Alternate version
SPOILER WARNING: Plot details follow. Caution is advised!
CJ Jem 01
“I cannot be sure, though I think it has something to do with
the clarity of them.”

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What I have is trying. I can try harder than anyone else in the world. I can make revenge the only thing I have in my life. I can do that, because I have to. But it means it's all I have.

–Emma, Lady Midnight

Emma Carstairs is a Shadowhunter that has lived most of her life in the Los Angeles Institute with the Blackthorn family.


Early life

Emma was born in 1995 to Cordelia and John Carstairs. Living in Los Angeles, the Carstairs family maintained good relations with the Blackthorns. Not only did she spend most of her time at the local Institute to train, but Emma also became good friends with the children residing in the Institute, the children of the head, Andrew Blackthorn.

As a child, her father taught her how to recognize different instruments by sound. He had been a violinist, and he played an ancestor Jem Carstairs' violin in particular. Emma tried to learn to play at one point or another but was quickly discouraged by the sounds she made and gave up early.[1]

Emma became particularly close with Julian Blackthorn, whom she has known since they were both young and has since grown up with.

Dark War

In December 2007, Emma was dropped off by her parents at the Institute to train with her friends, the Blackthorn children. Later that day, Sebastian Morgenstern arrived and wreaked havoc. Eventually, Emma and the other children escaped through Portal and arrived at Idris.

There, she was told that her parents died the same evening. Good friends and now both orphans, Emma and Jules mourned and helped each other through the ordeal. During the investigation afterwards, Emma and the others were all brought in front of the Clave, all of them questioned with the Mortal Sword, inciting her fury. To help ease her pain, she was approached by Clary Fray, and both took a liking to each other.

At one point, Emma stole her parents' file from the Consul. With it, she realized that her parents, in fact, died under strange circumstances, though because of the situation, the Clave decided to blame the deaths on the Dark Shadowhunters. Her resolve was since formed, and Emma made it a goal to find out the truth behind her parents' deaths. After the Dark War, the Clave planned to either send Emma to distant relatives in different countries or the Shadowhunter Academy in Idris. Realizing that she needed to stay in Los Angeles, she accepted Jules' offer to become parabatai, and the Clave had no choice but to send her back to Los Angeles with the Blackthorns.

Before leaving Alicante with the Blackthorns via Portal, Jace Herondale, a famous Shadowhunter whom she idolized and had a crush on, gave her his first stele.

During the battle, a former Silent Brother called Zachariah went to great lengths to protect Emma and the Blackthorn children. Unbeknownst to her, Zachariah is, in fact, a distant relative—Jem Carstairs. While he did not tell her who he was, he hinted at it by referring to her by her full name. After the war, it was not only her new friend Clary who worried about her, but also Jem and Tessa Gray, both of whom decided to return to Los Angeles to keep an eye on Emma.[2]

When she first moved in with the Blackthorns, she felt that she had to create her own niche within their family. In between training sessions, Emma went to antique stores and sales and bought odd knick-knacks, toys, old books, and magazines to share with the Blackthorn children.[3] However, she maintained some separation from them as well, such as by picking a bedroom in the opposite wing of the Institute, to denote that she was aware that she was not a Blackthorn and that she was still a Carstairs.


In December of 2009, Emma and Jules at around fourteen years old had their parabatai ritual. On the day of the ceremony, just before they started, Jem took Emma aside and told her about him being a Carstairs.[1] Clary stood as Emma's witness, per her request, and Clary's best friend Simon stood as Julian's.[4]

Emma later attended Jem and Tessa's wedding on the Blackfriars Bridge in London in 2009,[2] though, for some reason, she and Jules do not remember this.[1][5]

Thirst for vengeance

CJ Emma 02

Emma drowning after an accident while investigating Malcolm's base alone.

Being exposed to violence at a young age caused Emma to dedicate her life to hunting down those responsible for killing her parents. Her determination made her well-known among other Shadowhunters, who often said that she might be the best Shadowhunter of her generation—the next Jace Herondale. Additionally, Emma had also become terrified of the ocean because of the nature of her parents' death; though she is capable of traversing the waters, Emma has recurring nightmares involving the ocean.

At one point, she met fellow young Shadowhunter Cameron Ashdown, and the pair dated. Emma eventually got tired of him and broke it off, though she would sometimes take him back. The pair has been in an on-and-off relationship that the Blackthorns, particularly Livia, were familiar with.

