“Mum, this is Desiree Warbeck. Desiree, this is my mother Nicola Zabini.”
Blaise stood stiffly between the two, pressing down his dress robes with one slightly sweaty hand. He knew he’d been telling Desiree not to worry, and he really didn’t care if his mother had anything to say about it, but he still wanted things to go well. And, as had been consistent since the day he met her, Desiree made him nervous where few things ever did.
“Hello, Mrs— Madame Zabini. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.” Desiree shook her hand and did a prim curtsey that Blaise wanted to laugh at, but knew better than to do so if he didn’t want to get poked in the ribs later.
“The pleasure is all mine, darling.”
True to Blaise’s predictions, Nicola was kind to Desiree. Her coming from a celebrity family on one side and a wealthy, political family on the other was really the only thing that hit the mark for Nicola. She didn’t care that Blaise loved her or that Des was Black, both were just icing on the cake.
Blaise realized he’d thought the L-word and resolved to come back to it later. But it made him itch around his very high collar.
“Blaise, dear, why didn’t we just eat at home?” The three of them were eating at Fancy’s Tavern, a wizard-owned restaurant in South London owned by a family acquaintance of Desiree’s Minister grandmum. “Henny would have made us such a lovely meal. It’s been a long time since I’ve had her home cooking.”
“We didn’t want to bother Henny…” Desiree started, but Blaise placed his hand over hers on the table, getting back his usual direct and to the point self.
“We stopped using Henny, Mum. Some of our friends at school pointed out that we shouldn’t be taking advantage of house-elves and Desiree convinced me that Henny should retire.”
“Retire,” Nicola said with an arch to her eyebrow. “Henny is only 30! She came with that house — which Luke left us when he died you know — and she’s been such a wonderful help with raising you and keeping our home! Don’t tell me you kicked out your former step-father’s house-elf.”
Blaise glanced at Desiree and she looked back at him, wide-eyed, clearly feeling like she’d messed up already.
“First of all, Luke was a Death Eater who killed my father. So I think we can do whatever we want to his house.” Blaise heard Desiree gasp, but he moved on. He’d known the truth for a long time and didn’t understand why his mother was trying to play the sympathy card with it. “Second of all, Henny wouldn’t leave and of course we didn’t kick her out, Mum. We offered her payment for her services and she said no. So we just let her live in the house and do what she wants. No demands. No big dinners anymore. Plus, we thought it would be nice to be out on the town.”
“She’s made some other house-elf friends,” Desiree supplied softly, worrying her bottom lip. “They’ve formed a little community since the war and the Hogwarts elves left…” She trailed off at Nicola’s disbelieving expression.
As the waiter came and took their orders, Nicola eyed Blaise’s hand, still clasping Desiree’s. “I’ve never heard you use the word ‘we’ quite so much, Blaise.”
Blaise flushed, but didn’t back down from his mother’s haughty smirk. “I was tired of Desiree and I being…Desiree and I. I was tired of just being ‘I.’” He shrugged and squeezed Des’ hand one last time, but then let it go.
“Hmm. So, Desiree,” Nicola said, flagging the waiter to be quicker with the drinks. “What are you going to do with yourself now that you’re done with school?”
Desiree fidgeted once again. “Well, first, I think Blaise and I — we should probably give my parents and gran the same formal introduction we’re giving you. Then perhaps travel with them a bit. My mum’s been asking for me.”
Nicola caught the dispassion in her voice and swooped. “Not excited to see your family? I imagine after the war and being at school for so long you’d want to spend time with them. I thought that was why Blaise wanted you to meet with me, but perhaps all you younglings are breaking free a bit earlier.” She sipped her elfwine, which she’d ordered very pointedly.
“Oh, it’s not that I don’t want to see them. They just have…expectations of me that I’m not sure I really fit the mold of.”
“A parent’s expectations are just because they want the best for their children.” Nicola grasped Blaise’s hand then, the opposite hand that had been holding Desiree’s earlier. “I know Blaise thinks I don’t care if he’s happy, but I really do.”
He looked at her intently. “I know you just want what’s best for me, Mum. And Des is it. What were you doing at my age?” he asked, knowing very well she was getting ready to marry his father, and not just for his money.
“Well, if you’re insisting on marrying for love or whatever—”
“Marrying?!” Blaise said, not intending her to actually go down that road. “Love?” Desiree said at the same time, pressing her hand to her heart.
