MAJOR ATLANTIS COMPLEX SPOILERS!
Just in case you missed that in the summary. This is the missing scene from where the epilogues cuts to Butler when it should have stayed in Artemis' hospital room. This is what really happened. Seriously. I swear. And if it isn't, I don't want to hear about it. First line is Colfer's. As are the characters.
Once again, this is a rogue posting (ie. no beta-ing) HOWEVER, it is thanks to my wonderful beta, none other than the fabulsou ilex-ferox, that I am now the proud owner of the BRITISH (or whatever the politically correct way of saying that is) edition of TAC. Otherwise known as the unsullied version. Hurrah!
The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes a bivouac as "a usually temporary encampment under little or no shelter". It comes from the Low German for "to guard".
"I hear that you were on a date with Trouble Kelp. Are you two planning on building a bivouac any time soon?"
Holly's eyebrows shot up, her expression unamused. "Would I be right in thinking that that was a pathetic attempt to lighten the mood and not a serious question, Artemis? Because I really hope so. For your sake."
The teen shrugged weakly. "I'm ill; I'm not at my best."
Holly sighed, looking towards the portholes. "We need to talk, Artemis."
"We are talking, Holly."
With her free hand she swatted at his knee. "I mean about ... things."
"Ah yes, things. I'm quite the fan of things, as things go, you know. They're really quite -"
"Artemis, don't be a jackass."
"Orion said he shared your feelings. For ... for me."
"Well, to be fair, Orion also thought he had a birthmark that would save the world. Not to mention, he had an unreasonable obsession with bivouacs. I notice you didn't listen to either of those suggestions."
"That's because they were rubbish," Holly snapped.
"And so is the idea that – that –"
"That what, Artemis? That you have feelings for me?"
"Not at all. Obviously I have feelings for you, after all we've been through. You're my best friend, Holly, of course I care for you."
Startled, Holly blinked. Slowly, she smiled. "You've never said that to me before."
"I do try not make a habit of stating the obvious."
"What's obvious to you isn't always obvious to others, Artemis."
"You know perfectly well that I hold you in the highest regard."
As a matter of fact, she hadn't, but she didn't bother saying so. "Orion thought of me as rather more than a friend," she pointed out, refusing to be sidetracked.
"Yes, and on the subject of Orion, did you hear the bit where he talked about training a dragon?" Artemis asked, refusing to stay on topic.
"Artemis, stop messing about."
"I'm being perfectly serious. What else do you want me to tell you?"
"I told you the truth."
"All of it?"
"Why are you pursuing this, Holly? Isn't Trouble enough to keep you occupied?" Artemis asked, raising an arch eyebrow.
Holly shifted her weight, looking away from him. "I asked you first."
"Please tell me you did not just say that."
She turned back to him and for a moment they glared at each other over their joined hands.
"Just tell me the truth, Artemis."
"Why? What does the truth matter? If I say yes, if I say no, does it change anything?"
"It changes everything," Holly gaped at him.
Holly looked down at his hand in hers. She pulled them both onto her lap. Speaking to the fish outside the portholes, she said: "Trouble and I aren't planning on building a bivouac. Or any other sort of shelter, for that matter. I built a bivouac all on my own. Trouble was the bivouac. From you. And, let's face it, bivouacs aren't really made to last."
Artemis was silent. Holly doggedly continued watching the fish, their scales dimming as the sun passed into the clouds. She pressed her lips together.
"Well," he spoke at last, "there may have been one thing about which Orion was correct."
Holly turned to face him. In her lap, his fingers squeezed hers. He smiled faintly. "I don't suppose you'd care to build a bivouac with me, would you, Holly?"
She threw her head back and laughed. "No, Artemis, I wouldn't. Didn't you hear me? Bivouacs aren't made to last. I want to build something permanent."
"That's good to know," he said, "because I'm afraid, Holly, that you won't be rid of me any time soon." He winced suddenly and added, "I promise."
Holly counted back. "Twenty," she said.
He nodded, swallowing, a spasm of pain flickering across his face despite the sedatives.
She reached forward, brushing his hair back from his face with her free hand. "You have to fight it, Artemis. You've promised." Bringing her hand down to his cheek, she whispered again, "You've promised."
He nodded again, leaning into her palm.
Far above, the sun slipped below the clouds again, lighting the sky; lighting the ocean; lighting the hospital room where two people took shelter in one another before the coming storm.
And that, my dears, is how the seventh book actually ended.