"I'm pleased to meet you, Merry." He looked around the courtyard with a confused air. "I had the impression from your aunt that you were out here with a friend - Lovejoy, I think? Will she be having dinner with us?"
Merry felt her jaw forming that angry shape. "Lovejoy is a fictional character."
"Oh." He looked back to her. "She's your imaginary friend, then?"
"No! She's Aunt Adelaide's imaginary friend." She paused. "I mean, she's a character in a book that Aunt Adelaide likes a lot, An Episode of Sparrows by Rumor Godden. It's a good book, but I don't like Lovejoy much, I like Vincent. But when I'm trying to annoy Aunt Adelaide, I say that Sparkey's the hero of the book."
He nodded, no longer wearing that lost air. "Why would Sparkey annoy her?"
"Because he got Lovejoy's garden destroyed--twice. He didn't do it on purpose the second time, but I don't think he was sorry either. Lovejoy blamed him so Aunt Adelaide blames him, too. But he's not really my favorite. I like Vincent."
"Because he's a cook. He wants a restaurant. A good restaurant, not just any old place. I don't agree with him about everything--he likes Italian and I mostly like French, and he cares a lot about tablecloths and plates and glasses, and I just care about the food. But we'd have a lot to talk about, Vincent and me."
"So he's your imaginary friend, and Lovejoy is your aunt's?"
Her jaw considered being angry, but he didn't seem to be making fun. "No. He's not my favorite. If I had to pick one, I'd pick Julia Child. I know she's not imaginary, but she's dead, so it's sort of the same thing."