Yay, I've been waiting and looking for the next chapter! As a matter of fact, I checked just earlier today to see if it was up yet. I just saw your post in the chapter updates thread, so I hurried over here as soon as I was finished over at the forums. If I stop jabbering and actually read, and then write quickly enough, I might manage to sneak in as the first review on this chapter.
Ok, time has passed, and I have read it. I have to say, time travel has always boggled my mind. Just thinking about it makes my head spin. It can all become very confusing and convoluted. The little voice inside me that constantly asks, "Why? How?" asserts itself!
Here, I'm wondering how Lily managed to create this cycle in time. That's not the point of the story, though, as far as I can tell, but that doesn't keep me from wondering. This presents a real dilemma for present/future Lily, I suppose. At this point, she has yet to travel back in time again (even though it also has already happened). It sounds as if she could choose to stay in the present. However, that would probably alter the past and therefore the future . . .
. . . and this is where my head really starts to spin! :P I wonder how much her choice here would affect things, though? I guess it would make a different in Moody's life (even if he still would go mad after all), and if his life is altered, then that could definitely have repercussions regarding Voldemort. It's hard to say for sure what would happen, though.
I also have to wonder how many of these cycles there have been. The past Lily (who is also the future Lily, should present Lily choose to travel again) seems to imply there is this cycle going on, so I wonder if it has been played out before? Either way, if events are to remain unaltered, I think she will have to travel.
One thing I found very fascinating about this chapter was how present Lily and past/future/whatever Lily are presented essentially as two different people (and then there's the grave too, so is that a third Lily? Whoa.). It creates this interesting dynamic, because past/future Lily seems to hold some power since she has more memories (I think). However, present Lily also holds power because the future/past is really riding on her decision at this point. Especially when you consider the two Lilys as different aspects of the same person, it's an interesting psychological puzzle that I am in no way qualified to analyze properly.
As usual, you have left me wanting more! I look forward to the final chapter.
Author's Response: Ooooh, you've asked all the hard questions about time! The ones I don't know how to answer! It boggles my mind too, no matter how many time travel movies I see, or how much I love Doctor Who - time travel tends to pose more questions than it's ever able to answer. For instance, is it possible to have a time loop? In my mind, it has happened at least once already, and Lily doesn't have a choice. From the moment she stepped into the cabinet, or even before, she made her choice. I wanted to leave it more open for the reader, but Lily really can't stay where she is in her own time - it's killing her to stay put, not when she feels that she belongs somewhere (somewhen?) else. She could technically return at any time, but if you notice the dates - death at 47, 37 years before she'll be born, 27 years spent with Moody - there's a mathematical perfection to that particular moment in time, like fate has prescribed her choice for her. It takes away her agency, or does it? Is she driven to this choice, or does she welcome it and take it on freely? More mind boggling ensues.
The time cycle isn't "the point" of the story, but it does become a key feature of it. For Lily, there's a sort of endlessness - she will die, but it's not a definite end. It's a major lesson that she has to learn because, at the beginning of the story, she had thought her life was at a deadend, but instead, she enters into this state of rebirth and death, just like the phoenix. It's an interesting aspect of JKR's world - the scene with Dumbledore in King's Cross, or the way that JKR constantly emphasizes return and repetition. It makes Lily's cyclical timeline fit into the Potterverse eerily well.
To be honest, the presentation of future-Lily as a different character was more to keep things straight for me while I wrote than anything. The other reason why it works is that throughout the story, Lily has seen "Mrs. Moody" as a separate person - the horrific portrait, the intimidating "other" woman who, like Bertha or Rebecca, possesses the object of the protagonist's desire. Even here, when Lily has accepted that she has been both protagonist and antagonist, she still sees the future-Lily as someone else. There's still that potential that the time between them can change and that she'll end up being different - the cycle holds the potential to shift.
Oh my gosh, you've made me think all sorts of crazy things about this story. And there I only wanted to write something dark and romantic. this monster of a story comes out instead. :P Thank you very much for your wonderful review - I missed how amazingly thought-provoking (not to mention plot bunny provoking) your reviews are! Thank you!