|“||Well, I was happy for fifty-four years. That's more than most people get. Now there's the clan to look after, like Raphael would've wanted. The night we knew he was gone, and every night since, I watch my vampires in the home he guarded. I watch the mundanes in the streets he loved. Every one of them looks like a child I should help, a possibility for a future I wasn't able to imagine. Every one of them seems precious, worth defending, worth the world. Every one of them is Raphael.||”|
–Lily, The Land I Lost
Lily was born in 1885 in Hong Kong to a Japanese mother and a Chinese father, the latter of whom was a merchant to whom her mother was sold. She was raised like a proper Chinese lady until her father grew tired of her and her mother and sold them to a brothel, the House of Eternal Pearl, which also offered experiences with imprisoned vampire women.
When her mother grew old and was fed to the vampires, Lily begged one of them to Turn her, promising to free them once she was a vampire. After getting over her initial frenzy, she burned the brothel down and left no survivors.
Lily left her hometown and moved to London sometime around 1903. There, she took a job at the Hell Ruelle as a waitress. It was while working there that she met Shadowhunters for the first time and was particularly impressed by Cordelia Carstairs's bravery and kindness, sparking her curiosity in their kind. She also had a brief fling with Anna Lightwood who flirted with her at the Hell Ruelle.
She traveled more after London and met fellow vampire Camille Belcourt in Russia. Lily was drawn to her carefree attitude and decided to join her eventual clan in New York. She became disillusioned with the Shadowhunters in New York and spent decades not caring about others after realizing that no one cared for her as well.
Lily was around when Camille allowed Louis Karnstein to stay in the Hotel Dumort. Though she despised that he preyed on children, she did nothing to stop him. A group of mundane boys arrived instead, and from that batch came Raphael Santiago, whom Louis Turned. Lily met Raphael sometime after and it was his influence that prompted her to begin caring again. His wit and sense of responsibility were contagious to those he lectured, and Lily herself became more sensible. She developed a deep sense of admiration and respect for Raphael, and Lily found herself falling in love with Raphael. Though he truly cared for Lily in his own way, he was not interested in romance at all and their relationship did not develop past a partnership.
In the year 2000, Lily and Raphael caught onto an arriving shipment of yin fen; realizing that they wouldn't be able to take care of it on their own, they approached the Silent Brother Zachariah, after being told by Raphael's warlock friend Tessa that he could be trusted. They waited for him at the New York Shadow Market and, after telling him their dilemma, he agreed to help them convince the local Institute leaders to help them intercept the shipment. Lily, Raphael, Brother Zachariah, and the Shadowhunter and Institute head, Robert Lightwood, infiltrated the ship.
A battle ensued against the werewolves that were smuggling the drugs. When they were outnumbered before the others arrived, Raphael shielded her, resulting in a wound that Lily doted on and took care of after the battle.
During their short time together, Lily, having found Brother Zachariah attractive, teased him by giving him inappropriate nicknames, diverting her attention to him, all while being unable to express her feelings for Raphael. Recognizing that Raphael—though he obviously cares for her as he does the rest of the clan—may never return her sentiments, Lily became content with being next to him as a loyal ally. After Camille Belcourt momentarily left the clan in 2006, her second-in-command Raphael became the interim leader.
Some time after the confrontation at the hotel, Lily, Raphael, and Elliott all went to Taki's Diner and found one of the New York Shadowhunters, Alec Lightwood, on a date with the High Warlock of Brooklyn, Magnus Bane. The three vampires interrupted the date and, while Elliott taunted Alec about what his parents would think about him dating a warlock and was later challenged by Magnus, Lily simply watched in silence. They promptly left the diner when Raphael promised Magnus that they won't tell anyone, though Raphael himself later told Ragnor Fell.
After the war, Lily attended Malcolm Fade's celebratory party in Venice with Raphael and Elliott. Alec caught her making out with Helen Blackthorn and when he mentioned it later Lily replied that she had made out with many people that night, including five other faerie girls, four faerie boys, and a talking toadstool. He later found her dancing with Magnus's magic like ribbons. Though, the dancing was soon broken up by Barnabas Hale crashing the party and subsequently causing the building to fall around them. Lily assisted Alec in getting everyone out and even took Bat Velasquez—when Alec handed him to her—to Catarina Loss for healing. When everyone had escaped, they discovered the body of Mori Shu, in which someone had tried to make it look like a vampire had killed him. Lily immediately said it wasn't them and tried to help by looking at the body but before she could, Raphael ordered them to leave.
During Maureen's loose leadership of the clan, Lily was among those who did not appreciate her irresponsibility. She acknowledged not only that Maureen seemed "crazy", but also the risks of feeding too freely on mundanes. Contacted by Maia Roberts, Lily hinted that the head of the New York werewolf pack might have some sway over the clan.
After Maia became the new, albeit temporary, pack alpha, they plotted Maureen's death and had her inject her veins with holy water. When Maureen died afterwards, Lily revealed herself to her comrades as the mastermind and took over as the clan leader.
With the emergent threats of Sebastian Morgenstern against the Downworlders, Lily, and Maia, and their respective groups, allied. Both showed support for the Nephilim, helping them reinforce their connections with warlocks as well. Lily saw and proved to everyone that even though the Nephilim can sometimes be strict and severe with their Laws and the Accords, they were still necessary in the world's fight and defense against demons.
Upon Raphael's death, Lily not only took over as the leader of the clan, but she also became Anselm Nightshade's stand-in representative on the Council during the December Clave meetings after the Dark War and Sebastian's defeat.
