After the confrontation in the Forbidden Forest, the five were more careful about what they said to Luna and how they said it, especially around Lydia. But they began to notice the same in her; Lydia had begun to act just as strangely as Luna, up to going to the Room of Requirement with Luna.
Hermione, especially, was growing more and more concerned as the weeks went on. Her protective instincts had been awakened due to those two. They were like the little sisters Hermione pretended to have when she was younger; innocent, imaginative, sweet but stubborn, and curious.
"I can't take this much longer!" Hermione exclaimed one day as the trio and Neville were studying while Ginny was writing home to her mum.
"The fact that they don't even give us a general idea of where they're going worries me. I mean, what if they're getting involved with drugs or illegal potions?"
"C'mon, Hermione," Ron groaned.
"D'you really think they'd be stupid enough to do that?"
"They could be coerced. Especially Lydia. She just looks so...innocent and sweet and...naive."
The group nodded. Lydia DID look a bit young and had a sort of youthful aura.
"So does Luna, but she's pretty tough," Harry added.
"Plus, if we tried to get involved again, we'd only end up aggravating Luna."
"Maybe," Hermione sighed as she tried to get back to studying.
All of a sudden, an idea popped into her head.
"Maybe we might aggravate Luna," she pointed out as she set the book down on the common room table.
"But what about Lydia?"
"What about her?" Ginny asked as she finished up the paragraph she was writing.
"Well, she doesn't seem as aggressive as Luna. Maybe we could get something from her with a bit of persistence."
"That could work, except there's one problem," Neville pointed out.
"When do she and Luna leave each other's side?"
Hermione huffed in frustration. Neville had a point. Since that night in the forest, Lydia and Luna seemed to stick together constantly. The gears in her mind began to work much more intensely as she came up with a plan.
"We're going to need a distraction," she figured.
"Neville, would you be able to distract Luna?"
Neville perked up at hearing this and nodded intensely.
"Right. Ginny, can you bring Lydia to the Gryffindor common room? If we do it anywhere else, Luna would be able to take her back."
"I can try," Ginny said.
"Good. We'll do it tonight. Once Lydia's inside, leave her to me."
At midnight Lydia and Luna came out of the Room of Requirement, smiling and skipping as if they were two fairies who had just taken several aphrodisiacs. Unbeknownst to them, Neville was hiding just around the corner with Ginny several feet away. They heard the two skipping their way.
"Ready?" Ginny whispered to Neville.
He nodded and Ginny gave a quick nod back in affirmation. As the two came around the corner, Neville pretended to trip and fall.
"Oh hello, Neville," Luna greeted him happily.
"What are you doing down on the floor?"
Neville's mind froze a bit. He couldn't come up with a good reason right off the bat. He tried to wrack his brain, finally finding what he considered to be the stupidest answer, but it was better than no answer.
"I think I dropped a packet of gillyweed somewhere around here," he lied, hoping the two of them wouldn't hear between the lines.
"Oh dear," Luna exclaimed.
"Well, Lydia and I could help you look."
"That's very nice of you," Neville said.
"But it's really only gonna take one other person. Luna, how about you help me?"
Luna looked over at Lydia and the two of them shrugged.
"You can get back to the common room yourself, right?" Luna asked Lydia.
"Or I could just stay here," Lydia added quickly.
"Finding a packet of gillyweed shouldn't take too long."
"It's not as visible in the dark as it is in the daytime," Neville blurted out quickly.
"Oh," Lydia exclaimed.
"Well, in that case, I'll meet you back at the common room, Luna."
Hearing this, Ginny muttered a spell under her breath, one that would make her voice audible only to Lydia.
"Lydia..." she said in a sing-song voice.
Lydia came to a halt at the sound of this. She was rather curious, even for a Ravenclaw, always asking questions about things that didn't seem to matter. But this seemed to matter to her.
"What was that?" she asked aloud.
"Doesn't sound like any of the Hogwarts ghosts."
Luna looked up in confusion.
"What was what?" she asked Lydia.
"I swear I heard someone calling my name."
Luna shook her head.
"I didn't hear anything. Maybe it's a ghost that chooses who gets to hear them."
She shrugged and began skipping off again. Ginny knew she had to act quickly.
There it was again! Lydia stopped once more and turned in the direction of the sound.
"I don't like this," Lydia gasped.
"And yet I find it intriguing. Luna, I'll meet you later. I'm gonna find out what it is."
"Okay, but watch out for the nargles and try not to die."
"I can't make any promises about the second bit, but I'll do my best."
She tiptoed over in the direction of the sound. Like a wisp of wind, Ginny rushed up ahead, making sure she wouldn't be seen, as she kept repeating her name. By the time Ginny reached the main stairwell, she knew that Lydia was going to walk right into this trap. They were going to get the answers they had been looking for.
Hermione sat outside of the Gryffindor common room with Harry and Ron as they waited impatiently for Ginny to return.
"Do you really think this will work?" Harry asked.
Hermione nodded with firm assurance.
