Gimizh was sitting at the table with one of the coloring books his Uncle Gimli and Uncle Legolas had brought back for him from Gondor ("From the very halls of the king himself!" Uncle Gimli had claimed while Uncle Legolas had just rolled his eyes fondly and handed him a box of colorful wax sticks to color with) when his amad walked in, shaking her head. Her face was scrunched up like it usually was when something was wrong, and she was braiding her hair as she walked. By now Gimizh had figured out that all those things together meant there was something wrong with Da.
"Gimizh," Amad said, spotting him finally. "You're up early."
Gimizh shrugged, grabbing another one of the wax sticks. "I was hungry."
Amad snorted and reached over to tug at his sleeping braid. "You're always hungry."
Gimizh's only answer was a gap-toothed grin.
His amad turned and walked towards the front door. "Your da's head is bothering him this morning, so keep it down, alright? Uncle Gimli and Uncle Legolas are coming to pick you up in half an hour. I'm going to get some more herbs from the hospital when I leave for the day."
"You be good, you hear me?" Amad raised an eyebrow at him. "No funny business."
Gimizh nodded dutifully. "Yes, Amad."
Amad still looked a little bit skeptical, but she smiled at him anyway. "Have fun, love."
"M'kay." And then she left.
Gimizh sat at the table for a moment, thinking. He had the whole house to himself - well, and Da, but he wasn't feeling good so he didn't count - for an entire half hour. What was there for him to do? He had already been coloring for forever (okay, maybe about 10 minutes) and Amad had taken his ram cart set away for the week (again) because he had left it out (again) and Da had tripped over it (again) because Gimizh had been playing with his cane and hadn't put it back in the right place (...again).
Suddenly he was struck with what was possibly the best idea he had ever had. He leapt down from the chair, tucking and rolling because he had figured out a long time ago that it was both quieter and more fun than just landing on his feet, and ran over to his toy box. Quick as a flash, he opened it, scooping several of his figures out of it, and trotted off towards the kitchen.
His toys played just as much as he did. Shouldn't they need baths just as much as him as well?
Gimizh dropped the toys on one of the kitchen chairs and, after checking that the door to Amad and Da's bedroom was closed, dragged it over to the sink. With a little bit of effort, he climbed up and dropped his toys into the sink basin. He turned on the faucet and grabbed the bottle of soap that Amad kept there for washing up, then examined his toys. They looked rather dirty, especially his figures of Dwalin and Uncle Gimli. Better use a lot of soap, then.
The soap came out fastest if he held the bottle upside down and gave it a big shake, he discovered, and soon enough piles of bubbles were growing in the sink. He began to hum one of the work songs Uncle Gimli had taught him when he was real little as he scrubbed at the Dwalin toy, noting that the dirt was washing away quite nicely. After a moment of hesitation, he gave the Dwalin toy a bubble wig, making his head look almost twice as big. He giggled at the sight, imagining what Dwalin would look like with really big hair. Where would he put all of his tattoos?
Gimizh gasped as he realized what he had forgotten. Towels! He carefully replaced the Dwalin toy in the sink and hopped down from the chair. The towels were in the bathroom closet on the third shelf up, he remembered, so they should be easy to get to. But how many should he get? Probably a lot, Gimizh reasoned with himself - he took one towel to get dry, so his toys should get their own, too. It was only fair.
Getting the towels down was a little bit trickier than Gimizh had anticipated. He hadn't realized that they would be so heavy. He was only able to carry four, so his toys would have to share. They were all friends, though, so they wouldn't mind. Satisfied with his loot, he made his way slowly back to the kitchen, careful not to drop the towels on the floor. He was almost there - just feet away - when he saw them.
On the floor.
Lots and lots of bubbles.
Amad was going to kill him.
He ran the last few steps and dropped one of the towels in the doorway to stop the bubbles from leaving the kitchen, then hurried inside. His jaw dropped as he took in the sight before him.
