Inspired by the opening scenes of the first 'Hobbit' movie where Frodo is shown putting up the 'No Admittance Except On Party Business' sign.
'We need a sign on the gate, Frodo-lad,' said Bilbo irritably when Frodo came into the study bearing a cup of tea. 'Our thrice-blasted relations seem to have nothing better to do with their days than hang on the door-bell morning, noon and night. Who was it this time?'
'Cousin Griffo, checking that we sent him an invitation.'
Bilbo snorted. 'Snooping to see what we're up to, you mean. A sign, Frodo.' He thumped his fist on his writing-desk. 'We must have a sign!'
'I'll take care of it, Uncle,' Frodo soothed. 'You can leave it to me.'
'Thank you, dear boy. If I'd known what a nuisance this Party business was going to become, I should never have embarked upon it,' he grumbled, taking the tea from Frodo.
'Nonsense, Bilbo dear. You're having the time of your life and you know it.' Frodo planted an affectionate kiss on Bilbo’s cheek.
'Hmph,' was Bilbo's only response, but it was a mollified sounding 'Hmph'.
Frodo found a large sheet of parchment, ink and pen, and carried them from the study to the kitchen. There he laid the parchment out on the table and carefully inscribed in large letters: NO ADMITTANCE EXCEPT ON PARTY BUSINESS
When he was done, he went in search of hammer and nails, and by the time he returned the ink had dried. Then it was out to the front gate to tack the notice up. Only tacking it up proved rather more difficult than Frodo had expected. It was awkward trying to hold the nail and hammer it when the other end of the parchment kept flopping down and pulling the nail askew.
Serendipity arrived in the form of Samwise Gamgee pushing a wheelbarrow through the garden. Frodo heard the distinctive squeak of its wooden wheel, and smiled. The solution to his dilemma had presented itself.
'Sam, can you come and help me?' he called, a trifle breathless after his unsuccessful struggle with the sign.
'Right away, Mr. Frodo,' Sam called back with becoming eagerness. He was always ready to lend a hand wherever it was needed around the smial, Frodo had observed.
In the twinkling of an eye, Sam was down the path and standing on the other side of the gate. He appeared a trifle breathless himself, no doubt from hurrying over so quickly.
'How can I help you, Mr. Frodo?' Sam asked with more of that becoming eagerness that caused his eyes (which Frodo in his more fanciful moments compared to sunlight dappling a woodland pool) to sparkle in a most appealing manner.
'I'm trying to nail a sign to the gate and I need you to hold one end for me.'
'A sign, sir? Whatever for?'
Frodo held up the parchment with the lettering facing Sam. 'Poor Bilbo is being driven to distraction by all the visitors we've had lately, Sam.'
'He ain't the only one,' replied Sam with a darkling look. 'As if there weren't already enough distractions hereabouts, now we've got folk traipsing through the garden without so much as a by your leave.'
'Enough distractions already?' inquired Frodo. 'What sorts of distractions?'
'Oh, this and that,' Sam replied, the tips of his ears turning a tell-tale pink. 'Naught of importance.' He caught himself and his ears turned pinker. 'I mean, naught that you should fret yourself over, Mr. Frodo.'
Frodo looked down, biting his lip and fidgeting with the sign. 'No?' he asked softly, glancing up from under his lashes.
'Now what about this here sign,' Sam hurried on as if he hadn't heard Frodo's low-voiced question. His ear tips were positively aflame. 'Just you give me that hammer and them nails and I'll take care of it.'
'Sam, I'm perfectly capable of hammering in a few nails,' Frodo said. He set his jaw in his best stubborn Baggins fashion. 'I shall do the hammering and you shall hold the parchment in place.'
'All right, sir,' Sam said. 'I didn't mean no offense, Mr. Frodo,' he added, sounding worried. 'I only thought. ..'
'I know,' Frodo said, and impulsively reached over the gate and gripped Sam's forearm in a reassuring manner. It was, he noted, a very muscular forearm, and he was tempted to linger and explore its muscularity (purely as a matter of interest) but there was that sign to put up.
Repressing a sigh, he released Sam's arm and unlatched the gate for Sam, who stepped through with alacrity and joined Frodo on the other side.
Sam took the end of the sign that was drooping toward the ground and held it up level against the gate while Frodo prepared to hammer in the first nail.
The space in front of the gate was rather narrow, and thus he and Sam were standing quite close together, bodies nearly touching. This was far more distracting than any relative hanging on the doorbell or traipsing through the garden, which undoubtedly explained why Frodo's first attempt to hit the nail went sadly awry, the head of the hammer completely missing the nail and instead making a small dent in the weathered wood.
'Oh dear,' said Frodo, mortified.
'Never mind, sir,' said Sam. 'Give it another go.'
Frowning with concentration Frodo did, only this time the hammer glanced off the nail, which twisted in Frodo's grip and fell to the ground. Cheeks burning as red as Sam's ears had been a short time earlier, he quickly stooped and snatched the nail up.