"Ginny told me she's incredibly curious. It's highly likely she'll investigate."
"But what if she doesn't?" Ron pointed out.
"What if she sees through the trap?"
"It's not a trap, Ronald," Hermione corrected.
"Not if we're trying to do good and save their asses."
"Shh! Listen," Harry interrupted.
"I think I hear her."
The three listened intently and, sure enough, they heard two pairs of footsteps walking towards the common room. Ginny had told them about the auditory isolation spell, so they knew that listening for Ginny's footsteps was more reliable. Ginny came speed walking up the stairs and waited to see Lydia before hiding behind a crawlspace near the common room door. She muttered something to turn off the auditory isolation spell and then gave Hermione a small nod.
"Now!" Hermione whispered loudly.
The trio jumped out and ran towards Lydia who, at the sight of them, tried to run away. But Hermione was prepared.
"Stupefy!" she said.
Lydia felt her foot twist; she lost balance and fell to the floor with a thud. The pain surged through her and she felt her eyes begin to water.
Suddenly she felt someone grab her right ankle and a sharp burst of pain surged through her. Lydia gave a cry and she began to weep. Carefully the hand let go of her ankle and she felt someone else help her up.
"There, there. It's alright," Hermione consoled her as she helped Lydia up.
Instinctively, she raised her right foot to avoid walking on it and risking further pain. She stared at Hermione with teary, doe-like eyes.
"Please take me to the Ravenclaw common room," she squeaked.
Hermione shook her head.
"Not in your condition. Come on. The Gryffindor common room is much closer."
Lydia sat in the Gryffindor common room with teary eyes and a cup of tea. Her ankle rested on one of the footstools nearby. On the table by the fireplace stood a kettle and some extra cups. Sniffling, she tried to think of other things, but the pain was dominating her brain.
"Are we going to question her yet?" Ginny asked quietly.
Hermione shook her head in annoyance. Ginny had been asking that since Lydia got inside. Even though Hermione wanted to find out what was going on with her and Luna, she was not about to push Lydia to tears again.
"Shouldn't we take her to Madame Pomfrey?" Ron asked.
"I mean, she looks like she suffering."
"But this might be the only chance we have to get some answers from her. Now did you pour the Veritaserum in her tea?"
Ron looked at her, confused, and Hermione glared at him.
"You forgot the Veritaserum again?"
"I thought Harry was supposed to do it. I mean, you trusted me with it once before. What'd you expect?"
"I expected that you'd have learned from your mistake, Ronald," she huffed as she walked over to Lydia.
She tried to put on a kind face in spite of Ron's forgetfulness.
"Hey," she said gently.
"How are you?"
Lydia looked at her sadly.
"Not good," she sniffled.
"What brought you near the common room anyways?" Hermione asked, knowingly.
"I don't think you'd believe me, but I thought I heard a ghost calling my name. Next thing I knew I ended up here."
"Really? But why did you run away when you saw Harry, Ron, and I?"
"Fear, I suppose. The usual 'fight-or-flight' response."
"What are wrinkyfints?" Ron blurted out.
Hermione glared at him and Lydia smiled sadly.
"Wrinkyfints are close relations of wrackspurts," she explained.
"They're invisible creatures that lash out when someone is startled. Very few people have actually seen what they look like, even with spectrespecs, because they come and go so quickly."
Hermione nodded; she was not about to point out the lack of evidence for their existence to someone who was in such pain.
"Are you going to drink your tea?" she asked.
"I felt bad about being the only one with tea, so I poured you each a cup."
She gestured towards the table. Sitting in the center were four steaming hot cups of chamomile and mint tea.
"You really didn't have to do that," said Harry as he and Ron came over to get a better look.
"Didn't it hurt?" Ginny asked, walking over to sit next to Hermione.
"Very much, but it was worth it. You all were so kind to me when I fell that I thought I should return the favor."
Hermione put her hand on her heart and smile endearingly.
"That's very sweet of you, dear," she told Lydia.
Lydia shied away from her gaze and began to blush a bit. The four grabbed a cup and sat down on the couch. The five of them sat in warm silence as they drank the tea.
Throughout the evening, Lydia's tears began to turn into laughter and the dreary environment turned into a sentimental, albeit sleep-deprived, environment. Once they finished the tea, Hermione's eye fell on a small vial.
There's the Veritaserum, she thought.
Now if I can just put it into Lydia's tea without her noticing.
"Would you like another cup?" Hermione asked her.
Lydia considered this and shrugged.
"If it's not too much trouble," she said handing Hermione her cup.
"Oh no! It's no trouble at all."
Hermione replaced the tea bag and poured in some water. After letting it seep for a bit, she opened the vial and poured a small dose of Veritaserum into it before handing the cup back to Lydia.
Smiling, the sweet girl took a small sip. Ginny gave Hermione a questioning look and was returned with a small nod.
"Lydia," Hermione asked sweetly.
"Is it alright if I ask you something?"
Lydia took a moment to think about this.
"Sure, if you answer one of my questions first," she replied gently.
Hearing this, Hermione shrugged.