Five months after the war, Lily and the rest of the clan attended the wedding of the werewolf Luke and the Shadowhunter Jocelyn in an attempt to further ease the relationships of the New York vampires and werewolves. She played the piano until she got tired of it and Jace stepped in for her.
Shortly after the fallout of the war, Lily began an alliance with Maia and, an even unlikelier one, with the Shadowhunter Alec. The partnership went on for years, to the point where Lily became a trusted associate of the local Conclave, especially when Jace and Clary took over. She was even granted access to the Institute through spells cast by Magnus that allowed her into the hallowed ground—something that has never been done for any other vampire.
Together, the group often met at a strategy room at the Institute. Most of the issues they settled involved spats resulting from the fallout of the Cold Peace, such as battles over territories taken from the faeries. In subsequent years, the Alliance became more well-known, especially among the Downworld.
In 2012, Alec asked Lily to accompany him to Buenos Aires to help him communicate with the Spanish speakers in the city. Once there, the head of the Institute turned Lily away, and Alec went with her to look for somewhere else to stash their things and stay. They proceeded to the Shadow Market where they were welcomed for being part of the Alliance.
At the Market, they also met an orphan Shadowhunter boy named Rafael. Lily spoke with him for Alec and the boy joined them to aid in their search for missing werewolf women in the city. Soon, they were joined by Brother Zachariah, now Jem Carstairs after becoming mortal again, and his wife Tessa Gray. In their room, Lily opened up to Alec about her true past and about her feelings for Raphael and that her efforts for change were done in his name and memory. She then told him that a faerie she spotted at the Market was likely someone who could help Jem and Tessa in their search for the lost line of the Herondale family.
With Rafael's help, they tracked the women down to a rogue warlock who got ahold of them with the service of the corrupt, mercenary Shadowhunters of the local Institute. They freed them, left the Institute in the hands of the remaining decent Nephilim and helped form their connections with the Downworld of the city, and returned to New York with Rafael.
Later that year, Lily attended Simon Lewis and Isabelle Lightwood's engagement party at the New York Institute. Magnus had woven a series of special spells that allowed her to be within the Institute, past its sanctuary, even though it was on hallowed ground. Jace believes it to have never been done for another vampire.
A month later, Lily attended Julian Blackthorn's war council at the Los Angeles Institute with Elliott. After Magnus had managed to magically block out the sun, Lily was among the first of the vampires to rush onto the Imperishable Fields to join Livia's Watch at the battle of the Cohort's parley.
In the weeks following the battle, with the Clave now in exile, Lily became part of the crisis team in New York working on rebuilding and how to move forward.
After three weeks of that, Lily went with the others to Magnus and Alec's surprise wedding ceremony by the LA Institute. Though she could not attend the first half of the party, she texted Alec continuously to make sure there was blood for her. The ceremony started after the sun had set which allowed Lily to join everyone else.
Some months later, Lily was at the New York Shadow Market when she saw someone she believed to be Jace. When she called out to him as "Jason", as she typically does, and he responded by correcting her to "Jace", she was alarmed and tried to escape. The person cornered her and explained that he was from Thule—an alternate dimension. When Lily realized that Raphael was alive in his world, she begged him to take her to him, and then to bring him here when he explained that the world was dying there. She agreed to owe him a favor if he did what he could to bring Raphael over. The Seelie Queen later slipped her a forgetting potion so that they would not run the risk of her telling the others of Janus until such a time when they would collect the favor.
Lily is brave and smart, her wisdom sharpened by her years of living as a vampire with Raphael. Lily can also be eccentric, naughty, and playful. She can be stubborn, as well as blunt and straightforward, saying what she wants and believes. Despite being distrustful and contemptuous of others at times, she has matured enough to recognize when it becomes necessary to work with them.
Lily is of Asian descent. She is petite and considerably attractive. She has dark black eyes and straight, dark hair which is often dyed; it was henna-dyed in 1953, streaked neon yellow in 2000, blue in August 2007, back to its original color by December of the same year, had blue streaks in it in 2010, and hot-pink streaks in 2012. She stopped aging physically when she was around nineteen years old and has since maintained her youthful appearance.
- Lily plays the piano, is a smoker, and speaks Spanish.
- Her room in the Hotel Dumort is meticulously decorated with a varnished wood floor and silk curtains. She sometimes tries out new decorating ideas in other rooms of the hotel, which some of the clan members appreciate.
- When Lily is particularly missing Raphael, she will sleep in his old room and wear his leather jacket.
- Lily is pansexual.
- Lily liked children when she was mortal and is good with them.
- Lily is a Buddhist.
- She is believed to be the only vampire who can set foot in an Institute, despite it being on hallowed ground, thanks to a number of special spells Magnus had done.
- According to The Mortal Instruments: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 3, Lily is the one who initiated the feeding frenzy that drained and killed Simon Lewis, turning him into a vampire.
- The Land I Lost
- Chain of Gold
- A Long Conversation, a Lady Midnight extra
- Saving Raphael Santiago
- Son of the Dawn
- "gotsm/sotd q&A: Raphael, Lily, a little Alec" — Cassandra Clare on Tumblr
- Born to Endless Night
- City of Bones
- What to Buy the Shadowhunter Who Has Everything
- City of Glass
- Red Scrolls of Magic
- City of Heavenly Fire
- Queen of Air and Darkness
- A Love That Never Tires, a Queen of Air and Darkness extra
- Forever Fallen
- An Illustrated History of Notable Shadowhunters & Denizens of Downworld