It was a cold, wintry night, and Ron, Ginny, Neville, Malfoy, a bunch of other former Hogwarts students and I were attending Hermione's formal dinner party. It was one of those rare happy times after the war where Hermione felt that we all needed a bit of cheering up to do.
You may be wondering why Malfoy was invited. The only reason Hermione had asked him to come was not because he had helped us in the war, but because they had to finish up a heated argument that had been started a few days ago.
Hermione had chosen to plan the party in America, preferably Texas, because we were all tired of the bitter coldness in London. Not that is was much warmer here. I had imagined, from the stories I had heard of Texas, a small town with horses and ranches and land that stretched for miles. Instead, I found what was almost exactly like in London. Obviously I was a bit disappointed, but at least the weather here was considerably warmer than what was in London now.
Hermione, Malfoy and Ginny were in an animated debate about self-control. Who had better self-control? Men or women? Naturally, Ginny and Hermione voted for women. Malfoy chose the latter.
This little dispute went on for quite awhile until Hermione had dropped out of the conversation. Ginny and Malfoy didn't notice for they were still intensely arguing. No one else had noticed because they were all in their own conversations, but I happened to see that Hermione had gone rigid, and her face had lost a little bit of color.
"I bet fifty galleons that men have better self-control than women!" Malfoy challenged.
"Oh, then I bet fifty galleons that women have better self-control than men!" Ginny retorted, her face flushed from the excitement.
Hermione had cautiously raised a finger and gestured for a house-elf to come to her. After whispering in the house-elf's ear for a minute, the elf's round eyes grew rounder, and he scurried off toward the kitchens. A minute later, he came back with a dead mouse, which he set by the door.
Suddenly, I realized what was happening.
I stood up, glancing over at a white Hermione and said in my calmest voice, "Let us test this theory of self-control, everyone. In the next five minutes, let's see who has the most self control."
Everyone remained silent as I counted the seconds by, until I had reached four minutes and twenty-three seconds. That was when a large rattlesnake crawled out from under the table and toward the dead mouse.
There were shrieks as the guests saw the snake. Malfoy jumped on his chair and stared at the snake in horror. Even Ginny had turned pale with fright.
After the snake was safely out of the house, the house-elf sprang towards the door and slammed it shut while everyone else let out a sigh of relief.
Rising calmly, I said, "As the rest of you were chattering away, I happened to see one person at this table demonstrate the most self-control." At this I turned to Hermione. "Hermione, how did you know that there was a rattlesnake underneath the table anyway?"
Smiling faintly, she replied, "Oh it's really simple, Harry. It was lying on my foot." She glanced at Malfoy, who was still standing on his chair, looking as frightened as before, and continued, "It's gone Malfoy. You can have your pretend self-control back."