“Then I suppose Desiree Warbeck will do just nicely.” Nicola swallowed the last of her wine and signaled for another, ignoring Desiree and Blaise’s twin existential crises.
“Mum, Desiree and I aren’t about to get married right now.”
“No? You’ve used ‘we’ about seven times and are about to go on tour to meet her parents. And that’s exactly what I was doing at your age. I honestly don’t know what you need to wait for. I attended 16 weddings the week I graduated Hogwarts. I only waited because your father wanted to make a splash and avoid the crowd. That hot air balloon ceremony truly was to die for.”
“Yes, you packed all your friends on a magically expanded hot air balloon and said your vows at sunset in Italy. You’ve told me that story before, Mum. I just…we’re not…we’re not quite there yet.”
Desiree was quiet and Blaise looked at her, wondering if this had all escalated too far, too fast. He really didn’t know why he didn’t expect his mother to push things in this direction, but he shouldn’t have been surprised. Thankfully, their food arrived and they were distracted with eating and hearing about Nicola’s week with Henri. It was looking like he might need a trip to Sante Maguire in Paris soon to get himself sorted out.
At the end of dinner, the three of them stepped out into the warm night.
“Let’s go see what you’ve got Henny up to in my house,” Nicola said, shrugging her shawl made from Fwooper feathers around her shoulders. Even in the warm night, a well-placed cooling charm had her looking her finest. She turned to walk down the path but stopped short when Blaise didn’t follow her.
“I’m going to take Desiree home. I’ll probably be at the manor late.”
Nicola tried not to look put out, but Blaise could tell she was disappointed. He didn’t know why she expected him to fall behind her like he always had, especially when she was single. She’d always give her latest boytoys whatever attention they required, often leaving Blaise to his own devices, then expected him to fill the companion gap when she was done with them. How the tables have turned.
“Fine,” she sniffed. She turned to Desiree. “I may seem…particular, but I do like that you’re who Blaise has chosen.” Desiree’s warm brown skin glowed in the light of the street lamps.
“She chose me, Mum.” Blaise kissed his mother’s cheek and didn’t wait before Side-Along-Apparating Desiree to her house.
“That wasn’t terrible,” Blaise said as they walked along the garden path to her front door. It was a lovely night and neither was in a big rush to get inside. Blaise lazily tugged Desiree to a swing near the fountain. He took off his cloak and Desiree promptly nestled in next to him. With a couple of taps of his wand, the swing started gently rocking and the fountain began spouting water that turned colors.
“No, I suppose not. I didn’t think about how much she’d be upset about Henny, though. I’m so sorry.”
“Why are you apologizing? It’s a decision I made, with your help, for a house I’ve been living in much more than her since we left school.” Blaise shrugged, uninterested in Desiree’s usual peacekeeping at the expense of her previous decision. That was usually where their House differences became most apparent.
“I just feel bad. It’s not like Henny wanted to leave. She would keep doing what she was doing. But Hermione’s idea for them to have a space to meet has really been wonderful, hasn’t it?”
Blaise didn’t want to talk about Hermione and house-elves. He looked down at her, skin glowing under the moonlight, eyes bright as she talked about elves and happiness, and just wanted to kiss her. So he did. Long and sweet and with his hand sliding into her wild, curly hair.
But she soon pulled away, her eyes wide with…terror? “Oh Merlin, I just remembered your mother and the…love and marriage conversation. And we’re going to have to do it all again with my parents.” She buried her face into his robes and groaned.
Blaise merely shrugged. “I mean she threw me off for a bit, but I don’t have a problem with anything she said. We’re…on a path. We’re just going to do it our way and not hers.”
Desiree stilled in his arms. “Even the…L-word part? No…problem with that?” she asked, voice muffled.
He nudged her until she lifted her face from his chest and looked him in the eyes.
“None at all. I love you, Desiree,” he said, exhaling sharply after the words were out. When she smiled in response, her teeth outstandingly white against her well-kissed brown lips, Blaise felt that feeling in his chest, like he’d made all the right decisions and his life would be perfect if she’d just look at him like that forever.
