HP: A Magical Journey - Chapter 38

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The Icy vault was as cold as ever, with its icy-blue walls, frosted floors, threatening to kill anyone who dared venture into its freezing, killing, hellish depths.
In that freezing environment stood a lone figure, a hand raised to the snowflake icicle. The figure was clad in thick winter clothing, but the exposed parts of skin showed glowing red lines streaking across the skin.
The figure looked at the part of the snowflake icicle in front of his raised hand, and suddenly an invisible wave shot towards the icicle, and in one fell swoop, detached a chunk of ice from the icicle, creating the noise of ice being crushed.
The figure moved quickly and waved his other hand over the separated piece of ice. The chunk of ice rapidly moved away, gliding away from the place it fell. The figure watched as the moving chunk of ice began fading while slipping on the floor. He turned his head towards the snowflake icicle and saw that the snowflake icicle that a few moments ago was missing a piece was now whole as ever.
The figure sighed before walking away from the snowflake icicle towards the steps that separated the frosted hell from a less freezing one.
The figure removed his hood and goggles as soon as he crossed the steps and revealed the face of Quinn West, the guy who had been practically living in the Icy hell for the past two months, suffering in the freezing cold, trying to get rid of the snowflake icicle.
"Well, for the hundredth time, that snowflake sure does regenerate fast," sighed Quinn, breathing out a white plume because of the cold.
During Quinn's rage-induced attack with the intent to exterminate the snowflake icicle, he misunderstood that the snowflake icicle was too tough for him to destroy. But it turned out that the snowflake could be damaged, obliterated even, but it regenerated almost instantly. Quinn had not seen this during his attack, and that had cost him a week because Quinn didn't attack the snowflake for the first week, but when he did for some experiment, he saw the instant regeneration.
He sat down behind a workstation he had set in the Icy corridor and looked at the Ivy vault region, thinking about the last two months. Every day of the last two months, Quinn had spent time on this vault, reading on ice, water, and Blood magic.
The vault was an extraordinary system of magical mechanisms. It impressed Quinn because it was a mystery to Quinn. He knew about what the Icy vault mechanism did, but he still had little idea about how it worked.
"The air is too dry; almost all the moisture is locked into the snowflake." Quinn had noticed this while observing the vault region; it had opened doors for Quinn in terms of progress.
The mechanism in the vault commanded all the natural moisture in the vault. If any moisture, water, or ice was present in the vault region, it would come under the mechanism's control, aiding the recovery of the snowflake in case it was damaged.
Quinn had once thrown a bottle of boiling water into the vault region, saw it turn into steam because of the cold, and instantly the steam rushed to the snowflake, adding to its body. Since that day, Quinn didn't dare any water to the vault as it would just help the mechanism guarding the vault.
Damaging the snowflake using offensive magic to gain entry to the gate behind the snowflake icicle was out of the way, so Quinn needed another way to reach the gate. After searching for an answer, Quinn finally found a way that might help.
"To disable the regeneration of the icicle, I need to find a way to first break down the ice while keeping away from the mechanism's control. To do that, I need to break down the ice... gently, so that when the ice detaches itself from the main structure, I would have some form of control over the detached ice."
To method to break down the ice gently was Transfiguration and Transmutation. The concepts of these two magics would help Quinn break down the ice while maintaining control over the detached ice.
But finding an idea wasn't the same as knowing how to execute the solution, and that was where Quinn had a major setback. Even though Quinn knew about Transfiguration and Transmutation ideas, he failed to apply them to the snowflake icicle.
"The dense structure and frighteningly low internal temperature of the ice makes it extremely difficult to alter the state of matter. It makes it difficult for me to detach the ice from the snowflake."
When Quinn detached the ice from the snowflake, the mechanism would wrestle Quinn for control, and in an instant, the snowflake icicle would be whole again.
