A/N: Originally written for the Being British fan-fiction class on Mugglenet Fan-Fiction.
No one was ever mean to her about it. But she still felt so strange. So different. And even though the others never acknowledged the differences, she knew they still paid attention. They still noticed, watched her with sidecast, probing eyes.
It was Adelah's first year at Hogwarts, and she was the only Muslim at the school.
Everything about her screamed different. Her clothes, her manners, her diet. Her knowledge of the world, her unwavering faith. The way she viewed what was in front of her, the way she viewed what she couldn't see.
Adelah was used to being in a religious minority – she had been all her life. But at the end of the Muggle school day, or an afternoon with her non-Muslim friends, she could always return to her Islamic community. And that was comforting, though she hadn't fully appreciated it at the time.
She tried not to stand out, though there were certain things that couldn't be disguised – her hair was always covered, for instance, and she never ate any meat provided at Hogwarts. But there were some parts of her that could be hidden. Like her prayers.
Muslims pray five times a day. Generally, they are permitted to pray anywhere, so long as the space meets the clean requirements. But Adelah always fled to her dormitory, even though it sometimes meant having to run in-between classes. She didn't want her fellow students to see her prostrated on the floor murmuring foreign words.
Monday afternoon: when she always had to run from D.A.D.A. to her dorm, and then Charms, all within ten minutes. It took most students that long to get between the classrooms themselves, so Adelah always bee-lined out of D.A.D.A.
"I'd like to see you after class, Adelah."
She swallowed hard – what'd she done wrong? – but did as bid.
"You don't need to always race out when the bell rings, Adelah," said Professor Lupin.
"Oh, but I do, sir," she replied quickly, "I've Charms immediately after . . ."
"As do many of the others," he said gently. "What puts you in a greater rush than them?"
"I . . . go to my dorm room in-between . . . for my afternoon prayer." She stared above his head, red-faced.
Lupin considered her a moment. "You are welcome to pray in my classroom or office, Adelah. Anytime you like."
She flushed deeper. "I'm not asking for that, sir – "
"I know you're not. And I'm not demanding you come here. I'm merely offering."
She slowly met his eyes. "Thank you," she whispered. She exited then, not taking him up on his offer that afternoon, but his words still echoed in her mind, certainly not forgotten.