Later that morning Professor Salazar knocked on Professor Dumbledore's door. "Come in," he heard from somewhere within so he pushed the door open and entered the headmaster's study. "Ah Victor, what can I do for you?"
"I just… I needed to…"
"Yes?" Dumbledore was sat behind his desk. His chin leaning on his hands as he took in the teacher before him.
"I made a mistake. I allowed the dementors to pass me. I put myself first before the students. It was a split second decision – one that I regretted and put right instantly – but that doesn't change the fact that I'm supposed to protect this school, these pupils, your staff. I let you down Dumbledore."
"Salazar – did the dementors get passed you in the end?" Dumbledore asked kindly.
"No – I stopped them when I came to my senses," Victor Salazar told him.
"Well then, no harm done," Dumbledore smiled.
"But Albus," Salazar began.
"No Victor… we all make mistakes, myself included. What matters isn't that you made a mistake. What matters is that you rectified it before any damage was done."
"I want to resign," Salazar told Dumbledore.
"I cannot stop you resigning but I do not think you should nor do I think you need to," Dumbledore replied calmly.
"I messed up. I can't teach the children that I would have sacrificed for my own life," Salazar sighed.
"If that is how you feel, I am sure you are right," Dumbledore allowed.
"I am sorry Dumbledore."
"I know Victor. I know. I just wish there was another option. Will you at least finish the year?"
"I don't know if I can Albus," Salazar admitted.
"Could you try?" Albus asked, "It's too late in the year for me to find anyone to replace you."
"I will try," Salazar nodded his head. "You really are a good man, Dumbledore."
"I don't know about that," Dumbledore laughed gently. Salazar smiled before leaving the study. Dumbledore sighed, better start looking for another defence teacher.
The Gryffindors joined the rest of the school, outside in the grounds over the next week. March had started out terribly but now it was shaping up to be a pretty good month. The restrictions had been lifted and the students were now allowed to come and go in the grounds as they pleased once more. The next Hogsmeade weekend had been booked for the last week in March, just before they broke up for Easter. The students couldn't help but feel relieved as their school year finally looked like it was going to improve. Lily and James were getting on better than ever but both of them seemed heavily aware that it probably wouldn't last for long. Their friends were enjoying the temporary amity but they had a feeling that as soon as Snape and the other Slytherins were allowed back into class with the rest of the school that their temporary alliance would be over. Snape would make sure of that.
After their week in the grounds the school returned to its usual pattern except that the Slytherins were missing in most classes. James and Lily, although still kind to one another were beginning to feel some of their past annoyance at one another. Lily remembered her reasons for disliking James when he pranked the first year Slytherins. Lily had been so angry. Those poor children hadn't even been involved in the dementor attack. They didn't deserve it, Lily thought. When she told James her thoughts, he merely smiled, "But Evans – it's just a bit of fun. No harm no fowl."
She had practically killed James with her glare but James tried his best to just laugh it off and by nightfall they had returned to their bizarre almost friendship. James remembered how much Lily annoyed him when she sat next to him in charms class the next day. He was trying to have a civilised conversation with Sirius about an article in the paper but Lily kept shushing them. They were distracting her from listening to Professor Flitwick. James grew more irritated every moment until Professor Flitwick let them go. As they were walking through the corridor James quickly forgave Lily for being so obsessed with learning when she laughed at his joke.
The next day Lily remembered why she found James so infuriating when he beat her at transfiguration. He'd managed the spell several times before she could even do it once. She huffed in frustration until James leant over and helped her. He smiled at her before saying, "flick your wand like this." She tried the spell again and it worked. She almost hugged him she was so shocked. She practically jumped on him but quickly untangled herself from him.
"Er… thanks Potter," She said awkwardly.
By the end of March they had fallen into a comfortable routine. The Gryffindors would attend breakfast together. They would meet in the common room beforehand and walk down together. Then they would attend class together. James would sit in between Sirius and Lily. The group now sat in most classes together in a long line, a united front. Free lessons were spent in the common room working on homework. James had done more of his homework in the last month than during the rest of his time at Hogwarts. He had a feeling it was Evans' influence. He was really enjoying the chance to get to know her. He started to hope that perhaps they'd become friends. They certainly were getting on better than ever before. They were now sat together on the Hogwarts Express, ten friends on their way to Kings Cross. They were all staying at the Potters' house for the holidays. Lily would never admit it but she was excited about staying at James'. She'd been once before when visiting Alice. They had spent the whole day in the pool. She was looking forward to seeing more of the house. Marlene always spoke of the Potters' with great enthusiasm and Alice was no different. They seemed to have some profound level of respect for Mr Potter and they completely idolised Mrs Potter. Lily had heard both girls say that if they became half the wife Dorea Potter was then they'd be doing a swell job. The train suddenly pulled into platform nine and three quarters. The Gryffindors all grabbed their rucksacks and left the train in search of Mr and Mrs Potter.
Snape tried to grab Lily's arm to talk to her but she turned away from him saying, "I'll see you back at school, Snape." Her eyes were hurt and Snape wondered if he'd finally lost his best friend. I hope not, he thought to himself.
James put an arm around Lily's shoulder as Sirius ruffled her hair, "don't worry you've still got us."
She huffed but couldn't resist laughing. If things carried on the way they were going, Lily Evans was in real danger of becoming friends with James Potter and even Merlin forbid, Sirius Black. Lily shivered at the thought, suddenly terrified.