'Tell you what, Mr. Frodo, why don't I help you?' And next thing Frodo knew, Sam's arms came around him from behind. Sam placed his left hand over Frodo's left that held the nail and his right over Frodo's right that held the hammer. 'We can do it together, like,' he said, so close that his breath tickled the curls behind Frodo's ear.
'B-But,' stuttered Frodo, 'the other end of the sign...'
'I can hold it up with my bum, see?' Sam scooted his rump over and pinned the parchment against the fence.
Frodo gulped and stared. He'd noted in the past that Sam was possessed of a sturdy and shapely rump, and this most certainly confirmed it.
'That seems to work,' he said, the words emerging on a regrettably high-pitched squeak, as if he were a mouse unexpectedly given the power of speech. But it was a miracle he was able to speak at all what with sturdy, shapely rumps and warm, callused hands wreaking havoc with his equilibrium.
Sam's hands closed tighter about Frodo's, and he murmured, 'Relax, Mr. Frodo.' Frodo almost let out a hysterical giggle. Relax? Was Sam mad?
However, he did his best to keep his grip lax as Sam raised his hand (and Frodo's with it) and brought the hammer down solidly on the nail head once, twice, thrice, until the nail was driven half-way home.
'How's that?' Sam asked.
Mouse-Frodo squeaked, 'That will do fine, Sam.' He was afraid he might disgrace himself and faint if the hammering went on, for with each blow Sam's body rocked against his in manner both suggestive and intimate.
'Then seeing as how we make a good team, so to speak, shall we do the rest together?' And no mouse was Sam, for his voice sounded even deeper than usual, and decidedly husky.
Faint? Pah! He was not such poor specimen of a hobbit as that. 'All right,' Frodo said with determination and picked up another nail. He set it to the opposite corner of the parchment, where Sam's rump had been pressed. He rather regretted the lack of it to admire.
As they repeated the procedure, Frodo's senses swam from the Sam-ness that surrounded him, the hearth fire warmth and the earthy scent that increasingly over the months had exercised a most peculiar effect on him. That Sam was aware of this effect, Frodo now suspected. That he'd guessed the real reason Frodo had asked for his help, Frodo suspected as well.
Sam finished hammering in the remaining nails with the same effortless precision, but when he was done, he didn't release Frodo's hands or step back a respectful dist ance. In fact, he didn't move at all, and neither did Frodo. He couldn't; he might have been one of Bilbo's trolls, turned to stone by the rising sun. Only he doubted anything made of stone had ever experienced the sensations coursing through him.
Time wore on and still they stood in their peculiar not-quite-embrace. Frodo feared to break the spell, for once broken, what would happen next? But they couldn't remain as they were indefinitely. For one thing, there were those thrice-blasted relations sprouting up everywhere like mushrooms after a heavy rain, and Frodo did not want to be discovered in such a compromising position by any of them. Not that he cared for himself, but he most assuredly did for Sam, for whom a sudden, fierce protective flame burned in Frodo's breast.
So regretfully he broke the spell. 'Sam, I'd better...'
Sam gave a start; quickly he let go and stepped back. 'Begging your pardon, Mr. Frodo.'
'No.' Frodo turned round to face him. Impulsively he placed his fore and middle fingers over Sam's mouth, silencing him. His lips were surprisingly soft; his breath hot on the pads of Frodo's fingers. It was simply too much to be borne.
'Oh Sam,' he said, 'I can't bear it another moment. I must and will kiss you.' And he did, with more enthusiasm than expertise, but Sam didn't appear to mind. In fact, he returned the kiss with such ardour that Frodo found himself pushed up hard against the gate, the parchment crackling at his back. Bless Bilbo for insisting on a sign, Frodo fleetingly thought.
But he was more inclined to curse than bless Bilbo when he heard the old hobbit calling his name from inside the smial. In fact he did curse, though only in his mind, his mouth being otherwise occupied.
'Frodo!' Bilbo called again, closer, as if he was at or near the window.
Frodo pulled away. 'I must go, Sam.'
'Aye.' But never had a simple affirmative expressed such a wealth of disappointment while simultaneously bringing such a glow of happiness to another hobbit's heart.
'Tonight, Sam,' Frodo said, giving him a fleeting, apologetic kiss before unlatching the gate and slipping through it. 'Meet me atop Bag End this evening, under the tree.' He pulled the gate shut and gripped the wooden slats hard. 'You- you will join me?'
'If I'm allowed. That sign says 'No Admittance Except on Party Business'.' But Sam was grinning.
Frodo grinned back, so widely his cheeks positively ached. 'Have no fear, Sam, you'll be the guest of honour at our party, I promise!'
'Then I'm looking forward to it, and that's a fact,' Sam said.
'So am I - you've no idea how much.' Frodo gave Sam a little wave and practically skipped up the path to the front door, a very different sort of party business from that he'd left the smial to accomplish now on his mind.