There were bubbles everywhere. All over the counter, and the floor, and the chair. He couldn't even see the sink. Gimizh dropped the rest of the towels and sprinted over to the counter, careful not to slip. He clambered up onto the chair - a feat that was even harder when the chair was soaking wet - and started trying to whack the bubbles out of the way. No matter how hard he tried, though, the bubble pile just kept growing.
"Oh no," he muttered, trying to keep quiet so he wouldn't wake up Da. "Oh no oh no oh no..."
He jumped back down and grabbed one of the towels off of the floor and tried throwing it into the sink. He missed. He tried again with the same result. Frustrated and panicked, Gimizh climbed back up with the last towel and tried to sop up bubbles and water from the counter. If he could just climb up behind the bubble pile, he could get to the sink and turn it off!
Ever so carefully, Gimizh pulled himself onto the counter and scooted on his knees towards the faucet. He was almost there...
...and then a pale, long fingered hand beat him to it.
The water turned off, leaving the room almost dead silent if it weren't for the sound of bubbles popping. Gimizh gulped and turned around slowly.
Uncle Legolas was standing behind him, one hand on the faucet and the other on his hip. He was looking at Gimizh with a raised eyebrow and a pinched mouth. He did not look happy.
"...Hi Uncle Legolas," Gimizh tried, smiling weakly. "It's...it's a nice mornin', innit?"
"Aye," a voice from behind Uncle Legolas said. "A fine mornin' for a clean kitchen." Uncle Gimli stepped out, looking vaguely amused but still stern as he held a pile of wet towels in his arms. "What in Mahal's name do ye think ye're doin', lad?"
Gimizh wiggled uncomfortably on the wet counter. "I was givin' my figures baths."
Uncle Legolas blinked slowly. "You were giving your figures..." he repeated, his other eyebrow rising to join the first, "...baths."
Gimizh nodded, looking down and tracing shapes in the water on the countertop. It sounded silly now that he'd said it out loud. He was a big dwarf now, only a couple weeks away from his thirtieth birthday. Big dwarves didn't do things like give their toys baths.
"Well," Uncle Gimli said, startling Gimizh out of his thinking place, "It's a grand idea, laddie, but ye need t' be more careful next time about how much soap ye use. Yer amad might like a clean kitchen, mind, but she also likes a dry one."
Both of Gimizh's uncles looked more amused now than angry. Uncle Legolas was even chuckling a little as he lifted Gimizh down.
"How about this, little one," the elf said, crouching down so he could look Gimizh in the eyes. "You go put on dry clothes, and once Uncle Gimli and I clean up the kitchen a bit, we can do your braids and go get something to eat. Does that sound alright?"
Gimizh nodded enthusiastically. "Uh-huh!"
Uncle Legolas stood, patting him on the head. "Then hop to it!"
Gimizh rushed off to his room, grinning madly the whole way. Forget about no punishment - he was getting food!
Legolas sighed as he pulled the drain plug in the sink. "How has your sister not gone completely grey yet?"
His husband chuckled as he pushed the chair back to its spot at the table. "Gimrís remembers what she and I got up to when we were littleuns."
"I thought your mother said you two hated each other as children." Legolas said, puzzled.
"We did," Gimli said, "a good deal o' th' time. When we put our heads together, though..." He shook his head. "Th' whole o' Arda quaked in its boots."
Legolas shuddered, suddenly glad that his nephew by marriage didn't have any siblings. One of Gimizh was more than enough.
Just then, the dwarfling himself ran in wielding a hair brush in one hand and a mess of hair ties in the other.
"C'mon!" he said, plopping down in a chair and turning his back to Gimli expectantly. "Hurry up, Uncle Gimli! Uncle Legolas, too! I want food!"
Legolas chuckled as Gimli lightly bopped Gimizh on the head with his hairbrush for the comment. Yes, one little Gimizh was enough. But...he wouldn't truly mind one little someone else of his own...so long as they behaved...