It was all going so well. The New Decade New Approach deal was holding up. The Covid crisis had brought some unity. Health Minister Robin Swann won widespread praise.
The DUP, UUP, Sinn Fein and the SDLP cooperated across the divide to consolidate devolved government. Four embeddings - and then a funeral.
Sinn Fein's New Death New Approach to social distancing was always likely to produce a heated response after months of sacrifices by others. And now there is the risk we end up looking back at January to June 2020 as another brief golden age of devolution.
But Executive quarantining remains improbable. Michelle O'Neill's apology may have had a "sorry but not too much" feel but the crisis is survivable.
Arlene Foster needs Michelle O'Neill and vice-versa. As other political leaders called for O'Neill's head, Foster's initial response was notably more circumspect.
And the chances of O'Neill stepping down for a PSNI investigation are on a par with the prospect of a DUP delegation paying respects at the next big republican funeral.
The DUP and Sinn Fein suffered a combined 13% loss in vote share at December's election. They were blamed for Stormont's absence and are fully aware of voter wrath if devolved government collapses again. The DUP and Sinn Fein might be politically distanced but they need each other. New Decade New Approach wisely built in some insurance in case the Assembly returned to its default position of crisis.
The January deal allows six months before elections are needed if there is collapse. Ministers remain in office in a caretaker capacity and it is business as usual for Assembly committees.
The deal also created an Executive Party Leaders' Forum, which convened on Friday, an informal 'safe space' to head off trouble.
That several leaders called publicly for O'Neill to stand down shows the Forum's limited value. But it is the sort of place needed for compromise to emerge to quieten the loudest "O'Neill Must Go" sounds heard in Northern Ireland since the 1960s. Unquestionably, the public wants devolved government and parties do not like others deciding who can be ministers in that government. The sum of those parts is much fury but probably no change.
Sinn Fein can hardly acquiesce to the departure of their Deputy First Minister and the price for other parties of walking out if O'Neill stays may be too high.
Nonetheless, the fragility of the reassembled political coalition is apparent. The next test of goodwill might be a livelier Twelfth than previously expected. Expect a few "sorry, not sorry" statements from loyalists after bands take to the streets. And many will hope there are no more big political funerals over the next few months. Otherwise, power-sharing government might also be cremated.
Jon Tonge is Professor of Politics at the University of Liverpool and co-author of books on the DUP, UUP, Sinn Fein and the SDLP