A/N: A one shot, written for my four day old nephew Braxton, who God used to show my family His goodness.


Take Another Breath

Saradoc had always said, "You'll never know how I feel about you until you have a baby."

When he was young, Merry had brushed it off. It was just his Father saying something that didn't matter in the long run. There were sometimes that he was sure his father detested him. There were times, especially during his tweenage years, that Merry resented Saradoc more than anything. Now, he wished he could take everything back, and tell his father that he returned the love, even though he had hardly ever shown it until the end of Saradoc's life.

Merry knew his father had been telling the truth when his wife told him she was having a baby. It was their first child, and Merry was ecstatic. He had already seen Sam and Rose have six children, and Pippin and Diamond had one of their own as well. Now, he was going to share in the joys of parenthood with them.

As Estella grew rounder and rounder, Merry would kneel in front of her and press his ear to her belly. He would talk to the baby; let the child hear his voice, so he would know who his Da was.

When the baby was born, he was rushed out of the room by the midwife and Diamond, even though he begged to stay. He couldn't stand to hear Estella scream like that, and he wanted to be with her during the birth.

"Child birth is an unpleasant and messy affair," the midwife told him in a matter of face tone. "It is not a lad's place to be here. You can come in when the child has been born."

"Let him stay!" Estella cried before another contraction made her scream again.

"No! Out you get, Meriadoc."

And so, Merry paced the hallways with Pippin while waiting for his son or daughter to arrive. The hours passed, and soon, the sun had set, and the late watches of the night had crept upon Crickhollow. Just after midnight, Estella moans and screams ceased, and Merry listened intently for any sign that he would be allowed to come in.

Pippin apparently heard more than him, for the younger hobbit's eyes widened in concern. Telling Merry to stay put, he slipped into the room. But of course, Merry would not listen when the wellbeing of his wife and child were in question, so he followed in on Pippin's heels, and did not like what he saw. Estella looked panicked.

"Let me see him," she begged, "Let me see, please! I want to see him!"

Merry's heart swelled for a moment. It was a him! He had a son! But then, his mind registered that Estella was not crying out in joy. Her face was contorted with worry and fear. What could be so wrong that she was so frightened?

"See if you can get him to…" he lost the rest of Diamond's sentence.

"I can't, that would kill him."

"What is wrong with him?" Merry demanded.

"He's not breathing properly," Diamond answered.

Pippin grabbed Merry's arms to keep him from doing something rash. "Merry, Merry, don't, let them work. They're going to help him."

Hours later, the newest addition to Merry's family lay between his mother and his father. They watched him vigilantly, they watched the inconsistent rise and fall of his chest, and they listened to the effort that each breath required. Merry spoke softly to him when Estella finally surrendered to sleep.

"Little one," he whispered. "That was a good breath, good job. Could you do it again?" He waited and watched, and eventually, the liquidy sound of the baby filling his lungs was heard, and his chest heaved once again. "Good, good boy. I want to tell you about some things, and the first thing I want to tell you about is your mother. She's so tired right now. You gave her quite a bit of trouble, you know. But let me tell you, little one, she loves you more than anything in this world. She loves you even more than she loves me, I think. She's going to be the one you run to when you fall and scrape your knee, and she's going to be the one who you want to hear sing you to sleep. She's wonderful, and I want you to try to love her as much as she loves you… but for right now, I just want you to take another breath." He waited and watched, and gently stroked the soft tuft of hair once the goal had been accomplished. "Little one, there is this stuff outside; it's called grass. It's green, and it smells good when it's cut, and we're going to play on it when you get older. And there is this thing called the sky, and it's blue with white clouds, but sometimes, it get scary and stormy and black, but it will always be alright because Da will always be here to hold you. But for right now… I just want you to take another breath.

"And there are some other 'yous' out there. They are called lasses. They're different from you, but you always have to treat them with respect. One day, little one, you're going to meet a special lass, and your eyes are going to practically fall out of your head, and you'll think you've lost your mind. I can't wait to meet that lass, but for right now… I just want you to take another breath.

"Little one, there is the wonderful thing that your mother makes, and it's called sugar cookies. And someday, when you're big enough, we'll let you taste one for the first time. And your eyes will get wide, and you'll just want to eat them all the time. Your mother makes the best sugar cookies I've ever had in my life. She makes all sorts of wonderful things, but for right now… I just want you to take another breath."

Merry went on in this fashion for many hours, just speaking to the babe, gently touching the tiny hands and fingers, wondering how Eru could fashion something this perfect, this beautiful, out of his love for his wife. He wondered why Eru would give him and Estella this little miracle when there was a very real possibility that the child might not live to see the sunrise. It was difficult for him to suckle his mother, and it was dangerous for him to cry. What was wrong with him? Why couldn't he breathe?

Eru, if you're listening, I have a request. Would you let me take this little one's place tonight? I would do it gladly, tonight and every other night as well. I want him to have a wonderful, full life, free of worry. He can't' have that right now. Do you see, Eru? Do you see how hard it is for him to even take in a breath? It must hurt him. His face scrunches p every time he does it. What's wrong with him? Can't you make it go away? Please, heal him. I already cannot imagine life without him and he's only been her a few hours. And it would break Estella's heart if you took him from us. I know you've already worked many miracles in my life. Could you work one more? Could you make him better? Could you let him breathe easily? Can you make sure that he can…

Merry's eyes filled with tears. "Take another breath…" he whispered.


A/N: I won't continue this. My intention was originally to have the baby live and grow up completely normally after a few hard days. That's what happened with little Braxton. The doctor's had absolutely no idea why he seemed to recover overnight. We all knew it was because we had prayed, and God decided to grant out request and keep Braxton on this earth for longer than the doctors said he was supposed to be. He's doing just fine now, and we're all thrilled. God truly did a miracle for us, ans we were so thankful to Him for it.