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.


8. Shine

Ten minutes.

It only took ten minutes for Coralie to feel right at home. She hadn’t been so comfortable so quickly among strangers before, especially not people who were her own age and world-famous. Not that she’d ever met celebrities before… still. She was quietly amazed at how natural they were, at how… well, normal. She didn’t even have the security of Rory to distract herself from noticing how much their attention was on her, and it didn’t matter.

“It must’ve been hard, on your own with a baby,” Liam remarked, sounding genuinely in awe of how she’d done it.

Coralie flushed, having sworn to herself she wouldn’t tell them a sob story in case they thought she was trying to gain a sympathy vote. “It was, yes, but I don’t regret any of it for an instant,” she replied earnestly. They’d been through her life story, beginning when she was six and first touched a piano right up until the moment her parents turned their backs on her. They’d been perfect listeners, and Coralie had tried to keep things short and sweet.

“When do we get to meet the little man?” Niall asked, glancing at the door as if Rory might come toddling in. Coralie inwardly longed for him to, but she knew he was safe with Darien and needed to concentrate on throwing the performance of her life if she ever wanted to give him the things he deserved.

“Whenever you like, really. We’ll be in London until the competition is over,” she replied, hands folded in her lap as she tried not to pick her hems apart with nerves. They might have made her feel at home, but she still had to sing in front of them and suddenly the confidence she had in her song was fading and she wanted to grab her son and go home, and hide until everything returned to normal.

Add to the fact that Louis had barely taken his eyes off her since she walked in, and Coralie was one nervous twenty year old. He had a very disarming smile, one that had been flashed her way more than once in the last ten minutes and made her stomach flip each time. The little fan-crush she’d had since the X-Factor didn’t help her stay calm, either.

Louis leaned forward, elbows on his knees. “We should let the girl sing, lads, instead of holding her hostage,” he suggested with a wink and a grin that did not make Coralie’s knees feel weak. She was suddenly grateful to be sitting down.

“Oh, I don’t mind,” she said quickly. “You’re all very lovely to talk to, and Rory’s being watched…”

Harry glanced at the door, then at Coralie. “Bring him in here, Coralie. You didn’t have to leave him out there.”

“Are you sure?” she asked, but was already halfway to the door. She paused to see five unanimous nods and excited faces as she opened the door. “Darien? Could I borrow my son, please?” she called across the room.

Rory had looked up as she spoke and beckoned to him. With his toy car gripped firmly in one little hand, he began his waddling run across the room until he reached her. “Car, Mama!” he said joyfully, thrusting the slightly sticky toy up at her face as she picked him up.

Wrinkling her nose, Coralie touched his sticky cheeks and raised an eyebrow. “Has Darien been feeding you sweets, then?” she asked, shooting the thumbs up at her stylist who was waving at her as he left, satisfied that she would be okay. Rory shook his head but didn’t meet her eye and Coralie was inwardly impressed that he was lying to her at the age of two. “I guess it’s beans for dinner then.”

“NO!” Rory shrieked, and began to wriggle. “No beans!”

Laughing, she turned around and faced One Direction, who were chuckling at his reaction to the half-hearted threat. “Rory, can you say hi to One Direction?”

He looked like he was about to cry or panic for a minute before wriggling to get down. Coralie let him go and he determinedly toddled straight to Liam, who was wearing a Batman shirt, and pointed a chubby finger at the symbol. “Batman!” he cried, and clapped his hands when Liam took off his matching hat and plopped it on his head. “Mama! Batman!”

“He knows Batman already?” Zayn seemed impressed, and laughed as Rory fell on his backside trying to take off the hat and stare at it.

“Start ‘em young, I say,” Coralie replied, sitting back on her chair again. The boys nodded and agreed with her; Rory approached Niall next and gave him the toy car, grinning as the Irish lad jumped off his chair to start playing with him. The six of them forgot what the purpose of the meeting was as they sat in a circle and let Rory wander from one to the other; he seemed to like Louis best for some reason, and when there was a knock on the door from a studio rep to tell them to wrap it up, Rory made a beeline to sit in Louis’ lap while Coralie stood to sing.

“Mama gon’ sing,” he told Harry seriously, and pointed at Coralie, who made a funny face just to make him giggle. Louis held him gently as Coralie’s pre-recorded music began to play, the track she’d organised with the vocal coach at the beginning of the week. She let her gaze drift over her audience before settling on Rory; he was her grounding force, and the song was for him anyway.

I remember

The first day

That I saw you smile

It didn’t seem real

That you were finally mine

Here it starts, so don’t let me go

It’s you and me against the world


All I wanna do

Is hold your hand

And give you everything

I wanna stand right by your side

And I wanna watch you


I will watch you


I remember

The first time

I heard you say my name

And I swear that I

Could almost fly

I’ve never been so in love

And even with half a world between us

I know there’s nothing that can shake us


All I wanna do

Is hold your hand

And give you everything

I wanna stand right by your side

And I wanna watch you


I will watch you


I wanna watch you go where I’ve never been

See all the things I’ve never seen

I wanna watch your every dream come true

And I wanna watch you

Yeah I wanna watch you

Your laugh is the sweetest sound

Can make my day to hear it

Your beautiful eyes and your wide smile

There’s no doubt in my mind

That you’re gonna shine

I wanna watch you



There was silence as she finished, wiping a tear from her cheek and sniffling quietly into her sleeve. The song was her prayer, her promise, her wish for Rory, and she hoped she’d done it enough justice to make it the very thing that answered that prayer. 

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