Born on the 7th of May 2016 to Domovoi and Monique Nightshade; named Layla Laurel Nightshade. Layla spent her early years in Idris, a place which she thoroughly enjoyed. Her brother, Olivan, was five when she was born, and he soon became very close to his baby sister. For the first couple of years, Layla's life seemed normal, but things started going wrong soon afterwards. When she was three, Layla began to notice the way her father hit her mother and be concerned about it. An attempt at intervening ended in a broken arm for Layla, and after that her father began to keep her and her mother out of the public eye completely. From when she was five to ten, Layla, her brother and her mother almost never left the house. She refuses to speak about what went on during that time, but what people do know is that when Layla was ten she killed her father in what was ruled self-defence. Unfortunately, her mother's mental state was irreparably damaged. Monique was transferred to a psychiatric hospital and Layla was sent to live with Clary and Jace in the New York Institute. Olivan, fifteen at the time, was supposed to go with her but disappeared shortly before the transfer and could not be found.
When Layla arrived at the Institute, there were already ten other children living there. Jon and Merry Fray were twelve, and their younger sister Nina was eight, thirteen-year-old Lucy Blackthorn and her younger brothers, eleven-year-old Cas and eight-year-old Rye, Topher Penhallow, who was twelve, and his sister Illyria, nine, and finally eleven-year-old Jamie Midwinter and Nas Lightwood, who was the same age as Layla herself.
At first, upon arriving, Layla was withdrawn and sullen, but under Clary and Jace's nurture and care she blossomed quickly. She soon became close to all of the other children, helped by her bright and open personality, but she considered Nas her best friend. A couple of years after she arrived at the Institute, Layla was approached by Nas who suggested they become parabatai. However, burdened by the knowledge of her past and worried about it being with her forever, Layla refused.
A while after Layla's sixteenth birthday, Karen Lewis, a werewolf, started recieving threatening letters, and in a bid to protect her family, moved into the Institute to live with the rest of them.
Layla is gorgeous and she knows it, carrying herself with a confidence that just makes her more appealing. She has shiny blond hair and bright, sparkling blue eyes, a cheeky smile and glowing skin. At home in the Institute, Layla wears casual clothes that she doesn't particularly care about, but when she goes out she dresses up, taking advantage of her natural beauty to make herself look absolutely stunning.
Layla's attitude is often described as 'devil-may-care'. She doesn't bother much about other people's feelings, or even about her own. She's incredibly flexible, both in body and in mind, and will always bend instead of breaking. Layla has never had a steady romantic relationship in her life, but enjoys a series of one-night-stands and casual sexual relationships that have been going on for a couple of years at the very least. She refuses to let anyone warn her about anything, and believes that rules are made to be broken, particularly if they're broken by her. Underneath her cheery and carefree personality, though, Layla is still deeply wounded by the events of her past.