“I love you too, Blaise.” They kissed again, Desiree’s hand clutching his robes. He groaned as she broke away again. “I can’t believe you said it first! I thought I would. I owe Dean a Galleon.” And with that, she burst into a fit of giggles at the sight of his affronted look. He couldn’t even be mad. He loved her when he was kissing her and also when he wasn’t.
A few days later, Blaise landed with an abrupt pop at the Apparition Station in Lagos. The thin, wiry wizard attendant — who made sure splinchers got medical attention and the station was fully stocked and clean — merely gave a sleepy nod when he confirmed Blaise had all his limbs attached. They’d had to Apparate through Europe quite a bit before Portkeying across the Mediterranean into Morocco. As Blaise stretched, he realized all that travel, plus the longer Apparition journey from Casablanca to Lagos, had really done a number on his muscles. Perhaps he could convince Des to go to a magical spa while they were here.
Desiree popped in as he made sure their bags were all there — it was his job to make sure they were successfully magicked over. Anxious to get out of the stuffy station, the couple miniaturized their bags and walked out of the Apparition dock into the city.
Lagos was home to the Black African MagiMusi Festival (BAMMF), a huge music festival held every four years in different cities across the magical African diaspora. Celestina was a headliner for the Soul Stage this year and Des and Blaise were expected to join the Warbeck tour caravan of sorts from there.
Desiree and Blaise set off for the festival grounds. Larger than even the Triwizard Tournament, the BAMMF had six sprawling music stages and what must have been thousands of stalls filled with vendors and food. Even at midday, the sky was filled with fireworks and heavenly smells that wafted through the air. Desiree pulled Blaise from stall to stall, checking out their wares and nibbling on various delicacies.
“I can tell you’re stalling, you know,” he said in her ear, as she walked away from another vendor. At this one, she’d bought ten self-wrapping headwraps — some for herself, one for her mum, and some for the girls of the BSU — and chatted with the friendly young owner for ten minutes about ways to charm them to fold in different ways.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” she said with a smile as she twirled to the next booth.
As she charmed the merchants one by one, Blaise stood outside the lip of the tented stalls, watching several kids run in a circle as older teens blew bubbles straight from their hands above the laughing children. Instead of popping when poked, the bubbles changed colors. Blaise marveled at their wandless magic, suddenly aware of the weight of the wand in his tunic’s upper pocket, where it normally felt invisible.
They reached the end of a row that was mere feet from the Soul Stage backstage area. Suddenly, Desiree stood ramrod straight, steeling herself as if for battle, and marched towards the watch wizard guarding the VIP entry to Celestina’s dressing tent, which was the size of a small house. Desiree took a deep breath in and rocked on her toes as she waved her wand. A chime rang through the air and Blaise thought it sounded, somehow, remarkably like Desiree. It wasn’t something he could put into words, but it was a musical tone that he knew would alert the Warbecks that it was Desiree who was outside waiting for them. He stood a bit straighter as he waited with her, licking his lips before noticing the habit and stopping. He hated not knowing what would be on the other side of the door, despite thinking that anything that produced Desiree couldn’t be that scary.
The tent opened to Desiree’s father. He was taller and thicker than Blaise and he could tell that he was where Desiree got her shape and her hair. He wore his in a short but loose and fluffy afro, a bushy mustache on his genial face. He had rosy cheeks and laugh lines in the corners of his eyes.
Desiree and her father hugged tight, both with joyful smiles. Blaise felt his cold exterior splinter under the happiness they both radiated, but he held tight to his cool. Displays of affection between others didn’t normally elicit emotion from him. (Desiree, on the other hand, once saw two owls on top of Gringotts greet each other by trading a branch, and nearly burst into tears.)
“I’m so glad you’ve made it out, Desi-poo,” her father said, welcoming them into the tent.
“Me too, Daddy. And here’s Blaise.” Blaise knew that Desiree had told her father about him; they spoke often and had great respect for each other. Blaise hadn’t gotten a good sense of Mr. Warbeck’s reaction to the news, but he’d agreed to keep it from her mother so she could tell her herself. Blaise didn’t know if that was meant to work in his favor or not.
“It’s nice to meet you, sir. Desiree’s been very excited to see you again.” Blaise almost met Desiderius at the end of their last term, but he and Desiree chose to reunite with their families separately when the war ended. They didn’t want to add “meet my maybe boyfriend/girlfriend” after the long day’s fight that was Harry Potter’s defeat of the Dark Lord. But Desiderius had been the parent who came to see her after the chaos. Diahanna had chosen to stay at work, keeping Celestina safely guarded.
