the tip of her wand. “You’ll be working on turning this,” she waved her hand through the stream of gray, “into daggers.”
It is vital that we practice safety today as we are conjuring weapons. Please do not attempt to do anything with these daggers. Anyone who does will lose significant points for their house due to endangerment of both themselves and other students. Any transfigured daggers should remain on your desk and are to be left there at the end of class. Now, let us get started!
We all see smoke on a regular basis. Maybe you know someone who smokes, or perhaps you’ve noticed it in a fireplace at your home, or, even still, your experience may come from seeing someone in the kitchen setting something on fire. What most of you likely don't know are the actual components of smoke!
Smoke is a product of something being burned. It is caused by a mixture of all three states of matter (solid, liquid, and gas) and is mostly an unwanted product, as it is harmful to most creatures when inhaled. It is the number one cause of death in house fires, which may come as a surprise as many tend to believe that those in fires actually burn to death. The chemical composition of smoke differs from type to type, but in general, the solid pieces found in smoke are ash, while the liquid and gas are usually small water particles and carbon dioxide, respectively.
Similar to the chemical composition, the smoke qualities can vary a lot from specimen to specimen as well. It all depends on what is being burned. The density, color, and even smell can change depending on the nature of the smoke. Today we’ll be using conjured smoke, so its principles are rather consistent, however, they can still vary from caster to caster.
The smoke you see in front of you has a grey color. It’s thick in density and has a cloud-like look to it in texture.
There is no sound associated with the smoke.
There is no taste associated with the smoke. Please refrain from trying to taste it.
It has an earthy smell, almost like fresh fir. It is light in scent, not overly strong. As I mentioned earlier, smoke inhalation can be deadly to most living creatures, so please try not to inhale too much.
There is no feel associated with the smoke. Even if you run your hands through it, you won’t feel anything other than possibly a slight warmth.
Daggers are weapons that consist of a small blade with a pointed tip. Some of you may also know them by the name athame, though athames tend to be reserved for religious and ceremonial purposes, whereas daggers are actually for defensive and offensive purposes, though they also have non-combative uses in potions and herbology. Daggers are typically double edged, meaning both sides of the blade are sharp.
Daggers can have many different shapes and designs etched into the blade or the handle. Most likely those of you who are successful with this spell will manage a very simple one with a straight blade and no decor. It takes an experienced caster to manage anything ornate. I’ll be passing around an example of a dagger so that you all can see what your goal is. Please refrain from pointing this at your classmates. Anyone who I catch doing anything potentially dangerous with the blade will lose 15 points for their house! There will be no one sent to the hospital wing on my watch.
Let’s start looking at the five senses!
The blade is a silver color. The handle is brown with a silver ring at the base.
The handle makes a loud thud when dropped. The blade makes a sharper sound.
While I don’t want any of you sticking the blade into your mouth, we can infer the taste of the dagger based on previous experiences with similar objects. Knowing that the blade is made of metal, you can assume that it will have a sharp, metallic taste to it. Similarly, based on the composition of the handle, we can assume that it has a bland, but natural wood taste.
The blade has a metallic smell, as it is made of silver. The handle has a fir smell.
Both the blade and handle are smooth along the sides. Do not touch the blade. I will tell you that the tip and edges of the blade are sharp.
Remember that additional observations are always encouraged!
Alright class, time to discuss the spell itself! I know, your attempts are that much closer and I hope you’re all excited. Remember the dangers that can be associated with transformations, though; don’t underestimate them.
Remember that the first step to any transformation is visualization! Watch the smoke, the way it moves. Picture it moving and condensing, slowly becoming the blade and handle; see it morphing into the dagger.
There are a few different things to watch out for in this transformation. Of course, one possible complication is that nothing happens at all. Others within the class may end up with all blade or all handle, missing the other component. Some of you may manage a full dagger, albeit a very dull one. Some of you may be wondering what would happen if the blade were to break after transformation! Would smoke ooze out of it? The answer to this is no. Once something is transfigured, it will remain that way until an untransfiguration takes place.