Quinn had spent a little over three weeks banging his head against the snowflake, thinking that if Quinn improved his mastery, then he would be able to get rid of the snowflake. But by the end of three weeks, Quinn had become better at changing the ice into water, he could change three-quarters of the snowflake into the water, but nothing really changed as it would turn back into ice.
Things changed for the better when Quinn stopped being stupid.
Quinn sat in the Great Hall for lunch, clutching his head in his hands and groaning.
"Ugh... haa~... hmm.... burrr... this sucks so bad," groaned Quinn.
He was lamenting about making no actual progress. Even though he had gotten better at performing Transmutation on ice, the mechanism would wrest control away from him.
"You look sad today."
Quinn turned his head to see Penelope Clearwater staring down at him.
"I'm sad every day; I just don't have the energy to hide it today," quipped Quinn.
Penelope quirked her brow and sat down beside him.
"Come on now, don't be like that. Tell me what's wrong with you."
Quinn stared at Penelope for a moment before starting, "I am having problems with something that I can't solve. No matter what I try, it doesn't work," he put his head on the table and groaned, "It is driving me crazy."
"How about I take a look at it; maybe I would be able to help you out," said the kind fifth-year Ravenclaw Prefect with a cordial smile on her face.
Quinn stared at her with his eyes narrowing and shook his head, "Yeah... I don't think that is going to help."
Penelope widened her eyes and said with a sarcastic smile, "Oh my, you are not sad... you are moody!" She snorted and continued, "I must say this is a new color on you. You are always smiling, so I thought it was your resting expression."
Quinn sighed and apologized, "Sorry about that. The last few weeks have been tough. I was not trying to be a git."
"Don't worry. I didn't take any offense," Penelope assured and then gave some advice, "And, if you don't think I can help, you can go to one of the Professors. I am sure they would be able to help."
Quinn perked up hearing that. He looked at Penelope and said, "Professors... I can ask the professors, can't I?"
He grinned and slapped the table, "Of course, I can do that!"
Quinn hadn't gone to a Professor for help since he had come to Hogwarts, so somewhere in his head Quinn had excluded asking them for help. Plus, the nature of the vault was secretive, and he didn't want to lead any of the faculty members to the vault as it would lead to him being banned from accessing the Icy vault because of the danger.
'But, if I can just ask them for advice without revealing anything about the vault, then I can get some insight. Yeah, that would work,' thought Quinn.
"Professors! They are masters of their craft! Of course, they would be able to help me!" said Quinn as he got up from his spot.
He turned to Penelope and said, "Clearwater, expect a crate of butterbeer from me. You have done me great help."
Penelope watched as Quinn ran out of the Great Hall. She shook her head, "Sometimes, smart ones can be dumb, so dumb."
Later that evening, Quinn stood in front of Minerva McGonagall's office on the first floor. With a look at his clothes, he straightened them out with magic.
He looked at the lion's head protruding out of the door of the office and asked, "I am here to see Professor McGonagall."
The lion's head stared at him before the door opened, and Quinn entered the office. McGonagall's office is a small study; it had a large fireplace, windows overlooking the Training Grounds, and the Quidditch pitch.
Back in her day, McGonagall had been the captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team. In her last game, she had suffered a concussion and some broken bones because of a Slytherin player's illegal move, and from that day forward, she had nursed an obsession to see the Slytherin house crushed at the Quidditch field. Despite her looks and attitude, Minerva McGonagall was a Quidditch fanatic; that's why she always spent every game besides the commentator. This was also the reason behind her pushing for Harry Potter to join the Quidditch team in his first year.
She looked up from her desk and was surprised to see the person who entered her office.
"Mr. West, what a surprise. What can I help you with?" she asked, gesturing to Quinn to sit down.
"Good evening, Professor. I would like to ask you for some help," Quinn said as he walked to the offered chair and sat down.
McGonagall was once more surprised. Quinn West was the brightest student of his year, and based on his performance in homework assignments and tests, he was more knowledgeable than most of his direct seniors. Unlike most of his peers, Quinn never came to Professors for any help, be it studies-related or anything else.
