We all get by with a little help from our friends. The Velveteen Rabbit owes a whole lot to his best friend—the Boy—who first showed him how to love and made him Real. It's a match made in heaven…or at least in the nursery.
Of course, the relationship between the Boy and the Rabbit doesn't start out so swell. The Boy just plays with the Rabbit for a few hours on Christmas morning and then ditches him. But thanks to the disappearance of a certain china dog, the Boy and the Rabbit are soon thick as thieves:
The Boy used to talk to him, and made nice tunnels for him under the bedclothes that he said were like the burrows the real rabbits lived in. And they had splendid games together, in whispers, when Nana had gone away to her supper and left the night-light burning on the mantelpiece. And when the Boy dropped off to sleep, the Rabbit would snuggle down close under his little warm chin and dream, with the Boy's hands clasped close round him all night long. (17)
It turns out that the Boy is actually an awesome playmate. The narrator says, "he was a kind-hearted little boy and he liked Bunny to be comfortable" (26) which is good news for the Rabbit. He could have wound up with a kid who wanted to do bunny surgery and check out his sawdust insides. That would not have been pleasant.
The Boy's love and kindness eventually makes the Rabbit Real. He tells Nana that his favorite little stuffed toy is actually Real and the nursery magic works—poof!—just like that. This kid has got power.
Not to mention that the Boy loves the Rabbit unconditionally. Sure, the Velveteen Rabbit doesn't mind that he gets a little bit ugly from the wear and tear the Boy puts on him. But the Boy never abandons the Rabbit either. He doesn't toss his favorite little bunny aside for a shiny new toy. Or tell Nana that his rabbit is getting a little dingy-looking. The Boy accepts the Rabbit for who he is and loves him anyway.
That's true love and friendship right there.
Another big moment for the Boy happens when he comes down with scarlet fever. Now, if you got scarlet fever today, this wouldn't really be a big deal. You'd probably just take some antibiotics and be fine. But this disease was fatal back in the early 1920s. It was especially dangerous to children and the Boy could definitely die:
His face grew very flushed, and he talked in his sleep, and his little body was so hot that it burned the Rabbit when he held him close. Strange people came and went in the nursery, and a light burned all night and through it all the little Velveteen Rabbit lay there. (53)
Scarlet fever is the same disease that almost kills Beth March in Little Women (and weakens her heart enough so that she ends up dying years later as an after effect). When the Boy recovers, he's super lucky to be in the clear.
It's no wonder his family doesn't care about burning some of his books and toys. If there's a chance this fatal disease could spread or even come back, then the Velveteen Rabbit has definitely got to go.
In the end, the Boy and the Rabbit share a special friendship, but it's a little weird because the Boy never knows what happens to his little bunny friend. The grown-ups tell him that the Velveteen Rabbit was "lost." (Hey, at least they didn't go with the old he-went-to-live-on-a-farm-upstate lie.)
He never knows that the Rabbit stayed with him while he was sick. Or that his bunny almost got burned. Or that the Rabbit was turned Real by a Fairy just in the nick of time. He never even realizes how much his little bunny loved him back. Nope. None of that.
The Boy just sees some wild rabbits that remind him of his stuffed bunny and he has some fond memories. This moment means a whole lot more to the Velveteen Rabbit (and to the reader), but the Boy is the one that gets left out of the loop.