On the 14th of June, 2016, Sapphire Lightwood was born into the middle of an emotional upheaval. Her parents had separated shortly before her birth, and now her mother, Isabelle, was adjusting to life as a single parent of two.
Zaf was a stubborn, quiet child. She was always on the go, eager to crawl, walk and run as quickly as she could. She mastered talking at a young age, but would often refuse to use her vast vocabulary, preferring instead to point and grunt. Her sister Star, older by two years, eventually took on the role of translator and would explain to adults outside of the family what Zaf was really saying.
Zaf learnt to read at two-and-a-half, and by the time she started school, the five-year-old was into chapter books. She spent a lot of her time reading around the house in various unusual positions - lying upside down on the sofa, doing a headstand against the wall - and when she wasn't reading she was outside climbing trees and kicking soccer balls around. When she was three years old, Zaf had been enrolled in the same gymnastics school as her older sister, and she excelled, being both petite and flexible. She took up soccer and basketball when she was six, and shunned dresses at the same time, turning into a remarkable tomboy who would never be seen without grazes on both knees and elbows.
Around the time she turned eight, Zaf realised how much fun talking really was, and after that no one could shut her up. She developed an unfortunate habit of speaking her mind clearly and honestly, which made her come across as a rude and undisciplined child. She also developed a razor sharp sarcastic wit, and her mother and sister were pleasantly surprised to discover that she could be absolutely hilarious when she wanted to. It was only a year later that Isabelle started staying out late, sometimes all night. She was tired and grouchy in the daytime, and no longer helped her girls with homework, packed them lunch or cooked them dinner. At the tender age of eleven, Star took over the role of family matriach, looking after her little sister as well as she could. Zaf doted on Star, and did her best to help out as much as she could.
When Star was fifteen, Isabelle left for good, with only a kiss goodbye, a 'be good, darlings' and a promise to write letters occasionally. Zaf became sullen and withdrawn during this period, furiously angry with her mother for leaving and herself and Star for failing to follow. A year after her sudden departure, Isabelle sent a letter instructing the girls to go to the Seattle Institute, where friends of hers had plans to take care of them. Star packed her bags and cajoled Zaf into coming with her.
Upon arrival at the Seattle Institute, a fourteen-year-old Zaf found herself most unimpressed. Meeting Jace and Clary's sons; Chase, sixteen, and Tim, twelve, Zaf immediately realised that her sister Star had 'fallen' for Chase, and she wouldn't be getting any sense out of her for the next six months. She briefly harboured a crush on Forrest Fairchild, but gave up quickly when she realised he was enamoured with her older sister. Zaf soon became friends with Forrest's younger sisters, Tori and Ellarie, and had a neutral relationship with Corin Morgenstern. It didn't take her long to settle into the rhythm of the Institute and tentatively consider herself happy there. Zaf and Chase argued constantly, culminating in an incident where Chase attempted to hook up with Zaf when she had a concussion. After that she steered clear of him, spending most of her time with Tori and Ellarie. Tim developed a crush on Zaf which she brutally ignored. However a year and a half after they arrived, Star set off for Idris, leaving Zaf at the Institute alone.
Two years after Zaf and Star arrived at the Seattle Institute, a newcomer, Angela Branwell, showed up. While Zaf was initially thrilled to have Angela there, hoping that as the other girl was the same age as her, they would be friends, she changed her mind when Angie kissed Chase, then Star's boyfriend, at the Ironworks Ball. The fights which erupted between Zaf and Chase afterwards were worse than usual, and became physical as well as verbal, eventually leaving Zaf with a badly injured shoulder. In revenge, she attempted to demolish Chase's room, only to have her injuries become worse. Luckily for Zaf, Corin joined in, finishing off the demolition and treating Zaf's shoulder in secret for her. After that incident Zaf felt very close to Corin, although there was still animosity between Corin and Star.
Things only got worse when Star arrived home, and she and Chase fought at every turn, with Angie caught in the middle. Zaf and Angie mended their friendship during this time. Eventually, bothered by her sister's weird behaviour since her return from Idris, Zaf discovered that Star was three-and-a-half months pregnant - with Chase's twins.
Four months later, in the midst of a tremendous battle that the whole Institute took part in, Star was killed. Zaf, who was injured but still concious, realised that she had ten minutes to save the babies, and somehow managed to perform an emergency Cesaerean on her sister's dead body. The twins were fraternal, a boy and a girl, and Zaf gave them the names which Star had picked out earlier - Chase Valentine and Griffin Nessa. After their birth, Zaf holed up in her suite of the Institute with the babies, and started raising them mostly on her own. Angie and Ellarie dropped by to visit often, but Zaf was determined to keep every member of the Herondale family out of the twins lives. Timothy, though, was not deterred, and wormed his way into Zaf's good books. When the twins were a year old, Zaf and Tim started dating, and eventually decided to leave the Institute together.
Zaf and Tim bought a large property in rural south-eastern Australia, and started a new life there together. They lived there for four years - during which time their daughter, Jewel, was born.