Desiderius took Blaise’s outstretched hand and pulled him into a hug. It was a tight, bone-crushing one and Blaise was unsure of the last time he’d been hugged warmly by another man. He didn’t know what to do with his hands.
Desiree saved him from having to figure it out. “Okay Dad, you can let him go now.”
“We’re glad to have you here, Blaise,” Desiderius said with a beam as he let Blaise straighten his ruffled tunic. It was no wonder Desiderius Warbeck was Desiree’s favorite person, Blaise thought with a slight smile. They were just alike. Unrelentingly bubbly.
“Thank you, sir. Happy to be here.”
Behind Desiderius, Diahanna Jenkins-Warbeck floated from one of the apartment doors towards them. She appeared to be applying the last bit of her lotion, her brown skin shimmering in the golden-hued light of the tent’s common area. Diahanna was lean, her hair bone straight, and her expression serious.
“Welcome, Desiree darling,” Diahanna said, approaching Desiree and primly clutching her cheeks. She kissed both of them lightly, before stepping back to look at her daughter. There was an arch of her eyebrow as she looked Desiree’s curvy body up and down. “Hmm. Well, those Hogwarts house-elves always did make too much food.” And immediately, Blaise felt rage warm his normally cool nature.
“Mum, come on,” Desiree said, flicking her mother’s thin fingers away from her stomach. Not quite cowing, but clearly eager to move on.
Blaise cleared his throat and both women looked in his direction. He walked over to Desiree, putting his hand possessively around her waist as he held his hand out to Diahanna.
“Blaise Zabini. I’m Desiree’s boyfriend.” Blaise knew he should soften his glare — despite the comment, this was still his girlfriend’s mother — but he liked to give people the same energy they gave him when they pissed him off.
Diahanna looked at Blaise’s hand and he thought she might reject the offer, but she shook it, her hands just as thin as she was, but her grip was strong. Blaise had prepared to come up against his girlfriend’s father in proving himself to her — he blamed the patriarchy for blinding him to the real challenge.
From what Desiree had told him on their journey so far, her mother was a fearless and bold woman who was used to things going her way. What could have been a great political dynasty was cut short by Diahanna’s mother’s boot from office after seven years. Though Eugenia Jenkins, and the rest of the family, made a weary peace with the racist and sexist aggressions that kept Eugenia from acting against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, Diahanna had never gotten over it. Blaise thought she was like his own mother, in a way; both fiercely holding onto their place in society.
“Welcome, Blaise. Your parents and I were a few years apart at Hogwarts, all in Slytherin. I was sorry to hear about your father’s death. He got Slughorn to stop bothering me about the Slug Club, which was less about my benefit and more about getting close to my mother.”
“Oh. I didn’t know you knew him.” Curiosity settled his ire, but it was merely lying in wait.
Blaise barely heard anything about his father. No one seemed to know him or talk about him, least of all his own mother. She rarely talked about any of her exes, living or deceased. She was big on moving on, which Blaise found he didn’t mind when it was out of sight and out of mind. But here was someone who knew his father, however briefly.
“Not well, we were in the same house but ran in different circles. From what I remember he spent most of his time doing what your mother said.” She said it with a refined snort and an arch of her eyebrow. Blaise couldn’t tell if she thought that was bad or just stating what she observed. Desiree slipped her hand into his. They’d never, ever talked about his dad. Blaise didn’t know what to say, so he said nothing.
Diahanna and Desiderius took Desiree around the tent — making sure to point out the distance between her room and Blaise’s — before finally knocking on Celestina’s door.
Celestina Warbeck was smaller than Blaise had imagined. Not small, really, just smaller than she appeared in the papers and magazines.
Her silver and gray hair was done up in curlers and she wore a silky gold and purple robe. She hugged Desiree for a solid minute, murmuring things into her ear and rocking her back and forth. Blaise, so used to it just being him and his mum, had never seen so much familial affection. Diahanna’s frostier demeanor was more what he was used to.
“Nana, this is Blaise. Blaise, this is the celebrated Celestina Warbeck!” Celestina grabbed both of his hands and beamed up at him.
