When he opened his eyes, it was to the sight of a familiar ceiling in a familiar home.
When he sat up, he found himself in his old room. It was not the room that he had left behind in Bag End as a withering old Hobbit—and condemning Frodo with the fate of that damn ring, his mind viciously reminded him—but a room from a lifetime ago. It was a room that he had changed thoroughly with a passion fueled by the stubborn Baggins determination to outrun painful memories.
It was the room he had before he left for Erebor.
Is this a cruel jest of magic, or the afterlife? he wondered, staring with an open mouth at his surroundings. When he had last closed his eyes, he had been on a boat on his way to the Undying Lands. So this was certainly not what he had been expecting to see after waking up from his nap in his cabin.
Eru could not be so cruel as to cast him into a place that reminded him of what was long lost, right…?
When his eyes fell upon the full-length mirror—his mother's mirror that Frodo accidently cracked forty years ago—he very nearly fell out of his bed. For what he saw in it was not the familiar wrinkled face he had grown to know, but a young one that he had nearly forgotten.
Shaking, he scrambled out beneath the mountain of blankets and quilts and stumbled over to the mirror. Grasping the edge of it, he stared at the face of the young Hobbit before him with freckled skin and thick brown curls, and felt something in him crack.
"I'm young again," he said aloud, watching the face in front of him repeat his words. "I'm young again, and in my old house in Bag End before I went to Erebor—"
Understanding dawned on him and brought him to his knees. He recalled now, a story from long ago, of a Hobbit lass that had watched her beloved die in an accident. When she awoke the day after his funeral, she found herself reliving the days before the accident over and over again, and was able to save her beloved from his cruel fate.
He did not know what manner of powers had given him such a choice, or what he had done to deserve such a rare and wonderful gift. But what he did know was that there was to be a war over an ancient ring. This war would bring death upon all the races and a change to all the lands for the first time in centuries. From this war great heroes would rise from each race, and with each great hero an equally great villain would rise up to meet them. This war would be fought and won at the hands of four Hobbits; one of them being his precious Frodo. And though this war would be won because of the strength of his nephew, it would also forever change the lad in ways he had never wanted.
What he also knew was that, at that exact moment, there was a dragon sleeping in a glorious Dwarven city under an equally glorious mountain. This city was stolen by the dragon for its treasures, and he had driven out the great people who had built it. He also knew that at that exact moment a certain Dwarven king was doing everything in his power to reclaim it. And with the help of twelve other Dwarves, a Wizard, and a Hobbit, this king would embark on a journey that would change them all. In this journey he knew that he would create a bond with each of them and eventually even come to love the stubborn king. But before he was ever able to speak of his feelings, he would watch this great king die in battle shortly after reclaiming his home from the selfish dragon.
And damn if Bilbo Baggins was going to allow all of that to happen again.