Oh my gosh. I... gosh, I honestly don't know what to say... I just read this all in one go - I couldn't stop, no matter what - and... wow. Just wow.
Right, let's try writing something coherent ;)
It was amazing. Absolutely amazing. The whole plot was so intricately woven together, so perfectly done - I never suspected, not really, that Lily herself was the woman in the portrait, that she was his wife. It occured to me at one point that Lily had had red hair at one point, and if the dye grew out... but I never thought it would actually happen. I didn't think about what was going to happen, really. I was so hooked, I just kept reading. Ah, gosh, all the little things in there that I now understand having finished it - the whole thing with the notes and the cupboard and the rings and the fire - just made it so brilliant. The idea itself is incredible, but the fact that you actually managed to write it without confusing yourself or the readers? Mind-blowing. (Also, I've read Jane Eyre and I barely noticed the similarities in some places until you pointed them out at the end of the chapter :P)
Your characters were wonderful as well. Lily was just so brilliant - so young and naive at the beginning, so foolish and curious and kinda happy-go-lucky in a pessimistic, moody way, if that makes sense. Then, at the end I can absolutely see her turning into the spiteful woman in the portrait, driven mad by the knowledge of what happens in the future. Moody was just perfect. Nuff said. I've never seen a better Moody written, and he's so difficult to write, so all credit to you for that.
I just loved this. I loved it so much. It was absolutely incredible... gosh, it's just perfect. Absolutely perfect.
Author's Response: Thank you! This review has had me squeeing for some time now - it's a fantastic thing to have received, not only because it was a surprise, but because it's just plain brilliant. It means a lot that you enjoyed the story so much - to hear it called "perfect" is amazing beyond words. ^_^
The plot twist with Lily and the portrait was a sneaky thing - there were many times when I thought it was too obvious, but others when it wasn't obvious enough. There are so many gingers in the Potterverse anyway that it could have been someone else - maybe even an ancestor of Lily via the Weasleys (that would have been cool, actually - I wish I'd thought of that sooner :P). But what was interesting about making them the same person was that it emphasized Lily's fear that it was all a dream. If it was all happening in Lily's head, then she would be battling herself (the portrait) for the desired object (Moody) and Freud would have a lot of fun. :P
It's wonderful to hear that you liked the characters, too. Sometimes Lily was difficult to work with because she was so bitter and dark, all her ability to hope and be happy buried deep within - but she could feel, and do so profusely, which tears her apart from the inside out. She became far more complicated than I ever expected.
And Moody. ^_^ Oh gosh, I think I fell in love with him myself while writing, so it's a great treat to hear that his characterization in this story was spot-on.
Thank you again for this fabulous review! :D