“You making my baby happy, young man?” Blaise flushed and looked over at Desiree, eyes wide. Her smile seemed to imply yes, so he said so. “Good. I’d do anything for my favorite grandchild.”
“Nana, you don’t have any other grandchildren.”
“Shh. Come, help me get ready for the show.” Desiree went with her grandmother to her dressing room, leaving Blaise to awkwardly stand in the lounge with both of her parents. He quickly set himself busy with enlarging their bags and putting them in their rooms.
Later that evening, Desiree and Blaise stood in the wings as Celestina warbled her tunes to an adoring audience. Celestina’s set was amazing. Unlike her fellow performers, with their high flying acrobatics, flashy stage lights, and, in one case, a shower of pixies like the ones that exploded because of Professor Lockhart in Blaise’s second year, the songstress’s performances were laid back.
Backstage, Diahanna snapped orders to all sorts of musi-wizards, changing lights, providing water, making sure the disco light charm went off at the right moment. Blaise was impressed. He knew that she was a force, and that she was largely responsible for Celestina’s career flourishing as long as it had. He was still thinking about her comment though, implying that Desiree had something to work on, when she didn’t. Desiree, hands clasped and pressed against her collarbone as she watched her grandmother work, didn’t seem to be bothered by it. His backseat rage was still burning embers, but he decided not to bring it up, not wanting to sour her current good mood.
Blaise wasn’t used to being around this much family, or even this many people. His dormmates had soon learned to leave him alone at Hogwarts and he didn’t have cousins or very many friends. This tour was going to be a long journey in learning to be around other people and he was starting to get nervous about it.
After a moment, Blaise could hear softly harmonizing near him. He realized it was Desiree singing along with her grandmother on stage and that made him feel just a little bit better.
“Come on, Blaise,” Desiree said, during her favorite song, “A Cauldron Full of Hot Strong Love,” and pulled him down to stand with the crowd, where couples had paired up to dance along. Blaise didn’t really want to, but Desiree’s grip was strong and soon they were in the middle, awkwardly two-stepping and bumping hips with couples decades older than them.
“Are you having fun?” Blaise asked, resignation at the situation apparent in his tone.
“So far, yes. I missed my gran’s hugs. They do all miss me, Mum included. But she was on her best behavior today.” Great, Blaise thought, balking at the idea of that being her best behavior. Desiree then rested her head on his chest as they swayed. It was hot, but the sun had gone down and Celestina’s big silvery voice filled the air and Blaise felt like he was being fortified for the journey to come.
Blaise and Desiree spent two more days in Lagos, exploring the city and checking out magical shops and restaurants. Desiree got recommendations on where to go from the vendors and musicians she had made friends with at the festival and Blaise followed after her. Not since the BSU had he spent so much time with her and other people. He found himself annoyed by it, mostly because he was used to being alone and he hated small talk, but also because people kept noticing how attractive she was.
Her dad accompanied them on a trip to the National Museum in Lagos, which had a magical entrance and wizarding artifacts from pre-European colonization. It was a pleasant trip. Desiderius included him in their conversation and observations, as they learned about the first wands brought by European wizards, and the instruments African wizards preferred using (often none). Professor Binns never covered anything like this in History of Magic.
Diahanna also remained on her best behavior. Mostly, she was too busy to bother them, leaving Desiderius to entertain while she whipped the stage crew into shape. She was not pleased with their performance at the festival and wanted them to get their spell work better before they headed to the next stop on the tour.
On night two, Desiree and her dad went off on their own to spend some time together, getting dinner and leaving a resting Celestina in her room. Blaise came out of the pavilion to find Diahanna smoking outside.
“It’s a terrible habit, I know,” she said with little remorse or shame, despite her words. Blaise shrugged. He let people do what they want.
Diahanna appraised him as he leaned against the pavilion wall, looking at the stars. He’d shown a little interest in Astronomy at Hogwarts, partially because Professor Sinistra was one of their only Black professors and she, to be frank, was one of the most attractive teachers at the school. He liked seeing the stars from a non-British perspective, something he hadn’t thought much about.
“You look like him, a little. It’s the cheekbones. His were also very striking.” Diahanna puffed out smoke in the form of musical notes. The chords they formed softly sang in the air.