"I see, and I assume coming to me instead of Professor Flitwick is because you want some help with Transfiguration," asked McGonagall.
Quinn nodded, "Yes, I have a few questions about Transfiguration and... about Transmutation," Quinn took a pause before he mentioned Transmutation. Hogwarts didn't teach Transmutation, and even though Transmutation and Transfiguration concepts crossed each other and despite that, Hogwarts students still didn't know about Transmutation.
"Transmutation," said McGonagall, leaning forward, not expecting to hear it from Quinn. "You are familiar with Transmutation, Mr. West?"
Quinn nodded and took out his fake wand, conjuring a log of wood with a proper wand movement, making sure that McGonagall believed he was using a real wand. With another wave, the piece of wood changed into a miniature eagle.
"My grandfather bought me a book while he was traveling," said Quinn, not telling her anything else. He didn't want to face any questions on it, so he continued, "Today, I want to get some help with Ice magic."
"Ice?" she asked. McGonagall thought of something and asked, "Mr. Quinn, didn't you fell into a cauldron of freezing potion?"
Quinn made a sour look, "Yes, Professor. I was on bed rest for around ten days."
The Professor folded her hands and said, "Do tell, what do you want to know about ice?"
Quinn waved his wand and conjured a chunk of ice, and immediately levitated it so that it didn't McGonagall's desk.
"Now, when I turn the ice into water," with another wave, the ice chunk slowly turned into water. A little stream of water emerged from the ice chunk that traveled left and formed an increasing blob of water. Quinn made it slow for demonstrative purposes.
"The ice I am working is charmed such that anything detached from it would immediately turn back to ice and join the main structure." He waved his wand, and all the water rushed to the ice chunk and turned back into ice.
Quinn didn't want to reveal the Icy vault and the mechanism placed inside it, so he just made up a charmed ice scenario.
He looked at McGonagall and asked, "This is what I am trying to accomplish." The ice again turned into water, but this time the entirety of ice turned into water. And, with another swing of the wand, the water turned into a metal pipe.
"I want to Transfigure the water into something else so that it won't go back to the ice," explained Quinn.
"How do I do that?"
McGonagall stared at the floating metal pipe, staying silent for a while before asking, "Have you tried to take out small pieces of ice and individually transfiguring them till you go through the entire ice block?"
"I have tried that, but the internal temperature of the ice is surprisingly low," he waved his hand in frustration, "Targeting small chunks is met with extra resistance."
Quinn didn't tell her that targeting small chunks prompted the mechanism to decrease the temperature of the ice more, making Quinn's job harder than it already was.
"I see," said McGonagall, putting down her quill that she had been holding till now. The problem that Quinn had put in front of her had now intrigued her.
"The conversion of water into ice is faster than the time you need to change the ice into water and in turn into another substance."
Quinn nodded in reply. This was his current problem.
"How about changing ice into vapor and then transfiguring the vapor into another material?" she offered.
Quinn shook his head, "No, I can't even change ice into water fast enough, forget about changing ice into water and then water into vapor."
"Mr. West, I am not talking about changing ice into water into vapor. I am talking about changing ice directly into vapor," said McGonagall as she looked at Quinn.
Quinn stared at the deputy headmistress of Hogwarts without blinking. He stood up from his chair and started pacing around the office.
"So, you are saying that I should skip the liquid state altogether," asked Quinn.
"Yes, and do you know the reason behind this suggestion," said McGonagall, trying to make Quinn think about the answer.
Quinn stopped pacing and answered, "Gas is harder to control than liquid because the water is much loosely packed. The loosely packing arrangement makes it harder to spread magic and get every particle under control."
"And...?" asked McGonagall.
"I would have the initial control over the vapor because I am changing ice into vapor. That would give me a slight edge over the charm placed on the ice. My chances to Transfigure the vapor into another substance would rise because of the increased time needed for the charm to work."
