|“||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 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 Emma tried to learn to play at one point or another but was quickly discouraged by the sounds she made and gave up early.
Emma became particularly close with Julian Blackthorn, whom she grew up with.
In December 2007, Emma was at the Institute when Sebastian Morgenstern came, killing the older Shadowhunters or Turning them Endarkened. Julian Blackthorn was able to get in contact with the Gard, allowing the children to Portal to Idris, except for Mark Blackthorn who was taken by the Sebastian. Later, she was told that her parents had died the same day and was given Cortana, their family's sword that her father would have eventually passed onto her. 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 Fairchild, and both took a liking to one another. Later, Emma snuck into the Inquisitor's house to tell Clary and her friends about Edom, which she'd heard from one of the Endarkened that attacked their Institute.
At one point, Emma stole her parents' file from the Consul. With it, she deduced that her parents died under strange circumstances, and that the Clave decided to brush off the deaths as one of the casualties in Sebastian's rampage. Her resolve was since formed as Emma made it her goal to find out the truth behind her parents' deaths.
After the Dark War, Jia considered sending Emma to the Shadowhunter Academy in Idris. Fearing separation from Jules, she accepted Jules' offer to become parabatai, and, according to their Law, the Clave had no choice but to send her back to the LA Institute with the Blackthorns.
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.
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. 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. Clary stood as Emma's witness, per her request, and Clary's best friend Simon stood as Julian's.
Emma later attended Jem and Tessa's wedding on Blackfriars Bridge in London in 2010. However, she and the other attendees do not remember it as Magnus used oneiromancy to throw them a dream wedding. Mark Blackthorn was able to come and passed overhead after the ceremony, which excited her and the other Blackthorns who all waved enthusiastically.
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 capable of traversing the waters, Emma had 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Bane, 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.
During the Council meeting, Annabel became confused and hysterical while giving testimony under the Mortal Sword. In this confused state, she killed Robert with the Sword. Emma and Julian quickly got on the dais in an attempt to calm her down; Emma used Cortana to block the coming blows, and the Mortal Sword unexpectedly shattered. As Livvy came up to give Julian a weapon, Annabel stabbed her with the jagged piece of blade still connected to the hilt. Annabel then disappeared in a cloud of smoke, leaving Julian heartbroken as he held Livvy's limp body and their plan in shambles.
After Annabel disappeared, Emma tried to go to Julian and comfort him but she was brought up short by Consul Jia Penhallow. She told Emma that she must relinquish Cortana to be inspected since she had destroyed a mortal instrument and they were not sure how that was possible. Though it felt like giving up a limb, Emma did hand Cortana over and made it to Julian's side. When the Silent Brothers came to take the bodies away, Emma asked what Julian was too distraught to, and they allowed him to be the one to carry her to the Silent City and lay her out; though Emma could not follow.
The day after the funeral, she and Julian were called for questioning by Horace Dearborn—leader of the Cohort and newly appointed Inquisitor. He revealed that he was aware of their relationship and what they asked for from Robert, thanks to Robert’s notes. Horace then offered them a choice: if they went to Faerie to retrieve the Black Volume and kill Annabel, he would honor the terms they had agreed on with Robert. If they did not or did not return in time, he would reveal their secret to everyone. Since it was not much of a choice, they agreed.
In faerie they found that they were being followed by Dane Larkspear. He accidentally admitted that they were on a suicide mission as Horace had sent multiple people to kill them after they retrieved the book. Julian, having removed his emotions through a spell, killed Dane and began making new plans on how they would return now that they could not trust Horace's planned meeting point.
Unknown to Emma, Julian took them to the Seelie Court. There he presented the Queen with a copy of the Black Volume that he had made by taking pictures of the pages when he had been talking to Annabel before the meeting. He hoped to change the arrangements of their original deal and strike a new one; asking her to help them locate Annabel. However the Queen backed out of the deal, considering it null and void since it wasn't the true Black Volume, and rushed to the Unseelie Tower to trade it to the Unseelie King. Emma and Julian were able to make it there as well by sneak into the Queen's procession, posing as Nene and Fergus.
In the tower they drank a potion that made them invisible to Unseelie faeries and observed the King's meeting with Annabel. They then went to Ash Morgenstern in an attempt to take him to halt the King's deal. They were caught by the Riders and thrown in prison, where they found Jace Herondale and Clary Fairchild in the cell across from them. Soon Cristina appeared with Adaon to rescue Mark and Kieran, believing them to have been in jail. They freed them and they went up to the thrown room. In the ensuing chaos: Annabel and Ash went through a Portal to another dimension called Thule, the Queen kidnapped Adaon, Kieran killed the King, and Julian and Emma went through the Portal while the others escaped.
Journey to Thule
In Thule, Julian and Emma were introduced to the world where Sebastian Morgenstern won the Dark War, and both of them had been Endarkened. They were found by the Cameron Ashdown of that world and a living, thriving, Livvy. The pair, after realizing they weren't the Endarkened versions of themselves, took them to their rebel base and told them the story of Thule. Though they were told that the world was devoid of magic due to the blight having killed the warlocks, they suspected Tessa may still be alive there as she had been immune to the blight in their world.