Now! Please give a warm welcome to our former Magical Law professor, Apollo Magnusson, as he will discuss practical applications of this spell!
Hello, everyone. I hope you’re all having a great year in Transfiguration with Professor Mitchell and learning much about this area of magic that is both bewilderingly complex and incredibly useful.
Today you have started exploring the applications of this nifty transformation spell - the Smoke to Dagger Transformation. However, what makes this spell actually useful in our lives, instead of a theoretical construction that just changes the smoke to a solid state? The answer to that question, as it is nearly every time with transfiguration, lies in the practical aspects of this transformation.
How many of you can think of a practical application for this spell? If you like the area of potions, you might think of it as a practical way to cut ingredients if you have lost your knife - after all, potions emit smoke, and this smoke could be converted to a dagger in case you need one. If herbology is more your area, a possibility for you would be converting any smoke generated by a plant into a blade, which could then be used to harvest leaves and flowers from the specimen you’re working with.
For those who do not know, I am a hit wizard - therefore, I’m always hunting criminals and trying to dismantle organizations that want to commit evil acts. Carrying a dagger with me all the time in this profession could be dangerous. After all, if I did that, what would stop a criminal from charming my blade and sending it against my chest with little effort?
That’s why the Smoke to Dagger Transformation can be rather useful for me, especially because London (the city that contains our headquarters in the Ministry of Magic and where we control our operations) has a lot of fog. Finding something to cast on around the town is not difficult at all, and as you have probably studied, using a transformation spell is much easier than conjuring a blade.
In my trade, a newly-crafted dagger has a multitude of uses. We can use the product of this spell to protect our lives from close-encounter combats, we can cut through branches and vines when our work takes us into the forest, and we can cut physical bindings, such as ropes. Even if these ropes are enchanted, we can apply a counter-enchantment on the transformed dagger and cut the ropes with ease.
As you can likely see, there are a plethora of uses for the enchantment you learned today in class - the possibilities are only limited by your creativity and thoughts. Instead of being perceived as a scientific curiosity, the Smoke to Dagger Transformation can be easily used in a person’s life for both good and evil, and I truly hope you’re all committed to using the information you learn here at Hogwarts for the greater good.
It was a pleasure talking to you all, and now I’ll return the class to the dedicated hands of Professor Mitchell.
Thank you for that, Apollo! Some of you might now be scratching your head about the reference to casting the Smoke to Dagger Transformation on fog. Surely fog is not smoke? I ask you now to remember back to Lesson Four where we discussed transformation variations. Fog is a substance similar enough in makeup to smoke that the spell will still be effective. They are both semi-translucent clouds composed of a mixture of gas, liquid, and solid particles, so all that is necessary to cast the spell on fog rather than smoke is a little extra concentration.
The Smoke to Dagger Transformation was invented in 1701 by English wizard and transfigurist Henry Snuff. He was experimenting with incantations one night in front of his fireplace when all of a sudden he heard a clatter coming from the fire. Upon further inspection, he found a shining silver dagger behind one of the logs. It took him another year to document the spell, however, as he couldn’t remember the exact incantation that he had spoken before the transformation occurred.
Use and Teaching
As Mr. Magnusson described to you the common uses of this spell, I will keep this short and just explain its place in the development of your skills in transfiguration. The Smoke to Dagger Transformation is of great use in teaching visualization in transfiguration. As it has no set shape or structure, it is usually easier to mold in your mind, much like trying to find pictures in clouds. Practicing this spell helps students improve their concentration so that it is more of a second nature when it comes to more complicated transfigurations.
I hope you all enjoyed today’s lesson and our guest lecture by Mr. Magnusson! If any of you are interested in a career as a hit wizard, I’m sure he’d be happy to answer any questions you may have for him after class. Be sure to take an assignment sheet with you as you leave, and I will see you all next week. Class dismissed.