In the summer of 2012, the Blackthorns left to visit their relative Marjorie in Sussex. During this time, newcomer Cristina Rosales arrived, and Emma briefly got back together with Cameron. Meanwhile, Emma and Cristina became very close. Emma scored a new lead on her investigation of her parents' murders from Johnny Rook during a routine investigation at the Los Angeles Shadow Market. The Blackthorns returned mid-August; shortly after, Iarlath of the Unseelie Court and Kieran of the Wild Hunt arrived and returned Mark to his family.

CJ Emma & Jules 07

Emma unwittingly Marking Jules with an especially strong healing rune due to their parabatai bond, enhanced by their love for one another.

Meanwhile, Emma and Jules developed deep romantic feelings for one another, though they both knew they couldn't act upon as their Law forbade parabatai from being together. Both actively fought against these emotions, but the culmination of their developing feelings came one evening after Jules saved Emma, and they slept together on the beach after Jules saved her from the sea.

When their investigation into the Followers of the Guardian brought them closer to the truth, the Guardian—the culprit behind the recent deaths, and her parents'—upped his time table and kidnapped Tavvy as part of his plans, in time for Emma to realize that it had been Malcolm Fade, a trusted warlock close to her and the Blackthorns, all along. Before Malcolm could perform his ultimate plan to resurrect Lady Midnight, Emma and the others intervened. Malcolm and Emma confronted one another, and Emma managed to flush Malcolm into the sea surrounding his base, seemingly killing him.

Emma and Julian decided to somewhat accept their feelings for each other while keeping their liaison a secret. However, when she found out from Jem what happens when parabatai fall in love, she decided to once again distance herself from Jules. In an attempt to push him further away, she enlisted Mark's help to convince him and the others that they were in love and were together.[1]

Annabel and the curse

Having solved the mystery surrounding her parents' deaths, Emma's focus shifted to protecting Julian from the effects of the parabatai curse and awkwardly maintained the appearance of a relationship with Mark, successfully pushing Julian away. She and Mark developed a close friendship during this time and would spend hours talking about their feelings. Emma also told Cristina the real reasons behind their relationship, on Mark's request.

Emma's apparent relationship with Mark put a strain on her relationship with Julian, resulting in some heated arguments between the two of them.

When Gwyn ap Nudd came and asked Mark to rescue Kieran from execution at the Unseelie Court, Mark snuck out, despite his initial refusal. Emma and the others followed, guided by Cristina, with her expertise on faeries and her charmed medallion, allowing them to traverse Faerie without unexpectedly losing too much time. They caught up to Mark and agreed to help him save Kieran, despite his seeming previous act of betrayal that resulted in her and Julian's whipping.

In the Unseelie Court, the King tricked Emma into fighting for Kieran's life against his champion. Emma had the upper hand when her opponent falsely revealed himself as Emma's father, though he was in fact shape-shifted into her father. Despite it being only an illusion, it made what the phouka told her true: that she would see the face of someone she loved and lost. Emma conceded the battle, shocked by the semblance of her father. When Cristina revealed the deception, Emma violently killed the faerie.

LOS poster 02

Their return from Faerie.

Their escape led them into the Seelie Court, where they were met by the Queen the day after. The Queen told them to retrieve the Black Volume of the Dead for her in exchange for her aid in ending the Cold Peace and in an impending war against the Unseelie.

Upon their return to the Institute, Emma abruptly "broke up" with Mark for the sake of maintaining the appearance of his relationship with Kieran, who had forgotten his betrayal of Mark and their subsequent break-up and was to stay with them as the Queen's envoy to the Clave.

Emma and Julian reconciled while on a mission in Cornwall to find the newly resurrected Annabel Blackthorn. Staying together in Malcolm's cottage, they were forced to interact to complete the mission, and after returning from a confrontation with Annabel where they managed to melt a stone church, Emma realized that her plan hadn't worked and Julian still loved her. Julian mistook her shock for disgust at his feelings and they argued once more.

LOS poster 03

Emma and Jules against the Riders.

They made up, however, after fighting off four of the Riders of Mannan. Returning to the cottage from the battle, Emma broke down and admitted that she loved him as well. They then slept together, and Emma told Julian about the parabatai curse, and Julian in turn told Emma that the Seelie Queen revealed to him that she could break their parabatai bond completely, but with a catch: it would not only be their bond that would be broken but every other parabatai in the world, which Emma could not even bring herself to consider.