With the help of Tessa and Livvy's rebels, they devised a plan to acquire the Mortal Sword and Cup before Sebastian could, and consequently kill him. The plan worked well though they did not expect an ambush from Sebastian. In the battle, Emma was able to kill Sebastian, freeing this world from his reign. Annabel then opened a Portal for them to return to their world—as they had previously agreed—and Julian killed her in revenge for Livvy's death.
Back home they recounted the story of Thule and the cure they had discovered for the warlock illness to the residents of the LA Institute and Jace. Clary, Magnus, and Alec. Together they began making plans on how to retrieve the water from Lake Lyn and distribute it to the warlocks around the world. In the morning, they received a letter declaring the Shadowhunters were now at war with the fey and that they all must return to Idris to witness a parley with the Unseelie Court. The group was able to determine this was a farce based on what had happened in Faerie and the claim of Clary and Jace's deaths. Julian then decided hold a war council to plot how to disrupt the Cohort's plan.
That night in Brocelind Forest, while they camped out in preparation, Emma snuck off from the encampment with the Mortal Sword they had brought back from Thule. She entered the Silent City and attempted to break all the parabatai bonds, in order to prevent the curse. Though Julian had followed her and stopped her, asking her to have faith and wait at least one more day as they needed the strength of all parabatais in order to win at the parley. She agreed though she felt the curse was upon them based on what Diana of Thule had told her had happened to all the parabatais there.
At the parley, they got Horace to admit to all the lies and deception he had done to get the Clave to adopt his bigotry. Seeing Zara holding her blade, Emma extended her hand, allowing Cortana to choose its bearer—as a sword from Wayland the Smith can—and got it back.
Battle soon broke out and Emma found herself dispatching Unseelie fey and fighting off the Cohort alongside Julian. At some point during the battle she noticed Kit on the sidelines, even though he was meant to be back at camp, and hauled him off cursing about how she had promised Tessa not to let him near battles or Faeries due to his heritage. However the Riders still saw him and descended on them. When they mentioned having killed his mother, Kit managed to summon some power within him and magically lifted the Riders, throwing them into the center of the melee.
After Jem had come to take Kit, Emma returned to the battle only to be cut off by Zara. They fought and when given the chance, Emma chose not to kill Zara. Furious, Zara fatally stabbed Emma in the back as she had tried to walk away. As she lay dying, Zara attempted to free Cortana from her grasp but Emma's grip did not loosen; Zara quickly ran off when Julian came to Emma's side to heal her. Drawing on the strength of their bond was enough to save her life, but it also caused the parabatai curse to come to fruition. They rose up as true Nephilim.
The giants that had once been Julian and Emma killed Horace and the Riders of Mannan. Helen began calling for them to stop, that the battle was over, but they had lost control of themselves. People started fleeing and others formed a barricade between them and Alicante to protect those inside the city. Despite others having failed, and despite those blocking their way telling them it was too dangerous, Dru lead the Blackthorns and their friends to stand up and talk them down. Surprising everyone, they were able to do so—saving Julian and Emma's life.
When they awoke a few days after the battle, they found that their bond had been severed as a result of having lived through the curse; finally allowing them to be together.
At the Council meeting to sentence the Cohort, Jia announced she was stepping down as Consul and a vote would be held to replace her. Emma and many others voted for Alec Lightwood; yet when he was announced as the winner, the Cohort pulled out daggers and held them to their throats, refusing to recognize Alec as Consul. Alec agreed to their terms in that they would all leave Idris, never to return. Emma and the others returned to the LA Institute and the Clave-In-exile began to rebuild in New York.
In the weeks following their exile, Julian and Emma began planning their travel year. Before they left they attended Magnus and Alec's wedding on the beach. By 2013, the couple were still travelling the world; they were enjoying their stay in Paris, however, and kept extending their stay.
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.
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. However, Emma was forced to give it away to a phouka in order to pass through the moon gate into Faerie.
- 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.
- Blessed iron chain: Isabelle gave Emma a blessed iron anklet, which Emma wore on her wrist as a bracelet, as a weapon against faeries in preparation for their trip to Faerie. Aside from being poisonous material when used against them, the accessory also powered her blows against them even as Emma herself started to weaken.
|“||Julian, I was angry at you. I missed you. But I didn't stop loving you. As long as you exist and I exist, I will love you.||”|
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. They eventually admitted their feelings to each other and resolved to find a way around the curse together, 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.
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.
|“||Everyone, this is Cristina. She's saved my life about sixteen times this summer, so be nice to her.||”|
From the day Clary came to comfort Emma after her questioning, they became friends and confidants and have kept in touch since.
- See more here
- Emma is left-handed.
- Emma hates video games. She also dislikes 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 relative from the 1900s, Cordelia Carstairs.
- Emma, like Cordelia Carstairs, was chosen to be the owner of Cortana by the sword itself. 
- Emma barely resembles her parents, aside from the fact that her father is also blond.
- Her birthday is during the winter months.
- City of Heavenly Fire
- Lady Midnight
- Deleted scene from City of Heavenly Fire
- Lord of Shadows
- An Illustrated History of Notable Shadowhunters & Denizens of Downworld
- The Fiery Trial
- In Dreams Begin, a The Lost Book of the White extra
- Queen of Air and Darkness
- The Lost World
- Deleted scene; mini-comic featured in Target's special edition of CoHF
- "CC changed the colors when she described her to me." Cassandra Jean on Twitter