It was the only time someone had brought his father up without being prompted by him. He gulped, the sound of his awkward insecurity covered by the singing smoke. “My mum never talks about him. She thinks it’ll make her other boyfriends jealous.” Or at least that’s what she always said. Blaise didn’t ask too many questions, because he’d had all he needed in his mother. Or so he’d thought.
Diahanna laughed. “They were quite the duo, those two. Your father really reigned in Nicola’s ruthlessness. Razor focused it. He always had such a strong vision for what he wanted.”
Blaise thought about that, frowning at the comparison to his father. They weren’t alike at all in that way. Blaise often felt like he had no vision at all. “Which was?” he finally inquired.
“Justice,” she said after a pause. She continued puffing her cigarette, music whispering in the air. She seemed contemplative. “He was so passionate about people’s rights. Especially Black wizards, Squibs, and even Muggles,” Blaise had never heard that before. “Everyone thought he was crazy, especially us in Slytherin. He was a few years above me. The only Slytherin to take Muggle Studies and get an Outstanding on the O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s. People often wondered how he got sorted there at all.”
This was the most he ever heard about his father. Whenever Nicola did talk about him, rare as it was, she told the same few stories over and over. Blaise knew that Cas and Nicola got married because her father told her not to. They invited all of their friends to an expanded hot air balloon. According to Nicola, Cas was the worst dresser in Slytherin House until she got his wardrobe together. He knew that Nicola said no one was smarter than him. (Blaise always thought she was obviously biased). And he knew his father died during the First Wizarding War. He eventually figured out this was why Nicola married Luke the Death Eater and the subsequent men who inevitably met their end. The Wizarding justice system had no sense of the word, so Nicola took matters into her own hands. She’d never said so, preferring to seem like the flashy but mysterious widowed heiress, but Blaise was close enough to see the patterns, especially as he got older.
Blaise was too young to remember her rebounds after his father died — he was often with his nan — but he also knew they didn’t last very long. “The war was brutal to me,” Nicola would say, about her string of bad luck with men, with a dramatic air to her voice that Blaise knew was an affectation. Then, she focused on Blaise for a while, before getting back out there again just before he started Hogwarts. It’s really just a shame the diseases wizarding medicine hasn’t fixed. And they should really take a look at magical cruises. Awful things. People just…have the worst accidents.
“My mother took his death really hard,” Diahanna said, with a sharp-noted puff of her cigarette. And Blaise furrowed his eyebrows at the mention of the former Minister. “She didn’t know him but said he’d written her a letter as a first-year when the Squibs Rights March went sideways. She always kept up with what he was doing, even after she…left office.”
Blaise waited for her to say more, but she continued smoking, the warm air filling with the sweet scent of the musical smoke and tents nearby emitting aromas of food being seasoned for the next day’s festivities.
“Desiree and I intend to meet Minister Jenkins after the tour, but…” He paused, knowing he hadn’t consulted Deisree about this at all, and not sure he wanted her to know about it. “Do you think I could owl her? Just to find out some more information?”
“Sure. I’ll give you my mother’s owl address,” she said after a moment. “She might know more than me. I lost track of him after he left school.”
“Thank you,” Blaise said simply, appreciating her unemotional manner. No more was said after that. Blaise thought maybe he and Diahanna’s similar temperaments could make this trip go more smoothly than he’d thought at the beginning of the trip.
Soon, Desiree and Desiderius popped into the end of the walkway leading to their tent. Desiree scrunched her eyebrows at the sight before her.
“You two look friendly.” She looped her arm with Blaise’s and kissed him hello on the cheek. She blushed prettily when he looked at her, surprised by her boldness in front of her parents. “Have a good talk?” she asked, with another suspicious look between them.
“Sure,” Blaise replied with a shrug, eager to shift the focus to Desiree, who he knew would fill the night with her own adventures, distracting him from his newfound melancholy. “How was your trip out?”
“Ours was good too,” Des said. “Come on, I’ll tell you inside.”
Diahanna held out a cigarette for Desiderius, who lit it with the tip of his wand. The aroma was muskier than Diahanna’s cigarette and together, their chords harmonized through the night. Desiree dragged Blaise into the tent, gushing about dinner with her dad and how much Desiderius liked Blaise.
The next morning, Blaise sent former Minister of Magic Eugenia Jenkins a letter, writing that he’d learned from her daughter that she might have a perspective about his father he didn’t know much about. “Anything you can tell me would be appreciated,” signed with his sharp signature.