I knew as soon as I looked at the story summary that I would not be able to form a proper understanding without reading the entire thing, and so that is what I've spend the last hour and a half to two hours doing. Ideally, I would wait a day or two to process all this and turn it over in my mind before making remarks (which still probably wouldn't be up to scrach, nor express all my thoughts), but here we go. :P
First off, this is the best piece of fanfiction I have read in quite some time. It's better than the "real" book I'm reading right now too. I shouldn't be surprised, as everything you write is just so good that I am astonished and worn out every time I read some of your work.
This story was such a compelling read, just drawing me along and catching me up in all the emotion and . . . I hardly know what to say about it all. Every thought seems completely inadequate or incoherent. I hardly care now how you split up the final two chapters, only that you post them!
Your overall writing and description is superb, as always. Your writing has such an elegance to it, yet you don't use it only to describe beautiful things . . . the beauty winds up being in the writing, and then there is always something shocking lurking somewhere. The description in this story made the settings come alive. I swear I could nearly here the thuds, smell the coffee or the ozone from the lightning, feel drafts, etc.
However, a nicely described setting just sits there until it has characters equal to the task of bringing it to life. Moody and Lily most certainly were equal to the task, and the plants and cabinet also were important . . . not characters, but players, perhaps I should say. This story also, to some extent, reminded me of a play.
Also, I am intrigued by the way you have foreshadowed in this story, or at least provided hints for the reader. It's fascinating how you can use the time travelling to aid you in this. The opposite ways Moody and Lily are travelling allow for an interesting balance that I cannot describe properly. Anyway, back to the foreshadowing . . . there were a few times when reading that I suspected something, only to have it confirmed in later chapters.
Perhaps the biggest one of these suspicions had to do with the identity of Moody's wife, and you just seem to have confirmed her as Lily, which I suspected from the moment I read about the blank portrait. The story's not over yet, though, so I'm not going to celebrate just yet. However, there are still rather a lot of questions to be answered here, so I suppose the last two chapters will have to explain the whole thing somehow.
I'm not sure how much sense I'm making so far, but the point of it all is that I was sitting here with a boggled mind, coming up with different ways to express one idea: OMG WOWWW PLZ UPDATE SOON OR I WILL DIE!!!
I have no idea what to tell you regarding the split between the last two chapters, but because I seem to be something of a reading masochist, I hope you end the second-to-last on some sort of cliff-hanger or shocking tidbit.
Author's Response: Your reviews have always been among my favourite - I don't know how you write such amazing ones, but I'm thankful for every single one that I can manage to get. :D Thank you very much for taking the time to go through this story - you've offered a great many helpful comments, and without them, I don't know if I could have finished the story, not in the way that I did, certainly not with the same feeling of closure. My original idea for the penultimate chapter veered in a different direction, leaving a lot of questions unanswered, but because of you and A_Wiz, I rethought a few things and made the story was it now is. That is hugely meaningful. ^_^
It's interesting what you mentioned about the story being like a play because, in my head, it kind of was. The views of scenery are definitely cinematic because they're so vast, demanding a widescreen with lots of depth, but the scenes with the characters are the complete opposite - they're so focused on the characters themselves, their dialogue and interaction (though Lily would have a lot of great soliloquies). When writing the final chapters, I realized just how few characters there are - Harry, Ginny, Parvati, and Neville are all peripheral, stepping in for a brief scene (like you said, the cabinet, the portrait, and the plants were more prevalent than these human supporting characters), but for the most part, it's Lily and Moody who carry the whole story. I worried that this would be limiting, so I'm very pleased to hear that it wasn't and the two "starring" characters were up to the task of carrying the plot.
The foreshadowing was crazy to write! Every little thing that went into the early chapters had to return, and some things, for instance like the lotus flower, were missed. I'm glad that the mistakes I'm made weren't noticeable, that's for sure! (there are a few, but I won't mention them so that no one actually does notice them) :P I hope that the last two chapters do bring everything together in a satisfying way, answering as many questions as possible and bringing the cycle back to the beginning. *crosses fingers*
Your review has made wonderful sense! Thank you for all the amazing compliments (they've left me squeeing for ages!) and suggestions. They really mean a lot! ^_^