Single mother Coralie Hartlett enters a radio competition to have her song featured on One Direction's new album... but the prize might be more than she ever expected.


10. Announcement


Shoving toast in her mouth, Coralie shot up from the breakfast table as a knock came at the door. Rory giggled when she stepped on a toy car and swore- a word she instantly regretted saying in case he copied her- before limping to answer whoever it was. Check-out wasn’t until noon so they still had a good three hours; and if she was honest, she’d been jumpy ever since Darien left in the early hours.

He’d told her to expect a visitor, so she’d been on edge since she woke to Rory pulling on her arm and saying he was hungry.

The door swung open and Coralie, in dishevelled sweatpants, a wrinkled Spiderman shirt with her hair a mess and mascara still smudged on the bridge of her nose, found herself face-to-face with One Direction and her stomach dropped. “Oh, crap,” she muttered, sighing to herself.

“Did we wake you?” Liam asked, concerned.

She shook her head. “We were up, not dressed though, obviously,” Coralie muttered, gesturing down at herself and mentally kicking herself for looking like a ratty housewife rather than the polished performer Darien had transformed her into these last few days. “Wanna come in? I’ll go… find proper clothes,” she gestured to the lounge suite and the boys filed in, taking their seats.

Rory instantly shuffled down from his chair and hurried over, grabbing his drawing box and dragging it over to show off. “Car!” he said proudly, holding up a piece of paper with a red scribble on it for Harry’s inspection. He looked genuinely impressed and Coralie ducked into her room to yank a brush through her hair, change into fresh jeans and a clean red shirt, leaving her door half open.

She returned ten minutes later, looking slightly less like she’d been dragged through a hedge backwards, and found her son had dragged the band onto the floor and was distributing paper and crayons. He then plopped himself in Louis’ lap and started to draw, his little pink tongue between his teeth as he concentrated.

Settling between Louis and Zayn, Coralie grabbed a piece of paper for herself. “Sorry,” she said automatically.

“Don’t be, this is fun,” Niall replied earnestly. “He’s a cool kid.”

Coralie smiled to herself, nodding.

“Should I draw Spiderman?” Zayn asked. Rory’s head shot up and he pushed himself to his feet, waddling over to sit beside Zayn and point at the paper.


“I’ve been replaced,” Louis moaned, turning to fake-cry on Harry’s shoulder as the circle laughed.

Giggling, Coralie petted his shoulder comfortingly. “How do you think I feel?” she asked, only half serious as her face crumpled and she faked sobs. Louis pushed her shoulder gently and the mood of the room turned decidedly amused; Zayn was the only quiet one, concentrating on drawing as Rory watched on in amazement. “So… I assume you guys didn’t come here to play with a toddler,” Coralie queried, as Zayn held up the finished product and handed it to Rory, who promptly went to show Liam and Niall.

The boys were good with him, and Rory had taken to them all very quickly.

“You never know, we might’ve,” Louis replied, eyebrow raised as he grinned. “I mean, stick with your own maturity level, right?”

Coralie snorted and clapped a hand over her mouth at the sound- it only made them all laugh at her, even as she glared. “Shut up. Spill then, what’s going on?”

The boys shared looks of equal delight and secrecy before Harry produced a sheet of paper from his pocket and handed it over. “We’d like to ask you, Coralie, if you’d do us the honour of letting us record your song,” he announced, as Coralie gasped in surprise and smiled so wide it actually started to ache.

“With you, of course,” Liam hastened to add, but Coralie barely heard him as she nodded, unable to speak. There were tears in her eyes as she hugged each of the boys- Louis held on a little longer than the others, but she wasn’t about to complain- and knelt down to pick Rory up and spin him around, laughing in delight.

“Of course I will!” she cried, absolutely stunned and delighted and a million other things she wasn’t sure words could accurately describe.

“Brilliant!” Niall exclaimed, clapping his hands together. “This calls for a celebration- come to lunch with us?”

Coralie agreed in a heartbeat and hugged them each one more time as they left to let her get ready, agreeing to meet in the lobby in two hours’ time. With her win, Coralie’s time in London was extended for another week and she ran to unpack her bag and Rory’s- he helped, tossing things around and making a right mess. She couldn’t care less; this was it, her heart was whispering. This was the moment her life would change, she’d be able to do everything she’d always wanted to do, give Rory everything he desired…

Her euphoria only increased as she dressed for lunch, after calling Darien with the news and begging him to agree that if she scored her own record deal out of this, he’d be her stylist. He didn’t have to think before saying yes and Coralie’s mood skyrocketed. She hadn’t been happier since Rory was born as she sang and danced her way through getting herself and Rory ready. She hummed all the way to the lobby and couldn’t stop grinning and laughing all through lunch… and then the unscheduled trip to the zoo that Louis and Harry had insisted on paying for.

Rory seemed to fall head over heels for Louis and clung to him all day; Coralie was quietly jealous, but couldn’t deny her son anything that made him smile and laugh the way Louis did. As the afternoon drew on towards evening, the band drove Coralie back to her hotel; Rory had fallen asleep on Louis, who then offered to carry him up to bed.

“I’ll see you home, Lou,” Harry waved, as they took off. Coralie waved at the retreating car and turned to Louis, who was still holding a sleepy Rory.

“You didn’t have to do this,” she murmured, brushing her son’s hair back gently. He didn’t stir and Louis adjusted his grip, smiling gently.

“I know,” he replied, and followed closely as Coralie lead the way up to her room. She kissed Rory’s head as Louis headed through to the boy’s room and from the doorway, she watched in slight awe as Louis Tomlinson tucked her son in and mumbled goodnight to him. Her stomach tossed awkwardly, feeling a mixture of gratitude and guilt, the former to Louis and the latter for the fact that this was the first time anybody but Coralie herself had tucked Rory in. As Rory begged for a bedtime story in mumbled, teary pleas, and Louis obliged without a hesitation, Coralie spun on her heel and fled to the balcony, needing to breathe and calm down.

Louis found her there some ten minutes later, and leaned on the railing beside her.

“Thanks, Louis,” Coralie mumbled, wiping her eyes. She’d found that watching the superstar read her little son a bedtime story was so overwhelming she’d needed to step onto the balcony and breathe before she started to cry. Sometimes, she hated that Rory didn’t have a father figure in his life, and was terrified that she wasn’t giving him what he needed.

“It’s alright. Fella loves me,” Louis seemed so proud of himself that Coralie had to laugh, nodding to the kitchen.

“D’you want a cuppa, or do you have to go?”

He looked a little regretful as he produced his phone and pulled a face. “Paul’s sent a car… I wish I could stay though.”

Coralie thoroughly believed that if he could, he would, and grabbed some paper to write down her number. “Another time, perhaps?”

Louis accepted the paper with a grin and texted her almost instantly, before his phone started to buzz and he growled under his breath. “I have to go, Cora.”

She tried not to show her surprise at the nickname as she hugged him briefly and held the door as he left; she only closed it when he was safely in the lift on his way to the lobby. Turning to her hotel room, Coralie couldn’t quite put her finger on just why it felt so empty.

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