The Best Policy
"Harry. You're not packed for school yet."
"No, I'm not." Harry hated having to answer, but he hated the hesitancy in Sirius's voice even more, as though he thought he didn't have a right to make demands on Harry's time and patience.
"But you're leaving in only a couple of hours."
"No, I'm not," Harry repeated.
"Of course you are. What else would you do with yourself if you didn't go to Hogwarts?"
"Stay here with you. You can tutor me so that I don't fall behind, and I'll even go back to sit my N.E.W.T.s if you like."
"I can't tutor you. I'm not suited to...I don't remember enough, Harry," Sirius said, his voice low and embarrassed. "I haven't cracked an Arithmancy book since I left Hogwarts, and I don't think I ever read a History of Magic text when I was in school, let alone out of it. Not to mention Potions and Herbology and half the other classes you're taking. About the only things I could teach properly are Defense and Charms. Maybe Transfigurations if I boned up a bit beforehand."
"That's not important. What matters most is that you're the only one I can trust. Everyone else lies to me."
"Hang on. Remus wouldn't--"
"He tried to tell me you were dead," Harry interrupted fiercely.
"And he was very nearly right!"
"Only because we didn't know how to bring you back then. And if I'd given up looking, then you would be dead, and it would be all his fault!"
"That's not being fair to Remus. He did what he thought was best at the time."
"I don't care," Harry said, setting his jaw stubbornly. "I'm staying with you."
Sirius sighed. "Harry, it's not as though I'm some sort of paragon of honesty myself. Put Fudge at one end and McGonagall on the other, and I'm somewhere in the middle."
"You've never lied to me."
"Of course I have!"
Harry felt suddenly numb. "You've lied to me? When?"
"What, you want me to list every single time?"
"What've you been lying to me about?" Harry persisted, though his voice shook a little.
"It's not anything I said, necessarily. I've just kept some things from you, that's all."
Sirius opened his mouth to answer, then closed it again. He nodded.
"Like this." Sirius traced one long finger along Harry's jawline to his ear. Harry stared at him, wide-eyed and confused. He almost pulled away, but then Sirius's hand slipped around to clasp the back of his neck and drew him forward into a kiss.
Harry gasped against Sirius's mouth, and felt the soft, wet tip of Sirius's tongue against his lips.
Sirius pulled away abruptly. "Now will you please go pack for Hogwarts?" he asked, sounding wearied and blasted out.
"Okay," Harry said.
He watched Sirius's shoulders slump defeatedly.
"But only if you promise to owl me everyday, and tell me all about...this." He blushed, but made himself step closer and brush a kiss against Sirius's astonished face. "I don't need you to protect me from the truth anymore."