After talking with Magnus, Emma and Julian decided to tell Robert Lightwood about their situation so that Emma could be exiled and the parabatai bond muted. Julian—by manipulating Robert through the mention of his own parabatai—managed to persuade him to give Emma an exile with special circumstances. However, Robert was later killed by the confused and hysterical Annabel at a Council meeting, along with Livvy, leaving Julian heartbroken and their plan in shambles.[6]

Personality and traits

Emma is passionate about fighting, training and killing when she's in the mood for it. She is a fierce warrior and is very skilled for someone her age, attaining her aptitude by striving hard towards a purpose. She is also quite sarcastic but is easily offended and has a temper.

She is incredibly driven and accounts for her status as the best Shadowhunter of her generation as being a result of her determined training. People who know her would say that she is careless and reckless about her life, because of her tendency to jump into danger willingly.

She is especially caring towards the Blackthorns.

Physical description

Emma is often seen as beautiful and extremely attractive. She has brown eyes, long, pale blond hair, wide cheekbones, a pointed chin, and pale skin. As an effect of working extraordinarily hard at her training, her body is strong, tough, and scarred. She has a deep scar up her right arm, which she got when she was young for hugging her sword Cortana.

Skills and abilities

  • Nephilim physiology: Being Nephilim, Emma possesses a variety of enhanced physical and mental abilities granted to her by the blood of Raziel in her veins and also by the angelic Marks of the Gray Book. She also has the power to perform tasks unique to their species, such as the ability to use and call on the power of angels for their seraph blades. This includes enhanced strength, agility, stamina, and coordination, which only improves over time and practice—something which Emma has enough of, given that she is pretty determined to become the best Shadowhunter of her time.
  • Runic magic: Due to the angel blood in their veins, all Shadowhunters are able to apply runes on their skin without any real danger. These Marks, in turn, give varied effects that serve to benefit the wearer.


  • Stele: Emma owned a stele given to her by Jace when she was twelve. Though steles were almost disposable to Shadowhunters, Emma took special care of it because it had been a gift from Jace. The stele itself was also Jace's first stele. It has a carved handle made from demon bone.[7][8] However, Emma was forced to give it away to a phouka in order to pass through the moon gate into Faerie.[6]
  • Cortana: A sword that has been passed down through the Carstairs family for generations. Emma had yearned to inherit and use the sword as a child, and it defaulted to her after the death of her father. Cortana has since chosen Emma as its rightful owner and returned to her even when the sword was taken by someone else.



Tarot Steles 2

Emma and Julian were previously parabatai. They have spent almost their whole life together and grew intimately close. In 2012, Emma realized that she had developed feelings for him and that Julian has been harboring them for a long time. Their intense love was complicated by their parabatai bond, which bound them to an oath and Law that forbade them from being together. Though they tried to hide and fight it, the tension became undeniable and they had sex despite their reservations.

After Emma found out that the reason behind the rule against parabatai falling in love was deadly, she claimed to not love him to push him away to save him.[1] They eventually admitted their feelings to each other and resolved to find a way around the curse together,[6] though they eventually decided against it when they learned that it would affect all other parabatai bonds.

Their love for one another eventually activated the curse. The curse itself, and their return from it due to the love of their friends and family removed their bond, allowing them to finally be together.[9]

When Emma was young, she had a crush on Julian's brother, Mark which she would eventually grow out of. When he returned, they became good friends and companions. After Emma called things off with Julian, she asked Mark to pretend to be in a relationship with her, to which he responded by asking if they really had to lie about it. While pretending to be in a relationship, they grew even closer as friends, with Mark often sleeping in Emma's room.


Emma and Cristina quickly got along after they first met. They became very close, and Emma trusted Cristina enough to tell her about her mission to investigate her parents' deaths. They train and go out on routine missions together, and Cristina understands the things Emma is dealing with. Both support each other, though Cristina did not immediately open up to Emma and kept some things from her past to herself.

From the day Clary came to comfort Emma after her questioning, they became friends and confidants and have kept in touch since.



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  • Emma is left-handed.
  • Emma hates video games.
  • Emma does not like coffee, but she likes the feeling of holding a hot mug.
  • Emma has a trunk full of her parents' belongings, including the suit her father wore to his wedding.
  • Emma's middle name, Cordelia, is shared with her own mother's and that of a distant Carstairs ancestor, Cordelia Carstairs.

  • She was initially meant to have dark blue eyes before it was changed to brown.[10]


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