At first they’re not together.
They’re just rooming together again and Sherlock helps John out with the little one. It’s only for a little while, until John can deal with being alone again and figure out how to be a single dad without it being a detriment to his daughter. Except…it never stops. Somewhere along the line there was a silent decision by John that he liked their arrangement and preferred to stay like this, and Sherlock just never mentioned it because he had been hoping for that outcome all along.
But they’re still not together.
Although, this moving back in together thing and raising a little kid together doesn’t help the rumors going around that they are together. At first, John is still annoyed by those rumors but gradually he just…stops mentioning them.
And they get on with their lives, with their work and the raising of the little girl. And Sherlock comes to love her like his own, and somewhere along the line they just stop correcting people who assume that they’re a couple with a child together.
Pretty soon Mrs. Hudson isn’t the only one of their good friends who starts referring to them as a couple and for once neither of them say anything against it or for it. Not even John. What’s the point? It gets tiresome to correct people all the time, and besides…with the exception of perhaps Mrs. Hudson (who John is never sure if she thinks they’re just keeping their relationship a secret from her, or if she’s just hoping they will get together for real if she just mentions it often enough) they all know very well that he and Sherlock are not together-together. They’re just having fun at their expense, ribbing their friends type thing. Probably.
But, they still aren’t together.
And somehow time really flies and suddenly Rosie is starting her sixth year at school. John has long since stopped correcting the school about his relationship with Sherlock. But he does occasionally complain at home about it. Not with the vehemence of yesteryear, but certainly with a bit of an annoyed sigh.
And that’s when it happens. It was over breakfast while John was reading the paper and there was another article referring to them as a couple and he did the annoyed sigh, tapped the paper and began to talk about how, “they’ve done it again, Sherlock. This time they even referred to us as married!”
“But, Dad…you are married. Just because it’s not official and you two won’t admit it doesn’t mean anything. For all intents and purposes, you’re married.”
“Certainly not. Don’t be ridiculous. We’re nothing like a married couple. You’ve been spending too much time around Mrs. Hudson again, that's what it is,” John insists, although he had no intention of actually stopping her from doing so. Mrs. Hudson might have her quirks but she was a lovely woman, a good friend to them, and she adored Rosie.
“I think Mycroft may have mentioned something about common law being expanded to include–”
“Not now, Sherlock,” John said with a bland look. Right now was not the time to get bogged down in technicalities and he knew that look on the other man’s face.
“Well, all I mean is, intentional or not, she might have a point,” Sherlock clarified.
“No. She does not have a point, she’s misguided and we should correct this immediately. It’s one thing for the press or for Mrs. Hudson to go on, but it’s not right to allow her to be confused about our relationship,” John insisted, folding his paper and putting it down on the table beside his breakfast tea.
“I wasn’t suggesting–”
“See? I told you!” She grinned at them after taking a sip of her orange juice while she watched them bicker.
Both looked over at her, Sherlock’s face thoughtful and John’s confused.
“What do you mean?” John asked, when clarification didn’t appear to be forthcoming.
“I told you that you’re basically married. You bicker like an old married couple, we all have meals as a family, we go places as a family, we go to Holmes family reunions and holiday celebrations as a family, we go on outings as a family. We do everything as a family. You both brought me to the father-daughter dance last year. You do everything except kiss good morning and sleep in the same room together. You’re married.”
“What do you mean 'old'?” Sherlock asked, with a considering and slightly affronted look.
“That’s what you took from that?” John asked, exasperated, while Rosie went back to her eggs and toast with a muffled giggle.
“Well, I admit that we’re not as young as we were when we first met, but–”
“Not the point, Sherlock,” John said, testily and pursed his lips a bit.
But, of course both men knew that she had had a point. In fact, they’d known for a while that a lot of people had had a point. They just hadn’t wanted to admit it. Or, rather, John hadn’t wanted to admit it and Sherlock hadn’t wanted to get him thinking it was time to move out to avoid the obvious.
They were certainly together.
And probably had been for a very long time. This would need further discussion, but probably not around the breakfast table. Besides, their daughter needed to get to school soon.