Among the numerous illegal activities the Black family were involved in, this particular tradition took place when one came of age, and began the process of becoming an illegal animagus.
Of course, Sirius Black doesn’t wait seventeen years. He befriends a quiet boy whose eyes are too old and have too many secrets, and when these secrets are revealed, it is Sirius who knows what he needs to do. It is Sirius who steals heavy books from the section of the family library cloaked in dark spells. It is Sirius who recruits two other boys into his Black family tradition, only it isn’t just tradition anymore, and this is a different kind of family.
Walburga Black spoke with poison her whole life, and occasionally she killed with it too. A second cousin who put his hands where they were not granted. A house elf who heard secrets not meant for her ears. A healer who failed to save her daughter, barely two hours old and two years before she named her son after the brightest star in the sky. The bite of a black widow is not usually fatal to humans, but Walburga had always been a particularly venomous person, as her husband would often rage at her. She would rage back and remind him what spiders did to their mates once they had no use of them.
Orion Black wore the curved horns of a ram like a crown of armour, but they were useless when protecting his family name, the name he married his own blood for in order to keep pure. He preferred brute force over reason, which was effective when used to inflict fear and pain. Yet fear and pain were weak motivators when it came to blood traitor sons and crazed spouses. Orion was the leader of a flock scattered far across a field, and he did nothing when the wolves came howling.
Ten months after Regulus Black turns seventeen and ten months after the Dark Mark is branded in to his skin, he transforms into a sleek black cat in the middle of Grimmauld Place, surrounded by men in masks. Of course, Sirius hears about it eventually. He jokes how they always fought like cat and dog, but cannot bring himself to laugh. In many cultures, black cats are considered a bad omen, guardians of death. A year after he transforms, Regulus Black is drowned in a cave by an army of the dead, where he guards them forever.
Stark turned away from the smoldering remains of Raza’s man
and realized that he felt his gorge rising. He fought the impulse to get sick;
the last thing he needed was to vomit inside his helmet.
He went back to Yinsen and stood over him. […]
“We could’ve made it. Both of us. You could’ve seen
your family again.” […]
With tremendous effort, expending the last energy in his
body, Yinsen lifted his hand and placed it atop Stark’s gauntlet. “This
was always the plan. My life ends here… and your life begins here. It
begins… by finishing what we started. Finish it…”
“I will. I swear to you, I will.”
Yinsen smiled and then, just like that, he was gone.
Stark stood there for a moment. No one outside could have
known that, inside, within his suit, he was trembling with fury.
He closed his eyes, blind with pain. When he opened them
again, his voice was roaring within his helmet, and he strode forward no longer
Tony Stark, but an iron avenger.