"Thank you Rabastan, excellent work". The Dark Lord turned next to me. "Young Mister Malfoy? Your report please?"

I swallowed nervously and stood.

"My Lord. I should perhaps give some background information first. One lunch time during my third year some mudblood on the Hufflepuff table started panicking about having lost something. I turned round to tell him to shut up as his bleating was intruding on proper wizards' conversations, and saw a small box lying on the floor behind him. I immediately summoned it, hoping, due to his obvious distress, that it was something that would be embarrassing. It was just a box of playing cards though, so I slipped it into my pocket and carried on with my meal. I forgot about it until that evening when I was getting ready for bed. I opened it, and it wasn't a standard deck of cards at all, but some silly muggle game which was based on the most ridiculous ideas that they have about magic."

I knew that I had to be careful.

"It was really quite amusing."

I couldn't let on that I had found the game's fictional magic enthralling, or that the muggle-born - Justin, I later learned - had slowly become a friend when I returned the cards and wanted to know more, or that I played the game regularly with Justin and Dennis.

"Part of the game concerns the supposed magical properties of ... of ... " I apparently did quite a good job of pretending to be amused, for I am still alive.

"Of ...black lotus flowers. "

"What?" interrupted Severus "Black lotus flowers?" He roared with laughter, something I didn't think he had in him. "Don't they know that ..." he collapsed back in his chair, wheezing and short of breath he was laughing so hard.

"Enough Severus" the Dark Lord snapped. "Please continue Mister Malfoy."

"I wondered if I could use their ridiculous beliefs against them so I Imperiused the mudblood to tell his friends about one of those lotuses growing in Kensington Gardens in London, where I transfigured one. It wasn't long before several muggles turned up and, arguing about who would pluck it, fought amongst themselves as if for my amusement."

I had of course done nothing of the sort, although I did have to Confund several people in the Leaky Cauldron so they wouldn't see me heading into muggle London, where Justin was going to take me to a place called the Passport Office which would aid in my escape if the Dark Lord ever managed to defeat the Ministry.

"Sir, I believe that we may be able to use this against them on a larger scale. When we have taken the Ministry and can turn against our true enemies, these mere flowers, something that even some of the near-squib thugs from Knockturn Alley can create, should serve as an excellent distraction."

I sat, hoping that the Dark Lord would not think to confirm my story by Legilimency. If he did and he learned that I had on the same trip passed information to Dennis's cousin the muggle auror, who passed it on to the muggle government, who now knew exactly which bedroom in Malfoy Manor the Dark Lord slept in - the best I could hope for would be for him to give me a quick death in his unthinking rage.