I've been meaning to post a review for this and today while I was reading The Economist, there was an article called 'Seasons of Discontent'. The article was about the El Nino phenomenon and completely unrelated to this story, but here I am anyways!
First off, I absolutely LOVE how this story is in reverse chronology. So unique around these parts and this might sound a bit strange, but it feels interactive in the sense that the reader can choose which way to read it.
I really enjoy Lily's character in this story. I feel like your Lily could easily be canon Lily. She is like JKR described but never put on a pedestal. She has moments of questionable judgement and she has her fair share of flaws.
That had, perhaps, always been the greatest problem. She never stopped being the pretty, intelligent, and talented Lily Evans of comfortable home and pleasant disposition, and it seemed as though no insult, no war, no suffering at all, could alter that fact. Her place was at the top of the pedestal, gazing down at the world below. Never had she abandoned her dreams, especially when they lay, shattered, at her feet.
I still sympathize with Lily (slightly, though), even if she is not a particularly "good" character in this story. I do feel bad for her and the fact that she has to carry the pain of wanting someone unattainable to her and being completely and utterly stabbed in the heart by someone who she thought she loved. Still, it isn't too hard to dislike Lily either, and as Lily is often portrayed as a older, more intelligent Ginny and is seen from Harry's eyes as very much the same (it sounds creepy worded like this, though...) you did a very good job with making the reader simultaneously feel for her and resent her actions.
And James. Poor James. Would I be wrong to say he was aware of Lily's feelings? It's just the feeling I got reading the story. I feel terrible for him, but I don't think he cared that Lily was not in their marriage with all of her heart. I think he was just happy to be with her. This portrayal of James is also refreshing. His character in fic is usually far too overbearing for me to appreciate. Your James is very subtley (as is Lily, really) executed.
I love how eyes are a recurring theme. JKR uses them so often in the book, especially in relation to Lily and I loved your inclusion of it in here. I often feel like fanfic writers (even the good ones) write lovely prose but it is just that, lovely prose with very little connection to the books itself. So in this, it is lovely.
Overall, this is so wonderful. So lovely and full of fantastic but subtle imagery. Really well done (as always!)
Author's Response: Wow, Nisha! This was a huge surprise to receive - this story not seeming to come across as popular in its ideas - and it means a lot that you took the time to read a long story and leave a lovely, long review! I've struggled to come up with a reply to this, and hopefully, I can muddle through something. Know, though, first and foremost, thank you! ^_^
The reverse chronology story is so much fun to write - it's more challenging to write for the same reasons that it makes the reader work harder too. You have to make sense in both directions - forward and backward, explaining just enough so that readers don't feel alienated with just the right amount of disorientation. It makes one take plot more seriously, and I've always needed to do that more. ;)
Yay! You like this Lily! For many, she seems the exact opposite of what JKR "made" her - perhaps more accurately, what fanfiction has made her become. I've always wondered whether Lily had something more to her, whether she ever rebelled against those high expectations people - especially men - kept placing on her. No one is perfect, so here I exploit that to see just how far I could push the boundaries of her character.
She isn't a "good" person, but I'm glad that she was still someone you could sympathize with. I thought that her "conspiracy" to win back Snape would really bother readers, particularly the die-hard Lily/James shippers. Not that Lily isn't in love with James in this story, it just takes her much, much longer to realize that she is. I'm glad to have found the balance between those characters you love to hate and those you feel sorry for - it could have easily gone too much the latter direction, and it almost did, which was why I still find this story slightly dissatisfying. It didn't turn out quite the way I wanted it to.
As for James, it's strange because in canon, I find him impossible to like and so easy to ignore. Yet I enjoy writing him, both as a loveable idiot and in the way he is in this story - that sad, lovelorn boy who, like you said, is just happy to be with Lily, to have won that small victory. I'm really glad that you liked how he turned out!
Thank you again for this review! For reading and enjoying even more so! ^_^