House of the Dragon: Why is Helaena Afraid of the Rats? Can She See the Future?

Image Credit: Ollie Upton/HBO

HBO’s ‘House of the Dragon’ expands the lore of the world created by George R.R Martin, especially focusing on the events recounted in his novel ‘Fire and Blood,’ which charts the history of the Targaryen dynasty. The second season opens with the war between the Blacks and the Greens reaching a boiling point, with each side trying to make a fatal blow to the other in the hopes of ending the war as soon as possible. In between all this chaos is Helaena, who continues to be sidelined but proves herself to be much more than what appears on the surface. Unfortunately, no one pays heed to her.

Helaena’s Fear of Rats Manifests in a Terrible Murder

At the beginning of the first episode of Season 2, titled ‘A Son for a Son,’ Helaena tells her brother-husband, Aegon II, that she is afraid. He misconstrues it as her fear of the impending war against their half-sister, Rhaenyra, especially after the death of her son, Lucerys, at the hands of their brother, Aemond. He asks her not to worry, but she tells him she is not worried about the war. Rather, she is afraid of rats. As everyone else in the room looks around, there are no rats to be seen. Aegon, who was never known for paying attention to anyone or being considerate, shirks away her words, calling her an enduring mystery. It is only at the end of the episode that the true meaning of her words comes to light.

Image Credit: Ollie Upton/HBO

One of the things about Helaena is that she is a woman of few words, but whenever she speaks, her words hold great value because, so far, she has almost always prophecized something. It is only because no one pays attention to her and her words that it has escaped everyone’s attention that she actually has Dragon Dreams, and she has already exhibited her prowess at accurately predicting things, though in very cryptic words. Throughout Season 1, she made several prophecies, all of which came true. She said, in no clear words, that Aemond would have to lose an eye to gain a dragon, and that’s exactly what happened. Later, she predicts the impending civil war at Laena’s funeral when she utters the words: “Hand turns loom; Spool of green; spool of black; dragons of flesh weaving dragons of thread.” Later, she warns about “the beast beneath the boards,” which refers to Rhaenys’ dragon, Meleys.

With all this, the show removes doubt about Helaena being a Dragon Dreamer and puts her in the same league as Daenys the Dreamer (who foretold the Doom of Valyria and led the Targaryens to Westeros. However, while Daenys’ words were heeded and held in great regard, so far, no one in Team Black seems to have any inkling about the true power of Helaena’s words. And with the events of Season 2 Episode 1, the possibility of her ever being taken seriously grows even more unlikely.

Going back to Helaena being afraid of rats, this was her expressing her fear that something bad is going to happen and rats are involved. It’s a rather vague way to tell the future, but in retrospect, it all makes sense. In the next scene, we see a ratcatcher in the Red Keep, and it is this very person whom Daemon Targaryen seeks out in the middle of the night. The nature of his job allows the ratcatcher to explore the sides of the castle that no one else knows about. His work has heavily familiarised him with Maegor’s tunnels that run beneath the city and open the doors to places not even the royal family knows about.

Putting his knowledge to good use, Daemon Targaryen asks the ratcatcher to lead his man into the room of Aemond Targaryen, whose head is demanded by Rhaenyra in return for the death of her son. The duo reaches Aemond’s quarters, but they can’t find him there. Instead, they go for the second-best thing: Aegon’s son. The idea was “a son for a son,” after all, and it doesn’t matter to the killers (including the man who paid them) that they’d be murdering a mere child. The ratcatcher finds Helaena with the kids, and at knifepoint, she is forced to identify one of the twins as Jaehaerys, heir to the Iron Throne. As the killers get to work, Helaena runs with her daughter in her arms.

Once again, it is proven that she was right in anticipating the terror that was headed her way, and had she been taken seriously, perhaps her son could have been saved. Perhaps now Aegon would take note of her words, especially when he finds out the ratcatcher’s role in all of this. However, that still doesn’t mean that Helaena and her prophecies will finally have their due. According to the book, the death of her son and her utter helplessness to prevent it drives her to depression and to her eventual death by suicide. The show adds another layer to her grief by showing that she had an inkling of what was to come, but even then, she couldn’t do anything about it. Moreover, the fact that she actually pointed at her son when the killers asked for him would fill her with more guilt and drive her toward insanity. The events that are about to unfold in the coming future, with all the death and destruction destined to happen around them, things will only get worse for her from here.

Read More: Are Velaryons Black or White in House of the Dragon Book?