"Go for it."
Lydia took a moment to collect her thoughts.
"Why did you really bring me here?"
Because you were hurt, Hermione wanted to say.
"Because we're trying to get answers out of you," she said instead.
The other three looked at her in shock. Hermione looked back at them in equal expression and cleared her throat.
"No," she stumbled.
"What I meant to say was because we're trying to get answers out of you."
Hermione put her hands over her mouth.
"Harry," Lydia continued casually.
"What does she mean by answers?"
I don't know what she means, he wanted to say.
"She means answers about what you and Luna are up to when you go to the Room of Requirement each night."
Harry gasped and his eyes widened.
"Sorry," he scrambled.
"That's no-exactly what I meant to say."
There it was again!
Damn it, brain! Harry thought.
What's the matter with you? Why aren't you cooperating with my mouth?
"Ginny," Lydia said as if they were having a normal conversation.
"Was it you who was calling my name? Were you trying to lure me here?"
No, of course not! Ginny thought in a panic.
"Yes and yes," she answered.
Ginny gave a shriek of panic as her face turned pale.
"How did you know it would work?"
"Because I know how curious you are. Eek!"
"How come Luna and Neville didn't hear you calling my name?"
Ginny, in a last-ditch attempt at resistance, tried to bite down on her tongue. But something was pushing on her jaw, forcing her to open up. She tried to fight against it, but eventually the pressure became too much to bare.
"I used an auditory isolation spell to make it so only you would hear me!" she blurted out.
Lydia smiled at this and turned to Ron who had been holding his mouth shut for the past two minutes, hoping she wouldn't question him in case the same thing were to happen with him.
"Ron, tell me; why are you all so curious about what Luna and I are up to?"
Suddenly that same pressure Ginny had felt began pressing against Ron. Lydia could tell he was putting up a struggle.
"Why?" she asked more forcefully.
"Because we're worried you two might be in danger!" he confessed.
"Is that why Luna was yelling at you when you came to the Forbidden Forest?"
Lydia sat back and smirked in triumph. She gave a small giggle knowingly.
"You know, Hermione," she said.
"I'm genuinely surprised you didn't see the vial of Veritaserum lying right out in the open."
Hermione gasped in shock.
"You spiked our tea?" Harry asked.
"How did you-?" Hermione began.
"Don't pretend I didn't hear you use the stunning spell," she answered.
"I figured something was up, but I wanted to hear from you all."
Hermione huffed in anger. That was when she decided enough was enough.
"Alright, that's it," she growled.
"It's time you give us answers."
"I'm never going to tell you," Lydia spat.
"Of course you will," Hermione said, matter-of-factly.
"I spiked your second cup with Veritaserum. Now-"
All of a sudden, they heard the common room door open. In walked Neville with a sheepish look on his face.
"Neville?" Hermione asked.
"What's wrong? Why do you look so-?"
He pointed behind him and out popped Luna, holding her wand to his back, with a small smile on her face.
"Hello," she said dreamily, but with a slight edge to it that made Hermione's blood run cold. Her small smile also held a small bit of anger in it.
"I'm so sorry. I really didn't want to have to coerce Neville, but he refused to tell me what happened to Lydia. I was worried she was in danger."
"I'm not in danger, Luna," Lydia admitted, peaking out from the side of the chair she was sitting in.
"But I'm definitely under unnecessary interrogation."
Lydia tried to stand up, but as soon as she put weight on her right foot, the pain came back. She gave a shriek and fell to the floor. Luna gasped and went over to help her up.
"What's wrong?" she asked in genuine concern.
"It's my ankle," Lydia cried quietly.
"I think I may have twisted it when I tried to run away. Hermione used the stunning spell on me and I fell by the stairs."
Luna slowly turned to Hermione with a furious glare. Hermione felt a chill ran through her.
"Why?" Luna asked.
"Why did you feel so inclined as to stun her and put her in actual danger?"
"Because you two may actually be in danger and we want to save you."
"Well, you're not doing a very good job of saving us, mostly because there's no actual danger we need to be saved from."
She turned to address all five of the Gryffindors.
"Listen to me and listen well," she said slowly and calmly, her voice losing much of its dreamy quality.
"What we're doing in the Room of Requirement is nothing you need to be concerned about. There is no danger whatsoever. If you five try to meddle in this business again in any way, we will both go straight to Flitwick about this. Do you understand?"
The five of them nodded in stunned silence. Never had Luna been as frightening as she was when she was angry, mostly because she rarely raised her voice when angered.
"Good," she said, her voice returning to its normal quality.
"Now if you'll excuse us, I think Lydia needs to have her ankle examined. I just hope it isn't broken."
The two Ravenclaws walked out with Lydia holding onto Luna for support while Luna had an arm around Lydia's side to prevent her from falling over. They could hear Lydia's small whimpers and cries of agony.
"I'm so sorry, dear," Luna assured her calmly as they stepped outside of the doorway.
"I know it hurts."
The common room door shut behind them, leaving the five in petrified silence.