McGonagall smiled, "Exactly, and now you have the answer."
"But, how do I go from Solid to gas without going through the liquid phase," asked Quinn. It was the same problem as before; Quinn had the idea but lacked the execution.
McGonagall took out her wand and waved it to form a massive chunk of ice, much larger than Quinn had conjured.
"Usually, to turn ice into water vapor, you would give the ice heat so that it would melt into water and the water would evaporate into vapor."
Quinn watched as the ice floating above McGonagall's desk melted into water, and then the water started to boil, slowly turning into vapor. McGonagall was masterfully controlling the water vapor so that it would not leak around the room.
"But, you don't need to supply ice with heat to change its state. You can supply any kind of energy that can break the bonds between the particles. Magic can break the bonds holding the bonds that hold the ice together."
The vapor turned into water, then into ice. The next moment, the ice poofed directly into water vapor. [1]
Quinn stared at the floating vapor, thinking about the implications of this knowledge. Cogs turned in his brain, speculating the plausibility of this method. It worked here on ordinary ice, but the snowflake icicle was anything but ordinary; that was some super ice.
"Thank you, Professor... I will try using this approach," said Quinn as he turned his eyes away from the cloud of vapor and looked at McGonagall.
McGonagall saw Quinn wasn't paying attention to her and was lost in thought, so she decided to tell him to leave and don't disturb him, "Alright, you can leave, Mr. West. Have a good day."
"... You too, Professor," said Quinn, blankly, as he walked out of the office.
He came to himself, looked around, and found himself standing in front of the fifth-floor corridor wall that held the entrance to the Icy corridor.
"How in the world did I get here," said Quinn as he looked around.
"Well, whatever."
Quinn placed his hand on the wall and channeled his magic into the wall, causing it to open.
He walked inside to the Icy corridor, and when he reached the end to the opening of the Icy vault. Quinn slipped on the layers of thick snow clothing and charged his blood with Blood magic before stepping into the vault region.
"Aww, this sucks as much as ever," said Quinn as he strolled to the snowflake icicle, feeling the cold.
Quinn raised both of his hands to the snowflake and closed his eyes. He concentrated and focused his magic, channeling it to the snowflake, reaching every branch, and when it was enough, Quinn commanded his magic to break the bonds between the particles.
His magic started work and filling the snowflake with energy, and just when Quinn felt that the ice was about to turn into water, Quinn pushed more magic into the ice.
He opened his eyes and watch as the snowflake icicle vibrated violently before half of the icicle mass sizzled and turned into water vapor, and then saw it turned back into ice. But this time, it was a tad bit slower.
Quinn raised his hands and yelled, "Hoho! It worked... it really worked!" Quinn jumped up and down in front of the now whole snowflake.
The result might not have been much different, but Quinn saw and felt the difference. It took more magic than his usual approach, but Quinn saw a lag in regeneration, and he also felt that if he worked hard, he could fight the mechanism for control.
Two months had passed since entering the Icy vault had passed, and Quinn had made significant progress. Quinn could now convert all the ice into vapor; he was now working towards Transfiguring the vapor into metal, in this case, magnesium.
It was like a fight for control between the mechanism and Quinn, both sides trying to wrest control of the vapor; Quinn trying to Transfigure it while the vault mechanism was working to regenerate the snowflake icicle.
Quinn retrieved a bottle from under the workstation and took a sip from it, but nothing came out as everything inside was frozen. He sighed and began heating the iced water inside.
"Yup," said Quinn, with popping the 'P' sound, "this place sucks."
Quinn West - MC - "You stupid! Hahaha," says a particular author.
Penelope Clearwater - Ravenclaw Prefect - Received a twelve-case of butterbeer at her dorm step. - Worries how Quinn got it above the girl's dormitory stairs.
Minerva McGonagall - Transfiguration master - Lifelong Hogwarts Quidditch Obsession.
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