Byron's eyes were fixed on the little dark haired girl who weaved her way through the Malfoy gardens. Her eyes, alight with laughter, glinted in the twilight as she screamed with delight while her father chased her. Soft wavy hair floated behind her and whipped around the outstretched branches; sliding away, the texture smooth as silk.
Late spring had a brought a beautiful flush to her face and the air was laden with the smell of the apple orchard. With the fading light at her back, she looked like one of those angels his mother had shown him in his books; like she had stepped straight out of the shiny pages and into his life.
At that moment, her father stopped as he was called away by his wife and the angel was left to play by herself. He stepped forward almost unknowingly and snuck behind her. He breathed her in and felt his tummy ache like when he had had too much ice-cream and his chest hurt like when mom was upset with him for sneaking out at night.
"Byron, I can feel you breathing on my neck."
She spun and glowered at him. Her expression, so at odds with her former smile, was cute nonetheless.
"Don't you have some mud to roll in?" She sniffed.
"No." Byron answered and drew nothing further than a blank. She always made him feel so stupid, as if he had nothing more to say. He was the cleverest boy in his muggle class and in a year he would be going to Hogwarts just as his father did…yet, here he was, tongue tied again.
She stepped away from him, still glaring. "What do you want, Malfoy?"
Byron hated it when she called him by his last name. Mom did that to dad when she was mad and he couldn't help by feel as if he had done something wrong. And what was worse, she never did that to his brothers. Quentin and Gage were just Quentin and Gage to her. He was the eldest of the triplets and yet she seemed to treat him as if he were years younger.
"Nothing. I…" Byron didn't know what to say again. He unconsciously reached out to touch her but she pulled away and crinkled her nose.
She walked away, towards Quentin. He looped his arm around her and smirked in his direction; Byron fought the urge to punch him.
A heavy, familiar hand settled on his shoulder. Without looking up, he knew that his father stood silently as his side, probably smirking.
"You're still young." He said, his eyes crinkled at the corners, fine lines fanning out.
Draco continued unfazed by his son's surly nature. "Quentin has charm."
Byron scowled even more deeply.
"He will always be popular with the female sex." Draco's smiled softened as his eyes swung to Hermione. "But the right woman will see right through that charm and want you instead."
"Dad," Byron sighed. "Girls are disgusting. Why are you telling me this?"
Draco barked with laughter, throwing back his handsome head and drawing the eye of his beautiful mother.
"Say that to me in 5 years, son."
Byron ground his teeth; Quentin was whispering to her now and she was clutching his shirt and laughing, a wonderful expression on her face. Something angry bubbled through his stomach.
"Quentin has charm, my charm. Gage has smarts, from your mother. You, being the eldest of your siblings, have loyalty and responsibility. It's a burden now, Byron, but in the future, women will actually appreciate it."
Byron shrugged uncomfortably and shook off his father's hand. It was all well and good for Draco Malfoy to say that, after all, he was Draco Malfoy, but he was just Byron and he had yet to prove himself to be worthy of the Malfoy name. He looked up to his father, and loved his mother…he wanted nothing more than to make them proud.
Draco followed the direction of his gaze; watched as Quentin made the little girl laugh.
"Adrianna will come around. Just look at me and your mother."
"She won't. Adie hates me."
Draco laughed. "Your mother would've cursed me in the hallway at Hogwarts if she thought she could get away with it."
Byron sighed. He walked away from his father, the burning in his stomach becoming almost too much to bear as Quentin reached to hug the girl.
He had known Adie Zabini since birth and she had hated him since birth. Byron had an oddly distinct memory of her small, baby fist hit him square in the jaw as their parents had laid them down to sleep during their infancy.
Rubbing his jaw in memory, he tapped her on the shoulder.
She turned swiftly and the smile slid from her face. "It's Adrianna, Malfoy, what do you want?"
Quentin seemed to press his lips together, suppressing his laughter and Byron glared at him. He directed his gaze back towards the slim little girl and tried to smile rather than grimace.
"Do you want to go for a walk?"
She smiled widely. "Why yes, I would, preferably away from you."
Adrianna turned on her heel and strolled away.
Quentin smiled at him apologetically. "Sorry, man. You…you like her…don't you?"
Byron flinched away angrily. "No! Of course not. She's so annoying."
"You might as well have said yes." Gage said as he came strolling up. "Mom wants you to get Adrianna. Aunt Cat is looking for her."
Quentin laid a hand on his shoulder and shoved him forward while Byron watched him resentfully. As he walked away, he contemplated his brothers' golden good looks. Where Byron had been dark and silent from the moment he'd been born, hence the name, his brothers had both been gifted with the traditional Malfoy blond hair.
Even Gage was charming when he chose to look away from his books.
With his mother's colouring, he admitted he was at least less freakishly pale than his brothers but it only frustrated him. He idolised his father but when they were in public people obviously wondered if he was his father's son.
As he emerged deeper into the orchard, he spotted her dark locks just around the corner of a tree. In frustration, he leapt forward and grabbed her arm. With a startled shriek, she spun around, toppled into his outstretched arms and tripped into his lips.
Eyes wide open, Byron stood fearful and simultaneously ecstatic. He wanted to pull away and push forward at the same time.
Adrianna pulled away gently, staring at him open mouthed.
"Oh Merlin." She whispered and if Byron had been able to find his voice, he would have concurred.
"Did you see that?" Hermione squealed from her position behind some trees. She swatted her husbands arm until he hummed in agreement.
"How cute are they?" She whispered gleefully.
"Of course, honey."
"We should start planning the wedding." Hermione suggested.
"Whatever you want, honey."
She glared at him. "Are you even listening?"
"Yes. And don't you think it's a little premature to…"
Cat jumped out. "No! Oh Merlin, Blaise, how cute was that?"
Blaise glared at Draco. "I'm going to kill you son for that."
Draco just shook his head.
"He's my heir; and besides, when a Malfoy decides on his mate, it's a forever kind of thing."
Blaise grumbled and turned away.
Hermione and Cat squealed and parted to kiss their respective husbands.
Life was good.
15 years later…
I, Byron Nicolai Pierre Malfoy take thee, Adrianna Raleigh Zabini to be my lawfully wedded wife…
…to have and to hold from this day forward, till death do we part…
He kissed her and just like the first time, the thrill raced through his veins, and just like the first time, he felt that thrill of fear and ecstasy.
That feeling, he hoped, would never change.