Bilbo opened his eyes, staring blankly upwards. The exposed wooden beams and white plaster of his childhood bedroom stared back at him.

The first rays of dawn peeked through the frost covered window and danced on the bed sheets. Knick-knacks and books covered the floor and dresser, as they often had before his parent's passing and his own forced adulthood. The air held the lingering scent of dried sandalwood and cloves. His mother had been fond of the scent.

It was like walking into a memory.

Is this a dream? the hobbit wondered. He held his hand up to the light, rotating it from back to palm in sheer disbelief. It was young, smooth, and as lightly haired as that of a hobbit tween.

Bilbo sat up. "Am I dead?" he whispered. His stomach clenched and he shivered. We were sailing to Valinor... Frodo!

Bilbo leapt up, dismissing the limberness of his body, and dashed out of his old bedroom. He had to find Frodo!

After a short and frantic search, Bilbo stopped in the sitting room, panting fiercely. This. It was not possible. Bag End was entirely as it was when he was young, he was entirely as he was when he was young!

He sat down and put his head in his hands.

A door creaked open and soft feet padded towards him. "Bilbo?" his father's long-lost voice whispered. "Is that you? Respectable Bagginses are still in bed at this time of morning!"

The feet stopped when they were beside him. The overstuffed couch sagged as his father sat.

"Whatever is wrong?" Bilbo's father asked softly.

A warm arm wrapped around Bilbo's shoulders. He could feel himself starting to shake.

"Did you have a bad dream?"

Bilbo fiercely hugged his father. Tears slid down his cheeks. He suppressed a sob.

No, he wanted to say. You were dead and mother was dead and now it is like a long-healed scar in my heart has ripped loose again. And; I saved a kingdom, I gained and lost six of the best friends I ever had, I cursed my nephew who I loved as my own son to carry a terrible burden that should never have been his. And it was -not- a dream.

"Yes," Bilbo whispered. "Yes."

After sitting with his father for several minutes, Bilbo managed to stop his crying. He apologized for waking his father and returned to his room.

He barely heard his father's reply of "it's all right, lad, it's all right."

With trembling hands, Bilbo opened the top drawer of his old dresser. One of his early journals lay there, a quill and pot of ink beside it. Bilbo flipped to the last page with writing on it and checked the date.

It was December 11th of the year 1310, by the Shire reckoning. It was the beginning of the Fell Winter, when goblins and white wolves had crossed the frozen Brandywine River and invaded, slaughtering and raiding as they went. It was two weeks before his mother's death. It was a year before his father's decline. It was decades before a wizard would come calling for an adventure, and nearly a century before Bilbo's nephew would go on his.

Bilbo breathed in and exhaled. Then repeated it for good measure. He could change it. He could change everything.

He was Mad Baggins, now, with or without Sting in his hand.

Author's notes:

This is going to be a very slow-build story, and will go quite a bit off the beaten path. I'm a few years out of practice on the creative writing front so some constructive criticism would be very much appreciated :). Hope you like it!

Also, this fic is LGBTQIA-friendly. Or, lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender-questioning-intersex-asexual/ally friendly. As in real life most couples will be het, but also as in real life there will be same-sex pairings and aces/asexuals too. And possibly an awesome cross-dresser or two. Bitching will get ignored, or, rather, used to make my review counter go up. Bilbo is an ace in this. There may be a F/M/M threeway relationship that ends up being central to the plot, but it will be something of an epically slow build. Much like the rest of this monster. That is all you need to know for now :D.