"I'm very sorry, but…"
I was cut off by an anguished moan as the woman lying on the bed fell back, tears running down her cheeks.
"What is it?" she sobbed.
"A boy. As I said, I am very sorry."
She cried harder.
"Let me hold him," she demanded through her tears. "Please, let me hold my baby."
I smiled sadly and wrapped the dead baby in a soft blue blanket. I passed it to the crying woman, who cradled the baby tenderly, stroking his wisps of dark hair and kissing his still warm forehead. She had longed for this baby, but like all the others, God had cruelly snatched it away.
"What did I do?" she screamed, tilting her head towards the ceiling. "God, why? Why must you punish me?"
I left the room, genuinely sorry for the poor woman. She longed so much for a child. Her husband stood outside the door, full of misguided hope.
"I’m sorry, Mr…"
My words were silenced as the man threw back his head and yelled in anger and pain.
"Not again!" he shouted.

**fifteen months later**

I smiled as the baby girl whimpered. Turning to the woman lying on the bed, I held the up the baby. The woman burst into floods of relieved tears.
"It’s a girl. Would you like to hold her?"
The woman outstretched her arms and smiled. "Please, give me my baby."
I gladly handed her the child. She cradled it in her arms. The baby closed her eyes. "There, there, my darling," the mother murmured. "Sleep, my beautiful baby. My beautiful Rose. Yes, you shall be Rose, and you shall be so loved."
The infant stopped moving. Her hand went limp and her head rolled to the side. The baby was dead.
"Let me check the baby," I asked, taking the lifeless child. The woman knew instantly what had happened.
"Take her away!" she screamed, completely dispirited. "Nothing I touch lives!"
She cried for a long time that night. In the morning, her husband came to take her away. I prayed that I would never see her again. But I was very wrong.

Thirteen months later the woman had a miscarriage in her bathroom. When she came to see me, she was a wreck.
"Please, give me something, a pill, a potion, something, anything. Just make it so I can’t have children. So I can’t feel this pain again. I’ll die." She was very insistent but I just couldn’t, morally, give her anything. Besides, I didn’t know of any such pill. I mixed sugar water with a mild anti-depressant and gave that to her instead.

A year passed and the woman came to me again.
"God has seen fit to give me a child," she announced, so joyfully. "He has overpowered your medicines and made me pregnant. I know this one will live."
Two months later she gave birth to twin baby boys. One alive, the other, sadly, dead.
At first, she was so upset, so sad that one of her precious gifts from God had died, but soon she was overcome with happiness. She lay, holding the sweet, living child in her arms for hours. At last, nearly a whole day later, the nurse finally convinced her to put the boy in his crib and sleep.
"Call him Thomas," she told her husband before she drifted off to sleep for the last time. "Thomas for you and his twin. Or Tom, for short."
With those last words, I knew she was dead.

The boy's father picked him up from the cradle. "Welcome to our world, Tom Marvolo Riddle."

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